in: Fitness, Health & Fitness, Podcast

• Last updated: March 20, 2022

Podcast #682: Get Rucking

Rucking, that is, walking with a weighted backpack, started as something that soldiers did to carry the gear and equipment needed for combat. In recent times, rucking has become an increasingly popular form of exercise, and if you’ve wanted to try it, or have already started but would like to improve your practice, my guest today has some advice.

His name is Josh Bryant and he’s a strength coach and the author of multiple books on fitness, including Rucking Gains. Josh explains how rucking got its start in ancient armies, the kind of loads modern soldiers carry today, and why civilians should consider adopting this military-born modality. After unpacking the benefits of rucking, we get into how to walk with proper form, at the right pace, and choose what terrain to traverse. We discuss how to program your rucking workouts, how to make them progressively more challenging, and how to integrate them into your fitness routine without having it interfere with the strength gains you’re developing in the gym. We end our conversation with exercises you can do with your rucksack besides humping it.

If reading this in an email, click the title of the post to listen to the show.

Show Highlights

  • The long history of rucking
  • How Josh discovered rucking as a workout option
  • How the military uses rucking today
  • Why rucking is a great form of exercise for citizens of all stripes 
  • Rucking in a group, in the midst of a pandemic 
  • How much weight should you start out with? 
  • Walking form when carrying a load 
  • Getting rucking into the rest of your exercise/workout planning
  • Strength-training exercises you can do with a weighted rucksack 

Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast

Connect With Josh

Josh’s website

Josh on Twitter

John on YouTube

Jailhouse Strong on Instagram

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Read the Transcript

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Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. Rucking, that is walking with the weighted backpack, started as something soldiers did to carry the gear equipment needed for combat. In recent times, rucking has become an increasingly popular form of exercise, and if you’ve wanted to try it or have already started, but would like to improve your practice, my guest today has some advice. His name is Josh Bryant, and he’s a strength coach, the author of multiple books on fitness, including his latest Rucking Gains. Josh explains how rucking got it’s start in ancient armies, the kind of loads modern soldiers carry today and why civilians should consider adopting this military-born fitness modality. After unpacking the benefits of rucking, we get in how to walk with proper form at the right pace, and choose what terrains to traverse. We then discuss how to program your rucking workouts, how to make them progressively more challenging, and how to integrate them into your fitness routine without having to interfere with the strength gains you’re developing in the gym. And we end our conversation with exercises you can do with the rucksack besides carrying it around on your back. After show’s over, check out our shows at Josh joins you now via

Josh Bryant, welcome back to the show.

Josh Bryant: I’m honored to be here, thanks for having me Brett.

Brett McKay: Alright, so we had you on the show last year to talk about your book, Jailhouse Strong, which is all about getting really strong using just body weight exercises. We also talked about your philosophy of being gas station ready , which is this kind of tactical fitness, functional fitness, being ready to handle anything, whether it’s some guy accosting you at the gas station at 3 o’clock in the morning, or whatever else life might throw at you. And lately, checking your Instagram feed, looks like rucking has become a valuable part of becoming a gas station ready for you, something you’ve added to your fitness repertoire lately. How did you discover rucking as a fitness modality?

Josh Bryant: Well, I first knew rucking way back, like when I was in high school, I worked at a gym, and it was a pretty hard core gym, there was like bouncers there, ex-military powerlifters. So there was a person there, kind of a scary guy that rucked a lot. To a high school kid he was scary. And so back then with the introduction, but more recently, to back track to 2018, I’ve put together a strength conditioning course for ISSA personal training certification, and the courses for becoming a tactical conditioning specialist, so working with military, police, fire, things like that. So a large part of the research was on load carriage, is what it’s called. So in that process, I’ve already been programming this stuff, I’m like, “You know what, I’m doing all this research on it, I’m programming for other people, I need to get out there and do it.” And I’m just gonna do it more is like to experience ’cause I’m not a law enforcement officer, I’m not military, so I wanna know what you’re experiencing more so. So I went out there and started doing it and I just… That was the original purpose. More like, not “I’m into rucking.” More like, “This is business, I need to know.” kind of thing, and I need to be empathetic, that kind of thing, but then I really just fell in love with it after that.

