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Fuel Your Strength 389 - The Benefits of Rucking for Women w Michael Easter

The Benefits of Rucking for Women w/ Michael Easter

Introducing a strength training element into your walking can have major benefits, especially as a woman athlete. A way to make your walking a bit more challenging is through rucking. Rucking is a great opportunity to take the foundational movement pattern of carrying and incorporate it into your training routine easily.

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If You Want to Start Rucking, You Should:

  1. Find a backpack and fill it with a weight that does not exceed ⅓ of your total body weight
  2. Remember to carry your pack when going for your regular daytime walking
  3. Enjoy the benefits you will feel in your strength, ability, and overall fitness

Understanding the Comfort Crisis with Michael Easter

Michael Easter is an author, professor, and adventurer. He approaches movement and training from a scientific perspective, helping others to integrate modern science and evolutionary wisdom into their lives to expand their potential. He is the author of The Comfort Crisis and is personally a big fan of rucking and all of its benefits.

Controlled Discomfort is a Good Thing

Often we think about exercise as a 30 or 60-minute period of our day when we go hard. But being stagnant for the other 23 hours of the day has no benefit. Michael wants to challenge you to find ways in your daily routine to introduce some controlled discomfort into your life.

As the world has become more comfortable over time, we have lost certain things that help to make us healthy. Lifting heavy things while in motion can have huge benefits, especially for women. Walking with weight on your body, or rucking, is usually the best option if you want to see big results.

The Benefits of Rucking

Scientific research shows that strength training is crucial to longevity, especially in women. Rucking works to put your spine in a better position while lifting, avoid intense pressure on your joints, and is uniquely good at improving bone density.

If you struggle to integrate carrying into your fitness routine, which is an essential part of the seven functional movement patterns for building strength, rucking is a great option for you. Getting started is easy and incredibly simple.

Are you ready to get started with rucking today? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Why you should put more focus on carrying in your lifting routine (12:15)
  • What is rucking and why you should know about it (13:34)
  • The difference, pros, and cons between wearing a weight vast and rucking (15:19)
  • Why rucking is great specifically for women athletes (19:37)
  • How to be a 2-Percenter in order to see big changes (27:25)
  • Tips for getting started with rucking and mitigating risk (29:15)

Quotes

“[Carrying] is kind of like the thing that most people aren’t doing that would help them the most. Strength wise, fitness wise, cardio wise, and also just being protective against injuries.” (10:46)

“I think that rucking is a great way to add a strength stimulus for women.” (20:22)

“Women really were the people, as we have evolved, that kept us alive.” (22:48)

“Only 2 percent of people, when they have the option of stairs or an escalator, will take the stairs. Now, if you back up, it’s actually those very small decisions that we make every day, whether to take the stairs, parking farther away in the parking lot, picking your kid up and moving them, carrying your groceries. All these little ways of adding activity back into your life, those add up over the course of the day to a greater calorie burn and stimulus than a workout.” (28:01)

“You know what is more risky than exercising? Not exercising at all.” (33:25)

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The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter

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The Benefits of Rucking for Women w/ Michael Easter Transcript

Steph Gaudreau
One of my very favorite ways to take walking and make it more challenging is to do rucking instead. My guest today on the podcast is going to explain what is rucking and what are the benefits of rucking specifically for women. We’ll also talk about how to get started, and so much more.

Steph Gaudreau
If you’re an athletic 40, something woman who loves lifting weights, challenging yourself, and doing hard shit, the Fuel Your Strength podcast is for you. You’ll learn how to eat, train, and recover smarter, so you build strength and muscle, have more energy, and perform better in and out of the gym. I’m strength nutrition strategist and weightlifting coach Steph Gaudreau. The fuel your strength podcast dives into evidence-based strategies for nutrition training and recovery, and why once you’re approaching your 40s and beyond, you need to do things a little differently than you did in your 20s. We’re here to challenge the limiting industry narratives about what women can and should do in training and beyond. If that sounds good, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s go.

