Rucking seems to be the new thing that’s in, and it’s great! It’s something that people have been doing for decades in some shape or form, walking or trekking with a heavy backpack.
Rucking is a great way to build muscle, burn calories (burn fat), and gain strength while walking, trekking, or marching. The great thing is that you’ll only need a backpack (rucksack) and add weight to it, of course, if you’re going camping or trekking you’ll already have enough weight. But for a quick 30, 45, or 60-minute intense rucking workout you want to add some weight. Carrying water in the backpack is also great as it will require a lot more stabilization from the body.
Does rucking build muscle?
Yes, if your muscles are challenged by the weight and duration, then rucking will definately build muscle and make you stronger, especially in the core, upper traps, and legs. The legs do the work as prime movers and the core work is isometric or stabilization. Your core is your trunk, basically everything but your head, neck, legs, and arms.
What muscles do rucking work?
Rucking literally works all the muscles in your body apart from the arms. Rucking especially works the muscles at the front of the core as the weight is at the back and the opposite side (the front) needs to counteract the weight that is pulling back. The legs move all the weight, and your shoulders need to take the weight of the straps, this involves your chest, trapezius, levator scapulae, and other muscles.
It’s a name that I found fitting—feel free to name it whatever you feel is fitting— for something that I’ve been doing for a while, which is carrying my kettlebell(s) just about everywhere I go. If I go on holiday, that kettlebell goes with me. If I go trekking or camping, that kettlebell goes with me. I take it to the beach, park, sightseeing, and more. I’ve gone up mountains with a backpack full of gear, carrying a Frenchie, and a kettlebell. Of course, I don’t take it shopping or going to dinner!
Is Kettletrekking better than a Rucking workout?
What’s best for you entirely depends on what you like and/or have access to. Most people have a backpack but not a kettlebell, so, in that case rucking is a better option. For those that do have access to a kettlebell, here are the additional benefits of Kettletrekking :
- Grip (forearms)
- More versatile
- Topic for conversation
Because the weight is in the hand(s) it will require some shoulder abduction to keep the kettlebell away from the leg as you’re walking which involves the deltoid and supraspinatus. It will also require some shoulder flexion and extension for stabilization to prevent the weight from swinging all over the place.
Because the weight is in the hand(s) it will require grip, whereas with rucking grip does not come into play. The biggest muscles for grip are located in the forearm(s), which is a great thing to get bigger forearms.
Because you’ll mostly walk with one kettlebell, the weight is on one side, this requires a lot more work on the opposite side, especially in the obliques and quadratus lumborum.
Kettletrekking is more versatile as you have a tool with which you can juggle or get an additional kettlebell focussed workout in once you reach your location. You can even get creative, like me, and shoot videos or photos. But more importantly, the kettlebell provides you with a lot more ways to hold or carry the weight. You can:
- Rack it
- Farmer carry it
- Carry it on the back with two arms or one
- Carry it on the traps
- Carry it overhead
- Put it in your backpack
“To me, a photo isn’t earned unless I bring something there that wasn’t there before. Something that wasn’t easy to get there. A kettlebell.”
Topic for conversation
The first time I took my kettlebell out, I must admit, I felt kind of weird, and to this day I still get looks, but it doesn’t bother me one bit. Sometimes it’s even more fun than normal as it provokes conversations or interactions with locals. One time I walked up the mountains in Spain and some people thought it was a punishment for infidelity given by my wife who was walking next to me. If I understood it right (Spanish), there was a custom there that involved carrying weight as punishment for infidelity.
Another time, we arrived at the top of the highest mountain in mainland Spain and there were a few people there. They asked “was this here already?”, “No!” and then they asked if they could take a photo with it. I said, “bring your own!”… Just kidding, of course, I let them take a photo but I have to admit that I did feel like it had to be earned. I got a piece of chocolate in return which I must say was well worth it.
One time we were on an island in Tanzania shooting one of our weekly online kettlebell workouts that is now up and running for the 3rd year in a row. Had to take a little boat over to get there. Then we just walked to the other side of the island over a hard-to-walk surface which was only possible because the tide was out. Seen some amazing things during that walk. We arrived at a cave, which was a very welcome shelter as the sun was just pounding down. Halfway through the workout, the tide came back in and my wife panicked. It came in quick, knee-deep, and had to pick everything up and move. Also had to restart the filming for the workout. But the worst thing was that we could not get back the way we came. I spotted a little opening and from there we had to bush bash through very rocky and bushy terrain to get back to the other side of the island. These are the times you never forget though. Absolute hell when you’re doing it, but when you get back you appreciate everything 10 times more and you build a repository of wonderful memories.
Here is a promo version of the workout with the full-length video available in our inner circle.
Here’s one time I brought it to the beach for a walk and met a group of people that were singing. I joined in the best way I could (I’m not much of a dancer).
I hope to inspire others to take their kettlebell with them. Use it as an excuse to get out and get a workout in. Go with your family, wife, children, or friends. If you’ve taken your kettlebell out for the first, do come and say hello in one of our many online kettlebell communities and tag Cavemantraining or myself. We’re on most of the social networks but our Instagram is @realcavemantraining and Pinterest is @cavemantraining. See you there!
What do you need?
For Kettletrekking you just need a kettlebell. But I highly recommend getting a good competition kettlebell. You need to build up your grip, core, and overall strength. Like anything, don’t go crazy right away, start small and aim big. Share the journey with someone. And if you want to also get into working out with a kettlebell, juggling, complexes, combos, or other awesome kettlebell stuff then you should check out our online shop for books, videos, courses, t-shirts, and more.
If you want to see more videos of the kettlebell going places, check out our YouTube channel. I’ll leave you with the kettlebell in the ancient city of Butrint.