Brett McKay: And we’ll talk about why you felt that ’cause you have in this book, you have all the benefits of it. But I think we need to backtrack here. For those who aren’t familiar, rucking is basically, you have a backpack and you put weight in it and you walk around with it, you go on a hike, essentially.

Josh Bryant: That’s like an intentional walk, a relatively fast walk type of thing with… The thing I find interesting is how long it’s been around for. This is not like a new thing. There’s the Roman army thousands of years ago. They started off with the 18.4 miles with 45 pounds and they have to do it in five hours. It was called a military pace, and then from there, they progressed to what’s called faster step or full pace, and they were doing 22 miles in five hours with 45 pounds. So it was crazy, like how long that’s been around. They trained with loaded marches and supposedly… Had to say supposedly ’cause we weren’t there or anything, but the Chinese soldiers could walk 160 kilometers straight with armor and their crossbows. So it’s been around forever.

Brett McKay: What does it look like today in militaries? Like, what are the requirements that if you sign up to be an infantry officer in the army or whatever.

Josh Bryant: Sure, so what’s interesting about that is, to get a little more history here, is that’s one thing that hasn’t involved technologically. So for instance, our smart phones we have, are millions of times more powerful than the computer that sent NASA to the Moon, the first man on the Moon, and that was the size of a house or something. So it’s amazing what technology has done, but from a load-carriage example, for the military, loads have continually gone up over time. So from ancient Greece, like the Civil War days, the average is about 40 pounds. Didn’t really change. Then in World War II, it jumped up to 80 plus pounds. Then by Grenada, there was an article I read in the research about somebody who was having to literally throw himself on the ground because he can’t go over 10 yards of 120 pounds. In Afghanistan, infantry is average about 99 pounds in that conflict over there. But some people are carrying up to 140, so now we’ll talk a little bit of qualification.

So for instance, an expert Infantry Badge, which is the League qualification, you wanna get 12 miles in three hours or less, carrying a rifle and the loads. It’s gonna be about 70 pounds. And in the British Army, rucking is actually considered like a core fitness skill at something they’re tested on. So they have pretty tough standards already, then if you’re infantry, you have to go through more rigorous standards. In France, they do a deal where it’s actually more running. It’s a five-mile loaded ruck, so it’s only 26 pounds, but they’re doing five miles in 40 minutes.

Brett McKay: And that’s an interesting thing that you look at the history. I’ve read that history too, of how much a soldier is expected to carry now, like they have to have all their food, their communications, different weapons. Before you would have like… You’d be on the front line, then you can always go back to headquarters to get more if you need it. Now there isn’t that; you have to be able to be self-sufficient on your own out on the line, and so you’re just expected… You have to carry more, you have to basically become an army within yourself.

Josh Bryant: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: So let’s talk about benefits of rucking just for the layman, alright? So, what’s interesting about rucking in the past few years, you’ve seen this become something that just civilians do as well… Why do you think it’s a great form of exercise for people who aren’t expected to carry 120 pounds out in the deserts of Afghanistan?

Josh Bryant: Well, I think for one, we have to say you don’t need to be rucking with that much weight. Probably, if you’re not gonna do something like occupational specific, I like to say about 20% of your body weight or less is probably you’re gonna keep up with so, it probably is not gonna be the best thing for you to work up to 120 pounds for two hours straight or something like that. So, I think one of the main benefits is it’s lower impact, so if you look at running, you be putting major forces up to 11 times your body weight, where rucking is gonna be closer to like three or four, and from how many calories you burn. We can look at a 200 pound man running a 12-minute mile pace for an hour is gonna burn around 755 calories. That same person, brisk walking is gonna burn under 400 calories, but if that person has a ruck, they can get up to 600 or more, so it’s like you’re getting over 85% of those benefits, like 10% of the risk type of deal.

Brett McKay: No, yeah, that… Yeah, I mean, that’s if… I call rucking cardio for the man who hates cardio, if you hate running, rucking is a great alternative if you need to get some sort of cardio in your workout routine.

