Rucking can be a great way to lose weight and build muscle as well as endurance. It’s a versatile means to an end, offering a variety of ways to fit into your schedule. As with any type of exercise though, rucking does require some recovery, whether it’s time or effort.
So how can you reduce recovery time to get you where you need to be?
Let’s find out, first looking at some rucking benefits and how they factor into your recovery plans.
Benefits of rucking
What began as a training exercise for soldiers in the special forces has gradually become a popular workout routine.
There are a myriad of health benefits to rucking and it’s a great workout.
If you’re someone who hates running, but wants to lose weight and gain muscle, you’ve come to the right place.
Rucking is a great way to get in shape without spending hours at the gym.
When you’re walking with weights in your backpack, you’re essentially using your core to help you stay upright.
So, not only does it strengthen your core muscles, you also develop good posture.
You’ll burn more calories rucking once than you would in a week at the gym. That’s because this intensive program activates every muscle group in your body at the same time.
If you hate running, rucking is a solid alternative to traditional forms of cardio. And it burns as many calories.
But despite the many benefits of rucking, it does take a toll on your body.
After all, this workout was created by the special forces and popularized by the military.
But don’t worry, we’ve compiled a complete list of tips and tricks to help your recovery go smoothly.
One of the benefits of rucking is its role in endurance building. Often, people training for a long-distance race use rucking to build stamina. The benefits of that of course are in the time you save.
Instead of running 10 miles you can spend 4 miles rucking and 4 miles running. This type of hybrid endurance building is also easier on your knees.
You can also add strength training exercises to your ruck. You can use your weights in a multitude of ways. And burn twice as many calories as you would otherwise.
How much weight should you carry?
When people start rucking they often wonder how much weight they should carry. The ideal amount is 15 to 20 percent of your bodyweight.
So, if you weigh 200 pounds you can aim to carry 30 to 50 pounds. However, it is important to treat rucking like any other high intensity workout and start slowly.
How to have proper recovery after you ruck
Sure you want the health benefits that come with rucking. But even military personnel have strategies they use to recover from this arduous exercise.
Remember, there’s a difference between the good burn that comes from working underused muscles and injuries that are causing your pain.
Your ability to tell the two apart is vital to your health.
If you don’t give your body a break or take the necessary steps to recover you risk straining your joints, knees, back and ankles.
But these injuries are easily avoidable with the right tips. So let’s get started.
Drink water during your ruck
Some of our tips and best practices for recovery actually happen while you’re rucking.
In many ways rucking is similar to walking or running.
No matter how many miles you’ve set for yourself, you need to keep yourself hydrated during your ruck.
Hydration is paramount to success.
It’s a mantra that’s reinforced a lot to those going through basic training in the military and even after people are at their duty stations. There’s a reason for that.
Hydration is key to good recovery
So, either keep a water bottle in the side pocket of your rucksack.
Another option is to get a weighted backpack with a built in hydration tank that lets you drink while you’re walking.
If you choose not to hydrate during your ruck, make sure you take fluids as soon as you can after you’re finished.
Water gets everything moving when it comes to recovery.
Snacking during and after your ruck
Fueling your body is important.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, eating while you’re rucking can be incredibly beneficial.
As your body is breaking down fat and building muscle, you have the ability to put well-sourced nutrients back into your body.
Take advantage of that while you’re rucking.
As soon as your ruck is over your body will cry out for sustenance. Generally, your ruck will take around 2 to 4 hours.
Depending on how long your ruck was and how far you pushed your muscles, a full meal may not be a good idea.
So, protein shakes, granola bars, or other similar items that will give you an immediate energy boost are the way to go.
Once your heart rate evens out, eat a full meal to replenish your reserves.
Post rucking recovery tips
Step 1: Cooling down
No matter what workout you’re doing, whether it’s cardio or rucking you need to stretch your muscles after.
If you don’t, you’ll find it hard to even walk the next day.
While it may be tempting to simply flop down on the ground when your ruck ends you need to spend some time cooling down. When you’re rucking, your heart rate increases and your muscles get tense.
Once your ruck is over, take off your backpack and spend some time walking around. You shouldn’t be in a hurry to get to your workout.
Focus on calming down your body.
Step 2: Stretching = Great Recovery
You need to spend some time doing a series of relaxing stretches until your body is stress free. Even fifteen minutes of a cool down stretching will help you out a lot.
When you go rucking it doesn’t matter how much weight you’re carrying in your pack, you’re going to feel a burn in your shoulders afterwards.
To get started, try a few simple stretches.
Pull your shoulders back and slowly rotate them at the joints.
When the tightly coiled muscle begins to loosen, hold your arms open and away from your body.
Follow that up by stretching your calves, hips, and glutes.
Step 3: Foam Rollers and more for great recovery
Two things that can really help your body recover after a ruck are a foam roller and lacrosse ball.
Your weighted backpack will cause the most strain in your shoulders, hips, and lower back portion.
Placing the lacrosse ball against your back with a few sets of sit-ups or crunches will help ease those tense muscles.
Slowly move the ball from your lower back to the space between your shoulders. You will automatically begin to feel your muscles relaxing.
The foam roller works similarly and is a great way to release tension from those tight muscles.
Step 4: Icing your muscles for full recovery
Ice baths are an underrated way to help speed up the recovery process. They take a good bit of time and effort so it makes sense why they’re not always something people look to.
But if you have the time and the ability, an ice bath will go a ways in helping you.
If you don’t, you can still get some of the benefits through something a lot more handy: Ice packs.
Applying an ice pack to your sore muscles after rucking is a good substitute.
The places that will feel the most burn will be your shoulders, hips, and knees.
You don’t want to keep the ice pack in one place for too long though, no matter how good it feels. You can end up doing more harm than good.
But, if you are willing to go all the way, taking a 10 to 15 minutes ice bath will quickly relieve the pain or stress you’re feeling.
Don’t forget to take a shower first though.
Overall, you have to remember that rucking is an intense exercise and carrying weights while walking is no easy feat. The calories you can burn while rucking tell us that
As a beginner you can search for rucking events near you to get started.
Rucking is a lot easier when you have the support of a group who understand the commitment it takes.
Good luck and happy rucking!