Why is this interesting? - The Rucking Edition

On moving with weight, strength, and cardio

Colin here. As we’ve written about in a few editions, the pandemic has forced some reductionism in how people stay fit. Instead of the Equinox membership, many people are now using bands and body weight movements to ensure they get their exercise. Peloton purchases have surged, and many people, Noah and myself included, have taken up running. 

There’s another fitness trend that is starting to surge, and it comes from the military. The act of moving with weight, called rucking, is a fundamental element of the military, particularly for infantry soldiers. To get their personal gear and other necessary things from point A to point B. soldiers often carry 60 plus pounds on marches from 4 to 30 miles (or more). It’s often a test of grit and mental fortitude and when you talk to veterans, you get a bit of a grimace when they recall how much it sucked. 

But rucking can be a good workout, and doesn’t need to be painful. Jason McCarthy, a former US Special Forces Soldier (aka Green Beret), founded GORUCK, a bag company that makes bombproof gear, including rucksacks. As part of building the brand, he launched a series of GORUCK challenges (that several WITI contributors have done, including both Green Berets and civilians). The events were community builders, and also designed to stress test the products. 

At the core of the events is moving with weight in your backpack for around 12 hours for the “Tough” challenge, combined with other team-focused events that are well … tough.

Why is this interesting? 

Rucking doesn’t need to be some hardcore thing. It can actually be a part of most people’s fitness regimens. It is simply the act of putting weight on your back and walking at pace. According to McCarthy, there are simple benefits

It’s cardio for people who think running sucks. If you want to burn up to 3X as many calories as walking, ruck instead. Your heart pumps faster during a rucking workout to get oxygen rich blood throughout your body, increasing circulation. 

The weight adds resistance training to your back and shoulders, your glutes and legs with every step - resulting in strength gains without the bulk. Want more? Up the weight, increase the distance, or go faster. 

There’s posture benefits: When you put a weight in a backpack, that weight helps to pull your shoulders back and bring your center of mass over the hips. Good posture is foundational to good movement. Rucking helps you achieve both.

Men’s Health dug into the calorie benefits and found, “for the average guy, a 30-minute walk burns about 125 calories, according to the Compendium of Physical Activities. But throw a weighted backpack on and take that exact same walk, and you burn about 325 calories.”

There’s nothing really required other than weight in a backpack, so the barrier to entry is low. If you want to spend money, you can buy a GORUCK bag and a weight plate that fits nicely in a designed sleeve, but you can also improvise with literally whatever you have at home and see if it’s something you like. When in doubt, start light—maybe 20 pounds—and aim for a 20 minute mile pace. From there, you can improve with practice. And as with everything, don’t take our word as gospel, talk to your doctor before all physical activities. 

According to McCarthy, “another major benefit is you can literally ‘hide the miles’ and ruck to the store, ruck the dog, ruck to or from work, ruck to your workout,” he said. “Exercise doesn't have to be something you carve out a specific 30 or 60 minutes to do. You can build it into parts of your daily routine, and feel (and see) the benefits with this small tweak to what you're already doing.”

What’s nice about rucking is it can be a welcome change from staid cardio routines. What’s more, it offers opportunities to socialize while you work out. You can see your neighborhood, meet up with some friends (distanced of course), and go for a walk while getting a combo of strength and cardio at once. It can also be a good solitary activity to zone out with a podcast and focus on your pace. And if you’re feeling up for it, give yourself a mental tune up with one of their events. (CJN

Partner Post: WITI x Brightland

Since it launched, we've been fans of Brightland, a new olive oil brand started by Aishwarya Iyer (profiled in MMD here). It’s a new consumer brand that feels soulful, has a clear aesthetic vision, and tastes really good. The olives are grown from a family farm on the Central Coast of California and Iyer’s vision is to show people the benefits of authentic olive oil, a far cry from the dusty, dark green bottle sitting in the back a cabinet. This product is designed to be front and center in your kitchen and with your cooking. Plus, it fits nearly every lifestyle: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, Keto, Paleo, Atkins, and Mediterranean. Arise is their new product, a limited edition 100 percent Basil Olive oil. The tasting notes are smooth, herbaceous, warm, and peppery, with hints of clove and undertones of mint and anise. Brightland offers subscriptions to all of their products, and are kindly offering WITI readers free shipping with the code WITIARISE.

Book of the Day: 

Jason McCarthy, who we mentioned above, wrote a really great entrepreneurial story of how he built GORUCK from scratch. It shows the power of community building as a differentiator and is a really interesting case study of how to create a cult brand. Highly recommended. (CJN)

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

Why is this interesting? is a daily email from Noah Brier & Colin Nagy (and friends!) about interesting things. If you’ve enjoyed this edition, please consider forwarding it to a friend. If you’re reading it for the first time, consider subscribing (it’s free!).