Why Is Rucking So Hard?

group of people rucking
Photo credit: C.C. Chapman

Let me tell you how I got into rucking—it all started when I randomly stumbled upon this Goruck event online. I registered because, why not. Tried it out for the first time and was exhausted by the end of. It was fun though.

As I took those initial steps with a weighted backpack, something clicked inside me. There was a unique appeal to the simplicity and challenge of rucking. With each ruck, I found myself falling more and more in love with it. The results I saw were motivating—I could feel myself getting stronger and fitter.

As my passion for rucking grew, I dedicated more time to it. I started experimenting with heavier weights, pushing myself to new limits. And guess what? My performance skyrocketed. It was incredible to witness the progress I was making and the goals I was crushing along the way.

However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Like many beginners, I made some rookie mistakes and ended up with a few injuries from my rucking adventures. But deep down, I knew I could overcome those challenges.

That brings me to the purpose of this article. I want to share my thoughts on why rucking can be so tough for some people and, more importantly, what you can do to make it easier and more accessible. Trust me, I’ve been there, and I understand the hurdles you might face as a beginner.

So, if you’re ready to embark on your own rucking adventure, stick with me. I’ll provide you with practical tips and insights that will help you overcome the initial hurdles, avoid common mistakes, and make your rucking experience more enjoyable and rewarding. Let’s dive in and discover how you can conquer the challenges and embrace the incredible world of rucking!

5 Reasons Why You Find Rucking So Hard?

1- Time Under Tension
2- Weight Load
3- Rucking Works on Your Stabilization
4- Multiple Muscles Working Simultaneously
5. Uneven Terrains and Inclines

1- Time Under Tension

What makes rucking difficult for some is the weight load. Carrying a heavy rucksack for an hour or two becomes tough. It becomes tougher the longer you go.

Picture this, if I asked you to carry your arms out with no weight. The first couple of minutes will be a breeze. You won’t have any problems. When the timer hits 10 or 15 minutes, you may feel that your arms and shoulders are starting to feel heavier than a truck!

The same concept applies here. Carrying anything for that long will start to get tiring. This concept applies to rucking, but it’s not a bad thing!

You’re ability to work on extending that time under tension, the better your endurance becomes.

2- Weight Load

Rucking is all about strapping on a backpack filled with weights and taking on the challenge. Trust me, that added weight makes a world of difference and kicks up the difficulty level. It’s like having your own personal resistance trainer with you every step of the way.

You get to decide how much weight you want to carry based on your goals and preferences. It could be just a few pounds to start with or even up to 30 pounds for the seasoned ruckers out there. You can toss in water bottles, sandbags, weights, or those fancy ruck plates designed for the purpose. The more weight you add, the more your muscles and heart have to work, turning a regular walk into a serious sweat session.

Think about it, as you walk with that weighted backpack, your leg muscles go into overdrive. Your quads, hamstrings, and calves work their magic to support and propel you forward. It’s like a leg day workout on the go. And let’s not forget about your core muscles! They kick in to stabilize your body and keep you standing tall. Those abs and lower back muscles are putting in the effort to maintain proper posture throughout the ruck.

But it doesn’t stop there. Your upper body joins the party too. Your shoulders, arms, and upper back muscles have the important job of carrying the weight of the backpack. They work together to give you the strength and stability you need to rock that ruck. It’s a full-body workout, my friend.

Now, let’s talk about your heart. Rucking is like cardio on steroids. That added weight creates resistance that pushes your cardiovascular system to the max. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to deliver that oxygen-rich blood to your working muscles. It’s a challenge that boosts your endurance and aerobic fitness over time. You’ll feel your cardiovascular system getting stronger with each ruck.

3- Rucking Works on Your Stabilization

For most of us, including myself, working a 9 – 5 has us barely using our core and stabilizing muscles. Rucking becomes difficult for most people because it forces us to use muscles that we don’t normally use.

The way the weight sits in your backpack affects how your body moves when rucking. It messes with your balance and biomechanics, adding an extra layer of difficulty. You’ll find yourself adjusting your posture and gait to handle the weight, and that takes some serious effort and coordination. It’s like a balancing act, and you’ll be a pro at it in no time.

Just a heads up, the weight in your backpack might shift as you ruck. It adds a fun element of unpredictability to the whole experience. You’ll have to make quick adjustments to keep your balance and stay steady on your feet. It’s like a workout for those smaller stabilizing muscles that often get neglected. They get their chance to shine during a ruck.

Ruck plates does help make things easier, but not everyone has access to them. Check out our full list of things you can put in your rucksack for weight.

4- Multiple Muscles Working Simultaneously

When it comes to rucking, it’s not just your legs that get in on the action. Nope, it’s a full-body fiesta! This activity fires up multiple muscle groups all at once, from your legs to your core and even your upper body. It’s like a party where everyone’s invited, and they’re all ready to work up a sweat.

Let’s start with those legs of yours. They take center stage during a ruck. Your quads, hamstrings, and calves are the stars of the show, working together to support and propel you forward. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, we’re here to give you that killer leg day workout, no gym required!” So get ready to feel the burn and see some serious gains in those leg muscles.

