Burn Calories and Build Muscle with Rucking: A Beginner’s Guide 

 May 19, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Are you looking for a new and effective way to burn calories and build muscle? Introducing rucking—the low-cost, full-body workout that has been growing in popularity. Rucking is a form of exercise that utilizes a weighted rucksack to increase the intensity of your walks or hikes, incorporating strength training and cardiovascular work. 

Rucking on flat terrain for an hour burns approximately 506 calories, while walking the same distance in the same amount of time burns just 238 calories. However, your exact calorie burn may vary depending on the terrain, speed, and weight carried.

Low-impact yet calorie incinerating, it's no wonder rucking is quickly becoming the go-to exercise for those looking for a leaner physique and a fitter lifestyle. In today’s post, we’re going to dig into rucking and provide you with a beginner’s guide so that you can maximize your efforts and get the best results possible. Let’s get started!

Calculating Calories Burned During Exercise

Calculating Calories Burned During Exercise is a way for athletes to know how much energy they have used. Different exercises, such as rucking, will naturally burn more or fewer calories. For example, an hour of rucking can burn between 360-600 calories per hour depending on the intensity with which it is performed and the amount of weight in the rucking backpack. Calculating calories burned can help determine what intensity should be maintained for each exercise along with how many calories need to be eaten throughout the day to maintain a healthy diet.

Different methods can be used to calculate calorie burning based on bodyweight, heart rate, and other factors. Some people even use fitness trackers that measure their steps walked and calories burned. Knowing exactly how many calories are burned is important for tracking progress and reaching goals efficiently.

It is also important to remember those calories should not just be tracked but understood as well. There are always two sides to the argument when it comes to exercise and nutrition: one side which believes it is about eating less “empty” calories or fewer kilojoules and burning off more; and the other views it as an opportunity for educational study, making sure a person knows how much energy they are consuming through physical activity in order to create a healthier lifestyle that works best for them.

Although tracking calorie intake is important, there is much more that goes into being healthier than only counting the number of calories consumed versus those burned. To ensure you reach your goals safely and efficiently, it is essential to understand the metabolic intensity that corresponds with your specific form of exercise. We can use this vital knowledge by transitioning to discussing measuring metabolic intensity in depth.

Measuring Metabolic Intensity

Measuring Metabolic Intensity is an essential step to accurately calculate the amount of calories burned during exercise. A range of intensity levels exist from very low to very high, and each has it pros and cons. Understanding the basics of how metabolic intensity works can help inform a person's exercise program and maximize their calorie-burning potential.

One important factor to consider when measuring metabolic intensity is the duration of activity. Generally, longer durations of moderate-intensity activities, such as rucking, tend to provide more overall caloric burn benefits compared to short bursts of intense activity. Some experts contend that this is due to the body’s ability use calories continuously for a longer period of time, while others argue that it allows for more total work and therefore more total calories expended. This debate is ongoing and there are proponents for both points of view.

It is clear that metabolic intensity must be taken into account when determining caloric expenditure during a rucking session. Low-intensity activities such as walking will expend fewer calories than higher intensity activities such as running or jogging. This means that in order to maximize caloric burn, individual rucking sessions should include some periods of higher intensity activity. Moreover, longer durations are often associated with higher caloric expenditures due to the body’s continual burning of stored energy sources over greater lengths of time.

Finally, there are many tools available today to help measure the various intensity levels of one’s physical activity: fitness trackers like Fitbit and Garmin; heart rate monitoring systems (HRMs), such as Polar devices; and even basic smartphone apps can all be useful here. Utilizing these tools can be beneficial in helping individuals accurately measure their metabolic intensity during a rucking session and plan their workouts accordingly for maximum calorie burn and muscle growth benefit.

Now that we have discussed how metabolism influences caloric output, let us now move on to taking a look at other significant factors such as the Total Daily Energy Expenditure equation that can further assist with optimizing burnt calories through rucking exercises!

Using Total Daily Energy Expenditure Equation

Before one can make informed decisions on the amount of calories burned during a rucking activity, it is important to have an understanding of total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) equations. TDEE equations are used to estimate the number of calories an individual needs to consume based on their physical activity level, body composition, and other factors. This equation is a great tool for those looking to increase their caloric burn while rucking since it takes into account multiple components of the individual’s lifestyle and adjusts intake accordingly.

Using TDEE equations can be contentious because they also involve substantial estimation and variation. For instance, lifestyle estimations based off self-reported data such as daily steps, intensity of exercise, types of foods eaten, etc. can be unreliable. Ultimately, the individual should strive to find their own "sweet spot" when it comes to caloric intake and how much they should ruck for optimal results.

Another point of debate is whether it's better to measure your caloric burn from each individual rucking session or if utilizing the TDEE equation is more beneficial in the long run. Proponents for individual measurements argue that focusing on just one specific activity will allow them to track their progress more accurately and put less stress on deciding calorie requirements every day. However, those in favor of using a TDEE equation suggest that this approach offers a much better overall overview as it accounts for all activities undertaken throughout the day which may not always be accounted for when tracking just one session at a time.

