Old Forum Kettlebell rucksack walk

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Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
I am on the bench at the moment (self-imposed) from my normal training so for something weird decided to put my 24kg kettlebell in a backpack and go for a  walk for 1hr this morning.  Felt ok - the straps a bit annoying and by the end felt heavy - wondering if anyone has done much of this and what use it might be (so I can decide if it is a waste of time or useful.  I have limited had use at the moment, which is why I am experimenting).   Thanks.
 

Phil12

Level 8 Valued Member
Ruck walks can provide aerobic conditioning and of course improve your ability to carry weight for distance (military, hiking, etc).

 
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Oops, - that's meant to be " limited HAND use at the moment" at the end of my first post.

Thanks Phil - it is obviously harder than it seemed as I am feeling some sore muscles at the top of my legs (if you were to stand with your hands on your hips then slide them down to mid-glute: where your fingers would touch) that I never knew I had.  Tomorrow or Sat will be interesting...
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Well, no dramas with residual (or two day) muscle soreness.  So that's good.

An idea of doing this is to maybe open up the thoracic region, forcing the shoulders back.  Might keep experimenting with this.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Matt,

Both hands are limited?

I would not recommend a 50 lb load on your first walk unless you have experience.  You may have survived the walk, but is it repeatable, without injury?  What distance did you cover in the hour?

Rucking will 2-3x per week will build an aerobic base as Lydiard discussed.  You need a load that will keep your HR at about 65% - so you can conversate, but it is not easy to ... you need air every other word or so ...  don't go glycolytic on your walks, save for short bouts of steep terrain.

Also, it will most effectively improve your posture if you posture properly under the load ... keep your hips under your head, don't let the pack bend you forward.  Use your abs to hold it up ... keep your midline in front somewhat closed - not hollow, but not open either.

Keep your shoulders back and down - let the pack help you do this.  It should feel like you are teetering between falling backward and remaining upright ... grades will change this obviously.  When your upper back gets angry with you, elbows to the sky, fingers interlaced, for a few moments ... hands toward the sky for a few moments, fingers interlaced ... then adduct arms to the side, small circles, then to the rear, then down again - you'll thank me for that bit :)

Take small frequent steps ... do not step out to the front to speed up ... step faster to speed up.  "Slight" heel to toe.  Do not run ... use other forms of training to get an anaerobic power effect when your hands heal.  Arm carriage to the rear will speed you up.

Packing the ruck is important ... keep the load close to you and about midback or higher.  Use "filler" to lift up the KB in the pack.  If this was your first time, I'd expect strap soreness.  But make sure you have good equipment to minimize unnecessary fatigue. 

I can't say enough good stuff about rucking ... take care of your feet!

Al

 
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Hi Al,

Thanks for your tips - I was hoping that you'd comment and glad you did, as I remember you rating them highly in past threads.

This morning reading ..."but is it repeatable?" was enough inspiration for me to have a second crack at it - and it went better than the first time surprisingly.  I am actually loving them, and am a big fan.  I can feel it opening up my diaphragm and keeping my shoulders back.  Perhaps it is just the tonic I need as I've been trying to get some thoracic mobility happening/posture improvement.  I am feeling it however in the right inner thigh (did my usual swing-goblet workout about 2 hours later and the goblets + my 20min bike ride really tightened up the inner thigh/adductor) - which is interesting as my right hip/psoas/obliques is where I need to get some mobility (and Joe posted in another thread how the adductors can take over during hip extension if the glutes are on strike).

Yet I did feel this yesterday too after doing my heavyish deadlifts 2 hours after an easyish 1hour long bike ride, so maybe not the ruckwalks.

I was thinking of your tips while walking - don't think I could raise my elbows/hands to the sky?!  Yet my upper back feels ok - the straps dig in a bit after the hour, but this time felt better than the first.  Will try it with the kettlebell/backpack a touch higher next time.  Not sure how far I walk - I walk for an hour, pretty flat, footpath, and according to Google Maps, a similar time would be 4.6 to 5 kms .  One good use of google maps :).

Thinking of doing this 2-3 times per week for a month at least.  I am on a forced break from my open water kayaking - after 6 days a week for over a year, along with a standard EasyStrength DL, swing, weighted chin/dip routine (and in the last 3 months some heavy 3-4 bodyweight hip lifts all without straps) I have locked up my right hand.  Particularly the pinky and ring finger - they don't close fully, yet my grip strength is average.  But my left hand grip strength has dropped, maybe in sympathy.  Both have slight tendon tenderness around the pinky, forearms tight.  The RH coincides with my weird right-side (hip-thoracic) reduced mobility which made my paddling asymmetric.  Anyway - it's been good as it's forced me to make my paddling technique proper!, and now I have discovered ruckwalks.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
One tip - put a folded up towel around the bottom of the kettlebell to keep it warm ... (joking), and around that part that rests against your back.  There's nothing worse than it digging in after 30mins (the irritation can come suddenly then just stays around), then having to get home with the pain.  You can't really farmer's walk it home either.