Josh Bryant: Absolutely. And I think you also pointed out in one of your articles that man’s a social creature, and I think that’s very true. It’s something you can do with other people and you’re not violating any sort of stay-at-home order or anything, as long as you’re not right up on the person. So there’s that social aspect, there is the whole outdoor thing, you know, the whole thing about nature’s best antidepressants, vitamin D; get outdoors and enjoy yourself, and it’s huge for… It’s even for injury prevention, you’re building up all those muscles that help your posture, and it’s like you’re almost like doing a dynamic plank as you’re walking, as soon you’re done with good posture, it’s huge for your aerobic base. And I think that’s discounted by a lot of more people that are more strength-oriented. Your aerobic base is what’s gonna be able to help allow you to recover from. More volume, recover between sets, recover between workouts.

While it’s not gonna make your squat jump 50 pounds right away, it’s gonna allow you to put in the requisite work to increase your squat by 50 pounds. And then there’s also the simplicity factor. You don’t need $200 pair of shoes and this or that. I mean, if you, you could get started by getting a backpack, throwing a couple of bricks in and going, and then if you decide it’s something you really like, then you could get higher quality rucksack. The cost is awesome because they’re such a low barrier to entry that way. It’s not like if you take up other hobbies or something, it could be… Like golf or something… It could be really expensive to buy all the clubs and all that kind of thing. It’s very functional. Even like a soccer mom carrying a baby or like a big game hunter. I was watching the thing last night about elk hunting in Oklahoma actually, and they were showing somebody that had to carry part of a elk back and he’s carrying it like a rucksack. So, that person would be more prepared for this had he been rucking type of thing. And it’s very scalable. If you’re gonna work out with, even if you don’t have weights, if you’re throwing in several ruck weight and then you just throw a few bricks in there, okay, you’re not as strong, you throw two bricks in there type of thing, and I think it teaches balance and body awareness too. So there’s a ton of benefits.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Let’s recap the benefits. Okay, so it’s great cardio, you’re gonna burn about the same amount as you would if you took a light jog.

Josh Bryant: Yeah.

Brett McKay: It’s less impact though, you’re not gonna screw up your knees. That’s great effectually if you’re an older guy. I know a lot… I’ve noticed a lot of older men are drawn to rucking for that reason, because of the low impact. Improves your posture, your strength, ’cause you’re carrying under load. You’ve got the… So you can do with friends and socially distance if you need to, so you get that social factor, you get your outside in nature, which is great for mental health. We’ve talked about in the podcast. And then it’s just easy. You don’t… It’s super easy, super simple, doesn’t load barrier to entry. With that said, there are some things you should just probably think about if you wanna get started with rucking. So you mentioned okay, you don’t need fancy shoes, you can do this with the gym shoes you have, just and any backpack will do that will carry a load?

Josh Bryant: Yeah, I mean, that’s a fine place to start, but as you get advanced, you probably would wanna get more of a real rucksack.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. And then, how do you figure out? So you’d say, “Okay, I wanna start rucking”. How do you figure out, you mentioned earlier the weight you should start out with, so you’re not army guy carrying 120 pounds, you said shoot for 20% of your body weight when you’re first starting out?

Josh Bryant: I think it’s where you’re gonna end up safely and I’m just going off of… There’s not hard studies that say that that’s… If you’re squatting four times your body weight and you have perfect back health, you would probably get away a little bit more type of thing, but I think that’s a pretty safe recommendation, so two things with that. So I’ve always said 5% of your body weight to 10% of your body weight in the high end is a fine place to start. In the program in the book, Rucking Games, where you start off with 6% of your body weight in week one, and that’s for 20 minutes straight at a 20-minute mile pace. You’re walking one mile in 20 minutes. By the end, you’re rucking for an hour straight with 20% of your body weight up in the hills, and that’s at… But that’s over 16 weeks. So it’s not like… I think that’s where a lot of people might, if they wanna fully benefit from rucking, can look at some sort of progressive overload of such sorts, like everybody does with lifting, but a lot of times with this kind of thing, they don’t.

