Rucking is a term I’ve heard thrown around a lot lately. The funny thing is when I was in the military I loved to hate rucking! It usually meant going for a 15 -20 mile run with 35+ pounds in your ALICE (All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment) pack while also wearing uncomfortable boots. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me now either!
With the popularization of military-style fitness and training programs rucking has taken on a civilian aspect as well. Most of us don’t need to train like we’re going into an indoctrination or selection process, so our ruck-training will be considerably different than our military professionals.
So What Is Rucking?
The term “ruck” is short for “rucksack” which is derived from the German word for your back, der Rücken, combined with what you carry on it, a sack. Most people, especially in the civilian populous, simply call it a backpack.
So when you combine a rucksack with a foot march, you get a “ruck march”, which is the term we used frequently in the Marine Corps. We did have other names for it as well, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.
If you have ever gone on a hike and carried supplies in your backpack (like water, food, change of clothes, or camping gear) then you’ve been rucking; or, have gone on a ruck.
When my son and I backpacked to Havasu Falls we each carried about a 50-pound pack for the 10-mile hike in. Our primary purpose was to camp and experience the amazingly beautiful waterfalls. We didn’t have a pace to keep and frequently stopped to take pictures and to take in our environment.
When I completed my first GORUCK Light Challenge I carried just shy of 30-pounds for just over 8.5 miles. The primary purpose of rucking is the physical exercise and training (for upcoming backpacking adventures and GORUCK events) by traveling on varied terrain over extended distances while carrying weight.
Also, the military standard for a “ruck march” is 15-minute miles while under a full load, typically around 50 pounds. Outside of some professions and tactical athletes, most of us won’t need to carry 50 pounds or more on our backs and maintain that pace for 20+ miles.
Why You Should Ruck
Rucking has many benefits to anyone with the ability to walk. Even though I have trouble walking due to the nerve damage in both my legs I find rucking to be very helpful both physically and mentally. I am not a doctor, but I do personally feel the benefits of rucking.
Physically, rucking is a great way to improve your aerobic conditioning, overall strength, and even your posture. Rucking is a full body workout that when done properly will improve your posture.
Mentally, rucking gives you the opportunity to get outside and discover your environment. It gives you the ability to slow down and connect with nature and clear your head.