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Other/Mixed Rucking progression

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
I need some advice on how to progress beginner rucking.

I am just starting out with rucking. Started at 8KG now 13KG. Bodyweight 78kg. The 10-15 percent bodyweight range has been suggested in Strongfirst and other articles to start. I am 52 and just have GPP goals and enjoy walking outdoors and have been since covid started.

Due to time constraints I do 90 min urban rucks. I do it each Saturday morning. I do some gradual incline repeats but it is a flat easy surface mostly. Other workouts follow in the evening such as pullup program tonight.

I feel it in sore feet (a history of plantar faciitis not bad now), sore calves, and mostly quite sore shoulders. I do not feel that stressed overall in terms of cardio challenge. I don't feel drained but 90 min seems like a good minimum effective dose. I could fit in 2 hours if I got going earlier in the morning maybe. I read that 90 min is good for LSD.

What might I be doing wrong? Not walking fast enough? Load too cautious and light? Posture? I am looking forward to the horizon and trying to keep a "pround" chest. Just be glad it is not draining and enjoy the process?
 
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offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I need some advice on how to progress beginner rucking.

I am just starting out with rucking. Started at 10KG now 13KG. Bodyweight 78kg. The 10-15 percent bodyweight range has been suggested in Strongfirst and other articles to start. I am 52 and just have GPP goals and enjoy walking outdoors and have been since covid started.

Due to time constraints I do 90 min urban rucks. I do it each Saturday morning. I do some gradual incline repeats but it is a flat easy surface mostly. Other workouts follow in the evening such as pullup program tonight.

I feel it in sore feet (a history of plantar faciitis not bad now), sore calves, and mostly quite sore shoulders. I do not feel that stressed overall in terms of cardio challenge. I don't feel drained but 90 min seems like a good minimum effective dose. I could fit in 2 hours if I got going earlier in the morning maybe. I read that 90 min is good for LSD.

What might I be doing wrong? Not walking fast enough? Load too cautious and light? Posture? I am looking forward to the horizon and trying to keep a "pround" chest. Just be glad it is not draining and enjoy the process?
There are a lot of variables at play here.
Just some random observations (and questions) based on what you have presented and my own experience of many decades of rucking.

I don’t think you are doing anything wrong per se and being sore in the areas you mention is likely part of the adaptation period. However, and in no specific order…
  • Load is too heavy to start with…
  • What type of pack set-up do you have? i.e. frame type / suspension type
  • What footwear are you using? Some folks favour minimalist shoes. I do not.
  • Pace? For ‘proper’ LED work you should be working at or just below your AeT. Are you using a HRM or ventilatory markers to judge that?
  • Consider going on shorter rucks, but more often. Maybe 3 times per week? 90+ minutes is fine but you need to build up to that. And shorter sessions throughout the week will help with that.
  • Consider more varied terrain
  • Be patient….LED adaptations take a long time to develop but they are worth it.
  • And yes… enjoy the process!
 

TrailNRG

Level 6 Valued Member
All great points above from @offwidth. One other consideration is pack fit. Getting a pack that fits your torso is key especially under heavy load and longer duration. I’ll also second the good advice above recommending higher frequency, shorter duration rucks in the beginning as you build your conditioning.
I’m also 52 and use rucking, cycling and hiking as my primary LED training modalities due to the lower impact. A few months of gradual base training under the pack will serve you well.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
Yes… great point about pack fit.
Some packs come in sizes. Some are ‘one size fits all’ yet in some cases they don’t. So @guardian7 if you are serious about rucking for the long haul (pun intended) take your time in choosing a pack.

Related is how you load your pack. This is especially important when schlepping heavier loads over long distances and / or rougher terrain.
 

Steve W.

Level 8 Valued Member
I am 52 and just have GPP goals and enjoy walking outdoors and have been since covid started.

I do not feel that stressed overall in terms of cardio challenge. I don't feel drained but 90 min seems like a good minimum effective dose. I could fit in 2 hours if I got going earlier in the morning maybe. I read that 90 min is good for LSD.
Pace? For ‘proper’ LED work you should be working at or just below your AeT. Are you using a HRM or ventilatory markers to judge that?
I'm sure @offwidth is correct when it comes to "proper" LED work for an endurance athlete, and I'd take the rest of his advice about rucking generally.

But for a "regular" person (no specific endurance training goals) who does other kinds of strength training, KB ballistics for "conditioning," etc. and just wants to keep the aerobic system tuned up for overall wellbeing reasons, I wouldn't worry about not feeling "stressed overall in terms of cardio challenge."

I've found that even one 60 minutes session per week of very low intensity steady state locomotive training (I use a NordicTrack cross country ski machine) makes a noticeable, albeit subjective, difference in how I feel and in my ability to recover quickly on the basketball court (pre-pandemic when I used to play basketball).