Make sure your backpack stays zipped up too.

Like Al says, it makes a difference how high it sits, for me mid back seemed harder than lower.

Plus, like Al recommends, some arm stretches after are a must!  Arms to the side, small circles - thanks Al! :)
 

m@tty

Level 1 Valued Member
I used to pop a sack of BBQ charcoal in my pack when tabbing was part of my training!

Never found anything that worked better for distributing the weight equally.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Added bonus  Matt, throw in a few steaks and you're good to go for 50kms.
 

eugene

Level 1 Valued Member
Matt kettlebell is a not the best thing to carry around in your ruck. I would recommend replacing it with bricks, sand bags, metal plates in it.
The use? It will prepare you for a Goruck Challenge, but take it slow.

Sorry about your hand, hope you can recover soon.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Ok, thanks Matthew.  You'd be a bit of an expert then.  Tactical Advance to Battle sounds like some serious training!
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Eugene! Hand recovery is slow.

You’re right in suggesting there are better things to carry for a more even weight distribution. I don’t mind my kettlebell – as it is an easy way to get a decent amount of weight. Yet I am curious to try some different weights to see how the different distribution of weight changes the walk.

Never knew this was popular enough to have something like a Goruck Challenge. Looks challenging – 24hours for one of the walks, not sure how much weight they carry.
 

Mattsirpeace

Level 4 Valued Member
A Steve House tip is to carry jugs of water.  That way you can dump the weight out if you need to.  Personally I just hike faster or jog.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
A good idea Matt (this is almost the Matt thread!) - and you've got your hydration on hand.

While I understand a jog or hike is maybe more productive in general - there is something different about a ruck walk - you have to walk with a tight core for 1hour say, along with everything else that's going on.  They are under-rated I reckon.
 

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Al, Matt, and others who ruck walk- how would you compare step ups with a weighted pack or vest with rucking?  Say a 12-16 inch step, alternating feet, for time.  If the goal is to increase leg power endurance as well as GPP and systemic work capacity.
 

Al Ciampa

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
- no former Soldier, even rucking "just" for exercise, would carry water with intent of "dumping it"

- do not run with your ruck, walk briskly ... learn your natural and brisk, short and frequent stride pattern

- Matt, yes, it will improve posture and core strength if you constantly attend to it while moving

Steve, totally speculation on my part ... no comparison between the two.  A natural locomotion gait is quite different from a climbing pattern.  For "cardio", on the other hand, and as you know, any type of prolonged low-intensity movement should provide similar results to any other.

If your implied question is: will weighted step ups improve my endurance for my sport in the same way that rucking will? ... I'm really not sure.

My guess is that step ups will promote improper posture as you fatigue, while walking - there will be no where near as much, if at all, postural degradation, if attended to.  What I like best about rucking, from a conditioning perspective, is that once you learn your quickest walking gait, you can adjust the load to get your intended conditioning effect.  For example, when I walk brisk without a load, my HR may get to 90.  Same pace, same terrain ... if I have a 30lb load on my back, my HR can creep up to 115 ... 40lbs - HR = 125.  You get the picture.  Up until about 55-60lbs, I can keep the same max pace (as read by handheld GPS), so the only variable is the load.  Over 60lbs really gets fun though :)

Al
 

Physical Culture

Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks, Al.  You understood my implied question correctly.  I'm looking for cardio, but I have another specific need as well.  My coach has me working with heavier weights in the clean and jerk- the 28k's.  They feel heavy, and my ability to generate power for the jerk deteriorates before my conditioning does.  I could go longer, but I reach the point where I just can't drive them high enough to get under them without pressing them out.  My quads give out. Of course I'm working heavy jerks and heavy clean and jerks, but I'm also looking for cardio that can help me with endurance in this area.  I tried step ups with a weighted vest (40 lb.) on Saturday on an 8 inch cinder block, and it seemed to hold promise.  I got a good cardio session, and leg stimulation, without soreness afterward (minimal eccentric component on the step down).  With a vest, I was able to keep natural posture.

 

 

 
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
I was thinking that Al - the no dumping rule - but not being a soldier of any sort I couldn't speak from experience.

I would imagine Steve that rucking on the flats like I do wouldn't carry over to what you want it for but... maybe if there was a flight of 100 stairs somewhere?  I used to live near something like this, and just doing it freestyle ie bodyweight would have you sucking in some breaths at the top.  Can't imagine what it would be like with a bit of weight.

I find ruck walks anyway a more static strength developer or demands more static strength, and perhaps not the endurance-power you need for your jerks.  Maybe a bike ride with a high gear ratio (so a low cog on the back, big one on the front) would be a cardio-leg power combo?

Anyway - what you're doing with a block and vest sounds much harder than a ruck-walk and quite impressive.  Sounds like you've given it some thought as well (keeping posture upright).
 
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