So if you’re just looking to improve your health a little bit, you don’t need to get super advanced and fancy and progressively overload, but if you wanna kick it up to the next level, it’s definitely something you need to consider and I really don’t recommend exceeding the 15-minute mile pace. That’s a brisk walk. And I would really rather see you add a hill in there or something than get to jogging, because while we’re talking about the lower impact, but all of a sudden you’re doing that French Legion test where you’re doing eight-minute miles with 26 pounds on you, then it’s you’ve created a worse problem.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I’ve ran with a rucksack before. It’s not pleasant.

Josh Bryant: And that would be the time to do it. I get it, you got some assessment coming up, your dream job, your pay is gonna increase, whatever, I’m on board with the specificity there. I’m just saying, if this is for civilians, for general health, I do not see the purpose.

Brett McKay: Anything to think about with your walking form. People really don’t think about their walking form, but is there anything that people think about when they’re walking, when you’re carrying a load that you do differently to compare to when you’re not carrying a load?

Josh Bryant: Yeah, you definitely need to be mindful of how you’re walking, and when you’re walking with good posture and things like that, it’s very important that you’re not getting… You keep your head high, spine aligned, stand tall, and if you start slouching over and things, that means you’re going too heavy. You can check yourself throughout the walk. You shouldn’t be shrugging your shoulders up, it’s like an anti-shrug position, and keep doing that self-check throughout the walk. You’re avoiding spinal flexion. You’re also avoiding over-extension, that’s not good either, that’s not good for your back. So you wanna stay upright, achieve full extension of your hips while you’re walking, and use frequent strides driving your arms hard. One thing I’ve found that helps, and I hesitate to say it sometimes is, because it can sound sort of complicated, so keeping your glutes engaged. I’ve noticed the first time I did it really well, good form, my glutes were actually a little bit sore the next day, so it’s like I keep them engaged and sort of flex them, but it’s not like a real conscious thing where I’m trying to lift with them or anything.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. And then, where to ruck, again, you can do this anywhere, but I imagine some terrains are better than others.

Josh Bryant: Absolutely. So you’re gonna be more prepared for real life if you get out in nature, because life is gonna happen all around you, not just… Obviously, if you’re just going for a time, I wanna see how many 15-minute miles I can do or whatever, then the synthetic track is probably a good choice, because it’s gonna be real measurable and real repeatable type of thing. But real life happens in all sorts of different terrains, so I’d recommend getting out in nature and having some fun. And it’s interesting is, in Texas is pretty flat, but where I live, there’s actually a lot of hills, it’s a hill country here, and I take my kids a lot with me, and we went out there the other day. And they were just running up and down this real steep hill, and I was walking up and down right in the city, and we got stalked by a coyote at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. So that was pretty crazy, getting out in nature to see that. And I didn’t know what we were supposed to do except not act scared, and we didn’t, it finally left.

Brett McKay: Oh yeah, those coyotes are getting bold these days.

Josh Bryant: They were super bold. This one’s fat too. And then my wife checked the message board for South Lake where I live, or whatever that neighborhood is over there, and there are people talking about this bobcat that seems to be eating well, so I guess it’s pretty well known.

Brett McKay: Alright, so uneven terrain, that will also help with that balance aspect you talked about earlier, one of the benefits of rucking.

Josh Bryant: Yeah, and learning to move under load like that is gonna help you in the weight room too, so I think that’s where you gotta understand for these strength increases. Rucking is not gonna increase your squat or deadlift, you just do it and that happens. It’s gonna be more like, as a beginner, you’re learning to move under load, so the Strongman events, things like that, and then as you improve your conditioning, that’s where it’s real important with the regeneration, because your work capacity is higher, and you’re gonna recover faster between workouts, between sets, all that stuff.

Brett McKay: So that’s how, if you do strength training, ruck can be a nice supplement to that. It’s like active recovery, in a way.

Josh Bryant: It is, and that’s a good way to put it. So for instance, I’ve been rucking since 2018, at least once a week. So my favorite time to do it is, right now, I’m doing it once a week. I like to do it the day after I do heavy leg stuff, and stuff that involves lower back on Friday, so I have do the rucking on Saturday as an act of recovery.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk about this. So yeah, for those who are doing some strength and conditioning program, one of the challenge I’ve seen in people who get into rucking is that, their rucking starts to interfere with the recovery from their strength training, ’cause they overdo it. What’s the best way to incorporate rucking so that you get that recovery benefit, but without killing yourself, and you won’t be able to completed a work set your next workout.

