This simple exercise will help you shed fat, ditch back pain, and be a beast in the gym
American soldiers have been doing a simple fitness activity since the American Revolution, and it’s turned our military into the fittest, most feared fighting force in the history of the world.
That activity: rucking, or walking with a weighted pack on your back.
Rucking is the holy grail of work capacity. Learning to effectively cover ground under load is often the missing link that can be a game changer for your fitness level. Carrying heavy things is a fundamental human skill that most people don’t train. It builds you a more solid foundation of fitness.
Rucking gets you outside, walking in nature. That’s not only a welcome change, it can also reduces stress. Outdoor exercise also throws something new at your brain.
How To Do It
- Choose your load
A good place to start for general fitness is to use a weight that’s equal to about 10 percent of your total bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, load your pack with about 15 pounds. Don’t stress too much about going above or below by a pound or two—just stay in the general ballpark. Once you’re comfortable, you can progress up to 35 pounds.
- Load the pack
For weight, you could throw a dumbbell in your pack. Or you can even use a couple of bricks or a sand bag. If you feel like getting fancy, various online sites offer weight plates specifically designed for rucking. Wrapping a towel or bubble wrap around your weight will help to stabilize it, so it doesn’t shift around in the bag. You can use any backpack you have lying around, but if you plan on using 35 pounds regularly, invest in pack designed to hump serious weight.
Now, toss on your pack and go for a walk or hike. You can go as long and far as you want. But when you’re just starting, it’s best to ease into the activity. Afterwards, you’ll probably be sore in some places your normal fitness routine has ignored. Expect the muscles around your knees, your butt, and your low back to be tender. The upside is that the pack puts you into appropriate posture, so you’re working muscles that need working.