I've never used a heartrate monitor, but when I say very low intensity I mean easy nasal breathing, barely breaking a sweat during the hour (in about 70 degree F room temperature with a fan blowing on me, and I'm a heavy sweater). I'm 56 and I would be shocked if my heartrate was actually near my MAF number. I keep the machine at an inclined setting and set the leg and arm tension so I get some mild muscular fatigue by the end of an hour, but I never feel any kind of cardio challenge.

When I do at least this much consistently, the speed I can go noticeably increases over time at the same easy effort level.

I never worry about increasing my effort level or the challenge. The things that make it tolerable for me are that it's such an easy, comfortable effort level, and I can do it while watching sports on TV. So while it may be a suboptimal form of aerobic conditioning, it "works" to the extent that I need it to.
Just be glad it is not draining and enjoy the process?
IMO, depending on your goals, there's nothing wrong with that.
 
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kiwipete

Level 8 Valued Member
@guardian7 - re: sore feet.

If your urban ruck is on pavement - consider walking on the grass verge - if not available perhaps laps of a local grass park?

Rucking on pavement / road can be quite demanding on the soles of the feet.

Also consider some extra mobility / self massage of the soles of your feet and calves. Lacrosse ball / tennis ball is a great place to start.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
There are a lot of variables at play here.
Just some random observations (and questions) based on what you have presented and my own experience of many decades of rucking.

I don’t think you are doing anything wrong per se and being sore in the areas you mention is likely part of the adaptation period. However, and in no specific order…
  • Load is too heavy to start with…
  • What type of pack set-up do you have? i.e. frame type / suspension type
  • What footwear are you using? Some folks favour minimalist shoes. I do not.
  • Pace? For ‘proper’ LED work you should be working at or just below your AeT. Are you using a HRM or ventilatory markers to judge that?
  • Consider going on shorter rucks, but more often. Maybe 3 times per week? 90+ minutes is fine but you need to build up to that. And shorter sessions throughout the week will help with that.
  • Consider more varied terrain
  • Be patient….LED adaptations take a long time to develop but they are worth it.
  • And yes… enjoy the process!

1. I will keep the same load then.
2. A decent "tactical" pack not frame but with a belt and belt across the chest.
3. Well constructed running shoes. I agree on the ankle support issue.
4. Not willing to overcomplicate this. I have just general health goals at my age. The goal is to also enjoy the walk.
5. I don't have time weeknights as that would be instead of normal workouts, as a parent and busy professional but I can justify a couple hours on Saturday before lunch to myself and my family.
6. I try to look for minor variations such as walking along and over a drainage ditch and looking for uneven ground but I have limited options.
7. This is my 3rd session at this weight after doing this a number of time before the summer.
8. I have some minor distributed soreness today, I will stick with the same weight according to your advice and maybe pick up or at least be more conscious of the pace instead. Breathing is not challenged which is the main reason for the post.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
All great points above from @offwidth. One other consideration is pack fit. Getting a pack that fits your torso is key especially under heavy load and longer duration. I’ll also second the good advice above recommending higher frequency, shorter duration rucks in the beginning as you build your conditioning.
I’m also 52 and use rucking, cycling and hiking as my primary LED training modalities due to the lower impact. A few months of gradual base training under the pack will serve you well.

I did about 10 rucks with 8 to 10KG during the spring.
The pack is not frame but decent with waist and front of the chest straps. I don't think it is a problem at least.
I started just walking during the virus and now I am a convert to LSD. I think those who are getting their cardio only from swings/snatches are missing out. t seems to give me a base for better improvement on programs like the Giant double KB.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
I'm sure @offwidth is correct when it comes to "proper" LED work for an endurance athlete, and I'd take the rest of his advice about rucking generally.

But for a "regular" person (no specific endurance training goals) who does other kinds of strength training, KB ballistics for "conditioning," etc. and just wants to keep the aerobic system tuned up for overall wellbeing reasons, I wouldn't worry about not feeling "stressed overall in terms of cardio challenge."

I've found that even one 60 minutes session per week of very low intensity steady state locomotive training (I use a NordicTrack cross country ski machine) makes a noticeable, albeit subjective, difference in how I feel and in my ability to recover quickly on the basketball court (pre-pandemic when I used to play basketball).

I've never used a heartrate monitor, but when I say very low intensity I mean easy nasal breathing, barely breaking a sweat during the hour (in about 70 degree F room temperature with a fan blowing on me, and I'm a heavy sweater). I'm 56 and I would be shocked if my heartrate was actually near my MAF number. I keep the machine at an inclined setting and set the leg and arm tension so I get some mild muscular fatigue by the end of an hour, but I never feel any kind of cardio challenge.

