About a month ago I mentioned my initial interest in rucking. Since then I ventured off in to the google-sphere to find out where the term “ruck” comes from.
The term “rucksack,” first used in the United Kingdom and later adopted by many other countries including the U.S., originated from the German word describing a location on the body —“the back” (der Rücken) — combined with the word for what was being carried — a sack.
As is my habit, I dove down this new rabbit hole headfirst, learning about the rucking community, the health benefits of rucking, and (if broken down) what rucking is.
In very basic terms, rucking is walking with weight on your back.
Digging deeper, the community (and the military) differentiates it from hiking by stating that rucking is more focused on fitness whereas hiking is more camping/journey/destination focused.
In these pandemic times with gyms shut down, social distancing, working from home and feeling like you are stuck indoors…what could be better than a workout that gets you outside, makes you stronger and functionally fit, builds cardio and burns fat, and requires almost no gear or costly gym membership!
Speaking of the health benefits of rucking:
As opposed to jogging, swimming, biking, or rowing, rucking is easy on the joints, places you in a strong and correct posture, and doesn’t compel the user to “go glycolytic” (using primarily glucose metabolism by training too intensely), as you are already moving at the top speed of your walking gait. You could, of course, load too heavy, find an uphill route, etc., to increase the intensity but you won’t get that feeling of needing to move faster for more conditioning once underway, as the “high” of the exercise-induced endorphins washes over you.
I can’t overemphasize the postural benefits from rucking. If you constantly correct your posture as described, you might just remove some of your constant low-back pain, lack of hip flexibility, and thoracic spine issues. You will most certainly tighten your “X” and build resilience into your trunk. This resilience will reduce your potential for non-collision injury, and increase your performances in other activities.
Done properly of course:
Stand up tall, take short but frequent strides, and drive your arms hard. The description from top to bottom: keep your head up with your eyes looking out ten to fifteen feet in front of you, using your peripheral vision to navigate the ground directly below your feet. Do not walk with your head down. You may need to drop your head periodically to negotiate obstacles (don’t step on smaller items in your path – step around them), but always seek good cervical spine alignment.StrongFirst.com
A quick google search will show some big movers in the “online fitness world” have covered it at one point in time:
- Ruck for Miles – Rucking for Women
- Men’s Journal – Rucking: The Cardio Workout That Builds Muscle Too
- Men’s Health – The Fitness Trend Men Everywhere Can’t Get Enough Of
- GQ (India) – Rucking: The simple fitness technique that will change your weight loss routine (for good)
- Onnit – The Only Full Body Strength Training Method You’ll Ever Need
- Breaking Muscle – Ready To Ruck: How To Get Started And What To Buy
- GoRuck – What is Rucking?
Here are a couple great podcasts on the health benefits of rucking if you prefer that medium:
What it comes down to for me, is that I like the idea of a simple activity that builds fitness. Similar to the story of Milo and the Bull, this is a fitness regiment that is functional and you can increase over time:
He decided to carry a newborn calf on his shoulders. Day by day, for more than four years, he carried an animal on his shoulders. While people were laughing at him, the small calf slowly grew into an adult ox and Milo got stronger and stronger along the way. What an awesome idea. Every day, when Milo woke up, he lifted the calf, put it on his shoulders and carried it around all day. After four years, Milo was lifting and carrying around an impressively big ox. By then, people stopped laughing a long time ago, when they saw Milo’s muscles and strength grow.
Now don’t get me wrong…rucking is for the more advanced athlete as well. I was a collegiate gymnast, turned rock climber extraordinaire, turned cross-fitter (with my CFL-1 training certificate), I’ve coached people in all of the above mentioned areas as well. Yet as I get closer to 40 I find myself continuing to look for areas of fitness to explore the will solidify my “functional fitness foundation”. Rucking is not just a “beginner” workout regime; it is for all levels of athletes and I truly believe that it can make your health foundation more solid than you realize.
Shoot me a comment if you are interested in this journey as I venture in to a new corner of fitness, community, and healthy living.
The aforementioned famous Greek wrestler and strength legend Milo of Croton got stronger by improving a little bit every day. Carrying the calf as it grew in to a bull. While the rucking experts don’t recommend going above 1/3 your body weight while rucking…the concept of small, continual improvements is the same.
To quote myself when I wrote about the 1% rule:
There is so much that goes in to this concept [the 1% rule], but the basics of it are…well…basic.
Tomorrow, you probably won’t notice a difference. But what’s the result when 1% happens every day? Let’s ask James Altucher…
“Improve a little each day. It compounds. When 1% compounds every day, it doubles every 72 days, not every 100 days. Compounding tiny excellence is what creates big excellence.”
72 days later you might be twice the person you are today. Think you can’t manage that? Let’s do some math.
If you want to up your fitness regiment…or just want to change it up every now and then like me…then this may be for you.
Want a place to start learning about rucking? I highly recommend the below article as a good foundation on understanding why rucking might be for you.