LSD

Andrew Duncan

Double-Digit Post Count
With respect to steady-state endurance work, which modality (at an equivalent intensity) is most conducive to strength development and overall health: running or rucking? Are there any benefits obtained from running that rucking does not provide?

Clearly I enjoy rucking, and am doing everything I can to avoid having to run.
 

Tim Randolph

Triple-Digit Post Count
It’s hard to argue with rucking as being the better contributor to “strength development and overall health.”

Rucking by itself does a lot for trunk and lower body strength. 3 hours under load once a week has tied my hips to my back. Having a strong chassis helps with just about every other exercise worth doing and just makes everyday life easier. Plus rucking seems much less prone to causing injuries, which by itself is a huge argument in it’s favor.

Running builds the skill and body for running which I personally value and miss when I just ruck. And I suspect that smart running is s bit better for cardiovascular health because it’s so much easier to get your HR to whatever you want to target. But Rucking is plenty good here if you put in the time.

But of course the best exercise is the one you actually do. For me now that is a weekly long ruck, but for plenty of people that’s running. The most important thing is to move.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I don't have any studies to point to, but I would guess that, as long as you're breathing normally and not doing something high-tension that closes off circulation, your heart probably can't tell the difference, and it's more a question of what skill you are developing. That begs the question of carryover. Who do you think would fare better, all else being equal: a regular runner going out for a rare ruck, or a regular rucker going out for a rare run?
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
I'm with the Hulk on this one. What skill are you most interested in developing. What are you training for. You mention 'strength development'. Strength for what?

I'm a big proponent of both rucking and running.

When prepping for big alpine climbs I do both...
 

Andrew Duncan

Double-Digit Post Count
To clarify, I am already rucking 3x/week as my aerobic work alongside my barbell program. So I’m not overly concerned with developing a rucking/running skill per se - it’s only exercise.

That said, I’d prefer to select the option that would: a) give me the most bang for my buck with respect to health and fitness, and b) not interfere with my strength program.

The difference is, most likely, negligible for my purposes. Call it fear of missing out (or simply overthinking).
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
I think if the heart rate range is the same (I'm thinking 100 - 140 bpm or so), rucking and running bring similar benefits for cardiovascular health. "Fitness" just means fit for a task, so if you need to be able to run, you have to run. But if you're fit for the tasks in your life, you're good.

The heart rate range being the same isn't necessarily a given, so you may want to measure it. Bodyweight, carrying weight, and terrain can figure in. On the running side, running efficiency (built over months and years) has a lot to do with it.

As far as not interfering with the strength program, the intensity of the activity is what's most important. It should be easy enough that it doesn't require "recovery"... therefore it becomes an aid to recovery from strength work, or at least doesn't compete for recovery resources.

Just my thoughts on it. I'm with you, currently... running not my favorite thing. I do enjoy cycling, but on my feet, I'd rather hike with a backpack. Maybe I'll be a runner again someday.
 

WhatWouldHulkDo

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I'm a regular runner primarily because I value the skill (not that I'm fast or graceful by any measure), and I like to do an occasional race.

a) give me the most bang for my buck with respect to health and fitness
There's the carryover question. Problem is always defining which "bang" you are trying to buy... but I'd hazard a guess that if you're primarily focused on getting barbell strong, probably doesn't matter.

b) not interfere with my strength program.
On this point, I'll say that it took me a loooong time to get it through my thick head, but there is indeed a level of intensity where I would say running aids recovery, rather than taking from it. I am still lousy at hitting that level on my own - like most folks, tend to go too fast. So using an HR monitor has really helped with that. My training runs are dirt slow, but they don't leave me with any muscle or joint soreness - plenty left in the tank to lift heavy stuff later.

Truth is, right now I could walk briskly just as fast as I go on my training runs, so psychologically it's difficult. I keep telling myself I'm training the skill, in addition to the cardio benefits, and it seems to be working.

But I can see where, if you're in the same slow boat as me, it's more mentally satisfying to carry something heavy around than to plod around at barely faster than a brisk walk. Like others have said here, best exercise is the one you'll do regularly.

Call it fear of missing out (or simply overthinking).
I am convinced that anyone who reads and writes about their training like the folks around this forum do is pretty much guaranteed to overthink, myself included.
 

