Rucking vs Running: Which Is Better for Your Health? 

 May 19, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

You’re a fitness enthusiast looking to get in shape and become healthy, but there are so many options for how to get there! Should you go running or should you go rucking? We all know how good running can be for your physical health, helping your cardiovascular system, building stamina, and burning calories. But rucking has exploded in popularity in recent years as a way for people to not only get fit but to build strength and agility. So which is better for your health? 

Rucking is a form of physical exercise that involves carrying a weighted backpack or vest while walking, jogging, or running. Running is another form of physical exercise that involves moving your body at different speeds for fitness and/or competition purposes.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of rucking and running, and how each option can help you achieve your health goals.We’ll consider factors such as how each option can help improve your aerobic fitness, strengthen your muscles, develop good posture, improve stability, and help you build endurance. So read on to find out which is better for your health, rucking or running!

The Difference Between Rucking and Running

Rucking and running are two distinctly different activities with their own set of pros and cons. Rucking is a physical activity derived from military training, where you wear a weighted backpack (ruck) and walk at a brisk pace for distance or time. During running, the body is subjected to different forces than during rucking - as opposed to running’s linear motion, rucking is more step-like which shifts your center of gravity and activates more muscles in the body.

Proponents of running cite the aerobic benefits coming from an elevated heart rate, improved cardiovascular endurance, increased calorie burn, and better fat burning capacity that accompany the act of running. Conversely, proponents of rucking note how it can lead to injury prevention due to the difference in posture when carrying a load. This provides extra stability and core strength to take stress off of joints and lower back. Additionally, rucking rarely requires any extra equipment--just a good pair of shoes and a backpack.

Ultimately, both activities have something unique to offer in terms of health benefits. Taking into consideration things like preferred exercise routines, available equipment, and desired outcomes should be taken into account while considering either activity. Regardless of which one you choose to pursue, it is important to regularly work out in order to maintain good physical health. With that being said, transitioning into the next section about other benefits that come with rucking over running may prove useful in determining which exercise may be best for you.

Benefits of Rucking Over Running

When discussing the benefits of rucking over running, it is important to consider how both activities can positively and negatively impact an individual’s health. For starters, rucking requires individuals to carry a weighted pack, while running does not. This provides an extra challenge to ruckers who must engage and strengthen different muscle groups; these include the glutes, active back muscles, and core which are often underdeveloped from regular running. It has been proven through studies that incorporating weight-bearing exercises into an exercise regime can help alleviate pain associated with muscular imbalances.

It is also worth noting that running and rucking can have similar benefits when done accurately and with proper form. Both support improving aerobic fitness, mental clarity, general wellbeing, stamina levels, calorie burning, fat burning, and overall cardiovascular capacity. The key difference lies in the magnitude of impact felt in different areas of the body. Unlike other forms of cardio such as running or stationary cycling, training with weights builds strength in joints and muscle tendons during each step or stride taken while rucking.

Finally, switching between different types of workouts like running vs. rucking provides an added stimulus for progress and improvement on all facets of physical fitness. With progressive loading techniques, individuals can build up their muscular strength and stamina while engaging various muscle groups for a more balanced physique.

It is evident that when comparing the two exercises side by side and done properly for maximal benefit that rucking yields many unmatched advantages over traditional running exercises. Transitioning to the next workout regimen can be beneficial for those looking to improve strength in certain areas of their body while maintaining overall levels of fitness. Muscular strength and endurance become paramount when intensely training for any event; understanding both can help athletes avoid injury while maximizing performance potential.

  • A 2017 study found that moderate to vigorous rucking with a load of 9.1 kg (20 lbs) burned an average of 14 kcal/min in overweight men.
  • Research conducted in 2016 demonstrated that running burns more calories per minute than walking. For example, walking at 3 mph burned about 4.5 kcal/min, while running at 6 mph burned 11.9 kcal/min.
  • According to a 2017 study, both running and rucking can improve muscular strength and endurance, as well as metabolic health markers such as highest oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and resting heart rate.

Muscular Strength and Endurance

Rucking is often viewed as a better form of exercise than running when it comes to muscular strength and endurance. While it has been argued that both forms of exercise can contribute positively to muscle mass, studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have found that carrying a loaded backpack during rucking involves more of the muscular system than running itself. The muscles involved in rucking include the entire leg muscles group, arms, and shoulders - all of which are used with every step taken when holding a weighted backpack. Moreover, due to the added weight on your back, you are required to continually engage additional postural muscles in an effort to remain balanced and upright. This creates a constant challenge towards your muscles that helps build stronger muscles and more endurance overall.

On the other hand, running does offer advantages when it comes to speed development and specific muscle fatigue. With running there is less resistance as each footfall has no additional load placed upon it – compared to rucking – allowing for fully explosive movements that help build velocities quickly. As well, during running you are able to focus on one muscle or limb at a time allowing for greater fatigue levels than if with rucking; this can be beneficial for those training for muscular strength and power development.

