2024 is the Year to Start Rucking

2 mins read

In the quest for health and longevity, a new fitness trend has been making waves: rucking. This activity, simple yet highly effective, involves walking or hiking with a weighted backpack. Inspired by military training, rucking has gained tremendous popularity among civilians for its unique offering of cardio and strength benefits.

What Is Rucking?

Rucking takes a simple walk and turns the volume up, making it a full-body workout. By adding weight to your regular walk, you challenge your muscles more, leading to improved strength and endurance. The concept is straightforward: you carry a weighted backpack or vest while walking.

Surging Popularity

Rucking’s rise in popularity can be attributed to its simplicity and accessibility. It doesn’t demand specialized equipment or a gym. Anyone can start, regardless of their fitness level. This inclusivity, particularly during the pandemic when gyms were closed and everyone had to get creative with their fitness, makes it a preferred choice for many.

Is Rucking an Effective Workout?

Absolutely. Studies show that rucking significantly boosts aerobic fitness. Participants in a 10-week rucking program experienced notable improvements in their V02 max, an indicator of cardiovascular health.

The primary allure of rucking lies in its comprehensive approach to fitness. It works out the whole body, from glutes and quads to shoulders and back. This total body engagement is rare in most exercises, making rucking a standout choice for those seeking a balanced workout.

Starting with Rucking

Beginning rucking is easy. Select a sturdy backpack, start with a weight that’s about 10% of your body weight, and gradually increase it. The weight should be placed high on your back to minimize strain. A typical beginner workout involves walking a comfortable distance with this setup, slowly escalating the challenge as your body adapts.

Personal Experience

I discovered rucking during the pandemic when gyms closed, and I needed a creative way to stay in shape. At the time I didn’t have a rucking backpack or weight vest, so I improvised with an old backpack filled with books. This makeshift solution transformed my evening strolls into a more challenging and enjoyable workout, helping me burn extra calories after long days of working from home. Back then I was rucking nearly every day. These days I ruck less frequently now that gyms have reopened, but I still try to incorporate it into my routine at least once a week. This simple yet effective exercise continues to be a favored part of my fitness regimen.


Rucking presents a simple and efficient way to enhance overall fitness, merging the benefits of cardio and strength training. It’s especially appealing for those seeking a straightforward, effective way to improve their health and longevity. Remember, like any exercise regimen, start slow, be consistent, and listen to your body’s cues to avoid injuries. Before starting any new exercise program, including rucking, it’s important to consult with your doctor. This step is crucial, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns. Your healthcare provider can help determine if the chosen exercise is suitable for you and provide guidance to ensure your safety and well-being as you embark on your fitness journey.

As rucking continues to grow in popularity, it stands out as a practical and impactful addition to any fitness routine, especially for those focused on long-term health and wellness.


  1. Mair JL, De Vito G, Boreham CA. Low Volume, Home-Based Weighted Step Exercise Training Can Improve Lower Limb Muscle Power and Functional Ability in Community-Dwelling Older Women. J Clin Med. 2019;8(1):41. Published 2019 Jan 4. doi:10.3390/jcm8010041
  2. Orr, Robin. (2010). The History of the Soldier’s Load. Australian Army Journal. vii. 67-88.
  3. Orr R, Pope R, Lopes TJA, et al. Soldier Load Carriage, Injuries, Rehabilitation and Physical Conditioning: An International Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(8):4010. Published 2021 Apr 11. doi:10.3390/ijerph18084010
  4. Wills JA, Saxby DJ, Glassbrook DJ, Doyle TLA. Load-Carriage Conditioning Elicits Task-Specific Physical and Psychophysical Improvements in Males. J Strength Cond Res. 2019;33(9):2338-2343. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003243
  5. Wills JA, Saxby DJ, Glassbrook DJ, Doyle TLA. Sex-Specific Physical Performance Adaptive Responses Are Elicited After 10 Weeks of Load Carriage Conditioning. Mil Med. 2023;188(3-4):658-664. doi:10.1093/milmed/usab470

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