Do you love boot camp workouts? What about hitting all of your major muscle groups with military precision? Well, you can do it on a hike — Ruck-style. Say what? A Ruck March, also called a “forced march” or a “hump,” involves walking at a fast clip over rugged terrain with a weighted backpack. In the Armed Forces, participants carry at least 45 pounds in their backpack, in addition to their helmet, canteens, shoulder harness and weapon. If you want a similar civilian-style workout, try an off-road Ruck March and see how you rank. Load up your backpack with some weights and go for a rugged hike — the added resistance will work your body harder and burn more calories.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Build incrementally. Put on hiking shoes, strap on a weighted rucksack (or regular backpack) and head out for the trails. Seek areas with rugged terrain and hills. In the beginning, start with a lightweight pack of 10 pounds and just do a few miles. As your body gets used to the weighted hike, incrementally increase your load, miles and hiking speed. How to add weight? Try hand weights wrapped in towels, bricks wrapped in towels, or sealed water jugs.
Cross-train. If you want to improve your Ruck March, the solution is threefold: Train your major muscle groups, condition that ticker, and work on your stamina and endurance. Cross-train with running, core exercises and weight training to prepare your body to carry weight, keep form and tackle hills. A strong core is essential to avoid injury on the trail. Carry the rucksack closer to your body, and the reduced sway will diminish the strain to your back muscles.
Go “Biggest Loser.” Have you seen the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” where contestants strap on the weight they've lost and go out on a hike? That's a Ruck March. They carry the extra weight so they can realize how much lighter they feel. You can challenge yourself by adding the weight you've lost on your next hike. Not only will it increase your total body workout, but you'll also get a mental reminder that you don't want those extra pounds to come back.
Fit Tips are provided by Life Fitness, a leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide. For more information on Fit Tips and other fitness advice and expertise go to www.lifefitness.com/blog.