Ruck Deep Dive Study Update


By Rob Shaul

Our Ruck Deep Dive work has continued this past month.

We’ve conduced VO2 Max tests unloaded, and loaded (45 pounds and 60 pounds) with five lab rats and have some very preliminary findings based on this limited, non-scientific work:

  • Athletes with high aerobic fitness do well on short, hard event
  • Athletes with high aerobic fitness, but low bodyweight and relative strength don’t do as well for low intensity, extended efforts
  • We see differences, but no clear aerobic “break point” for load alone
  • Relative load is important – relative = load based on bodyweight – i.e. bigger guys are less affected by a 60-pound load than lighter guys
  • Not sure the affect of relative strength on rucking performance

Our in-house PhD, Dr. Kristen Oullette, arrives late May, and we hope to conduct a full peer reviewed initial study in June with the goal of trying to answer four questions:

1) What is the effect of relative strength (strength per bodyweight) on rucking performance?

2) What is the effect of body mass on rucking performance?

3) What is the affect of aerobic fitness on rucking performance?

4) Which has the most effect on rucking performance, relative strength, body mass or aerobic fitness?

Going in, we’ve decided on two elements of the study:

  • We’ll use 1RM Front Squat as the measure of relative strength
  • We’ll use 29kg (64 pounds) for load – this load is cited at the most common “fighting load” in scholarly literature

We’ve yet to determine for sure what our rucking rucking assessment will be. We’re currently looking at a 4-mile time trial, but are still doing research.

As well, we’re researching the best measure of aerobic fitness for this application.

Hopefully, this study will help us answer question (4) – which has the most effect on rucking performance, relative strength, body mass or aerobic fitness?

With this insight, the next step will be to develop a ruck-training protocol based on the study results, and test it.

Several have written in asking to help, and I’m thinking testing this post-study ruck training protocol is where we’ll be able to use remote lab rats.

Another update – since January, we’ve been working with a gear design firm to build a “training ruck.” Yesterday we received our third prototype, which we’ll test over the next few days. More to follow……

Interested in being a remote lab rat?

Please email me:

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