Steph Gaudreau
Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. Thank you so much for being with me today. I am so excited to introduce you to my special guest, Michael Easter. Michael is a science writer who is the author of a book called The Comfort Crisis. And he is somebody who is personally quite fond of rucking and has written extensively about it, also from a scientific perspective. Today on the podcast, Michael’s going to be talking about what is rucking, what are the benefits of rucking specifically for women, and why we need this form of strength training. And he’s also going to be talking about some of his very favorite tips for getting started. I love this chat. And I’ve personally been rucking now for a while and I just love the added challenge that it brings to my daily walks.

Steph Gaudreau
A couple of quick things. As always, please hit subscribe on your podcast app. And secondly, if you’re a woman over 40, you’re trying to build strong muscle, have more energy and improve your performance in and out of the gym. Then come and work with us in Strength Nutrition Unlocked, you can book a call and chat with our team at StephGaudreau.com/apply. Alright, let’s go ahead and jump into this podcast episode with Michael Easter. Hey, Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael Easter
Hey, thanks so much for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
Thank you for being here. I’m super excited that you’re joining me. Today we’re going to be talking about carrying heavy things a why this is important. And then also more about your work and what you do. So we are going to talk a lot about rucking today. But tell the good folks out there listening, what got you into rucking as an activity and then something that’s become such a prominent part of your life.

Michael Easter
Well, I came across rucking maybe 12 years ago, and at this time, in my life, I was working as an editor at Men’s Health magazine. I was on the fitness side and was always kind of looking for new trends and came across them. I’m like, Oh, this is you know, this is pretty interesting. It’s something that I like kind of dabbled in for a long time I wrote a piece on rucking and why it’s good for people for men’s health. It got a ton of traffic. But okay, it was kind of like an ancillary thing. Then I wrote this book called The Comfort Crisis. And the overarching narrative of that book is this backcountry hunt that I did in Alaska, up in the Arctic for like, 30-some-odd days. So when I’m on that hunt, part of that journey is like after you successfully hunt an animal because we’re using everything we can you have to carry it. Right. So I’d always been interested in like anthropological research on like, why are humans built the way they are? And one of the main arguments has always been well, we were built to run. So if a lot of people have read Chris McDougal’s Born to Run book that’s his argument. And that’s true.

Michael Easter
But at the same time, we evolved to run to hunt because we would chase down animals. So that’s why they think we are good at running. But what happens after you kill an animal? You got to carry it, you got to carry it back to camp, right? And so as I’m carrying this animal back to my own camp, I’m like, wait a minute, like, we would have done this just as much and like hunter-gatherers will the second word in there is a gathering like you’re just walking around carrying stuff and bringing you back right so I started to wonder how to carry shape us as a species. And so I went down the rabbit hole of information because I’m my background is trained as a science journalist, traveled to Harvard, and then spent some time with the Go Ruck Crew to learn sort of more about it and how they think about But, and so I have this whole section on rucking and its benefits and why humans are arguably born to carry more than Born to Run and why carrying weight is still so good for us today.

Steph Gaudreau
What was the hardest part about that Alaskan adventure, as we call it that time he went on?

Michael Easter
Yeah, I mean, besides all of it. If I had to, I would say probably the physically hardest thing was carrying back the caribou because our packs weighed maybe 100. And something pounds each, you know, low hundreds, maybe 110 pounds or something. But you also have to understand that the ground in the Arctic is covered in all these, like big tufts of grass. And it’s also half frozen. So it’s kind of you can kind of think of walking on beach sand. We had like five miles all uphill on basically beach sand with 100 some-odd pounds on our back. Not to mention, it’s like freezing. I mean, it was just, we were literally going a mile an hour, it took us five hours to cover five miles. So that was definitely pretty physically hard.

Steph Gaudreau
Wow, that’s incredible. And have you done any training, leading up to that trip at all?

