Our Beginner workout today focuses mostly on a healthy lower back and core strength. This is an area I can guarantee most people simply don't have enough work in, and as ruckers, this is an area that's key to a healthy body.
When you know what to look for, you see it everywhere. It often appears that the person has a tummy sticking out in front and a sway to their lower back. It's caused by weak abs, tight hip flexors and loose and underactive glutes and hamstrings, also known as lordosis. It's generally from sitting too much, and is a major cause of lower back pain. Lordosis is one of a handful of postural back issues, but it's also the most common and can be remedied with consistent work.
We can begin to fix this issue by working specific muscles to realign your posture, strengthen weaker muscles and create more physical alignment. This workout is a great one to do frequently if you have nagging lower back pain, find yourself standing or leaning on a single leg (moms, that means you), or sleep in a position that creates discomfort in your lower back upon waking (generally a side or stomach-sleeping position).
If you have nagging pain that won't go away, see someone! A physical therapist is a great place to start. They can give you specific exercises for your situation.
What are the exercises I need to know?
Ruck Single-Arm Clean & Press With your ruck laying on the floor flat between your feet, extend your right arm out to the side as you squat to pick your ruck up with your left hand. As you stand from the squat, lift your ruck and rack it against your shoulder (elbow tight to the side of your body.) Press your ruck up overhead. Be sure to engage your core muscles in this maneuver. Do your opposite arm on your second round of exercises. This demonstration video uses a kettlebell, but the mechanics are exactly the same.
Ruck Kneeling Pallof Press w/ Twist This is a pretty unique exercise that stabilizes your core and still really works your arms. Begin by getting into a tall kneeling position (on a rolled up yoga mat or towel to protect your knees if you need to). Tighten your core. Press your ruck out, and rotate. Straighten and bring it back in. Press your ruck out, and rotate it to the right. That’s 1 rep. Be sure not to twist your hips or any other part of your body besides your arms. If your ruck is too heavy, drop weight. *MODIFICATION: The video shows this exercise using a resistance band. This is the easier version of using your ruck as resistance weight.
Ruck Overhead Scissor Kicks Laying on your back, core engaged, bring your ruck overhead. Slide your shoulders “into their pockets” to safely hold your ruck in this position. Lift your feet 6”+ off the ground and scissor kick. Do this as a four-count (EX: 1,2,3 1 1,2,3 2 1,2,3 3) for event preparation.
Ruck Sit-Ups to Overhead With your ruck in your hands, sit in sit-up position. Lean back into the downward motion of your sit-up. As you sit-up, raise your ruck to overhead.
Ruck Skull Crushers Laying on your back, raise your ruck up overhead. Bend your elbows to bring your ruck down to the ground behind your head and back up for one.
Reverse Crunches Laying on your back, hands under your hips for support if you need it. Straighten your legs vertically, so they're in the air. Using your lower abdominal muscles, lift your hips off the floor. (Your legs will rock back) Maintain body control as you bring your hips back down to the ground for one rep.
Bird Dogs This is another great core stability exercise. This movement does not involve a ruck. Raise your left arm and right leg to create a straight line from fingers to toes. Hold for 3. Keep your hips square. Then do the other side.
Glute Bridges with Leg Raise This is a no-ruck exercise. Lay on your back, knees bent with your feet on the floor. Slowly raise your hips off the mat until you feel your glutes and hamstrings firing. (Don’t go too far however and send your weight into your shoulders) Hold this position as you straighten a leg and raise it to even with your hips. Slowly bring your foot back to the ground as your complete the other side for 1 rep count.
Clam Shells Lie on your side, with legs stacked and knees bent at a 45-degree angle. Rest your head on your lower arm, and use your top arm to steady your frame. Be sure that your hipbones are stacked on top of one another, as there is a tendency for the top hip to rock backward. Engage your abs by pulling your belly button in. Keeping your feet touching, raise your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your hips or pelvis. Don’t move your lower leg off the floor. Pause, and then return your upper leg to the starting position on the ground.
- 15 x Jumping Jacks (Side Straddle Hops)
- 15 x High Knees
- 15 x Push-Ups (try half with your ruck and half without if you’ve been doing them as bodyweight)
- 15 x Ruck Squats
THE WORK x 2 Rounds
- 15 x Ruck Single-Arm Clean & Press
- 15 x Ruck Kneeling Pallof Press Twist
- 15 x Ruck Overhead Scissor/Flutter Kicks
- 15 x Ruck Sit-Ups to Overhead
- 15 x Ruck Skull Crushers
- 15 x Reverse Crunches