What Rucking Does To Your Body?

Group rucking
Written by Keren Dinkin

Military troops as part of a weighted marching training regimen. These military troops must march for long periods while carrying a hefty rucksack on their backs. They are trained to do so to get accustomed to marching with heavy equipment and also be able to jump into action. 

Rucking has the advantage of toughening the body and mind to endure. It also helps in building and maintaining willpower.

How Effective Is Rucking?

There are several advantages to rucking. 

Because rucking involves carrying big weights on your back while walking, jogging, or trekking, it can help you improve your posture as well as develop your muscles, among other benefits. So, if you’re waiting for an opportunity to backpack around Switzerland, you can use your time to ruck as practice before you go.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on how to make your own rucking weights that you might be interested in.

Here are a few other benefits of rucking:

Betters Mental Health 

Aside from the physical benefits, rucking also aids mental health and allows you to let off stress. Ponder this scenario: you’re lonely and stressed, and you finally have a week off. Allow yourself to join a ruck group with many other people who have scheduled a ruck date. Finally, on that day, you’ll be able to get outside, explore the hills or take a deep breath of fresh air and fill your lungs. You can meet new friends and be challenged to achieve greater fitness goals. 

According to research, exercising outside has been proven to lower stress, depression, obesity, and improve cognitive capacities. When you’ve fully developed into a strong person, your confidence will shine through and motivate you to achieve greater goals.

Provides Cardiovascular Training

Rucking is also beneficial to your body’s organs. This workout is quite effective in increasing your heart rate and breathing rate. The weight of a rucksack, as well as ascending steep terrains or simply walking miles is responsible for increasing your heart rate, which is good for cardiovascular health. 

Our shoulders, back, legs, and knees are stressed during a rucking workout, which causes the heart to beat quicker, increasing circulation and allowing oxygenated blood to circulate throughout the body.

Recommended Reading: We’ve written a whole article on whether rucking is bad for your knees that you might be interested in.

Helps in Fat Metabolism

According to studies, rucking burns 3 times as many calories as walking and roughly 2 times as many calories as running. This means that rucking regularly will almost certainly help you burn fat faster. The walking/jogging portion of rucking provides aerobic exercise, whereas the weights you carry act as strength workouts. 

Both have some of the greatest metabolic rates of any training regimen. For beginners, the recommended weight to carry for rucking is 10-20% of your body weight. 

The amount of fat you burn is partially determined by the weight you carry on your back. This is because the more weight you have, the greater pressure your muscles and legs are under, requiring you to use more effort to walk.

Did you know you could even ruck on a treadmill? The only downside is that the social and outdoor aspects of rucking are lost. But if you’re an introvert, or you’re self-conscious, there’s always an alternative way to ruck.

Improves Strength And Flexibility

The weight of a backpack puts strain on your back and shoulders, as well as your glutes and legs. This contributes to you maintaining a proper posture, the strengthening of back muscles, and endurance. We will discuss more about this later in this article. 

How Long Should You Ruck For?

That is entirely dependent on your workout regimen, weight, and strength. Some people ruck for three hours each day, while others ruck for just 30 minutes. The amount you ruck is determined by the weight you carry, your speed, and your strength. Be careful not to overwork yourself to exhaustion.

Does Rucking Make You Shorter?

Rucking will not make you any shorter. But here’s the important part: it can lead to spinal compression. Spinal compression occurs when there is too much pressure on the spine, which can lead to it bending or depressing into the body. This condition is most commonly seen in elderly people whose spines naturally compress with age, making them appear shorter.

This can be the case with rucking, especially if you begin with an overwhelming weight as a beginner and continue to increase it without allowing your body to adjust to the new fitness regimen. 

You are also at a high risk of suffering from this condition if you decide to ruck when having back problems.

What Muscles Does Rucking Work?

Rucking works the following muscles as a result of the weight load, and the aerobic activity (walking or trekking):

  • Back
  • Shoulder
  • Thigh
  • Calves
  • Core
  • Glutes
  • Hips
  • Trap

Does Rucking Build Muscle?

Yes! This is the major advantage of rucking since the main focus is on the shoulders and the back. Back exercises, for example, activate the muscles in the back. The strain on the shoulder and back muscles causes them to activate and flex in response to the increased weight and activity of walking. If you want to keep building back muscle, gradually increase the weight to activate the muscles and deltoid.

When you add extra load to your torso worth 10-20% of your total weight, the core activates and works to correct the weight imbalance between your torso and legs. It does so to keep you balanced while walking and to protect your back from the overbearing load. This core stimulation results in muscular development over time.

Does Rucking Build Traps?

Yes, it does. When we ruck, one of the muscles we primarily engage and activate are our traps. The trap muscles assist us in elevating, depressing, rotating, and retracting the shoulder blade. 

The major area of our body that bears the weight while we ruck is our back, which is where our traps are located. It causes the traps to tense repeatedly to keep our shoulders and back in place. As a result, the muscle naturally develops and grows in response to regular exercise. 

For the uninitiated, traps is short for trapezius muscles. It is a muscle in the upper back of the body that allows us to tilt and bend our heads and necks, as well as other postures and movements like shrugging and twisting our arms. 

Does Rucking Build Leg Muscle?

Recall your first time doing squats, trekking, or running on a treadmill. The next day, you must have felt some pain and discomfort in your legs, right? However, you probably got used to it with time, and the soreness subsided. That’s the case with rucking as well.

When you ruck, you put a lot of strain on your legs since they have to support your upper body as well as keep it going up a hill and over miles. Because of the backpack and weight, your legs would have to work more than normal, and what happens when you exercise your legs? Your legs become strong and resilient, allowing you to grow and acquire muscle mass.

Does Rucking Build Calves?

Yes, rucking helps to develop calf muscles. Even the thighs are built by rucking. Whether you’re rucking on the treadmill, up a hill, or during a marathon, your legs will have to keep you moving at all times.

Does Rucking Build Strength?

Rucking most certainly helps build strength and endurance. People ruck for several reasons, but two of the most common reasons are strength and endurance.

This is particularly true for military people. As you may have gathered, the military places a high value on rucking to improve strength and stamina. Most military personnel are required to ruck up to 30% of their body weight to prepare them for the combat arena, where they are required to walk for hours with heavy equipment. 

Rucking helps you develop upper-body strength. It helps you build good posture and a sturdy body frame, which are great characteristics of a strong body. You may even excel at other workouts like cycling and lifting weights if you have good posture and strong arms. 

The Final Call

If you want to be a mountaineer, weightlifter, wrestler, or join the army, rucking is a great exercise to get ready for the challenges ahead. Don’t forget to invest in a good pair of boots, a high-quality rucksack, and find a group of like-minded people to keep you motivated. Finally, remember to invest a little time and enough patience to reap the benefits of rucking. It’ll go a long way in helping you achieve your goal of a fit body.

Featured Image Source: “Airmen honor fallen air advisors through nearly 90-mile ruck march” by North Carolina National Guard is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Keren Dinkin