Michael Easter
I mean, I’ve prepared for the best I could, but at the same time, it’s like, the whole thing, like everything you do out there is physical, right, you’re always walking around, it’s always cold, and you’re always having to carry stuff back and forth. So having a quote-unquote, normal life, I’m also a professor at UNLV. It’s like, you just can’t really put in the time like you just can’t. So I would try my best I’d maybe train like an hour, two hours a day leading the six months leading up to it. And I mean, I entered pretty fit. But the reality is, is like unless I dedicated my entire life to the training aspect like I never would have really been totally prepared. You know. And I think that it also this experience also kind of shifted how I think about how we exercise in the modern world being in sort of gyms, it’s like, we make everything as comfortable as possible like a gym is like, we have to have this artificial environment in order to insert exercise back into our life, because life used to just be a workout, right? But when you try and transfer that over to a totally, like, random, uncertain, wild environment, it doesn’t always transfer perfectly. And it’s kind of like you get a little bit of a wake-up call. So yeah, it was definitely an interesting experience.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I mean, just even thinking about what you’re talking about there with gyms and how they’re set up. And you know, even using something like a barbell, which I love a barbell, don’t get me wrong, but it’s very, it’s very rigid. And, you know, is if you have sort of imbalances between the right and left side, for example, like, pretty easy to compensate, because you’re holding on to just this single piece of metal, whereas odd objects and like, you know, obviously you sandbag cleans the other day, and you just get a sense of like, wow, okay, even just changing that variable and making it more unpredictable, making it less rigid, I guess, in this case, adds a huge amount of difficulty to the task. And it’s just interesting how we sometimes gravitate toward those things that feel like they’re the easiest type of exercise we could do. I guess it’s like, the most comfortable. What do you think about that?

Michael Easter
Well, I mean, weights or weights are designed to be lifted. So if you even think of just the experience of lifting something that is literally designed to like fit in your hand and be even as you lift it, like, that’s so much easier, I think of I have this German Shorthaired Pointer who’s like 85 pounds, and he just like, sometimes he decides, like, I’m gonna sleep in this spot, and like, I’m not moving, you’re gonna have to move me if you want to. And it is way harder to move his like floppy moving 85-pound body than it is to deadlift, like, you know, twice that easy. Like, it’s way harder to move that and that’s just because of the way he’s not built to be lifted. Right? Sure. So you apply that to how, like, kind of what is that? Okay, so backing up, like, why does that matter? Well, kind of to your point about sandbag cleans. It’s like if you’re lifting a weight that is shifting as you’re lifting it if it’s somewhat awkward like that’s a slightly different stimulus than something that is perfectly balanced and meant to be lifted.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. Have you changed your training at all, I guess or your own lifting to incorporate that element or approximate that element as best you can? Maybe you’re not out in the field carrying a caribou back to camp. But do you try now to include more of that in what you do?

Michael Easter
Yeah, for sure. So I do think that sandbags are a Great tool. And I think I do just a lot more caring, in general, not just rucking, which I’m sure we’re going to get into. But carrying of all types of stuff like farmer’s carry side carry sandbag carries, like, it’s just such a great exercise because you’re doing two things at once like you’re working endurance, but then you’re also like, it’s just a great strength endurance exercise that really kind of works like everything around your core. And it’s just, I mean, you just feel like solid. It’s kind of like the thing I think that most people aren’t doing that would probably help them the most not just I mean, strength-wise, fitness-wise, cardio-wise, and also just being protective against injuries. So I’ve got a really great researcher who I love. I think he’s retired now, as I’m Stu McGill. He’s like this back, back pain expert, and kind of like the world’s foremost expert on dark health, because 80% of people at some point in their life will have a back problem, they’ll have back pain. Now. People who work out actually have higher rates of back pain than do people who don’t because they’re lifting etc, etc. Okay, so how do you deal with that? One of the main exercises that he uses to prevent and relieve back pain is just a simple side carry, I guess people call it a suitcase carry, there are a million different names for exercises, right, but just like picking up a weight in one hand, and like walk with it, because it really just like, bolsters your core and teaches you how to resist loads that are shifting around.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, 100% Stu McGill, we are big fans. I’ve done it many times myself. And I absolutely agree. I think that you know, like, people always ask me, like, what should I be focusing on in my lifting? I’m always trying to keep it simple, right? It’s like, conceptualizing what we’re doing. And, of course, there’s a lot of variation here, as you said, but squat, hinge, push, pull, and carry. And I think that’s that last element, maybe I should start putting it first. I don’t know, in that when I rattle it off, but I think that’s a huge thing that people don’t do very much of, and to your point, super beneficial.

