What is rucking and is it different to hiking?

Heard about rucking and want to get into it? Here’s how to start rucking like a pro.

What could be better than getting fit and strong in the great outdoors? Rucking is a cross between army-style training and an endurance workout, all set against a backdrop of nature’s wide-open spaces. If you love being active outdoors, rucking is for you.

What is rucking?

Rucking simply means long-distance walking with a weighted pack. But it can be as easy or as challenging as you make it. Rucking is a form of active resistance training (ART) and is a great way to build strength and endurance, burn calories, and spend time outside.

What’s the history of rucking?

Rucking has its roots in military training, where “ruck marches” were used as a way to build mental and physical endurance under real conditions. If you live in a military area, you’ve probably seen local troops walking for miles with heavy rucksacks on their backs. That’s what rucking looks like – although there are no rules for civilians! You don’t have to carry any specific weight, or go any set distance. As long as you’re walking outdoors with a weighted rucksack (or weighted vest), you’re rucking.

Why is rucking different to hiking?

The key difference between rucking and any other kind of outdoor walking is the added resistance. Most people do rucking as a form of training rather than as a leisure walk, whereas hiking is usually driven by a desire to visit a certain place. Rucking is done with added resistance in the form of a weighted pack or weighted vest, whereas you don’t need to add extra load to go on a hike or long-distance walk.

Benefits of rucking vs hiking or running

If you’re looking for an outdoor activity to boost your endurance, strengthen your muscles, or lose some weight, should you do rucking, hiking, or running?

Hiking doesn’t require added weight (although you’ll definitely need to carry things with you for safety and comfort). Hiking is a great way to explore new trails and spend time in nature.

Running is defined by pace, and you need a certain level of fitness to start running. It’s more demanding than rucking and you might not be able to enjoy your surroundings as much.

Rucking is a great balance between the enjoyment of hiking and the fitness benefits of running. Wearing a weighted pack or weighted vest adds resistance, which will help you get fitter and stronger. But you control the pace, which means you can keep going for longer (and stop if you want to!

5 reasons to try rucking

Cardiovascular fitness – rucking requires you to walk with a weighted pack or vest, which will obviously challenge your CV and build base fitness

Muscular endurance – walking with added load will build strength and endurance in your lower body muscles, back, core, and shoulders

Mental wellbeing – rucking is a great way to get active outdoors and the sense of accomplishment will boost your confidence

Long-term health – rucking combines endurance and resistance training and will reduce your risk of long-term health issues associated with inactivity

Be in nature – loads of studies show that being active in nature is great for mental health, emotional wellbeing, mindset, and physical health

How to get into rucking

What equipment do you need to start rucking? The only thing you really need is a weighted ruck pack or weighted vest, but it’s well worth thinking about the rest of your kit, too.

Footwear – wear sturdy trainers, walking shoes, or boots depending on the terrain and weather. You might want to carry a spare pair of socks and a blister kit just in case.

Clothing – make sure you have suitable clothes for the time of year and location. This might mean layers you can take on or off, or it could be Winter gloves and a hat. Wear a top that won’t rub, especially under the straps of your ruck pack or weighted vest.

Safety equipment – it’s common sense to take a fully-charged phone, battery or power bank, water, snacks, and some spare change.

Navigation tools – if you’re rucking somewhere new, or going deep into a rural area, be sure to have a map, what3words on your phone, and some kind of light or torch.

Weight - the main thing you need to start rucking is a weight that you can carry on your back. Most people use a weighted backpack called a ruck pack but you can use a strong regular backpack with weight inside it. Or try a weighted vest – they are made to be comfortable and easy to wear for long periods of time, which is just what you need for rucking. Just be sure you are carrying a challenging amount of weight – around 10% of your bodyweight is a good start point as a beginner.

Can you use a weighted vest for rucking?

Ready to start rucking? You’ll need a weighted pack. Check out the Force Fitness store for comfortable weighted vests that are ideal for rucking. Our weighted vests run from 7kgs up to 20kgs. Pick your colour and be ready to go!

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