Ruck Strong is structured so that you repeat each workout of a month-long Phase 4 times. Each time you do the same workout, you are going to go a little harder, typically by going heavier with the weight. This is called Progressive Overload (basically, doing more work over time) and is the best way to increase strength. As we cycle through the workouts of the Phase, we use the following guidelines:
LEVEL OF EFFORT AS YOU REPEAT WORKOUTS:
1st time: 6 out of 10 - Somewhat Hard - Could Do 4 or 5 More Reps
2nd time: 7 out of 10 - Hard - Could Do 3 More Reps
3rd time: 8 out of 10 - Very Hard - Could Do About 2 More Reps
4th time: 9 out of 10 - Very, Very Hard - Could Do 1 More Rep
As we get started with our first phase, we are going to start at an effort level level "6". It's up to you to determine what weight feels like a "6" to you. You want to feel like you worked hard but you aren't really pushing any limits.
This first round of the workouts is the round where you get used to the movements, especially the ones that are new to you. You get a feel for what weight feels like a "6" and use that as a guide for how much to increase the weight in the coming weeks. As you move on to the 2nd and 3rd Phases of Ruck Strong, the 1st rounds of each new workout in the Phase will become your deload workouts, where you take the weight back down to help recover from the harder work you did at the end of the previous phase.
If you are just getting started with Ruck Strong, especially if you are new to lifting or haven't done it in a while, there are a few things to consider:
1. Form is the most important thing. If something feels like a "6" but you are not stable, not in control of the weight and/or the movement of your body or if you cannot maintain good form, drop the weight and your starting point will be the weight that you can lift with good form.
2. If you been lifting regularly recently, you are probably good to go, find what "6" feels like for you for each movement and go for it. However, there will likely be some movements that you haven't done before in the program, so you may want to be more conservative with the weights for those at first to make sure you aren't going to get overly sore. Also, there are some things we'll do differently in Ruck Strong and you may find your working weights a little different than they have been. (For example, when we do a set of deadlifts, we don't touch and go after each rep. We take a few seconds to reset before the next rep. This will probably cause you to need to lower the weight if you are used to touch-and-go deadlifts.)
3. If you haven't lifted in a while, forget your old numbers and just start where you are today. Be aware of the fact that you could get extremely sore if you try to go too heavy out of the gate. Err on the side of making the first time you do each workout too easy. You need to remind your body that lifting is a thing it does. Luckily, it doesn't take too long for your body to remember and you will start being able to lift much more with less soreness pretty rapidly.
4. If you are brand new to lifting, it may be hard to figure out what a "6" feels like. That's OK. You will start to learn what different levels of effort feel like as you go through the program. Lifting is a learning experience that never stops. As long as you lift, you'll always be learning new things and that's part of the fun. Just like the person that hasn't lifted in a while, err on the side of going too light on the first few workouts.
So to recap:
- Form is always first at all times.
- Being a little too cautious with the weight at first is better than being overly sore and unable to work out again for days because you went too hard.