Michael Easter
It’s kind of I was gonna, quickly, before we move on, I think one of the reasons is it’s kind of tricky to do that in a gym, right? It’s like, there’s only so let’s face if someone’s like a, you know, your average Planet Fitness, or whatever the hell it is. Like, you can be the person who’s like carrying the dumbbell like around the gym, like, I think you should be. And so the one thing that’s nice about it is, it’s something that you can, like really do at home, like just carrying weight around your house for like, a minute is great, you know?

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. I was gonna say I would be that person. Just back and forth. I know, we’re about to get a set of pharma handles here at the house because there’s just something that is, I don’t know, there’s just thing about pharma carriers that just absolutely are so difficult and so rewarding at the same time. But definitely a whole-body exercise to your point. So totally love it. Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about rucking. When people hear rucking. Do you have a sense of like, what they’re envisioning? And is it accurate? Because I know when I talk about rucking people are like, Oh, I didn’t know that’s what that was. What do you what have you run into?

Michael Easter
So I’ve run into what is that? I’ve run into people thinking I meant to say fucking,

Steph Gaudreau
Always (laughter).

Michael Easter
The other day, I tweeted something about it. And apparently, there’s a bunch of people from England who follow me. And apparently rucking is something that happens in rugby, too. So they know what I was talking about as some like very specific situations in rugby. But then the problem is, is like if you say, and rucking for, I’m sure most of your listeners know but for those who don’t, it’s literally just putting weight in a backpack and walking with it. So the weight is heavy for the sake of being heavy. Basically. If you say backpacking, people automatically think I’m going camping. So that like doesn’t work because also, your weight in a backpack is not heavy. For the sake of it. It’s usually filled with like, 10 your camp and crap like that. Right? So it’s kind of an obscure term, but that’s like, that’s the term we got. So we’re gonna go with it.

Steph Gaudreau
And my husband’s from Scotland and so they call it yomping.

Michael Easter
Oh, really?

Steph Gaudreau
So carrying a weight in a backpack Before we were recording, I talked about a Reel that I did on Instagram a few months ago, where I talked about some benefits of rucking, and I got a lot of questions and comments but one of the most common questions I got was, can’t I just wear a weight vest. Can you talk a little bit about the difference between wearing a weight vest and doing something like walking versus rucking? And potentially where the pros and the cons of those two things could be? Because I think some people think they’re exactly the same. And they are a little bit different.

Michael Easter
Yeah, they are a little bit different. I mean, first of all, the big picture is also that they’re both great. I think that rucking has some advantages if you’re if your goal is to basically walk with weight on your body for a distance, I think rucking is probably a better choice for most people most of the time. And there are a few reasons for that. And it’s, one is that rucking tends to put your spine in a better position. So most people today, especially if you have a desk job, a lot of people do or slumped forward slightly because of desk jobs. So once you add weight to that, it’s kind of like putting your spine in a more compromised position. Now a ruck because it’s on your back, the weight actually pulls your spine into a better position. So for that reason, it can actually relieve and prevent back pain. And back to that status that about 80% of people getting back pain at some point or another to is from a breathing perspective, weight vests like kind of cover and close up your chest and you have weight on them.

Michael Easter
So I think it’s just a lot easier to breathe properly when the weight is on your back and your chest is sort of free. And then finally, and this is one that I don’t care about as much, but I know a lot of people do is that with a ruck, if you have a hippo, you can shift the weight to your hips and keep it there. Now if I’m actually doing like a really heavy ruck, like for example, in Alaska, I would just sort of shift from the way from my hips to like, then pop the hip valve, and then it’d be on my shoulders and back and forth. But I know people who only really keep the hip valve on all the time. Now you obviously can’t do that with a weight vest. And if you want to go really heavy, it’s much easier to go heavy with a ruck compared to a weight vest. Like I haven’t seen wave vests that are super heavy but aren’t like completely cumbersome and awkward and just like terrible to wear.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, 100% we have a vest. It’s my husband’s that I wear as well and I cannot stand it. Because I can’t breathe. I’m not a large-chested person either. So I can imagine, especially for women, you know, there’s going to be some issues with that if you’re large-chested, but yeah, I just really find it super uncomfortable. But my ruck, I can just put that ruck on. I have a hip belt, which I really love. And just go out and walk for a long time and feel, you know, not I won’t say comfortable but feel like I can keep going. And if I really want to go out there for distance, then it’s not going to be the limiting factor in that for sure. So exactly.