But wait, there’s more! Your core muscles want in on the fun too. They play a vital role in keeping you steady and balanced during the ruck. Think of your abs and lower back muscles as the superheroes of your torso, working hard to maintain proper posture and stability throughout the entire workout. They’re like your personal cheerleaders, keeping you standing tall and strong.

And let’s not forget about the upper body party people. Your shoulders, arms, and upper back muscles join forces to carry the weight of the backpack. They’re like the support crew, making sure you can handle whatever comes your way. They work together to give you the strength and stability you need to rock that ruck. So wave goodbye to those wimpy arms because they’re about to get a serious upgrade.

Now, let’s be real for a second. Rucking isn’t a walk in the park, especially if you’re not used to regular exercise. It can be a real challenge, but that’s part of what makes it so awesome. It pushes your body in ways you never thought possible.

5. Uneven Terrains and Inclines

Alright, let’s talk about one of the reasons why rucking is no walk in the park (pun intended): the uneven surfaces that we face as ruckers. When you’re out there on the trails or rugged terrains, it’s like nature decided to turn up the difficulty dial. Not only do you have to deal with bumpy, rocky paths, but you also have to conquer those sneaky inclines that seem to appear out of nowhere.

Now, why does this make rucking so challenging? Well, my friend, it’s a combination of factors that work against you. First, you have the uneven surfaces that demand your balance, stability, and adaptability. Each step becomes a test of your ability to navigate through rocks, roots, and unexpected obstacles. It’s like playing hopscotch with nature’s obstacle course.

These uneven surfaces and inclines also add an extra dose of resistance to your workout. Think about it: when you’re walking on a flat surface, you have a certain level of resistance from your body weight alone. But when you throw in those uneven terrains and inclines, it’s like nature’s way of saying, “Hey, let’s make this even tougher!” The resistance increases as you push against the forces trying to pull you down or slow you down.

That added resistance means your muscles have to work harder. Your legs, in particular, have to power through those uphill battles, activating your quads, hamstrings, and calves to conquer each incline. It’s like doing a leg workout on the go! And let’s not forget about your glutes—they’ll be thanking you later for the extra burn.

But it’s not just your lower body that’s feeling the challenge. Your upper body muscles also come into play as you navigate those uneven surfaces. Your arms, shoulders, and back have the important job of helping you maintain balance and stability. They work in harmony with your lower body to keep you upright and moving forward, even when the trail seems determined to throw you off course.

5 Ways to Make Rucking Easier

group of people rucking
Photo credit: C.C. Chapman

1. Don’t start with heavy weights

When starting out with rucking, it’s essential not to dive into heavy weights right away. Take it from someone who learned the hard way – start with lighter weights and gradually increase the load as your body gets accustomed to the demands of rucking. Patience is key, and it’s all about building up strength and endurance over time.

2. Be Patient

Remember to be patient on your rucking journey. Set realistic goals, embrace the process, and celebrate each small victory. Progress takes time, and every step forward brings you closer to becoming a seasoned rucker. Take a deep breath, enjoy the experience, and trust that you’ll reach your goals in due time.

3. Invest in Good Rucking Gear

Investing in high-quality rucking gear is a game-changer. A well-fitting rucksack that evenly distributes the weight and features adjustable straps and comfortable padding is a must. Don’t forget about proper footwear either! Sturdy shoes or boots with excellent traction will make a world of difference and keep you blister-free.

Check out our recommended rucking gear:
Rucking Boots
Rucking Socks
Rucking Plates

4. Avoid Common Rucking Injuries

Prioritize safety and prevent injuries while rucking. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. If something feels off, take a break, assess the situation, and make any necessary adjustments. Don’t skip the warm-up either! Stretch your muscles, get the blood flowing, and reduce the risk of strains or sprains. And remember, rest days are crucial for recovery and healing.

Learn more about common rucking injuries and how you can avoid them.

5. Ruck with People

Rucking with friends or joining a ruck club or event has been a game-changer for me. Let me tell you, having that camaraderie and support makes the entire ruck so much easier. When I’m out there, pushing myself to the limit and feeling exhausted, having my fellow ruckers by my side gives me that mental push I need.

There’s something special about the way we come together, motivating and encouraging each other to keep going. When I’m on the verge of giving up, their words of encouragement, high-fives, and cheers become my fuel to keep pushing forward. It’s like having my own personal cheer squad, reminding me that I can conquer any challenge that comes my way.

Not only does rucking with friends make the experience more enjoyable, but it also brings a sense of accountability. We’re all in it together, and we don’t want to let each other down. So, we push ourselves to new limits, supporting and challenging each other every step of the way.

And let me tell you, the memories we create along the journey are priceless. We share stories, laughter, and good times while we ruck. It’s not just a physical workout; it’s a social experience that strengthens our bonds and creates lasting connections.

So, if you’re thinking about going for a ruck, consider inviting a friend or checking out a local ruck club or event. Trust me, the sense of camaraderie and the mental push you’ll get from being surrounded by like-minded ruckers is incredible

Adam Sheriff

Adam is an experienced rucker and has been in the game for the past 5 years. He competed in a local ruck challenge and was hooked ever since. He has been actively helping people get into rucking and has set up local ruck events to help spread the word and encourage more people to get in on the action. When he’s not out rucking or setting up ruck events in town, he manages RuckForMiles.com.

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