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Other/Mixed RUCKING Urban < 1 hour beginner rucking vs long rucks: advice wanted

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
Main Question: What is the difference in rucking between long rucks in the country with high quality framed gear and short < 1 hour “loaded walks” in urban settings with a basic unframed pack?

I read these two great articles and searched “rucking” on this forum and read the topics.

For others without military experience and new to rucking, I recommend these sources: Rucking: What It Is and How to Do It | StrongFirst Al Ciampa

and Mike Prevost Mike Prevost: Ruck Training Programs - PART 1 - On Target Publications

Founder of GoRuck packs interview: The Benefits of Rucking — Jason Fitzgerald Interview | Art of Manliness

Here are the issues that came up:


1. What load for rucks under an hour?

The recommended load to start seems to be 15 to 25 pounds or ten percent of bodyweight. Everyone says it feels heavier than it sounds when starting out. What distance is that recommended for? People on this forum mention a number of miles or KM and often assume going for a long hike. What if you are walking on a straight path in an urban setting (well paved paths) for less than an hour but 4-5 times a week.

2. What materials to pack the bag?

Al Ciampa says that it doesn’t matter what the load is so much as long as it doesn’t shift. But do you really want weight plates, dumbells, or kettlebells near your spine if you slip or twist your ankle in a backpack without a frame?

In other groups, people recommend sand, cement, and believe it or not cat litter as heavy but materials that mold to your body and shape of your pack. Rice? which is in convenient 5kg bags that I could ducktape up and put side by side longways.

3. How could it be programmed by applying SF principles?


Mike Prevost in his well-researched article recommends heavy interval rucks as well as lighter long distance rucks (this is mainly for military ruck preparedness but the principle seems solid just as you might do light, high rep endurance snatches as well as heavy snatches using anti-glycolytic protocols). His article says that once a week for long rucks is enough. For me, I could do a 90 min to two hour ruck once a week, but maybe heavier shorter rucks for two other days a week would be good at less than an hour. For example, ruck a bit. Then do a set of pullups, ruck some more do my snatches etc. I can go in a circle around some bridges and across a stream, which is pleasant but would keep me near the exercise equipment in the park.

In short, it seems that there is room for thinking about it more as a long continuum from the double bodyweight 30 second farmer’s walk Dan John recommends working up to, to light pack, long march LSD.

4. If you are not carrying camping equipment and are taking 20KG or less, why not just buy a weight vest? Anyone know the pros and cons of rucksack vs weight vest?

I have read in multiple sources of the benefits to posture for packs, which is a secondary goal for me. I have never tried a weighted vest. What else?

Equipment

I went to an army surplus place and look at the stuff, but it was more of a collector’s place and was more than I was willing to pay and too big. I got myself a nice knock-off at another place. No frame but well made and small and not too “green” for an urban setting. There is lots of advice on ALICE packs and all kinds of detail in the forum from military people, but I am not ready for that yet.

Background to my questions:

I was finishing a PTTP barbell program when the virus hit and I had to stop. I was tired and then I suddenly got overworked when university teaching went online and I had an ongoing project at the same time. To do something when I was stressed and tired and home a lot, I started walking almost everyday and it felt physically and mentally great. I believe in this idea of an LSD aerobic base as being important now. There are other reasons like lymphatic health and just moving for joint health. We are meant to move. I am lucky to live near a river where there is a nice path and bike lane and outdoor fitness equipment. I want to keep it now that I am on summer vacation, but I want to start rucking to progress it a bit and I feel healthy and am not overworked, but I don’t want to spend more time.

Following Al Ciampa’s recommendation for GPP in minimal footwear, I am just wearing good Teva sandals with strap support for foot health. I don’t want anything more. I am recovering from plantar fasciitis, which limits me from very long walks a bit and I don’t want to longer than 90 min as I would get more benefit from more KB work and am an older dad with a young child.

Other current activities: I am also learning to snatch and doing pullups about three times a week, spending time in passive bar hanging while on my walks, and a daily deadbugs core program from Aleks Salkin. I carry my KB to the river to work out and do the pullups, which is about 1 km round trip walking. I just want to be outdoors as well.
 

SteveR

Level 5 Valued Member
Some quick thoughts on my personal observations/opinions.

