Monday, April 24, 2017

What the Ruck?


Mr. Awesome and I are always ready for a new adventure and on this year's docket is backpacking! Mr. Awesome backpacked an unknown (or at least a number we won't look too closely at) years ago. I have never been backpacking, but I love camping, hiking, and reading about adventurous souls who tackle the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail (that's practically the same thing, right?).

So, we want to be ready for a summer backpacking adventure and in order to do that we need to train. Rather fortuitously, we came across a post about rucking. The concept of rucking comes from the military training with road marches carrying their gear in rucksacks i.e. rucking. There's a company started by a veteran that sells gear so the average Jane or Joe can ruck, but any appropriate pack, which means it has a waist strap so you aren't carrying all the weight on your shoulders, will do. Just add some weight and go for a walk. How much weight is up to you and I would base it off of your fitness level. For backpacking, the rule of thumb is carry no more than 1/3 of your body weight, so start around 10 to 20 lbs, depending on what you're up for, and work you're way up from there. Mrs. Awesome is now carrying 20% of her body weight when rucking. 

We've been walking around the neighborhood and a recent weekend we took a trip to Antelope Island and did a 4.8 out and back hike with an elevation gain of about 500 feet. I carried about 10% of my body weight, because we were going with a friend and I didn't want to find myself unable to make it or slowing the group down. It felt good and today I'm a bit sore, especially in the glutes, but it's a good sore.

In addition to the benefit of training for backpacking, another perk of rucking is that you burn more calories. There isn't a lot of definitive research I've been able to find about how many more calories you burn, but definitely more. One theory was trying to equate it to doing the exercise as a heavier individual, but that theory doesn't wash with me, because people who are heavier burn more calories, in part, because their body is doing more work maintaining a larger self. Men's Fitness has a good article about rucking and why it's gaining popularity, but the calculations they use for caloric burn doesn't specify how much weight you need to carry to "triple" your calories burned. This site has some estimates for caloric burn, as well, based on pace and a 50 lb pack (which would crush me), but most people won't get to a 50 pounder. Either way, carrying extra weight is going to burn more calories.  Additionally, you can surmise this weight bearing exercise would also be good for strengthening your bones as both walking and weight training are good for that. It will also make you stronger.

Word of caution though, DO NOT RUN with a ruck sack on! It is not at all good for your knees. 

Have you tried rucking? What did you think? Or do you know a good spot to calculate how many calories you burn rucking? If so, please share!

Update: A friend of ours participates in the official coordinate rucking events and they are far from a mellow time. The are long, arduous, involve things like carrying picnic tables or each other, calisthenics, long nights, and discomfort. She loves them. 

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