Take a Hike Day 2014: Try a Ruck March

November 17, 2014 Updated: November 17, 2014

Do you love boot camp workouts? What about hitting all of your major muscle groups with military precision? Well, you can do it on a hike – Ruck-style.

Say what? A Ruck March, also called a “forced march” or a “hump,” involves walking at a fast clip over rugged terrain with a weighted backpack. In the Armed Forces, participants carry at least 45 lbs. in their backpack, in addition to their helmet, canteens, shoulder harness and weapon.


If you want a similar civilian-style workout, try an off-road Ruck March and see how you rank. Load up your backpack with some weights and go for a rugged hike – the added resistance will work your body harder and burn more calories. Here are some tips to get you started:

Incrementally Build

Put on hiking shoes, strap on a weighted rucksack (or regular backpack) and head out for the trails. Seek areas with rugged terrain and hills. In the beginning, start with a lightweight pack of 10 lbs. and just do a few miles. As your body gets used to the weighted hike, incrementally increase your load, miles and hiking speed. How to add weight? Try hand weights wrapped in towels, bricks wrapped in towels or even sealed water jugs. 


If you want to improve your Ruck March, the solution is threefold: train your major muscle groups, condition that ticker, and work on your stamina and endurance. Cross-train with running, core exercises and weight training to prepare your body to carry weight, keep form and tackle hills. A strong core is essential to avoid injury on the trail. Carry the rucksack closer to your body, and the reduced sway will diminish the strain to your back muscles. 

Go Biggest Loser

Have you seen the TV show The Biggest Loser, where contestants strap on the weight they’ve lost and go out on a hike? Yes, that’s a Ruck March. They carry the extra weight so they can realize how much lighter they feel, and remember how challenging it was to carry it around in the past. You can challenge yourself by adding the weight you’ve lost on your next hike. Not only will it increase your total body workout, but you’ll also get a mental reminder (when you take off that rucksack) that you don’t want those extra pounds to come back.  

If you are up for something intense, unique and scenic, take advantage of the warmer weather of spring with a loaded backpack. Start with walks and then venture to hikes and maybe even a run. Look out! Boot camp has got nothing on you. 

Source: lifefitness.com/blog. Visit the Life Fitness blog for more health and fitness information. 

*Image of “hike” via Shutterstock