1. Hills are another variable to consider in the conditioning impact of rucks. Extra demand on your quads and posture bearing muscles
2. Unpaved can put more demand on everything if the trail is uneven side to side. Especially if you get into roots, ruts and rocks. That can also factor time and load. I prefer unpaved by far plus it doesn't wear down boot tread as fast as paved trails.
3. My inexpensive military knock off pack is good for up to 20lbs. Above that weight it seems to put stresses on shoulders and back that could cause injury.
4. Of course 3. could have to do with me putting a plastic trash can in the pack and adding or subtracting dumbbells/plates as desired.
5. Highly recommend building time and load and frequency slowly. Enjoy the walk. Don't let conditioning improvements tempt you to push past allowing muscles and joints time to strengthen.

Happy rucking!
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
Some quick thoughts on my personal observations/opinions.

1. Hills are another variable to consider in the conditioning impact of rucks. Extra demand on your quads and posture bearing muscles
2. Unpaved can put more demand on everything if the trail is uneven side to side. Especially if you get into roots, ruts and rocks. That can also factor time and load. I prefer unpaved by far plus it doesn't wear down boot tread as fast as paved trails.
3. My inexpensive military knock off pack is good for up to 20lbs. Above that weight it seems to put stresses on shoulders and back that could cause injury.
4. Of course 3. could have to do with me putting a plastic trash can in the pack and adding or subtracting dumbbells/plates as desired.
5. Highly recommend building time and load and frequency slowly. Enjoy the walk. Don't let conditioning improvements tempt you to push past allowing muscles and joints time to strengthen.

Happy rucking!

It is a very urban route along a river designed for walking and hiking. Completely straight unfortunately. I get your point now. I took my new pack for a spin today and my hamstrings feel like lead now.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Elite Certified Instructor
@guardian7, I’d just start and see how you do. I began with a 25 lb plates in a frameless pack probably designed for kids to take to school, and walked One of my usual walking routes. It was harder with the weight, and you really just want to be nice to yourself when you start out doing this.

-S-
 

Wes P

Level 4 Valued Member
There's no need to go over 25-30lb if you're also weight training. Or to go super fast.

Frequency > Intensity/Weight.

All higher weights accomplish is increased wear and tear. I don't think there's a significant difference between framed/frameless/weight vest as far as training effect. One might be more comfortable than the other but that's about it. Use what you have.
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

When we start to go heavier (at least 20% of bdw), a backpack with torso belt and waist belt, with proper settings, is really a "must have", if one wants to go fast, long and heavy. This is at least what I experienced when I go for 2h30 ruck in the woods with 50%+ added.

As long as we do not exceed 20% added, a "regular" back pack may be enough (provided we still properly place the weight).

No matter what, posture during the ruck is paramount

Kind regard,

Pet'
 

vegpedlr

Level 6 Valued Member
I was always dubious when it came to rucking, then I tried it. Now it’s a training mainstay. I use a basic book bag type pack that has pretty nice shoulder straps, no waist belt. I carry a 16k KB. My route is up the fairly steep road I live on for 30-45 min. I feel it a lot in my neck, shoulders, traps since no waist belt, but it’s gotten easier.

The hill is too steep to run at MAF, but walking is a little too easy. Rucking has turned out to be a good solution. While not as aerobically challenging coming back down, the weight gives a nice eccentric stress.

Dan John recommends 35# or less on the back, but if you want more weight to try ankle weights.
 

offwidth

Level 9 Valued Member
@guardian7
Depending upon your goals there probably isn't too much to be gained from going super heavy.

I only ruck for very goal specific activities. It would be very rare indeed for me to load anything more than 15kg. I typically am in the 10kg range. This is because I would rarely carry more in real situations (i.e. Climbing) But.... hills and rough uneven terrain are standard fare and important for me. The other variable being speed.

All my rucking is done in accordance with the appropriate HR zone for a given session. The majority being LED in nature (but not all :cool: )

Regarding footwear, I am about as far from minimalist as it gets; wearing very stiff and solid mountaineering boots
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

Regarding running or rucking, and no matters the weight for the later, I always control my HR using nasal breathing. It seems to work well both for the event per se and the recovery afterwards.

I am not a fan of ankle weight because they modify the dynamics of the stride too much.

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

guardian7

Level 6 Valued Member
Hello,

Regarding running or rucking, and no matters the weight for the later, I always control my HR using nasal breathing. It seems to work well both for the event per se and the recovery afterwards.

I am not a fan of ankle weight because they modify the dynamics of the stride too much.

Kind regards,

Pet'

Yes, I agree that focusing on nasal breathing and posture as others have said is important.
 
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