When I do at least this much consistently, the speed I can go noticeably increases over time at the same easy effort level.

I never worry about increasing my effort level or the challenge. The things that make it tolerable for me are that it's such an easy, comfortable effort level, and I can do it while watching sports on TV. So while it may be a suboptimal form of aerobic conditioning, it "works" to the extent that I need it to.

IMO, depending on your goals, there's nothing wrong with that.

Yes, there are mental benefits to this as well and although fit in terms of my age, peer group and population, I am definitely below average in a group like this forum. I read that nasal intake but mouth exhale is commonly used for rucking but probably at more challenging loads.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
@guardian7 - re: sore feet.

If your urban ruck is on pavement - consider walking on the grass verge - if not available perhaps laps of a local grass park?

Rucking on pavement / road can be quite demanding on the soles of the feet.

Also consider some extra mobility / self massage of the soles of your feet and calves. Lacrosse ball / tennis ball is a great place to start.

Thank you. I will pay more attention to this. It is mostly concrete but there are areas I could try to increase my time on.
 

Coyote

Level 6 Valued Member
Its a strong belief of mine that 30 minutes, 3 times a week is much better physically for you then 90 minutes once. I am not sure that 90 minutes once a week is greatly beneficial. Since it is causing you pain, the juice might not be worth the squeeze. It may be helping you mentally, if you enjoy it. I get that!

I do almost all my training in the morning before work. My alarm is set for 4:25 am, but it rarely goes off. Of course that means I am in bed by 9 most nights.
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
Its a strong belief of mine that 30 minutes, 3 times a week is much better physically for you then 90 minutes once. I am not sure that 90 minutes once a week is greatly beneficial. Since it is causing you pain, the juice might not be worth the squeeze. It may be helping you mentally, if you enjoy it. I get that!

I do almost all my training in the morning before work. My alarm is set for 4:25 am, but it rarely goes off. Of course that means I am in bed by 9 most nights.

Not pain just very localized soreness.
 

Coyote

Level 6 Valued Member
I am not sure I know the difference between pain, and soreness. I know that sound snide, but I do not mean it that way.

I absolutely understand the value of a big workout. Something that does make you feel it for a couple days. I am just not sure that it is something that needs to be, or should be done on a weekly basis. Especially at our age, (I am 55). My recommendation would be to skip lunch, get up early, go while your on a phone call etc..., and ruck with 10-15% of bodyweight as often as you can for awhile awhile.

I would also make strengthening your feet and lower legs a priority. Go barefoot as much as possible, strengthen your calves, work on mobility etc...,.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
I am not sure I know the difference between pain, and soreness. I know that sound snide, but I do not mean it that way.

I absolutely understand the value of a big workout. Something that does make you feel it for a couple days. I am just not sure that it is something that needs to be, or should be done on a weekly basis. Especially at our age, (I am 55). My recommendation would be to skip lunch, get up early, go while your on a phone call etc..., and ruck with 10-15% of bodyweight as often as you can for awhile awhile.

I would also make strengthening your feet and lower legs a priority. Go barefoot as much as possible, strengthen your calves, work on mobility etc...,.
I am at risk of derailing the topic a bit, but I think (at least from my perspective) there can be a difference between pain and soreness. I think I have experienced both. Things like DOMS I would consider to be soreness (at sometimes bordering on painful) Pain I associate more with an injury either acute or chronic. I never considered that when I tore my labrum, or when I had that achilles issue earlier this year that it was ‘soreness’, but rather pain. However, as I type this I am even second guessing my thoughts. Maybe it’s just semantics at the end of the day?
 

Bauer

Level 7 Valued Member
Its a strong belief of mine that 30 minutes, 3 times a week is much better physically for you then 90 minutes once. I am not sure that 90 minutes once a week is greatly beneficial. Since it is causing you pain, the juice might not be worth the squeeze. It may be helping you mentally, if you enjoy it. I get that!

I do almost all my training in the morning before work. My alarm is set for 4:25 am, but it rarely goes off. Of course that means I am in bed by 9 most nights.
I would agree that regular movement is better than sitting 6 days a week and then going for the long run.

However, I imagine that a single longer session per week might be more beneficial as long as one is quite active during the week (commuting by bike, walking in daily life, training KB ballistics, doing yard work, etc.), similar to the way @Steve W. describes it. A bit like a cross-training approach or like a three-day powerlifting split.

But of course, in the presence of pain, splitting the volume might be called for.
 

Coyote

Level 6 Valued Member
Absolutely. I am training for an adventure race now which will include Biking, running/rucking and a rowing portion. I am not in a situation where I can practice in a kayak more then once every other week or so, and it is less then perfect so I usually over do it. For bike and running I spread it out through the week.

Its not perfect, but my wife thinks I need to work.
 
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