All-Terrain Conditioning for GORUCK

Pete Peterson

First Post
Let me start with a brief introduction: I started an on-again-off-again relationship with kettlebells in the early 2000’s with the book Russian Kettlebell Challenge. My fitness journey has taken a winding path, and for the past couple of years has been focused on staying in shape for GORUCK events. To aid in my training for those crazy events, I attended the StrongFirst All-Terrain Conditioning seminar in Northern Virginia back in June. The information presented by Derek Toshner made so much sense, despite the too-good-to-be-true thoughts that were churning in the back of my head. But I have been down the path of beating myself into the ground and showing up at an event in less than optimal shape, so I was excited to try something new.


At the seminar, I was lucky enough to meet Mark Reinke. I had previously read Mark’s article How to Use StrongFirst for Successful GORUCK Prep | StrongFirst and naturally I wanted to pick his brain. Mark was incredibly gracious in talking to me at the seminar and in assisting me in my training afterward. My goal was to get ready for my first GORUCK Heavy: a 24+ hour team-building endurance event filled with MANY miles of rucking, MANY push ups, carrying a lot of sandbags, etc. I have successfully completed several Toughs (12 hours), but the Heavy was a new challenge for me.


Mark guided me through using swings and snatches in A+A workouts, get ups, plus I followed his plans for keeping up with push ups and pull ups. Naturally, I did a lot of rucking as well, but I never pushed the pace on my training rucks, I kept myself in an aerobic zone, carrying just a little more weight than I would need for the event. The workouts felt fantastic! I was working hard, but I never felt like I had just endured a beat down during a workout. I was able to get a taste of how the training would work when I did my first Tough Light (two events, same weekend, 12 hours, a few hours break, then 6 more hours), and I had never felt stronger in an event. Three weeks out from the event, Mark had me start doing some glycolytic peaking. However, even though those workouts sucked, they didn’t turn me into a pile of goo.


I really felt strong throughout the entire duration of the Heavy. The welcome party was exactly what the glycolytic peaking had prepared me for: we did a variation of a Navy Diver Fitness Test consisting of two minute max effort push ups, sit ups, 4 ct flutter kicks, 4 ct mountain climbers, and a few other exercises. I don’t recall most of my numbers, but I nailed 68 push ups, which was a personal best for me in the two minutes push up test. After burning us out with all of that, we set out on the timed 12 mile ruck (though some folks were pretty sure we covered more than 12 miles). The pace was brisk but manageable. Then we picked up a significant amount of weight for the team to carry for the remainder of the event. At various sites we did a load of additional push ups, and then some time after sunrise we did another WOD near the Lincoln Memorial. I definitely paced myself because I knew I had many hours left in the event, but I finished with a good time and got a nice rest afterward as others finished up. Then there were more miles, more push ups, and more good living. When the end of the event finally arrived, I knew I hadn’t just survived the event, but I had been a solid contributor to the team throughout the duration.


I have to admit, I had an amazingly strong team, and that makes all of the difference. It is so much easier to be solid and helpful to your teammates when you know that when you need help, they are right there to assist. However, thanks to Derek and Mark, I showed up able to contribute my fair share to the team throughout the 24.5 hour event. In the days after the event, I recovered even faster than I normally do, which I also attribute to the training leading up to the event. I am definitely going to stick to A+A swings and snatches, get ups, and rucking as the core of my training for future events.
 

mark reinke

Level 2 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Let me start with a brief introduction: I started an on-again-off-again relationship with kettlebells in the early 2000’s with the book Russian Kettlebell Challenge. My fitness journey has taken a winding path, and for the past couple of years has been focused on staying in shape for GORUCK events. To aid in my training for those crazy events, I attended the StrongFirst All-Terrain Conditioning seminar in Northern Virginia back in June. The information presented by Derek Toshner made so much sense, despite the too-good-to-be-true thoughts that were churning in the back of my head. But I have been down the path of beating myself into the ground and showing up at an event in less than optimal shape, so I was excited to try something new.


At the seminar, I was lucky enough to meet Mark Reinke. I had previously read Mark’s article How to Use StrongFirst for Successful GORUCK Prep | StrongFirst and naturally I wanted to pick his brain. Mark was incredibly gracious in talking to me at the seminar and in assisting me in my training afterward. My goal was to get ready for my first GORUCK Heavy: a 24+ hour team-building endurance event filled with MANY miles of rucking, MANY push ups, carrying a lot of sandbags, etc. I have successfully completed several Toughs (12 hours), but the Heavy was a new challenge for me.