Michael Easter
And then I would also add that I think the upside, like how I think about using a weight vest is for workouts that call for weighting your body. So something like a MERV, I think that a weight vest is better. There are those weird neoprene ones that like kind of like wrap around people’s bodies, I think that is probably optimal. And then I think there’s a case to be made if someone is a first responder, and they have to wear a bulletproof vest or something like you might want to minute what that feels like on your body and train, potentially.

Steph Gaudreau
Absolutely, really great points. And I feel like that’s gonna be one where it’s again, kind of your mileage may vary. Choose, choose your tool based on what your goals are, or your needs are. And yeah, I had a lot of people who like wanted to fight me in the comments, and they’re like, a weight vest is better. And I was like, it’s just different. You know, there are different pros and cons. So I appreciate you going through those. I would love to hear your thoughts on why rucking is specifically really great for women. 90 ish percent of the listeners to this show are in that category, especially women over 40. And so you know, I know as somebody who’s a science writer, and who cares about, you know, digging into those things to like, why, why have you found in and around your writing in your research that rucking is especially great for women?

Michael Easter
Yeah, so the first point that I usually hit may be irrelevant to your audience, but I’m going to talk about it anyways. When you look at the data on the exercise guidelines, and who meets that now the US government exercise guidelines are good 150 minutes of like moderate endurance exercise a week and also strength training twice. So I think that like 20% of men hit those guidelines and only 15% of women do, like okay, well, why is that? Women hit the endurance guidelines, but they don’t hit the strength guidelines. Women are just less likely to strength train. And there are a lot of reasons that I’m sure you’ve talked about on this podcast. So I think that rucking is a great way to add a strength stimulus for women. Because I think that I mean, just talking to a lot of women, not all of them love going to the gym. And that goes for men too, right? I mean, that’s not universal. But I think sometimes, especially with some weight rooms around the country, like weight rooms can be frequent.

Steph Gaudreau
Yes.

Michael Easter
So I think that it allows women to not only get more of the strength stimulus and hit the strength training guidelines, but also like it’s racking up those minutes under moderate activity too because it’s endurance. Number two, and I think this one’s super important, is that rucking is uniquely good at improving bone density. So every single person, after age 30, starts to lose bone density. Now women after menopause, start to lose it like super fast and at an alarming rate. So when you look at a lot of the research, women are more likely to break a bone than they are to get breast cancer to get heart disease to get all these things like bone fractures happen a ton in women. Now, if you were to break an arm, that’s a pain in the ass, and you’re going to have a cast, okay, that sucks. But if you fall and break it hit 50% of people over age 65, who have fallen and broken a hip are dead within six months. This is something we don’t talk about enough. And rucking when a lot of research shows it’s probably the best or just having to move with weight on your body, carry whatever is the best way to prevent bone loss. And a lot of research suggests that it can even build a backbone like making your bones dense. Now there’s like, people go back and forth, can you make bones denser, I think you probably can just you know, I don’t think there’s a lot of tissues in the body that don’t grow if you give them a stimulus.

Michael Easter
But that’s just to say that it’s just really good for that. Now, there’s also some really interesting research stuff that I this is stuff I geek out on. I’m like really interested in anthropological research. Women probably evolved to carry more than men per part of their body weight. So most of the men would hunt. But hunting is a lot of just walking around and like being unsuccessful. Women really were the people as we evolved that kept us alive because they’re just expert gatherers. So it’s just a lot of like walking long distances, getting a bunch of weight, bringing it back in the form of food, not to mention they’d often have been carrying children. And I think part of the reason this goes with childbirth, and for that reason, women have a higher exercise pain threshold. So when you look at studies, women always outwork the man like dudes are the 60s, to be quite honest. And there’s really interesting stuff about how, just like observations from going back to the 1800s from anthropologists where they would go, study tribes, like there’s this one tribe in Mexico, called the Seri tribe. And this anthropologist went and hung out with him.

