Written by Gail Mitch, Health & Lifestyle Expert, CPT, GFI, YTT200, PN L1
Photography by Paul Buceta
Hair & Makeup by 
Monica Kalra

Have your ever stopped to think how comfortable we have it in today’s modern world? Even with all the comforts, the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of people in our society is at an all-time low. Living in comfort one hundred percent of the time has led to a decrease in resilience, adaptability, and overall health according to Michael Easter, author of The Comfort Crisis. In his book, Easter argues that embracing discomfort and adding purposeful challenges to our daily and weekly lives can foster growth, mental and physical toughness, and fulfillment. This really struck a chord with me, and I was up for adding some tough challenges into my routine. 

In The Comfort Crisis, Easter discusses Rucking as a form of physical activity to reintroduce discomfort into our lives. What is Rucking? Simply put, Rucking is walking with a weighted backpack or vest. Aside from helping you learn to grow through a physical discomfort, Rucking provides both cardio and strength benefits while remaining low impact, which makes it accessible for all fitness levels and ages. 

Although it may sound novel, the roots of Rucking date back to ancient times, when people carried goods and supplies over long distances using sacks or bags. In the military, Rucking has been a fundamental part of training for soldiers, who carry heavy packs (also known as rucksacks) with their gear, weapons, and supplies for their missions. Simple, effective, and affordable, in recent years, Rucking has gained popularity as a form of physical training for fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike.

I introduced Rucking into my routine last July and have not looked back. Through Rucking, I have been able to increase my VO2max (improved cardio), my legs and core are stronger than ever, and I can see and feel the difference during my strength training workouts. My mental health has dramatically improved as well by adding this challenging physical activity to my week—I am able to deal with stress much better.

"Rucking provides both cardio and strength
benefits while remaining low impact, which makes it accessible for all fitness levels and ages."

Health Benefits of Rucking

Improved Cardiovascular Fitness 

Walking with a weighted backpack increases heart rate and strengthens the cardiovascular system.

Improved Strength

Carrying a weighted backpack engages various muscle groups, including the legs, core, and upper body, leading to increased strength and endurance.

Enhanced Mental Resilience

Rucking challenges mental toughness and resilience by pushing individuals out of their comfort zones, and teaching them to persevere through physical discomfort, providing opportunities for personal growth and stress relief. Overcoming these obstacles can boost confidence and self-esteem.

Bone Health

Weight-bearing activities like Rucking can help improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, particularly important for women as they age.

Weight loss & Maintenance

Rucking burns calories and can aid in weight loss or weight maintenance when combined with a balanced diet. 

Social Connection

Rucking can be done alone or with others, fostering social connections and providing opportunities for group activities and camaraderie. There are many Rucking clubs in cities all over, making it easy to be a part of a fun social activity while improving your overall health.

The First Step 

All you need to start is a good quality backpack. You can purchase specialized Rucking backpacks or weighted vests, but it is not necessary, especially for beginners. Starting out, it is recommended to carry about 10-20 percent of your body weight. For example, a 150-pound woman should begin with a 15–30-pound ruck. You can simply add a dumbbell or weight plate (or similarly weighted household item) to your backpack. My personal recommendation, after Rucking for the last year, is to start lighter than you think you will need to (10-15 pounds) and add weight as you become more experienced (20-45 pounds). Rucking is tougher than it sounds—I promise!—so it is essential to listen to your body and adjust the weight accordingly to ensure a challenging yet safe Rucking experience. A convenient and effective way to improve physical fitness, mental resilience, and overall well-being, I challenge you to try this versatile activity that will get you out, moving, and having fun while growing in every way.

Rucking Done Right

If you’re ready to get comfortable being uncomfortable, assess your level and try a weighted walking workout outdoors.

Alternatively, you can ruck indoors on a treadmill if there is inclement weather, or you are short on time but still want the mental and physical challenge.

STRONG Fitness
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