Mark guided me through using swings and snatches in A+A workouts, get ups, plus I followed his plans for keeping up with push ups and pull ups. Naturally, I did a lot of rucking as well, but I never pushed the pace on my training rucks, I kept myself in an aerobic zone, carrying just a little more weight than I would need for the event. The workouts felt fantastic! I was working hard, but I never felt like I had just endured a beat down during a workout. I was able to get a taste of how the training would work when I did my first Tough Light (two events, same weekend, 12 hours, a few hours break, then 6 more hours), and I had never felt stronger in an event. Three weeks out from the event, Mark had me start doing some glycolytic peaking. However, even though those workouts sucked, they didn’t turn me into a pile of goo.


I really felt strong throughout the entire duration of the Heavy. The welcome party was exactly what the glycolytic peaking had prepared me for: we did a variation of a Navy Diver Fitness Test consisting of two minute max effort push ups, sit ups, 4 ct flutter kicks, 4 ct mountain climbers, and a few other exercises. I don’t recall most of my numbers, but I nailed 68 push ups, which was a personal best for me in the two minutes push up test. After burning us out with all of that, we set out on the timed 12 mile ruck (though some folks were pretty sure we covered more than 12 miles). The pace was brisk but manageable. Then we picked up a significant amount of weight for the team to carry for the remainder of the event. At various sites we did a load of additional push ups, and then some time after sunrise we did another WOD near the Lincoln Memorial. I definitely paced myself because I knew I had many hours left in the event, but I finished with a good time and got a nice rest afterward as others finished up. Then there were more miles, more push ups, and more good living. When the end of the event finally arrived, I knew I hadn’t just survived the event, but I had been a solid contributor to the team throughout the duration.


I have to admit, I had an amazingly strong team, and that makes all of the difference. It is so much easier to be solid and helpful to your teammates when you know that when you need help, they are right there to assist. However, thanks to Derek and Mark, I showed up able to contribute my fair share to the team throughout the 24.5 hour event. In the days after the event, I recovered even faster than I normally do, which I also attribute to the training leading up to the event. I am definitely going to stick to A+A swings and snatches, get ups, and rucking as the core of my training for future events.
Honored to help @Pete Peterson !
 

Pete Peterson

First Post
Pet'

To start with, I was definitely rucking quite a bit. It may be silly, but early in 2019 I set a goal of rucking at least 1 mile every day for the next year--just something to keep myself accountable. I ended up totaling just over 1600 miles in all of 2019, so I definitely got more than a mile per day in. I have been rucking for a while though, so I can coerce myself into doing a marathon ruck with no special prep, and my ankles will be a little stiff the next day but it isn't a big deal. So there was at least a mile ruck every day, usually some longer rucks on the weekend (meaning 7-20 miles with 40 pounds). I think this was a big part of making sure my body was ready for the Heavy: you really have to know your body can handle the time under weight, and you have to know your gear will work for long duration too. I have had a pair of shoes that I thought was fine end up giving me problems but only after 20 miles--had I never given those shoes a long test drive, I would have found out in the middle of an event. Occasionally I would ruck with a sandbag in addition to my 40 pound ruck because I knew that was going to be part of the event. I never worried about pace, made sure I felt like I was aerobic, and I put the sandbag down for breaks as needed (or rucked with a friend so we took turns carrying it).

3 A+A workouts each week, using a low, high, medium volume pattern, usually two of them were swings, one was snatches (typically the medium volume day). Each week I added some time to those workouts, and off the top of my head I think the longest session I worked up to was 60 minutes of swings done in three 20 minute blocks, 10 minute breaks between the make sure I stayed as fresh as possible.

Get ups were done usually three days per week, sometimes four, and here I was less structured in waving the load, but I made sure to never do the same weights/reps twice in a row. I kept to 5 reps per arm, starting lighter and increasing the weight, but sometimes I would stretch it out to 7 reps so I could get 5 at the heavier weight. As the Heavy got closer, I started doing get ups every day.

Pet', I hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions.

Pete
 

Ryan Wallis

First Post
This is an incredibly helpful post.

I have signed up for my first GORUCK event for later in the year, and was a bit at a loss for how to really train for it.

I’ll be using this post and the article linked as somewhat of a guide.
 
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