I Played Every Day For A Month Here’s What I Learned

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While backpacking in the Adirondacks last year, I listened The welfare crisis by Michele Pasqua. As I scrambled up the slippery rock trails, doing my best not to fall before I reached the top of Nippletop, Pasqua warned me of a different danger: the uprooting of discomfort. Sure, the conveniences of modern life, like cars, food on demand, and temperature-controlled environments, make our daily lives easier, but he argued they also erode satisfaction and fulfillment by depriving us of basic human skills and experiences.

So what is the antidote to this problem? Well, engaging in strenuous exercise helps, as does coping with the challenges in harsh natural environments. Easter also advocates rucking, or walking with a weighted backpack for exercise, to get in touch with a critical skill of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

I was skeptical. Rucking seemed like just another trendy fitness craze, but one with origins in the military, where marching long distances with a loaded backpack is a staple training activity. Additionally, personal trainers often recommend using weighted packs to train for a long ride. What distinguishes rucking?

Suddenly, Rucking is everywhere

After that weekend in the wilderness, several rucking-related TikToks caught my attention. My feed was filled with explainers, couples going on dates, and fitness influencers documenting their 20-mile rucks.

When GORUCK, a company that produces backpacks expressly designed for rucking, offered me the chance to try out its flagship product, my curiosity was at its peak. I embarked on a 30 day challenge to explore what all the fuss was about.

The benefits of rucking

There’s no denying that rucking is an efficient workout. The added weight on your back strengthens your legs and core while delivering a low impact cardio session. These benefits increase when you add hills to the mix. According to longevity expert Peter Attita, going uphill with a backpack pushes your VO2 max, while going downhill challenges your stability and eccentric muscle control.

A woman rucking up a mountain
A woman roaring. (Photo: Getty/Tomas Rodreguiez)

What you need to know about rucking

During my month-long experiment, I played with GORUCK’s 20-liter Rucker 4.0 and 20-pound Ruck Plate (sometimes with 5 to 10 pounds of books added for extra weight), my Gregory Jade 28 with two 10lb barbell plates, and of course my 30lb baby in a Deuter Kid Comfort baby carrier. These are my key points.

1. Don’t analyze it too much

It was difficult for me to set the parameters for the challenge at first. My inner perfectionist wanted to do every rucking session on uneven terrain. Just walking the paved streets of my neighborhood didn’t seem like he should count. But Pasqua assured me that splashing around on the sidewalks of my neighborhood was more than enough.

Durability was another concern. Was 30 minutes really enough to experience the benefits of cardio and strength? Or should I aim for at least an hour? During the first week, I didn’t hit any of those timestamps. My writing assignments, strength-training routine, and kindergarten retreats took priority, leaving me only 15 minutes a day to ruck. (On one unfortunate day, an unexpected rainstorm also dashed my plan.) I finally found the balance, going through both the weather and my personal to-do list to find the best time for my daily commute. By the end of the month, my sessions were 15 to 90 minutes long, averaging about 45 minutes.

2. Using a fitness tracker is tricky

As an Apple Watch aficionado, the prospect of logging these workouts thrilled me until I discovered that there is no “rucking” setting. To address this, I’ve decided to label rucks in my neighborhood as “walking outdoors” and rucks on uneven ground as “hiking.”

But I wasn’t getting full credit for the assignment. The device couldn’t account for the 20-40 extra pounds I was carrying. And while I was exerting more energy than a typical hike, due to the added weight, my watch interpreted my higher heart rate as a decrease in my overall cardiovascular fitness. To avoid this, I started manually excluding my rucking sessions from the Apple Watch VO2 max data.

3. It’s a great way to do zone 2 cardio

During the 30 day challenge, I observed how several factors affected my heart rate while rucking. For example, taking my daughter up steep inclines raised my heart rate between Zones 3 and 5, according to my Apple Watch. My backpack seemed to have the opposite effect on flat pavements, where I couldn’t move fast enough to get my heart rate above Zone 1.

However, using the Rucker 4.0 with 20 lbs of weight on rolling hills turned a typically mundane walk into a beneficial Zone 2 cardio session. In Zone 2, you train at an easy to moderate intensity where the conversation is still possible, corresponding to about 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Many adventurous, high-intensity athletes spend their time pushing themselves in Zone 3 or recovering in Zone 1. It is often difficult to find the sweet spot in Zone 2 and even more challenging to do without using a treadmill or stationary bike (which I personally find joyless). Rucking with a light backpack turned out to be the perfect solution.

4. It’s a great workout for parents of young children

If you’re a parent who wants to exercise, you’ve probably been told to drop your child in a stroller and go for a walk. But he may not be challenging enough for you. You might not even want to splurge on an expensive hiking fanny pack or jogging stroller. (I get it.) Rucking strikes the perfect balance between intensity and manageability. On days without childcare, I put my daughter in the stroller and wore the Rucker 4.0 on my back instead of struggling with my carrier.

5. A dedicated rucker is nice (but not absolutely necessary)

The Rucker 4.0 has become my preferred choice for my daily sessions. His nondescript black color and inconspicuous shape made him versatile for various outings, unlike my noticeable Gregory backpack with a waist belt that often looked awkward. The Rucker’s comfortable straps and even weight distribution impressed me.

However, you don’t need to spend more than $300 (the Rucker 4.0 price is $245 and the 20-pound platter is $105) on specialized equipment. When you’re starting out, try playing with items you already have, like exercise equipment, water bottles, or even bags of rice on your next walk. However, keep in mind that this can lead to uneven weight distribution, as these items tend to collect at the bottom of the backpack, which can be irritating from time to time. (You can always invest in dedicated equipment later.)

6. It’s a low-impact alternative to (or complement to) running

In addition to rucking, I maintained my regular exercise routine, which consists of functional strength training two to three times a week and HIIT once a week, all month long. However, my (already) infrequent rides fell by the wayside. There has been a silver lining to this change: My occasional, mild pain in my hip has disappeared.

Even if I’m not ready to throw in the towel for jogging, rucking provides a much-needed middle ground between a leisure stroll and a strenuous jog. It’s more effective at building my cardiovascular endurance than walking, and easier on my joints than running.

7. Rucking is surprisingly fun

I admit it: I enjoyed rucking. As I walked around, I was catching up on podcasts or audiobooks and it barely felt like exercise. Walking through the woods wearing a backpack reminded me of the hours I spent playing in such environments as a child.

In the future, I plan to build an hour or two of rucking into my week, either to get some Zone 2 training in or to enjoy my local nature trails. I may just be a violent convert, though I’m relieved to no longer carry the daily burden (both physical and mental) of my 30-day challenge.

#Played #Day #Month #Heres #Learned
Image Source : www.outsideonline.com

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