Michael Easter
And he was like, he just noticed that they lived on Tiburon Island, which is a desert island, they lived like kind of up in the mountains. And the women would walk every single day, eight miles down to this, like a river, and get water and then walk it all the way back uphill. And the guy was just like basically the 1800 versions of holy shit like these. Unbelievable, like, they’re able to do this. So I just think there’s like interesting paths. And leaning into that, I think and I don’t know, encourage people.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, 100% I love these points. We’re always talking about the exercise guidelines. And yet, I think it needs to be repeated, simply because women oftentimes don’t feel comfortable. Like you said, in the weight room. Or, you know, just even over the last couple of years, some people left the gyms that they were at and started working out more at home. And, yes, you know, there are even lots of people online, who’re like, oh, women shouldn’t lift heavy. And, to your point, we are less than 20% of doing those two strength training plus endurance, you know, meeting those minimum guidelines a week. So that’s huge. And to the bone density piece, too. I know, it’s not something that people want to talk about here, but you know, one, if you’re if your odds are one out of two of, you know, mortality rate, that high 100% mortality rate in six months after you break a hip like That’s really serious. And yet it’s just something that we’re like, oh, you know, doesn’t really matter.

Michael Easter
That’s not sexy because you can’t see it. It’s hard to measure. It’s. But I mean, it’s often those things that are really most important in the long run that you can’t really measure, right? And to sort of backup, it’s like, okay, well, why does the government say lift twice a week is because all the research suggests that strength training is really important for longevity. So there’s just one study I love. And it was conducted on women because women tend to lose more muscle mass over time. And then a lot of reasons for that part of it is the strength training, and part of it is protein consumption, whatever, but they found that it was actually as a woman, the women most likely to die in this study, registered a normal BMI.

Michael Easter
So they weren’t overweight, they weren’t obese, but they had the lowest amounts of muscle. So they were we would call this, you know, skinny fat, more or less. Those women were the most likely to die compared to overweight or obese women. So you might think, okay, great. Yeah, no, I’m fine. I’m not obese. While maybe not if you don’t have enough muscle. Yeah.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. A huge thing that I talked about, and will continue to talk about. So for so many years to come, is the muscle-strengthening element for sure. The really interesting question that dovetails into what you said, in this Instagram reel. And I posted I had a lot of people that were like, Hey, I carry my kid, because my, you know, my kids will be two or three years old, or they’re still small enough to be carried for a long enough distance. Does this count as rucking? And so I had a lot of people asking, you know, I do this activity is this count is rucking, I do this activity does that count is rucking? So where do we fall in terms of that answer, you know, just carry children, counts?

Michael Easter
I would counter this exercise. I mean, just thinking because I talked to a woman yesterday, who read my book, she’s got a podcast, and she was like, man, if I would have known that this was like, so good for me, I would have carried my kids so much more often than I did, like just throwing them in a backpack when they were young and taking them for a walk. So I think yes, and that often gets like under-appreciated. So one of the things that I talk about a lot is this concept of being a two percenter. The idea is that it comes from the stat that basically says that it found that only 2% of people, when they have the option of stairs, or an escalator will take the stairs. Now, if you back up, it’s actually those very small decisions that we make every day, whether to take the stairs, are you parking farther away in the parking lot.

Michael Easter
Are you going to pick your kid up and move them? Are you going to carry your groceries are all these little ways of adding activity back into your life, those add up over the course of the day to a greater calorie burn and a greater stimulus than a workout for most people most of the time. So like, we tend to view exercise as this 30 to 60-minute thing that we like, you know, do and we like go really hard, but then we’re sedentary for the other 23 hours. It’s like no, no, no, you’re gonna get a lot more health benefits, fitness benefits, any benefit that you’re looking for, if you can think of like, how can I be a two percenter and do the harder thing when I have the opportunity? That’s what’s going to add up to big changes.