Regardless of the approach chosen, it is generally accepted that calculating both your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your TDEE can help give you a good indication as to how many calories you should be consuming each day in order to achieve an optimal balance between burning calories and building muscle with rucking. To ensure that you get the most benefit from your workouts, though, remember to consider your diet and nutrition as well--and that's what our next section will cover in more depth.

Diet and Nutrition for Rucking Calories

Diet and nutrition are an important factor when burning calories and building muscle with rucking. Proper diet not only helps to fuel the body for exercise, but can help optimize results achieved during workouts. Studies show that it is inadvisable, however, to begin radically changing your diet just because you have started a new exercise routine.

When used in combination with the Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) equation, ruckers should aim to maintain their current caloric intake or slightly increase calorie consumption. Excess caloric intake can lead to an increase in fat rather than muscle mass, whereas too little carbohydrates, proteins, or other macronutrients can impinge on your progress.

Ideally, ruckers should aim to improve their already existing diet by replacing processed foods with healthier options like complex carbs and lean proteins. This way they’ll adequately energize their bodies without risking potential weight gain due to excess calorie intake. The intake of unsaturated fats and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables will also help boost exercise efficiency over time by providing essential vitamins and trace minerals while reducing inflammation. It is important to be mindful of portion sizes so as not to overeat while still consuming adequate amounts of food necessary for fuel, especially protein.

Over time and with practice, diet can be adjusted further depending on activity level along with goals in terms of building muscle or losing fat. For beginners however, maintaining consistency in eating healthy meals supplemented with regular activity through rucking should lead to the desired results over time.

With certain adjustments made to daily diet in mind then, it’s also important to get familiar with macronutrient balance; that is, the ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats consumed per day. Knowing this ratio is crucial for optimizing muscle growth and energy expenditure while minimizing unwanted fat gains from excess calories. In our next section we’ll dive into what an optimal macronutrient ratio looks like for ruckers getting started on their fitness journey together with a few helpful tips for making the most out of your nutrition plan.

  • According to a 2018 study, 10 minutes of moderate-intensity rucking burns an average of 103 calories.
  • Studies have found that an hour of rucking can burn up to 450 calories.
  • A 2017 study found that rucking at a pace of 3 miles per hour can burn twice as many calories as walking at the same speed.

Key Points

In order to successfully burn calories and build muscle through rucking, it is important to have a proper diet in place that can fuel the body and optimize results. Going on a radical diet change is not advised. Ruckers should aim to improve their current diet by incorporating more complex carbs and lean proteins while still maintaining their normal caloric intake or slightly increasing it. Including unsaturated fats, fiber rich fruits and veggies, and mindful portion sizes will help boost efficiency while avoiding weight gain due to excess calories. Macronutrient balance (the ratio of carbs, proteins, and fats per day) is key for optimizing muscle growth and minimizing fat gains from excess calories in order to achieve desired results over time.

Macronutrient Balance

When it comes to diet and nutrition for rucking calories, macronutrient balance is an important consideration. Macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats—the three major classes of nutrients in our diets that provide our bodies energy. Each macronutrient provides a different number of calories per gram: proteins provide four, carbohydrates provide four, and fats provide nine. That means that if we aren’t conscious of the balance of macronutrients we consume, it can impact how many calories we’re actually consuming and how many are used for fuel while rucking.

The debate over which macronutrient balance to strive for continues to be ongoing amongst fitness experts. Some argue that high-fat diets are most beneficial for providing energy during vigorous exercise like rucking, while others advocate more balanced ratios between fat, protein, and carbohydrates to fuel our bodies efficiently.

The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach; our individual needs may vary depending on our goals and activity levels associated with rucking. For instance, if our primary goal is building muscle mass, then we may need to focus more on increasing protein intake with an emphasis on lean sources such as fish and beans, rather than high-fat choices like cheese and avocados. On the other hand, if burning fat is our main goal then we should look to reduce carbohydrate intake while emphasizing foods with healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil.

Regardless of which macronutrient ratio someone chooses, it’s important to remember that finding the right balance of macronutrients will result in an optimal energy source while burning calories through rucking. Once you determine the correct ratio for your specific goals, you’ll have the best chance at maximizing energy from your nutrition each time you hit the trails or streets!

Having a well thought-out meal plan can be instrumental in helping us achieve our weight loss and muscle building goals when paired with physical activity like rucking. As we move forward to the next section discussing physical activity for burning calories through rucking, let’s keep in mind that incorporating some basic nutritional principles into our meal planning can help us get better results when performing rucking exercises regularly.

