How to use your rucking backpack to get in the best shape of your life this summer

Hopefully summer will show up at some point! And even if it doesn’t, there are so many benefits to taking your training outdoors whatever the weather, from stress management to vitamin D. Rucking offers a fun way to get in insanely good shape. If you’ve been working hard in the gym but crave the freedom of the great outdoors, read on to see how rucking can build muscle, burn fat, and improve your cardio. And, yes, it can even get you shredded.

How to get summer shredded by swapping gym for rucking

Getting an enviable summer body doesn't have to mean gym workouts. Rucking combines strength training with challenging cardiovascular for a full-body workout that you’ll enjoy so much you won’t notice the time passing!

Why does rucking work so well?

Walking or hiking with a weighted ruckpack combines the calorie burn of tough cardio with the muscular benefits of a full-body session. It keeps your heart rate in a sustainable cardio zone and uses muscle groups, including your core, shoulders, back, glutes, and legs.

3 ways to get in shape using rucking

Add the right weight – start by carrying around 10% of your bodyweight in a weighted pack. Ideally, use a rucking backpack (or ruckpack). You can also use a weighted vest.

Play with pace – rucking works best for getting in shape when you walk with purpose and vary your pace, shifting from steady walking to harder efforts.

Mix the terrain – seek out different terrains and include some hills or inclines to get the most out of your rucks.

Does rucking build muscle?

Rucking is a great way to build and maintain muscle at the same time as doing some serious cardio. The added resistance from the weighted pack gives a full body workout, and you’ll feel it in your legs and glutes, upper and mid back, shoulders, and core.

Studies have shown that rucking can lead to significant muscle hypertrophy, especially in the lower body. There are several reasons for this – the weight itself, the repetitive movement, and the duration of the ruck. 

Tips for building muscle with rucking

Progressive overload – increase training variables as you get fitter and stronger. This could be the weight in your ruckpack, but could also be duration or pace of your ruck.

Focus on form – make sure your pack fits properly and is balanced across your back, shoulders, and torso. Keep your head up and brace your core.

Bodyweight exercises with your ruckpack – use your ruckpack to do weighted squats, lunges, and push ups either during your ruck or when you get home.

How to get in serious shape using just rucking 

Rucking is a proven way to build and maintain muscle in all the big muscle groups. But like any training, it can’t get you shredded if you’re not also paying attention to your nutrition.

Fuel up for rucks with low fat, high carb, moderate protein snacks or a small meal. Pack snacks for longer rucks (90 minutes or more) and keep these low fat, high carb. Don’t make the mistake of “eating back” your calories when you get in. Remember that you need to be in a small calorie deficit over time if your goal is losing body fat. 

Can you lose fat with rucking?

You can definitely use rucking to lose fat whilst maintaining muscle. Rucking combines resistance training and cardio in a workout that’s so fun you’ll be able to do 60+ minutes without getting bored!

Rucking increases your calorie expenditure much more than regular walking due to the added weight – some studies suggest it can burn as many calories as running, but obviously you can do it for longer without needing a break.

Tips for burning bodyfat through rucking

Increase the intensity – try adding intervals of faster walking to long rucks, power up some hills, or add more weight to your pack (but only do this once you’re used to your starting weight)

Have a nutrition plan – rucking won’t get you shredded unless you also look after your nutrition. Focus on complex carbs, plenty of veg and fruit, and high protein foods to fill you up.

Can you get abs from rucking?

We know abs aren’t a sign of health, but come on…who doesn’t want a hint of a six pack for summer? Good news, you can develop a stronger and more defined core through rucking. Revealing them is all down to diet! The weight of the backpack demands constant engagement from your core muscles which develops strength throughout the entire core, including the obliques and deeper core muscles.

Tips for getting a six pack through rucking

Engage your core – keep your core lightly engaged throughout your ruck to work your entire core and protect your lower back. 

A well-fitted ruck pack – make sure your rucking back pack fits well, tighten all the straps, and make sure it’s balanced across your back. 

Diet + rucking – remember that abs are only revealed at low body fat, and that comes from being in a small calorie deficit, so find a way to eat just enough whilst also fuelling your rucking and recovery.

Ready to ruck this summer?

Rucking is more than another part of your fitness routine, it’s a fun outdoor adventure that offers so many physical and mental health benefits. Whether it's a sunny day or typical British summer drizzle, the benefits of rucking are endless. 

Check out Force Fitness for the best rucking gear around, including rucking backpacks and rucking plate carriers.

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