Get Soldier Strong: Hiking with a heavy backpack, or “ rucking,” is a fitness trend that actually works.

IF YOU’RE IN THE ARMY, you need to be able to complete a 12-mile heavy-ruck march in less than three hours and 30 minutes. Special Forces members wear 45-pound rucksacks
during all training and may ruck thousands of miles while in the qualification course. As it seems to happen with every aspect of military fitness, weighted backpack walks, or
rucking, has exploded in popularity. Founded in 2008 by former Army Special Forces Communications Sergeant Jason McCarthy, Goruck hosts outdoor challenges during which
an officer leads participants through a military-inspired event. Goruck also designs, manufactures, and sells heavy-duty rucksacks.

“Rucking is active resistance training, so you get strength gains from the weight on your back and cardio benefits from walking,” says McCarthy. Goruck offers three levels: Light (four to five hours), Tough (10 to 12 hours), and Heavy (24-plus hours). Challenges include more than walking. There are strength exercises such as pushups, squats, presses, and partner carries. Some participants are given roles like team leader or navigator, which require quick thinking.

“We want people to become more physically and socially active, and we think teaching people things is more valuable than telling people what you can’t do,” says McCarthy. “People miss playing sports and the camaraderie of being part of a team.” Rucking provides a substantial fitness benefit. Follow these steps to make your own pack, then put it on and get rucking.

OUT ALL DAY The Heavy, shown here, is Goruck’s most extreme event: 40-plus miles outdoors without sleeping.

Hiking with a heavy backpack, or “ rucking,” is a fitness trend that actually works. BY MARK BARROSO Directions courtesy of Jason McCarthy, founder of Goruck. What you need: Backpack, weight, and water.

Place four bricks wrapped in duct tape, sandbags, or any other heavy object in a backpack. Start with about a 20-pound load.Make sure the weight is stable and close to your back. If you must, fill the pack up with light items so the weight doesn’t constantly shift.Use a hydration bladder that has a tube so you can drink water on the move efficiently. Keep it in the bag or attach the tube to a backpack.If you’d rather purchase a new rucksack, McCarthy suggests the Rucker,
available at