Oscar

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
My vote goes for running. In my opinion, rucking is a rather specific form of exercise. Running on the other hand is common to most sports.

I'd say that for almost whichever sport you choose to do, running will be better training for it. Unless of course your sport is rucking.

No need to completely remove rucking from your training though.
 
Last edited:

Andrew Duncan

Double-Digit Post Count
My 'sport' is my work - I'm a landscaper. As such I have no specific performance goals for rucking. I am mostly interested in determining which modality - rucking or running (or a combination of both) - produces the greatest cardiovascular adaptations. All the published research I've been able to find has examined rucking (or 'ruck marching') in a military (i.e. performance based) context, so is not applicable to me. I haven't been able to locate a direct comparison of the two activities.

According to Mike Prevost's article (Mike Prevost: Ruck Training Programs - PART 1 - On Target Publications), aerobic fitness provides a stronger contribution to rucking performance than strength at relative intensities <35% bodyweight. It's not clear to me as to what extent rucking actually develops aerobic fitness. So to answer your previous question, Hulk, I think the regular runner would fare better going for a ruck than vice-versa if the weight being carried is light. But I am not interested in transfer between activities, so this also does not apply to me :)

@aciampa, can I ask your thoughts please sir?
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
@Andrew Duncan, why the interest in producing cardiovascular adaptations, and for what purpose. If general health, consider Q&D plus some steady state activity.

-S-
 

Andrew Duncan

Double-Digit Post Count
@Steve Freides, my goals are to: a) be healthy in general, and b) do what I can to make my work more productive/relatively easier. I've noticed an improvement in both since revisiting barbell work and introducing rucking at the start of the year, so I'd like to continue in the direction I'm going.

Regarding your suggestions, I own a copy of Q&D, considered it for my purposes... but I just can't leave the barbell alone :) Rucking is my steady state activity - I enjoy it, and, relative to running, it probably suits my purposes just fine. My suppose my original question was borne out of curiosity more than anything else.
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
My understanding of Q&D's benefits is that it can, indeed, make you healthier. You might try finding a way to incorporate a little of it into what you do.

To directly address your original question, the difficulty of your running or rucking would make a difference in what effect it has. Easy distance running can be restorative, and so can walking with a light load, but both activities can be made more difficult at which point they become more of a challenge and less a way to recover from other challenges.

Offhand I'd say it sounds like you have a good feel for what works for you, and I don't think one could generally say running or rucking would better or worse suit any specific purpose since both can be done in a variety of ways.

-S-
 

Alaska80

Double-Digit Post Count
Andrew,

You have received some excellent advice. First off, I second offwidth on the Training for the New Alpinism, excellent read, and it details how to become elite when comes cardio adaptations and suffering for long periods of time. However, that does not seem to be your goal. FWIW here is my opinion.

I would stick primarily with rucking and maybe add an LSD run below MAF threshold every 10-14 days. I have rucked and run extensively in my training and rucking seems to carryover better to any activity that has a strength component to it. Here is a little vignette (true story) to illustrate my point:

Person x is a marathon runner, running in the 3.5 hour range, he has stellar cardio. A sheep hunt is undertaken by person x and person a. Person a is a guide that focuses mostly on rucking with a little running and strength training mixed in. The mountain ascent is undertaken, person x only has a 25lb pack, which is less than the bare minimum to survive in the Alaskan alpine country, very shortly person x has a very hard time climbing the mountain, while person a is only having moderate difficulty while carrying a 75lb pack. A sheep is shot by person x, who now loads his pack to a whopping 50lbs (sarcasm inserted), and person a now has over a 120lbs. The walk out takes place and person x almost completely shuts down due to fatigue. Person a has to add more gear to his pack and finish the walk. In total only about 20 total miles were covered and a couple thousand vertical feet, and person x stated that if he had to cover another mile he would die.

Now, one could argue that this is an instance where specificity has taken place, but I saw it often in the Army as well. We had guys who could run 6 miles in 24-26 minutes, but put 25lbs on their backs and they could walk about 10 feet. On the other hand there were guys running 30 min 5 miles, who could throw a 100lbs on their back and walk all day.

Considering the fact that you are a landscaper I think rucking would suit you better and have a lot more carryover to your life. Personally I really like to do both, but I have noticed overall that rucking seems to have less of a biological cost on my recovery than running does, but that is just an n=1 sample.
 
Top Bottom