Rucking: Your Guide to Survival Fitness


While running and jogging are fine as a cardiovascular exercise, if you are looking to develop functional strength and muscle, you are going to need something more. This is where rucking comes in. Here, we are going to take a look at what rucking is and how it can help you when SHTF.

Where Did Rucking Begin?

Long before health-conscious folks used weighted packs for exercise, the military carried rucksacks through cities, fields, mountains, and forests. This was called ruck marching or “rucking” derived from carrying a rucksack loaded with weights. Over the years, this practice spilled over to civilians who are now seen storming through urban sidewalks and hiking trails while carrying a heavy rucksack, all in the name of fitness. This simple, yet effective exercise is great for building aerobic endurance and stamina, while at the same time helping you build muscle as well.

How Does Rucking Work?

Rucking uses additional weight that’s placed in the rucksack, challenging a person’s level of endurance in the process. This, in turn, helps a person build better muscles in the legs and back. Since carrying a rucksack that’s filled with weight is much harder, it increases one’s heart rate and results in burning more calories. According to the US Army, the standard requirement for rucking is to cover a mile every 15 minutes carrying rucksacks with added weight beginning at 20 lbs. However, there are no hard and fast rules for rucking. That being said, adding more weight and increasing your speed is a good way to bump up the number of calories you are able to burn during rucking.

The Equipment You Need for Rucking

There are a few essentials that you’re going to need for rucking.

  • Rucksack –The main things you will need is a ruck, preferably one with comfortable shoulder straps. It is important to choose a rucksack that secures the weight close to your back.
  • Water – Since rucking is quite the workout, you will need to bring water along with you so you can drink while on the go.
  • Weights –While there are specially designed ruck plates that are available at fitness stores, you can use 20 lbs. bricks, but you will want to wrap tape on them first. When it comes to weight, you can either start with 20 lbs. or 50 lbs., or more, depending on your stamina. Other options include water bottles, standard barbell plates or sandbags instead. The idea is to make the rucksack heavy enough to make rucking a challenge for you.
  • Footwear – You will want to keep your feet safe while rucking, especially if you decide to take a trail through the park or are rucking on rough terrain. Let the type of terrain you choose dictate the type of shoes you wear (or boots). Trail running shoes are often a good choice regardless of the terrain.

How to Prep for a Ruck March?

Before you take off on a ruck march, you will need to consult with a physician if you have any health-related concerns. It is also advisable to determine your baseline resting heart rate along with the maximum heart rate since rucking can be a demanding workout.

While the group aspect of rucking cannot be denied since the peer pressure allows you to push your limits, if you do decide to go solo rucking first you must find a trail that won’t get you hit by a truck. If you plan on rucking after dark, then it is advised to carry a signal panel that will alert drivers of your presence.

Securing Your RuckSack

When it comes to the weights you want to carry, make sure that the weights are not shaped awkwardly, which can hurt or injure your back while you’re ruck marching. Also, a rucksack shouldn’t shift around while it’s worn. Since hip belts are non-existent on the majority or rucksacks, you will need to find other means of securing it during your ruck march. You can secure the rucksack with the help of a sternum strap, but you will want to make sure that the strap is low enough not to choke you while you’re wearing the ruck.

Always remember, a good ruck is comfortable to wear even while carrying a significant amount of weight inside. Also, the rucksack that you choose needs to be durable to take the weight it’s carrying. A good padded back panel along with padded shoulder straps will help cushion the load as you ruck march.

The Benefits of Rucking

For starters, the muscles you develop at the gym isn’t the same as functional muscles. That’s by the average soldier or police officer doesn’t have the muscles of a bodybuilder. Rucking is a great exercise because it allows you to develop both muscle, function, and endurance. It does this by not only letting you challenge your body but also your mind.

Functionality of Ruck Marching

One of the major reasons to take on rucking is for its obvious benefits. For example, most fitness-minded people either jog or run with nothing more than a house key and a smartphone. You do not want to be one of those folks in a bug-out scenario where only those with the most endurance will survive. In this way, rucking can help you build that muscle and functionality along with improving your level of endurance. Ruck marching exposes you to your weaknesses, testing your physical and mental limitations. This alone can transform you from a skimpy, fanny-pack wearing runner to a cargo-carrying endurance junkie.

Rucking is also beneficial as an exercise for midlifers. It doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done by a person of any body type or frame. Compared to other similar exercises, such as jogging or running, rucking is a nice way to transform your body, by building muscle and strengthening your core.

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