Regardless, these two activities can both yield positive results in regards to developing muscular strength and endurance making them wonderful additions to any fitness routine. Regardless of the activity undertaken, consistency is key; so adopting a program involving both similar and contrasting exercises may be best for long-term health benefits. No matter what type of activity you choose, listening to your body and understanding your personal indicators for what works best for you should be chosen over blindly following trends or suggestions alone. To further analyze the effects of cardiovascular exercise on overall health outcomes, let’s move on from here.

Cardiovascular Exercise

When looking at which exercise type is more beneficial for your health, it's important to consider both cardiovascular exercise and muscular strength and endurance. While muscular strength and endurance are critical for overall body function, cardiovascular exercise is also an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, as it helps maintain a normal heart rate and can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to improve aerobic fitness, burn calories, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve overall physical functioning. Research suggests that running provides higher cardiac benefits than rucking does due to its faster pace and longer duration. Additionally, many studies have shown that running can be more effective for improving cardiorespiratory fitness compared to other forms of cardio activities such as walking or biking.

However, according to some research, since running involves a repetitive motion, there’s an increased risk of injury from overuse if someone isn’t careful with their technique and form. Rucking on the other hand offers longer workouts while allowing for a slower pace that is less likely to lead to injury if proper form is followed.

Overall, both types of exercises yield benefits for your health but they require different training strategies in order to maximize their effectiveness. It all depends on what you’re hoping to accomplish with the workout: if you’re looking for quick results then running may be preferable; if looking for something more leisurely yet still effective then rucking could be better option. Ultimately the right choice will depend on individual preference and goals.

In any case, transitioning next to the differences in speed and distance between rucking and running can help paint a fuller picture of which type of exercise is better suited for our particular needs and abilities.

Key Points

When trying to decide which type of exercise is more beneficial for your health, it's important to consider both cardiovascular activity (like running) and muscular strength and endurance. Research suggests that running provides greater cardiac benefits than rucking due to its faster pace and longer duration, although there is an increased risk of injury. Ultimately, the right choice comes down to individual preference and goals. Transitioning between the two can help determine which type of exercise works best for one's abilities and needs.

Differences in Speed and Distance

The cardiovascular benefits of both rucking and running are undeniable. However, one of the biggest differences between the two comes in terms of speed and distance. Generally, running will be much swifter and allow you to cover ground far more quickly than if you were rucking. There is evidence that suggests that runners can cover distances two or three times faster than those who opt for rucking. Therefore, if speed and distance are important factors for your fitness goals, it may make more sense to stick to running rather than a steady pace of marching with a heavy backpack on your back.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the efficiency that comes with the pace of rucking makes this activity an extremely beneficial form of exercise. If your aim is to cover as much ground as possible in a given amount of time, then a combination of running and rucking might be best in order to take advantage of both activities.

No matter the speed and distance you choose to cover through either rucking or running, maintaining consistent physical activity has proven health benefits. From increasing muscular strength and flexibility, improving overall cardiovascular health, to boosting mental health - there are numerous advantages to engaging in either one or even both of these active forms of physical exercise. Ultimately, it’s up to you decide how far and how fast you want to push yourself when it comes to either one or both of these activities. As long as you remain mindful of your capabilities, then you’ll be able to accurately gauge how strenuous each exercise should feel when you take part in them.

With that being said, the choice ultimately lies with the individual. Whether you choose one or even combine them together is up to what offers the best health benefits for your body and mental wellbeing. By evaluating difficulty levels, as well as achievable goals through either method - we will create a comprehensive picture of which type of physical activity offers greater potential gains for our overall health.

Difficulty Levels of Rucking vs Running

When looking at the relative difficulty of rucking versus running, there is no clear consensus. Both exercises can be adapted to fit a range of fitness levels. For runners, the intensity can range from a leisurely jog around the park to longer trails through challenging terrain. The same is also true for ruckers; they can choose routes that are mild or than can push themselves with strength- and endurance-testing hills.

The debate on which is more difficult largely depends on the individual’s perspective and fitness goals. Some have argued that carrying a weighted pack adds an element of increased difficulty versus running without any added weight, but others point out that running up hills is much more taxing on the body’smusculoskeletal system than merely walking up them while carrying a loaded backpack. One study even found that ruckers burned more calories per mile than runners who were carrying nothing aside from their running tech gear.

Ultimately, it boils down to whether you gain more from pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and running uphill or prefer carrying weight to add more resistance sooner rather than later in your workout routine. For those starting out, ,it may make more sense to stick with an easier option depending on fitness levels - such as jogging if running or merely walking if rucking - as both activities become more difficult over time and space. As one continues to progress in either sport, though, the debate of which is tougher becomes subjective and largely dependent on personal preferences.