Josh Bryant: Sure, so there’s a couple ways to look at this. Eventually, if you keep rucking and assuming you’re following the guidelines we’re putting out there of not exceeding 20% of your body weight, not going faster than 15-minute miles, you can possibly get to the point where it doesn’t matter. For me now, I could ruck on Saturday, and squat on Sunday if I needed to, just, it’s my recovery has gotten to that point, it took a little while, so there’s that aspect as your work capacity increases, it won’t be as much of a challenge, because you’re somewhat acclimated to this and you’re not exceeding that 15-minute mile pace. Otherwise, I would say, the best spot to do it would be, I like is the day after as an action recovery, ’cause we’re not recommending you… I’d say, I know you’re gonna be able to get away with rucking once a week, and that’s gonna improve your physical health. You probably can get away with it twice a week, but I think once a week’s a really safe bet to do, and it works really well as an active recovery the day after something involves your legs and lower back.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I train Monday, Tuesdays, Thursday, Fridays. I ruck or sometimes I just walk, take a long walk on Wednesdays.

Josh Bryant: Okay.

Brett McKay: That’s right. And then maybe another walk or ruck on Saturday. And haven’t had any problems with it.

Josh Bryant: Okay, so with walking, that’s a good point, because some people that are into strength training, were taking for granted that you’re in shape to do this, so I would recommend, if you’re not able to walk at an hour straight at a reasonably brisk pace, you shouldn’t be rucking probably. So you wanna get to that point.

Brett McKay: Yeah, so that’s good. Okay, so if you can’t walk an hour don’t start off with load. You have to start… You gotta crawl before you walk, or you walk without load before you add load.

Josh Bryant: Imagine if you couldn’t even do a body weight squat and I said, “Yeah, let’s get out there and start with 225 or something.” It would be crazy. So it’s the same type of thing here.

Brett McKay: So okay, let’s talk… As we talked a little bit about this progression here, so okay, if you’ve never… If you can’t walk without load for an hour and not be incredibly winded, you should probably just start walking without load. How long does that last? Like a week, two weeks? How long before you can you start adding load do you think?

Josh Bryant: I think once you can comfortably walk an hour straight. At a brisk pace, you’re gonna have load, so how long will it take you to get there? Well, to be honest with you, I’ve seen powerlifters that, almost like need oxygen walking up a flight of steps, so that person is gonna take a while to get to that point, where somebody else that has been in good shape of cardiovascular and somewhat recently, just taking some time off, it could take a week or two.

Brett McKay: Okay. And then after that, you’re gonna start off with 5% to 6% of your body weight. So if you’re what, a 200-pound man, what’s that gonna be like, 20…

Josh Bryant: 10 pounds.

Brett McKay: 10 pounds, yeah, so not much. And then each week, are you adding weight?

Josh Bryant: Sure. So there’s a few different ways… That’s what’s cool about the progressive overload. So just like we’ve discussed before here on body weight training, strength training, is we have to look at more than just the weight. So there’s other ways to do it. You can increase the ruck, so I recommend not doing more than five pounds between session. So you start off at 10, it’s a joke, you go to 15, 20, so on to eventually work up for that 20% of your body weight. So if you weigh the hypothetical 200-pound man we keep discussing, it’s about 40 pounds of what you’d end up at. Then you can also increase the distance. So I would say, between rucking sessions, you can… If you’re going off a distance, increase on your a quarter mile or so. It doesn’t have to be like, you started off at a half mile, then next week, you’re at three miles.

You can increase the total duration, just add five minutes to what you’re doing at the same pace. And another one people don’t look at is, the incline. If you’re on a flat surface, when I was researching for my tactical conditioning course, it was amazing to see the metabolic expenditure that changes when you just add a grade to what you’re doing to an incline to what you’re doing. So that’s another way to progressively overload them, even the surface you’re on. Okay, I’m at the city track with a synthetic surface. You feel like you’re gliding when you walk. All of a sudden, now I head over to the park where there’s a big sand and, I’m rucking around that. It’s gonna be harder.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. So you get creative with how you add the progressive overload. Don’t just think weight, think other things, too.

