Ruck Strong Cycle 1, Phase 3 Modified At-Home Workouts


Here are some modifications to the Ruck Strong Cycle 1, Phase 3 workouts that you can do with a sandbag or your ruck if you are stuck without gym access due to COVID-19.  Because you will likely be using lower weights than you would if you have gym equipment, we are going to account for that in the following ways:


  • Switching to single-leg work (as in the case of the back squats)

  • Increasing the number of reps

  • Slowing down each rep so that your muscles are under tension longer (spending more time under tension is a good way to get strong)

  • Other things you can do to make each movement harder is to do an extra set, do more reps in each set, go close to failure on the last set or take shorter rest periods in between sets.  You can experiment with these as you wish to make sure you are still challenging yourself at home.



Jumping squats: Use your ruck or a sandbag held in front of you to do these if you don't have a dumbbell or kettlebell.


Deadlifts: Use your ruck (held sideways by the top handle and the bottom) or a sandbag to do these.  Start at the top of the deadlift and only go as low as mid-shin. Do not go all the way to the floor.  Go SLOW - 3 to 4 seconds down and 3 to 4 seconds up and focus on really feeling your hamstring and glutes working.  Do 4 sets of 10. If you can't increase the weight each week, increase the number of reps, take less rest between sets and/or add an extra set.  Find a number of reps that make you feel like you've done some work.


Push Press with Slow Eccentric:  Do these with a ruck or sandbag.  Really pay attention to keeping your abs tight and not bending your back.  If your weight is much lighter than you'd use with a bar, increase the slow eccentric part to 6 seconds and increase the reps to a number that feels harder.  This is your chance to really work on form and staying tight. Don't speed up your work because the weight is lighter - slow it down instead to spend more time under the tension of the weight - this will help you build strength.


Rotator Cuff Row/Press:  Use cans of soup or something else light and do these on a table or other surface.


Hollow Hold: No change




Farmer’s Carry: If you have a heavy sandbag, do the carry by bear hugging the sandbag instead of carrying it to the side.  If you are using a ruck, do it with the ruck in one hand and then do 3 sets on each side.


Barbell Hip Thrust: Use your ruck or sandbag and do the hip thrusts using a chair or couch.  You may not be able to go all the way down to the ground for each rep. Hold each hip thrust at the top for 3 seconds and squeeze your but.  If this is not hard enough, do more reps - maybe 3 sets of 15. Another alternative is to do one leg at a time, just as we did during Phase 2.


Dumbbell Bench Press: If your sandbag is heavy enough to challenge you, use it to do floor presses (lay on the floor and press up).  If it is not, do 3 sets of 5 push-ups, taking 4 seconds to lower yourself back down to the floor (normal speed up, 4 seconds down) - wear a ruck to add weight to make this more difficult.  Add reps each week as needed to challenge yourself.


Lunge to High Knee: If you have something to use as a step, perform this exercise as prescribed by either holding your ruck or sandbag cradled in your arms in front of you up by your chest or by holding your ruck in one hand by your side (use the hand of the leg that is on the step.  If you do not have something to use as a step, do this exercise by doing a reverse lunge and then bringing the lunging leg up to the high knee position.


Pullover with Single Leg Glute Bridge: Perform this movement with your ruck.  You may need to lighten the load a bit for this one!




Back Squats: Since it is hard to do back squats with enough weight using sandbags or rucks to really develop strength, we are going to do skater squats instead.  This video provides a great visual of the technique. Remember to lift the knee at the beginning while your standing leg is straight. You may need to do these with no weight at first but you can also do them while holding your ruck, a ruck plate or light sandbag up by your chest.  Do 3 sets of 6 per leg.


Pendlay Row: Do ruck or sandbag rows instead- bend over, extend your arms with your ruck or sandbag and raise it toward your chest and back down.  Go slow and feel your back muscles working - think 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. Do 3 sets of 12.


Side Step Hinge: No change - use a ruck or sandbag


Standing Hip Abduction: No change


Bird Dogs: No change