No matter which activity one ultimately chooses for their workout routine, it is important to focus on enjoying the exercise instead of worrying too much about difficulty level or speed. Both offer many health benefits that result from getting out into nature and moving your body, and variations in both can help keep the experience fresh and exciting each time. As this section has explored, debates about relative difficulty of rucking versus running are completely individualized as well as nuanced; ready to transition into the next section discussing variations in ruck workouts?

Variations in Ruck Workouts

Ruck workouts can be a great way to get active and stay fit, offering many of the same benefits as running. However, they offer variations that running does not - such as the ability to increase or decrease intensity by adjusting the weight carried in a rucksack. This feature allows those with various levels of fitness to tailor their workouts and still reap the rewards associated with rucking.

For those looking for a moderate workout, carrying 10-20 lbs in a rucksack can provide an aerobic and anaerobic workout. The increased resistance helps build muscle strength and improve cardiovascular health, while maintaining a moderate level of exertion. It's also important to note that because you are walking uphill and downhill with a load on your back, you'll be working different muscles than you would simply walking on flat terrain without extra weight.

For those looking for a more intense workout, heavier weights have been known to burn up to 40% more calories compared to walking without extra weight. Elite military forces generally carry 35-45 lbs while hiking over extended distances, which has been found to significantly increase their VO2 max scores (a measure of the body’s aerobic capacity) compared to running at similar speeds.

On the other hand, it is important to note that overloading too much weight onto your body can put unnecessary strain on your bones and ligaments leading to an increased risk for injury in certain individuals. Therefore, it is important that everyone finds their own balance when it comes to safely increasing the weights they carry while rucking and pays attention to any potential signs of discomfort or strain on their bodies as they progress through their workouts.

In conclusion, both running and rucking are effective methods of improving physical fitness but can vary in difficulty levels. While running provides “quick burst” exercises with varying speeds and distances involved, rucking offers several adjustable layers that allow for adaptations in intensity and strength building. As long as individuals take into account any signs of distress or overexertion it can be safe for people with all levels of fitness abilities – from casual runners to hardcore athletes – to reap the benefits of rucking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What safety considerations should be taken into account when running or trucking?

When running or rucking, it is important to take safety considerations into account for your well-being and health. Before engaging in either activity, make sure you warm up properly by stretching and lightly jogging. This prepares your body for the activity ahead and can help prevent injuries.

It's also important to have proper footwear that fits correctly and provides enough cushioning and support. Replace shoes as soon as they become worn out, as they will no longer provide adequate cushioning. For rucking, make sure the pack you use is designed for long distances so it doesn't put strain on your back and shoulders. Consider investing in a waist belt to evenly distribute the weight of the pack across your core while rucking.

Another important safety consideration is proper hydration; be sure to bring enough water with you when running or rucking so you don't become dehydrated. Its also a good idea to periodically check in with yourself and listen to your body while running and rucking, so you can recognize any signs of fatigue or injury early on. Finally, always run or ruck with a partner or group if possible, especially during night hours or in unfamiliar areas.

What types of exercise are best for running and trucking?

Running and rucking both have their own unique benefits when it comes to overall health.

When it comes to running, it's best to focus on low-impact forms of exercise like jogging, trail running, and even treadmill running. Running helps strengthen the cardiovascular system as well as the musculoskeletal system due to the strong impact and increased oxygen intake that occurs in each stride. Additionally, runners can enjoy an abundance of healthy endorphins gained from running, which can help reduce stress hormones and improve mood.

Rucking, on the other hand, is great for strengthening muscles in the core, arms and legs. It also involves walking with a weighted backpack on your back; this uses more energy than unweighted striding and causes the body to work harder. This will not only increase your heart rate but also helps build endurance and muscle definition as a result of having extra weight on your body while you walk. As such, rucksacking can be fantastic for lower body toning and building strength.

Overall, both running and rucking have their own distinct set of benefits when it comes to health and fitness; whether one is better than the other depends on individual needs and preferences.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of running vs trucking?

The advantages and disadvantages of running vs rucking will ultimately come down to personal preference, as each activity has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Rucking, or carrying a weighted backpack on your back while walking, has the advantage of providing a form of cardiovascular exercise that is low-impact. Rucking can be done anywhere or at any pace, making it a great option for those who have limited time or may have joint issues that are easily aggravated by impact sports such as running. Additionally, adding weight to your body during the process can help accelerate fat loss and build strength in your core faster than exercising without any added load.

On the other hand, running offers more intense exercise with higher calorie burn rate. Running is an excellent stress buster, thanks to endorphins released during exercise, and it does not require special equipment such as a backpack or weights. Furthermore, running builds endurance and increases mobility more effectively than rucking.

Ultimately, both activities offer their own unique benefits which make them invaluable tools for maintaining good health and fitness. However, when it comes to choosing between rucking vs running as a sustainable manner of staying healthy long-term, only you can decide which one works best for your lifestyle.

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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