GoRuck Training: Robocop Legs

Here’s a quick training post for those guys and gals preparing to rock out a GoRuck Challenge. In one of my past posts I recommended strengthening hips, knees, and legs in preparation for handling the loads of GoRuck, which is a crapload of running with a weighted pack. If you’ve never run with weight on your back before, you’re in for a surprise, because the weight does weird things to your body. Expect extra stress on your joints, your stride going to hell, and quicker muscular fatigue.

Here are two workouts you can try together or separately that will go a long ways towards forging those Robocop legs you’ll need.

1) 500 step ups with a weighted pack, which is 250 steps per leg. Try doing the entire workout with a 30# pack strapped to your back. If you’re a noob, cut the weight in half or even do the step ups with no weight until you’ve built up some strength. I recommend a 20″ – 24″ box. Boxes and step platforms are standard equipment at any CrossFit box and most gyms. It’s also very easy to find ledges and benches to use in the wild. There’s a stone ledge that’s part of an apartment complex entrance near my house that I use all the time.

This doesn’t sound hard on paper, but you’ll be doubled over by the end of it. If you need more good livin’, go on a 5 mile ruck run.

2) 100 reps leg extensions with drop sets. YOU WILL NEED A PARTNER ON THIS. Start with a fairly heavy weight, one where you’ll struggle to finish 20 reps. After rep 20, have your partner lower the weight several plates and then crank out another 20. This second set of 20 should be tough, like you should be swearing and sweating up a storm. Continue the drop sets until rep 100. Somewhere around rep 70-80 you should be at failure, like you CANNOT do another rep without help. Have your partner assist you on the last 20 reps. If you’re doing this right, it should be a struggle to get through the last 20 with NO weight on the machine, or perhaps 10 – 20 lbs. Those last 20 reps you should be begging for death, kind of like Dumbledore drinking the potion of despair in the Cave of the Inferi.

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Seriously. Once you get off the machine, walking will be a major problem. The workout is short, only a couple of minutes, but you’ll be rocked for days afterwards.


  • Norman

    Ben: thanks for the tips on building leg endurance for the challenge. I’ve been doing at least 400m of lunges or the step ups once a week or so & it’s been really good for the knees. Thanks again. Two questions: for gear do you recommend coldgear compression (UA or NIke) or just coldgear? I was worried that the thickness of my current coldgear would trap water in & keep me cold. what do you think? Also, you kept your hat & gloves dry by keeping them in your bag until you were out of the water right? Did you have to get wet again & if so, did you take the hat & gloves off first?
    Thanks again. Looking forward to GoRuck Jacksonville.

  • Norman, thanks for reading and commenting. If you’re doing the Jax event, either UA or Nike gear will do just fine from a temp standpoint. I prefer compression gear because I like performance clothing that’s tight, especially since you’ll be in the water. Hat and gloves: yes, I stashed them in my bag whenever I knew we were about to hit the beach. That’s not as easy as it sounds because you’re getting hustled into the water by the instructors. We got wet on three separate occasions with multiple hours in between, so it was tricky keeping anything dry for the whole event. The only thing I successfully kept dry the entire time was my hat…gloves were soaked a couple of hours in.