It’s common knowledge that rucking is hard on the shoulders, lower back, and knees. The rucksack they were using weighed only 45 pounds.
When you factor in everything you need to transport as an operator, the total amount rises quickly.
If you aren’t already incorporating them into your routine, consider adding the following exercises.
These will be familiar to anyone who has been keeping up with the Special Operations Forces Physical Preparation PT routines.
Here are some alternative workouts to rucking.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: squats are one of the best exercises you can do to improve your strength, explosiveness, and general fitness level.
If you’re into rucking, you’ll be happy to know that this also improves your speed.
Besides strengthening your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and lower back, a barbell squat is a push-type, compound exercise.
The following table provides a high-level overview of barbell squats and the muscles you engage in during this exercise.
- Start by placing the barbell on top of the traps. The head should be facing forward, and the chest should be lifted. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and turn them out slightly if needed.
- When descending, keep your hips from swaying back as much as possible and instead flex your knees. You’ll need to bring your knees in front of your shins to accomplish this. Maintain a flat plane between them and the ground. Maintaining an upright posture of the torso is a primary focus.
- Keep the weight forward of the heel the entire way down. Just as the upper legs make contact with the lower legs, the weight is propelled upward by reversing the direction of the motion.
Deadlifts are famously challenging, both in terms of technique and intensity. So many different ways exist to get them wrong (and hurt yourself).
The Deadlift seems to be one of the most commonly performed exercises with poor form in the gym.
However, it is excellent for developing general strength and explosive power. If you’re unfamiliar with them, I suggest working with a trainer, at least initially, until you master the technique.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your hands just outside your legs.
- Use an overhand grip.
- Maintain a flat back, or neutral spine, at all times.
- Your shoulders should be down and back.
- Throughout the motion, the bar must maintain contact with the lower leg.
- Moving the bar from the floor to a locked position above your thigh requires a coordinated motion between your hips and knees.
Walking Lunge/Kettlebell Swing
Most ruckers who are either inexperienced or not particularly skilled have weaknesses in the area of their glutes.
Both of these activities target the glutes, which helps increase lower-body power and stability. Your rucking might need work if it’s one of your team’s weak spots.
You can use your body weight or dumbbells to perform the lunges. Lighter weights (25 lbs) work for me, but feel free to alter them as needed. Lunges-
- Spread your feet wide apart, about shoulder-width apart, and put your hands on your hips.
- Drop your hips as you shuffle forward on one leg. Bring your back knee almost to the floor. Keep an upright stance, with your front knee directly over your front foot.
- Put your weight into the ball of your lead foot and straighten your knees to push off and get back on your feet.
- Repeat the lunge on the other leg, stepping forward with the back foot this time.
- Assume a confident stance with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. With your chest out and your shoulders back, hold a kettlebell between your legs.
- The swing is started by bringing the kettlebell back and down while bending at the hips and knees. If you want to avoid back pain, pretend you’re doing a Romanian deadlift and keep your back straight.
- Get a powerful forward and upward momentum by using your hips to thrust the kettlebell. Hold in your abs and buttocks, and don’t slouch too much.
- You can start another set by actively lowering the kettlebell.
- To avoid losing your stance and positioning, keep your head and chest up and the kettlebell under control. It’s important to keep your back flat and focus on your legs and core throughout the entire exercise.
If you’ve ever carried a heavy object, you know that the moment you take it off, your shoulders and traps feel like they’re springing back forward and a wave of pain follows.
Strengthening your shoulders can help you maintain your balance.
- Assume a tall, squared-off stance with your arms at your sides and a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing in toward your body).
- Raise the weights by exhaling and bringing your shoulders as high as possible. Don’t let the tense state drop from where it is now. At all times, the arms should be outstretched. Don’t rely on your biceps to help you out when lifting those dumbbells. The body should only be bouncing up and down at the shoulders.
- Bring the weights down to starting position.
- Keep going until you’ve completed the suggested number of sets.
Bands, barbells, or cables can all be used to complete this move. If you prefer, work on one side at a time, or use just one handle.
Consequently, if you have difficulties with rucking, you should try these exercises.
Doing so will help you become stronger and more explosive while reducing the strain on your joints.