Rucking VS Running: Which Is Better for You?

If walking isn’t challenging enough, there are two activities you might consider: rucking and running. Since one focuses more on strength training and the other on burning calories, they produce very different results.

Fortunately, we’re here to help you make a decision in the rucking vs. running debate. To better understand the two sports, we’ll discuss the differences and similarities, advantages and disadvantages.

However, before we lay out the pros and cons of each exercise, let’s first define both activities.

A Definition of Rucking and Running

Rucking is walking with a heavy backpack (or rucksack, which explains the name.) It is a mandatory military exercise that’s become increasingly popular as a beneficial cardio and muscle-building exercise. The ease or difficulty depends on the weight of your rucksack and the distance you want to walk.

On the other hand, running is a fast movement that requires no special gear (except suitable running shoes). There are many different running exercises, like jogging, sprinting, or endurance running. Running is a great cardio exercise that helps you lose weight, tone your muscles, and improve overall physical and mental health.

Rucking Pros and Cons

Pros of Rucking

  • Besides improving your cardiovascular health, rucking also helps you build strength and muscles. It works on your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower legs, and even hips.
  • Rucking is a type of Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS) cardio workout, which helps you burn fat.
  • It is a wonderful way to meet new people, since there are many rucking events, and it is often done in groups.
  • As opposed to running, one foot is always on the ground with rucking. Hence, it is low impact, making it less stressful on the body than running.
  • It also improves your posture, as the weight of the backpack pulls your shoulders back in place. With regular rucking, you will train your body to keep proper posture even when not carrying a heavy backpack.

Cons of Rucking

  • Just like walking, rucking sessions can be pretty time-consuming.
  • Moreover, it takes a long time to notice the results of rucking since it is a low-intensity exercise.
  • Ruckers often face injuries due to bad posture, improper weight, or bad quality rucking gear. The most common issues are knee pain, foot blisters, and ankle injuries.
  • While you can do it with any backpack, you will need to invest in a good-quality rucking backpack if you want to go rucking regularly. You don’t want a backpack that will tear under heavy weights or not support your back correctly.

Running Pros and Cons

Pros of Running

  • Running is one of the most effective exercises for burning calories, making it a perfect exercise for losing or maintaining weight.
  • It is very accessible, since it doesn’t require any special gear, and can be done whenever you want.
  • Breathing properly while running maximizes the oxygen delivery to your muscle cells and increases your lung capacity.
  • While it is not the best exercise for building muscles, running does a great job toning them. In addition, since all of your muscles move when you run, the effect can be noticeable in your whole body after a few weeks of running.
  • Running is also a great way to reduce stress and exercise your mental health, especially endurance running.

Cons of Running

  • There is an increased risk of injuries, like “runner’s knee,” shin splints, and muscle strain. Stress fractures, tiny cracks in a bone, can also develop due to over-training.
  • Running can be unhealthily obsessive, owing to the “runner’s high,” a happy, euphoric feeling caused by hormones released in the body.
  • It is not very effective in building muscles, especially long-distance running. Although, if you prefer sprinting, you might achieve some muscle growth, but mostly in your quadriceps.

To Sum Up the Pros and Cons

To summarize everything we’ve learned so far, here’s an infographic chart highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of rucking vs. running.

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How to Decide Between Rucking and Running

Now you know all the facts surrounding the rucking vs. running debate. But there are still a few questions left to answer. First, you’ll need to think about your fitness and health goals. What do you want to achieve with this workout? Second, how much time are you willing to dedicate to your workout, and how soon do you want to notice the results on your body and health? Finally, do you want to exercise by yourself, or do you want to make new friends while exercising? Of course, one exercise requires more equipment than the other, but this probably won’t affect your final decision if you are genuinely determined.

Choose rucking if:

  • You want a good beginner workout, but something more intense than walking
  • You want to build muscles and burn calories
  • You want to improve your posture
  • You have a lot of time to exercise and are not in a hurry to see the results
  • You like to exercise with friends
  • You don’t mind spending money on equipment

Choose running if:

  • You want to tone your muscles and burn calories
  • You want to increase your lung capacity
  • You prefer a fast workout
  • You want to notice the results as soon as possible
  • You prefer exercising alone
  • You believe equipment is not necessary for a good workout

Final Thoughts on Rucking vs. Running

Whether you are looking to build muscles or quickly burn calories, you’ll get your blood pumping with both of these exercises. In addition, significant health benefits are guaranteed no matter which workout you choose.

However, if you are simply looking to lose weight, remember that exercising alone will not suffice. You will also need to be in a caloric deficit and take care of your diet.

When choosing between a low-impact and high-impact exercise, bear in mind the amount of pressure the exercise will put on your body. This is especially important if you are recovering from an injury or generally experience issues with your joints.

You have decided to start running but don’t know how to take the first step? Then, make sure to check out our pain-free guide to enjoy your runs.

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