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Rucking - Benefits & Risks

If you've never rucked before, chances are you don't realize that there is a very large rucking community out there. Rucking is such a simple concept, but one which can challenge your body and mind.

As with any/all exercises, there are rewards and there are risks. The two most important things to know about any exercise are:

  1. Why you should do it (what are the benefits)

  2. What you shouldn't (the potential risks)

Let's begin with the benefits. These are listed in no particular order.

Rucking can develop greater lower body strength & endurance.

If you walk or run, your legs are only carrying YOU; whatever you weigh. However, when rucking, you get to add additional weight for your legs carry. Any increase in weight will demand greater strength capacity and endurance from the muscles carrying the load. As a result, as you ruck and recover from your rucks, your legs will adapt by becoming stronger and better endurance.

Rucking is a great form of cross training.

If you are a runner, rucking can be beneficial to you as a form of cross training for the reason listed directly above. It can also be beneficial as cross training because it is an extremely similar movement pattern to running - so the transfer is very high. Carrying heavier loads also requires more work from your cardiovascular system. For this reason, walking with a 30lb ruck might demand the same level of work from your cardiovascular system as a jog or a light run (as examples).

Rucking builds mental toughness in a way many other forms of cardio do not.

Speaking from experience, there is a drastic mental difference between running a marathon and rucking a marathon with 60lbs of weight (I do not recommend doing that). While running a marathon certainly requires mental fortitude, generally your legs are the only things really suffering when running a marathon. When you ruck a marathon...especially with a lot of weight...your traps are being crushed. Your low back aches. Your upper back is tensed. Your neck is stiff. Everything feels far worse. Rucking can require a lot of mental toughness...and mental toughness is extremely valuable.


3 Training Days Per Week

3 custom workouts weekly to build the strength and physicality needed to perform at a high level at tactical competitions like The Tactical Games, The Gun Run, The Patriot Games, and more. These workouts are also extremely beneficial for military, law enforcement, and fire fighters. Everything about the program is customized for your fitness level, the training equipment available to you, your goals, the time you have available to train, and so on.


Now let's talk about the negative aspects of rucking. Again, in no particular order.

There are a lot of injuries associated with rucking.

Normally these issues show up as overuse injuries. A significant amount of data regarding injuries from rucking has been accumulated from military studies. While that's potentially beneficial data, it may not be a fair representation of the civilian population who rucks. In any case, just like with running, lower body injuries such as stress fractures and soft tissue injuries are not uncommon. With rucking, there are also low back injuries and nerve damage that can occur from the straps pressing on the traps in the wrong way/position. USUALLY injuries in rucking occur from carrying too much weight too soon or carrying the weight for too long or starting off with no foundation in fitness at all and jumping right into a load-bearing activity.

Rucking can be expensive.

This obviously varies. You can ruck using a $30 backpack you bought at Walmart by throwing some heavy objects in it. While I wouldn't recommend that because of how the weight carries in a backpack like that, it certainly works. You can buy surplus/used military rucks fairly inexpensively, but if you want a brand new ruck, it'll likely cost you a few hundred dollars. Most people ruck in boots. I'm still trying to figure that one out. I know that those in the military have to wear boots, but I haven't figured out why a large portion of the civilian population rucks in boots. In any case, if you are going to ruck in boots, that's an additional expense (outside of the shoes you normally wear for running) for rucking.

Rucking does put extra stress on your joints compared to other forms of cardio.

Whether you bike, row, ski, swim, etc. there are a lot of options for low impact (and impact free) cardio. Rucking is not one of these forms. If you are a 150lb person walking along the road, you aren't putting a ton of impact on your joints. If you are a 250lb person, you are putting far more impact on your joints than a 150lb person...but maybe you have a lot more muscle mass and can handle higher impact...but if a 150lb person throws on a 50lb ruck, all of the sudden, their joints have to support 200lbs of weight. It can be a lot of stress on the joints, so be smart with how much weight you use.

That's it for now. If you learned something in this article, comment and let us know what you learned!

If you are interested in rucking, or tactical athleticism in general, visit our Tactical Training Page. We design training programs completely customized to you, your goals, your time availability, your current fitness level, and so on.

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