Josh Bryant: Well, to add a little bit to that also, one thing I found that works pretty well for people too, is if this is just for general health purposes, you don’t wanna hit a certain goal of rucking next to mountain, or whatever. But good guideline is, you can also use this nasal breathing. How fast can you go and how high, how steep can you go and continue to breathe out of your nose and not breathe out of your mouth so you’re not talking to anybody or anything.

Brett McKay: That’s a good way, yeah. No, that’s harder to do. How does this change, this programming change for someone who’s training for the military or law enforcement?

Josh Bryant: Well, that’s where it’s gonna get a little bit tricky, so or not tricky, but that’s where all of the guidelines we’ve been talking about are out the window because you’re gonna have to look at the specificity of a test. If you have to do eight-minute miles with a 25-pound rucksack, it doesn’t matter what we’ve said to this point. If you want the job, you wanna pass, you have to do that. So you have to train its specificities where it trains, it’s no longer like these guidelines to the ruck to be healthy, it’s what do you need to do to pass the test? So you gotta think about things like not only the weight of it, but like the train of what you’re gonna be testing on. You’re just in Texas to say, you’re in West Texas, there’s hills and mountains out there. If you’re in other part, it’s just totally flat. So if it’s an outdoor test, be ready for the terrain, the grade of the hill. Even the climate control, if you’re in Nebraska, maybe it’s minus five in the winter, and the test is gonna be indoors, you don’t even have to worry about it.

You’re gonna be in a climate control type of thing. And then you really need to look at the other predictors ’cause here’s the deal. We’ve talked about different like say, say you’re a police officer and you have to wear 25 pounds of gear a day, every day, no matter what you’re on your feet constantly. It’s not gonna make sense. Like, Okay, you’re working 12-hour shifts and you go off work or you’re from Afghanistan, you’re wearing 100 pounds, you don’t need to get off work, and then ruck with 120 pounds, so you’re ready for 100 pounds the next day, then you have to start looking at the other factors that are good predictors of rucking ability. Those are like muscle hypertrophy, having low body fat, how strong you are, your ability to produce power, things like that. So the example I’ll give here is like a manual labor type of job. A lot of people think, how do you try to manual labor? Well, you just have them go light, and that’s not the case because that manual labor is doing sub-maximal work at an extreme volume all day. So the way to train somebody like that is, have this person go with a higher intensity because he’s not getting any of that at work, and it’s the same here. So if you have somebody that’s in law enforcement or under-load all the time, you’re gonna have to get some higher intensity, more traditional strength training ’cause you’re already “rucking” throughout the day.

Brett McKay: That makes sense. Well, here’s a question. So a lot of people, like in some parts of the country, gyms are still closed.

Josh Bryant: Sure.

Brett McKay: Gym equipment is hard to come by. You can’t find it anywhere for your home gym. A rucksack is a weighted object. I’m curious, based on your work, you’ve think about this stuff all the time, how to get creative with minimal resources. What are some strength training exercises you could do besides rucking with a weighted rucksack?

Josh Bryant: Well, there’s a couple of ways to look at this. First, if you have access to Google, just Google what you can do with a sand bag. Pretty much anything you do with that you could do with the rucksack. You can do push-ups, you can do pull-ups, you can do lunges, you could even take it off and do a bit of a row. You could do inverted bicep curls, if you got a bar, or you could just take it off and grab by the straps and do hammer curls. You could do tricep extensions holding it by the straps overhead or putting it on your body against the bar. Overhead press it, Romanian deadlift it, there’s so many different endless possibilities you could do. We could literally have a conversation about this only, and run out of time. It’s endless.

Brett McKay: So yeah basically any bodyweight movement you could do, you could do with a ruck?

Josh Bryant: Absolutely, and a lot of the barbell movements too.

Brett McKay: Right, I know when I… There’s a period when I was getting ready… When I was training for GORUCK events, I… For some reason I thought I needed to do bear crawls a lot, so I did a lot of… I would do 100 yard bear crawls [chuckle] with a ruck.

