by: Josh Bryant
You aren’t training for war or even a career as a tactical athlete, so should you ruck? And what are the benefits?
Cardio for Cardio Haters
Maybe it was Sergeant Ignacio Coral, the toughest Mexican this side of Pancho Villa, who screamed at you as you jogged while he reeked of 90 proof the morning after one of his legendary benders of fast women, whiskey, and cigars.
Or it may have been your sixth-grade gym teacher, the former “softball great” with the pixie haircut, who forced you to swim laps when you could barely swim.
Whatever the reason—you hate cardio!
Rucking is the cardio for cardio haters.
Why rucking? Because rucking offers a myriad of benefits that directly transfer to real life. Let’s take a cursory overview of those benefits.
The elliptical is easier on the body than jogging, and not a bad choice if you are 80 years old and dealing with arthritis. But, did you know that rucking is much less stressful on your body than running?
Biomechanical studies on running reveal the tremendous cyclical forces to which the knee is exposed. These forces can be 7 to 11 times your bodyweight! And if your technique is off, the onset of pain will begin even sooner. Contrast that to rucking, which puts two to three times the force of your bodyweight onto your knee with each step, and it’s easy to see that rucking is simply less taxing on your body.
The weight of a backpack pulls your shoulders back and puts you in the right alignment to improve your posture. As you ruck more, your body is being trained to stay in its proper position; it’s almost like doing a plank that requires dynamic stability.
There are countless scientific studies that show both mental and physical health benefits from being outside. Any doubts? Lock yourself in your room and play Dungeons and Dragons for a week and see how you feel. As a result of COVID quarantines, suicide and nonfatal mental health issues have been on the rise. One way to combat this is to get outside and ruck! Additionally, you will be showered in nature’s best antidepressant, vitamin D from the sun, and experience the great outdoors. Bottom line is, you will feel better psychologically and physically when you get outside in nature.
Burn More Calories
A 200-pound man who jogs at a 12-minute mile pace for an hour, which is 5.0 MPH, will burn
approximately 755 calories. The same person walking quickly at 3.5 MPH will burn 391 calories; adding a ruck to this walk, that same man would burn 50 percent more calories, approaching 600 calories in an hour, and some research indicates the total may be much higher. On the lower end, you are still close to jogging in burning calories, but you are also getting stronger and improving your posture while not running your body into the ground. If you walk every day, just throwing a weight in your backpack or throwing on a weighted vest will add up quickly over the course of weeks, months, and years for fat loss via caloric expenditure.
Jogging excessively rids your body of hard-earned muscle; rucking can build muscle, particularly in your shoulders, core, back, and the elusive, purple unicorn of muscular development, the traps. The traps respond very well to being stretched under load; think farmer’s walks. While your load when rucking won’t be as heavy as what you’d use when doing farmer’s walks, you will be working under a continuous load for 20 minutes or more. If you have never rucked, usually the first area to fatigue is the traps—imagine that, cardio that assists in building a no-nonsense physique.
Assuming you don’t overdo it and you follow our programs, you can relieve existing back pain and/or use rucking as a prehab mechanism. As you strengthen your back and core muscles, you also strengthen your hips and posture, making you less likely to get injured in general. All of these muscles must be continuously engaged as your legs keep trekking you forward. As your upper body supports the load, you build tremendous strength endurance, the kind that serves you when the shit hits the fan in a free-for-all tussle at the Bangkok ex-pat bar on dollar sake night.
Build an Aerobic Base/Conditioning
Rucking improves your readiness and your ability to recover; simply put, it builds your work capacity. Because it elevates your heart rate, it has a similar effect on the heart as jogging, without the documented downsides. Having an aerobic base is important. Besides keeping the ticker healthy, it enables you to recover faster between sets, workouts, sprints, or rounds in a pit fight; basically, training-wise, you can do more, more often, because of the regenerative qualities of your aerobic base. Aerobics does not have to be a dirty word with rucking.
All you need is yourself, a rucking backpack or weighted vest, and a decent pair of shoes.
Assuming you have a decent pair of shoes, you can easily get started rucking for less than $100. Contrast that to overcrowded, poodle-dick palace commercial gyms that charge twice that for a month’s membership.
You can ruck while walking with your kids, with your friends, up and down the stairs in your apartment complex, or on your favorite hiking trail. Or, impress your latest Tinder rendezvous with an afternoon of rucking. Rucking is available at all times. After COVID lockdowns, this value cannot be disputed. Don’t let your strength and conditioning be at the mercy of the government.
Training While Travelling
It is tough to pack a bench press or squat rack in a travel bag, but a rucksack is not so difficult. Eight-hour layover in Baghdad? Ruck around the airport or get really ambitious and go out and grab a beef kabob, sightsee, and stay on your rucking routine.
10,000 years ago, hunters didn’t have pickup trucks to transport their kills, and farmers in Mesopotamia had to carry their crops. Weighted carries have always been a part of the human experience! We need this ability to survive and thrive.
In his discussion on rucking, Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness fame reminds us that man is a social creature. Rucking is something anyone can do, and it’s a great idea to invite a friend to join you. There are plenty of ruck groups, and you can easily find one on the website GoRuck.com. So it’s great for making friends or finding that alluring romantic partner who likes sweating alongside you.
Unlike a deadlift that requires either stripping off or adding plates to change the difficulty, rucking is
very easily scalable. If your rucking workout is too easy, find a hill or go faster, and if it is too difficult, simply slow down; you can literally autoregulate what you are doing in real time.
While the goal of exercise is not solely to feel badass or strike fear in the hearts of men and desire in the hearts of women, you may have had enough of the church softball league or corporate kickball games. While these activities might be fun, you probably were inebriated, and they didn’t make you harder to kill, help you become more functionally fit, or improve the look of your naked body. Rucking, though, will do all of that! Training like an ancient Greek hoplite warrior will increase your self-respect, and the acquisition of well-earned admiration is more satisfying than any drunk softball game.
Helps Novices in the Gym
Besides being the holy grail of work capacity, rucking teaches you to move efficiently while under a load(talk about functional!). Moving under load is foundational to doing big things in the gym, and once you do this well, other things in the gym become easier.
Balance and Body Awareness
Applying additional load to your shoulder blades helps improve your coordination and stability because it will make you feel more grounded. Your brain and the supporting rucking musculature become aware of the added load and must synchronize to accommodate it. This helps in sport and life.
Rucking allows you to combine aerobic training and strength training. As you regularly ruck, you will notice its impact on the rest of your health. Your posture improves, your stamina increases, your back pain disappears, and you look better naked!
Learn the ends and outs of Rucking! With a PROVEN 12 week scalable plan