Physical Activity for Rucking Calories

The transition between macronutrient balance and physical activity should include the acknowledgment that, while proper nutrition is essential for both muscle building and calorie burning, physical activity plays an equally important role in achieving these goals. For starters, it is impossible to build muscle or burn calories without expending energy—which requires physical activity. Additionally, engaging in regular physical activity helps individuals develop greater muscular strength and endurance on their ruck march as well as increasing the amount of calories they can potentially burn.

When it comes to physical activity for rucking calories, there are two specific factors to consider: intensity and duration. On one hand, high-intensity activities such as interval training burns more calories over a shorter amount of time than low-intensity exercise like walking; however, many find it difficult to maintain high-intensity exercise for extended periods of time. Low-intensity activities can be maintained for longer periods of time but will not provide as great of a caloric expenditure as high-intensity exercise over the same period of time. In other words, in order to burn the most calories possible with rucking one must determine the right mix of intensity and duration based on their personal fitness level and goals.

For example, a beginner who wants to lose weight could start by interspersing walk/jog intervals into their routine so they can get higher intensity exercise with rest periods built in to keep them going. More advanced ruckers may opt for a variety of sprints mixed with heavy load exercises such as squats or lunges that will help increase both their muscular strength and metabolic rate during the session.

No matter what a person's fitness goal is with rucking, optimizing intensity and duration is vital in order to harvest the maximum benefit from any workout—in terms of both burning calories and building muscles. As such, taking these two elements into account when creating a ruck plan can help ensure long-term success in meeting whatever goals one has set for themselves. From here, it’s wise to spend some time considering what kinds of fitness goals are reasonable given these parameters for burning calories while exploring ways to achieve them safely and effectively.

Fitness Goals for Rucking Calories

When it comes to achieving fitness goals with rucking, the possibilities are endless; however, with goal setting, it’s important that each person sets realistic and achievable expectations. Achieving physical fitness is a long-term strategy where sustainable habits should be developed over time. Depending on individual levels of fitness, physical activity, and weight, goals should be tailored to each individual’s needs and circumstances.

When it comes to losing weight through rucking, experts agree that steady progression is key to long-term success. Many acknowledge that creating a caloric deficit will help individuals lose weight more efficiently. However, there is debate about the best approach for utilizing calories burned while rucking. Some experts suggest creating a deficit by reducing your calorie intake while others advocate for simply burning more calories with physical activity.

Those who choose to reduce their calorie intake in order to achieve their physical fitness goals suggest this method could lead to quicker results but also emphasizes that sustainability requires moderation and balance. On the other hand, those who encourage burning more calories with physical activity such as rucking suggests this could be a more enjoyable and accessible approach. With proper progression and support, research has indicated that caloric excess energy expenditure (CEEE), also referred to as “burning off” exercise energy output (EO), could be an effective approach in facilitating energy balance and ultimately mitigating weight gain.

Therefore, developing a personalized plan based on individual needs and circumstances will help facilitate a successful experience with rucking for those seeking to burn calories for physical fitness purposes. For many this may involve finding an appropriate balance between reducing caloric intake and increasing calorie output from physical activity such as rucking. With dedication and consistency, these helpful tips can help individuals reach their desired goals within a reasonable timeline without sacrificing sustainability or enjoyment of physical activity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What intensity of rucking is needed to burn the most calories?

The intensity of rucking needed to burn the most calories depends on your fitness level. If you are relatively new to exercise, it is important to start off with short trips and low weight to avoid injury. Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your rucking can result in more calories being burned. As you progress, you can increase the speed and weight of your ruck to achieve a higher intensity workout. This will help increase the number of calories you burn and develop muscle strength. Be sure to have proper form and posture throughout your sessions maintain safety and effectiveness. With consistent practice, you can progress to higher levels of intensity to reach your fitness goals.

How does rucking compare to other cardio activities in terms of calorie burning?

Rucking is one of the most effective ways to burn calories compared to other cardio activities. It uses nearly every muscle in your body, requires a lot of energy and stability, and does this in a low-impact way that allows for long duration workouts. In comparison to running or biking, studies have shown that rucking can burn 30%-50% more calories per hour due to its difficult terrain. Rucking also increases heart rate more quickly than traditional cardio activities and keeps it elevated for longer periods of time due to the intensity of the activity. This means more sustained calorie burning without the risk of injury associated with high-impact activities. As such, rucking is one of the best ways to burn calories quickly and safely.

Can any additional activities be done to increase the number of calories burned through rucking?

Yes, there are a number of additional activities that can be done to increase the number of calories burned through rucking. First, adding some weighted plates to the backpack or rucksack can add resistance and increase calorie expenditure. Furthermore, setting up interval workouts with an alternating pace of fast and slow ruck can help to further boost calorie burning. Finally, incorporating exercises such as squats, lunges, and push-ups into a routine can further raise the intensity of the workout and increase calorie expenditure. All of these activities can help to burn more calories in a rucking session compared to if one was to simply follow a steady pace the whole time.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

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