Steph Gaudreau
We love the idea of meat. Yes, around here as well. I love it. And yeah, it’s so true. You know, we’re always looking for like the big dramatic thing like, oh, I need to, you know, add three more days of whatever it is in the gym or get to the gym for twice as long or something like that. But to your point, it is those small things that really do accumulate and make a positive change. What are some of your favorite tips, I guess maybe give us a couple of tips that you really love for getting started with racking because maybe somebody’s listening to this or they’ve seen your book or they’ve seen one of my posts and they’re like, alright, I kind of want to try this out. You know, what are some of the best or most important little tips or tidbits of wisdom that you have for someone who wants to begin?

Michael Easter
Most people ask me do I need to buy a special pack. The answer is no. Any backpack you have lying around I don’t care if it’s like you know your five-year-old kindergarten pack, use any pack. Two, what do I use for weight, anything that weighs anything? So I think one of the rate-limiting steps and you find this a lot is that people think they need special items. You don’t use any pack you have gone around the house to for weight. I’ve used books often you could use bricks and you could wrap them in a towel.

Michael Easter
You could use a bunch of bottles of water just find anything and if it feels awkward in your backpack, just wrap it in a towel or bubble wrap people have used and just go I mean that’s it It like, literally just try, if you’re going to walk somewhere, just throw on that backpack, right? I think that’s the third thing too is that you probably have some times that you’re already gonna walk, whether it’s walking your dogs, whether you have to walk out a ways to a mailbox or something like that. Just throw that pack on. And you’ll realize, like, you can flow this into your life really simple, it’s really just a decision like, Okay, I’m already gonna be walking, I’m just gonna throw this pack on and do it.

Steph Gaudreau
I love that about the bubble wrap or the towel. I had never. I had never thought about doing that. So that’s really clever. And yeah, to make it more comfortable. 100% Those are great tips. Thank you. When I hear the flip side of things I hear a lot. You know, we always I’m, I’m thinking about risk mitigation. You know, we want to be safe, as much as possible. Like, we don’t want to go do silly things and be taking on unnecessary risk when it comes to things like exercise, but I do hear some things sometimes about rucking where it’s like almost scaring people off of it, you know, oh, we should be careful. Oh, you could, you know, harm yourself doing it. And there were people who brought that up in this post that I made. So what is your response to that? I guess for people who are like, Oh, this is dangerous, or oh, this could hurt you? What do you have to say about that?

Michael Easter
Well, I mean, just to address the whole exercise thing, when you compare rucking to other exercises, for example, running, it’s a lot safer. So a lot of the data says that the injury rate is like three times lower compared to running. And that’s just because the impact on your joints is a lot lower. So when you run, I can’t remember the specific numbers, but the load that hits your joints is say like five times your body weight. Walking, it’s like two times your body weight. And now if you add a little bit of weight to that it’s still that two times metric, so you tend to see that the injury rate is way lower. A lot of times people are like, well, you have weight on your back, that’s gonna hurt your back. It’s like, well, actually, I understand why you would think that but quite counterintuitively know it pulls your spine into a better position.

Michael Easter
One thing that I’ve gotten pushback on and this is more from dudes is I’ll get a lot of people who were like Marines are in the military, and they’re like, well, wrecking injured me, blah, blah, blah, you know, it’s like, well, yeah, because the military makes you carry like 120 pounds. So then the question is, well, what’s a reasonable weight? Start with, I think, for most women, probably, especially if they’re listening to your podcast, they’re gonna have some interest in fitness already. Started at like 20 pounds. That’s what my wife started with. And it worked great from her for her, and then just work your way up from there. Now, of course, like, use common sense, if 20 pounds feels too heavy, use 15 and use 10. Right. But generally keep the weight below a third of your body weight, like don’t go over a third of your body weight. So if you were if you weighed 150 pounds, don’t go over 50 pounds, I think is a good guideline to keep safe. Because like any exercise, the heavier you go, the more likely if things go wrong, you might get injured.

