Rucking seems simple—just load up a backpack with as much weight as you can carry and go for a long walk.
But these long weighted marches are tougher than they first appear. To complete a long ruck you need a robust aerobic system and adequate muscle endurance. So, whether you are preparing for a military test or want to ruck a long distance, here is how to create a ruck training plan and prepare for your march.
A ruck is a weighted march over a set distance. Its origins can be traced back to multiple armies around the world that have their soldiers perform a weighted march as a core skill. Rucking is comparable to hiking with a loaded pack, but the greatest difference between recreational and military rucking is the intensity with which it is performed.
Before designing a ruck training plan it is important to understand the two physical attributes the body needs to develop to complete a ruck.
Firstly, you need to build your aerobic capacity. Your lungs and blood have to be capable of delivering enough oxygen to the muscles to support their output during the march.
Secondly, you need a high level of muscle endurance. Your muscles need to be strong and enduring enough to support the weight of your body and ruck. The intensity and distance of your ruck will determine how much endurance you need.
Preparing for a ruck follows the same principles as preparing for any aerobic endeavor. You want to first build volume and then add in intensity. Here is how to create your own ruck training program following this progression. Want to build your aerobic endurance? Download this free guide.
Figure out the distance of your ruck. Once you know how far you have to march it’s time to start building volume on your feet.
Start with one to two walks per week. Do not use any additional load. At first, only walk what you are capable of. That might be only one-fourth or half of the goal distance. Then, week after week, slowly build your distance until you reach the distance of your ruck.
The goal for this step is to get used to walking the distance of your ruck. You are slowly exposing your muscles and aerobic system to stress and building their capacity.
Once you have progressed to walking the distance of the ruck, it is now time to build more volume.
You will now walk a distance that is longer than the ruck you are planning on doing. A good goal is 1.25 up to 2 times the distance. Follow the same weekly progression as before until you can easily complete this new distance. Again, do not use any additional load.
In this step, you are overloading your body. This will prepare you to add load.
Now you will begin to add load. Go back to marching the distance of your ruck, but slowly add load to your pack.
Begin with only part of the weight. Then, march until you can easily complete the distance with that weight. From there, continue to add load and march the distance until you have reached your max load and can easily complete your ruck.
Do not rush this step. You want to keep the progression sustainable and adding load too fast can create unsustainable adaptations from training.
The fourth step involves intervals at race pace. Establish a pace at which you want to complete the ruck. From there, begin your normal ruck. Start with 30 second intervals at race pace and 1:30 second intervals at your normal sustainable pace. Slowly progress the amount of time spent at race pace and reduce the amount of time at the sustainable pace. Finally, you will have built enough capacity to complete your ruck.
A key to a successful ruck is a robust aerobic system.
The same goes for life.
The more robust your aerobic system is the more resilient you are to life’s challenges. Building a robust aerobic system takes time and is something you cannot fast-track. That’s why we created our free download, How to Develop the Anaerobic and Aerobic Energy Systems. Download now and learn how to build a robust aerobic system.