Josh Bryant: That’s hardcore. [chuckle] With a ruck.

Brett McKay: Yeah, that was insane. But then I would do push-ups, I would do duck walks with the rucksack and…

Josh Bryant: Yeah.

Brett McKay: Those… I hated ruck day. That was not fun, but it paid off because what we… A GORUCK challenge is hard, but I trained myself harder than I needed to do, the stuff they had us do was… It was brutal, but I’d already experienced it.

Josh Bryant: That’s awesome.

Brett McKay: Okay so yeah there’s a lot of things you… So don’t just think, okay, you just have to ruck with it. There’s other stuff, if you don’t have weight-lifting equipment, you can actually use this to create and it’d be like the same… Like programming-wise. Let’s say, if you wanted to do a push-up, a squat, some sort of invert like a row with your rucksack, what would the reps and sets look like? Would it be… You’re looking at three sets of 10, three sets… How would you program that?

Josh Bryant: I think you’d wanna keep it to what… Where you’d traditionally be and what your goals are. However, you’d have to keep intact what your strength level is. So again, if you’re going within that 20% body weight threshold and you’re really strong, three sets of six on bent-over rows with a 40 pound rucksack weighing 200, probably is not gonna do a whole lot, so then you’re gonna have to go to a higher reps or minimally add some sort of tempo to it. I’m doing the three sets of six, but I’m holding the rucksack in a contracted position for two seconds, then following it up with a five-second negative and things like that, so I think, assuming it’s compatible to your strength level or… You’d wanna keep the traditional rep ranges you’re already working with, but if you’re really strong, you’re gonna have to find another way. You’re gonna have to add tempo or go with a real high repetition deal.

Brett McKay: Gotcha. Another thing I love doing with the rucksack is other ways to carry a suitcase carry, so you just put it in one hand, carry it with just one hand, and switch to the other hand. You can carry it over head, so you extend your arms above your head and have the weight and then walk around. That can… That’s another great way to incorporate some strength training with the rucksack.

Josh Bryant: I think honestly, it’s endless ’cause, we talk about the lunges, you could hold the rucksack overhead even and if the ruck… So you can get creative. I’m too strong to lunge with 40 pounds, okay, hold it over your head and see what happens, type of thing.

Brett McKay: Right, or you can even be like a kettlebell. I’ve done that too, some cleans, like snatches, so you just gotta… Up and then press it. There’s a lot you can do and get creative. You’ve said you started rucking in 2018 and you just fell in love with it. How has it changed or affected your training outside of your other stuff that you do, just your basic barbell training?

Josh Bryant: If anything it’s helped it. It certainly hasn’t hurt it, so I’m not trying to push it, my… ’cause of my background, I’m not trying to push for new maxes and things like that. When I’m gonna test myself, I do more like speed tests or conditioning tests or things like that, but there’s been absolutely no drop in strength whatsoever.

Brett McKay: Fantastic. Well, Josh, where can people go to learn more about rucking games?

Josh Bryant: The books available on It’s available now in paper back too, because before that, just until recently it was only in Kindle, so it’s available in Kindle and paperback, or come to my website,

Brett McKay: Fantastic. Well, Josh Bryant, thanks for much time. It’s been a pleasure.

Josh Bryant: Thank you Brett, I appreciate it.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Josh Bryant. He’s the author of the book, Rucking Gains. It’s available on You can also find out more information about his work at his website, Also, check out our show notes at, where you can find links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up, but another edition of The AOM Podcast. Check out our website at, where you can find our podcast archives, as well as thousands of articles written over the years, and if you’d like to enjoy ad-free episodes of the AOM Podcast, you can do so on Stitcher Premium. Head over to, sign up, use code manliness at check out for a free month trial. Once you’re signed up, download the Stitcher App on Android or iOS, and you can start enjoying ad-free episodes of the AOM Podcast. And if you haven’t done so already, I’d appreciate if you’d take one minute to give us a review on Apple Podcast or Stitcher, whatever podcast player you use. It helps out a lot, and if you’ve done that already, thank you. Please consider sharing the show with a friend or a family member you think would get something out of it. As always, thank you for the continued support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay, reminding you not only to listen to the AOM Podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.



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