Michael Easter
But then to back up even further, it’s like, you know, what’s riskier than exercising is like not exercising at all. Everything in life has risks. It’s like, okay, well, like, if you don’t exercise, you sit at home, and then you risk heart disease, or you go for a run, and then you risk knee problems. You go for a ruck, yeah, maybe you could risk knee problems. It’s like everything we choose to do every day comes with some level of risk, like, being a damn adult is like figuring out okay, what’s the least risky for me at any given moment and making an intelligent decision?

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I agree. I think, you know, the risk versus reward is important to consider. But I also feel like most the time I’ve gotten into the biggest issues in my life was getting injured, or you know, that an athlete from my whole life is letting my ego get the best of me, you know, that time where, you know, maybe something was bothering me a little bit. So I should reduce the weight or my, my body was just like not today. And instead of doing something lighter or less technical, I was like, No, I need to get this done or keep up with somebody. So I love your tips there. I think they’re really great. And yeah, just be sensible, and start small. And you can always build up from there and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Sounds like Yeah, yeah. 100%. Well, I hope this has given me some people some inspiration to get out there and start rucking. Tell us a little bit about your book The Comfort Crisis.

Michael Easter
So basically, I mentioned how the overarching narrative is this Alaska trip but the book as a whole it looks at how As the world has become more and more comfortable over time, we have lost certain things that make us healthy. So humans evolved in these uncomfortable, unsafe, really challenging landscapes. So we evolved these tendencies to do the next most comfortable next easiest thing because that kept us alive. Right? So you didn’t want to move around more than you had to in the past if you had the opportunity to eat, you wanted to eat as much as you could, you want to avoid the elements, you want to avoid risk all these things, right?

Michael Easter
So we have a tendency to do those things. And then especially after the Industrial Revolution, the world started getting a lot more comfortable, a lot easier. But we still have this tendency to do the next most comfortable, easiest thing. And so that tends to backfire. Right? So it just looks at, okay, like what are the discomforts then that we evolved to face that can still keep us healthy? How can I integrate them into my life in a sensible way? So I sort of tell that story and investigate each one over that time in the Arctic, and kind of take these other different journeys to meet really interesting people thinking about those questions along the way.

Steph Gaudreau
It’s fantastic. It’s a wonderful book. And I hope everybody goes out and listens or gets a copy, maybe downloads the audiobook, and listens to it while you ruck. While you’re really sensible thing to do. I love it. This has been super fun and tells everybody listening where they can touch base with you more on social, where can they find the book, and all of those good details.

Michael Easter
Yeah, so I send out a part of a weekly newsletter, it’s called the 2% Newsletter and has to do with that stuff we talked about. And you can sign up for that on my website, I have a 2% Challenge that you can sign up for that’ll flow you into the newsletter and get you this five-day challenge. And then I’m on Instagram at Michael_Easter.

Steph Gaudreau
Awesome. We’re gonna link it all up in the show notes just in case, I always forget whether I have a . or not or an underscore between mine too. So I totally get it. I really appreciate you being here and talking all about rucking, specifically why this is great for women, about why introducing some control discomfort is a great thing in our lives and can help us get stronger. I appreciate it.

Michael Easter
Well, I really appreciate you having me on. That was super fun.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, thank you. That’s a wrap on this episode all about rucking with Michael Easter. I loved this episode and chatting about this really cool way of introducing a strength training element to your walking and really combining strength training with endurance. So amazing. I hope you found it very inspiring and that you feel motivated to give rucking a try with even some simple things that you have available around your house. You can get started today.

Steph Gaudreau
To get the full show notes for this episode, head over to StephGaudreau.com. Hit subscribe on your podcast app. And of course, share this story on Instagram stories and tag us so that we can amplify your message. That would be so amazing and is so very much appreciated. And of course, if you’re ready to chat with us about Strength Nutrition Unlocked, then go ahead and book a call with us at StephGadreau.com/apply Thanks so much for being with me on this podcast episode today. And as always, stay strong.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi. Love the podcast in general, really liked this one. Rucking sounds great. I’d like to go out an walk more but it’s hard sometimes. Can I ruck on a treadmill?

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Hi, I'm Steph!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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