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The Ruck Plate: A customizable addition to your strength training toolkit

Written by: Olivia Crusoe (IG: @theoliviamac)

Olivia Crusoe, a bodybuilder, powerlifter, and fitness model, with her custom 30# ruck plate from SHplates.

Olivia Crusoe, a bodybuilder, powerlifter, and fitness model, with her custom 30# ruck plate from SHplates. 

We often get the question “what is a ruck plate?” (or, more honestly, “is that a cutting board?”) and we’ve often given the answer of “it’s the idea that started SHplates: a compact weight solution for packs, rendering taped up bricks or sandbags obsolete.” But we should probably change that answer, because a ruck plate is so much more.

We will also define the term “ruck”, for those who may never have heard of such an activity. Rucking is an exercise in which you move with a weighted pack on your back. This type of movement can vary in distance (100 yards vs. five miles), speed (leisurely hike vs. all-out sprint), and weight (10 pounds of weight in the pack vs. 50 pounds). Variations of weight, distance, and speed while rucking will produce different outcomes in strength, muscle size, and/or endurance.

Start with a 10# custom ruck plate, maybe with a cute Minion, then evolve into a 30# custom ruck plate with Deadpool. It's like an evolution of gains.

Start with a 10# custom ruck plate, maybe with a cute Minion, then evolve into a 30# custom ruck plate with Deadpool. It's like an evolution of gains.

Much like you can vary your training technique while rucking, the ruck plate can also be used for numerous weight training workouts as well.  Practically any exercise that can be performed with a conventional dumbbell or kettlebell can also be done with a ruck plate.

Here are some examples of exercises that can be done with the plate:

Weighted planks- place the plate so it balances across your back, wherever you feel it rests easily. From here, you hold a plank position for a set amount of time (could be 30 seconds, a minute, or even to failure). Weighted planks activate the abs, arms, chest, and shoulders.

Weighted push-ups- just like for the weighted planks, you will balance the ruck plate across your back before beginning the exercise. From there, it’s very much a standard push-up movement- but be sure to hold your core tight! One common mistake when individuals are not used to doing weighted push-ups is to let the back and core sag towards the floor. This exercise activates the chest, shoulders, and abs.

Front raises- depending on the weight of the ruck plate and the strength of the individual performing the exercise, these can be done one of two ways. The single-arm method (one hand through a single handle), or both arms together (both hands through a single handle, or both hands in their own handle- whatever is most comfortable).

Kettlebell swings- swinging exercises come in a lot of flavors, even before the introduction of the ruck plate. Depending on your training goals, weight of the ruck plate, strength, and width of your swinging stance, different variations of the swing may be easier accomplished than others. Some examples include a conventional kettlebell swing (using both hands), a single-arm kettlebell swing (alternate arms every set), or an alternating single-arm kettlebell swing (alternate arms after every swing- this one requires some rhythm and practice). The kettlebell swing requires many muscle groups to be activated. While also providing cardiovascular benefits, it is working the hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats, abs, shoulders, and chest.

Goblet squats- goblet squats involve getting into a deep squat position with the weight held near your chest. For this movement, holding the ruck plate by the non-handled sides (portrait orientation) works best. Goblet squats primarily target the glutes and quads.

Overhead walking lunges- place one hand in each plate handle, and hold it with arms extended over your head. While holding this position, do walking lunges. Aside from leg strength, this exercise exercises the core and upper body’s balance and stability. The use of many major muscle groups are demanded when performed, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, shoulders, and hips.

Overhead tricep extensions- holding one handle of the plate per hand, start with arms extended overhead. Bend your elbows so the plate “dips” behind your head, then extend arms again. Aside from working your triceps, it also activates your chest, lats, and shoulders as well.

Bicep curls- depending on the individual’s strength and the chosen weight of the plate, curls can be performed single-arm (one hand in one handle, alternating arms between sets) or both arms together (each hand in a handle). Variation can also be added by doing preacher curls or spider curls. The biceps are the major benefactors of these exercises, but other muscles worked can include the deltoids, wrist extensors, and flexors on the forearms.

Weighted V-Ups or Sit-Ups- there are two variations to how the v-up/sit-up can be performed with the addition of the ruck plate. The first option is to hold the plate to your chest with your arms crossed over it. Another option is to perform the movement by holding the plate with arms extended, reaching towards the ceiling when performing the “up” movement. The v-up and sit-up both work the core and lower back.

Turkish Getups- if you are unfamiliar with Turkish getups, I recommend visiting Bodybuilding.com or Men’s Health.com for some good step-by-step photo examples on how the movement is performed (links below), or searching the exercise on YouTube. Practice without any weights until the movement feels more natural. Once you are ready to add weight, hold one handle of the plate with one hand, and alternate between sets or between reps- whatever you choose. The Turkish getup requires the activation of different muscles in the core, upper legs, glutes, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Weighted pull-ups*- this exercise follows the same procedure as a standard pull-up, and can be performed with any grip preference (neutral grip, wide grip, close grip). Pull-ups work the muscle groups in the back, shoulders, and arms.

Weighted tricep dips*- this exercise follows the same procedure as a standard tricep dip. Tricep dips activate the chest, shoulder, and arm muscle groups.

What a workout! Aside from being an excellent substitute for a dumbbell or kettlebell, this offers you the ability of having a completely unique piece of exercise equipment that you can take with you anywhere. Because the ruck plate is designed for carrying in a backpack, it makes it easier to travel with. Also, because it is flat (like a cutting board), it can be stowed under car seats, so you always have it when you are on the go. The etching process used to create designs in the ruck plate allows for unlimited possibilities. Imagine owning a gym where all the plates have your logo proudly embellished. Or simply having one for personal use that has a motivational quote, a photo, a self-made design, etc. Whatever your design preference, you are creating a plate that is unique to you, your goals, and your experience.

*these exercises require threading the ruck plate through a dip belt chain in order to hang the plate off of the body. If you don’t have access to a dip belt, another option is to place the plate in a backpack.

Turkish Getup links:



A note from Founder of SHplates, Rich:

Olivia isn't the only fitness model hopping onboard the custom weight scene. Kari, a fitness model from down under, sent this video from Australia:

Maggie, an Army Officer whom evidently trains harder than most men, sent us this photo of her 40# custom ruck plate:

And, as always, if you've already got a ruck plate, or just need a gift for someone that doesn't even lift, we can make you some custom wall art. SHplates6 can tell you first-hand how impressive our patented engraving process is.

Where are we going with this? Think outside the box. A kettlebell isn't the ideal rucking solution, yet rucking isn't the be-all-end-all of fitness. Get something that fits both needs, and get it customized to make it awesome.

Ladies, we're likely going to launch a Pinterest soon. If you want to be featured on that new platform, contact us and we might hook you up with a discount code in exchange for you becoming a SHplates Valkyrie.

Gents, time to up your game. You're getting emasculated by all of these Valkyries, and you're also falling short on your giftgiving game. We charge less for ruck plates than competitors. We charge far less than the nth gift card or bouquet of flowers you're going to get her. Soon enough, she'll know that there is a veteran-owned business that can make her an eternal custom item for less than you've been spending, and your jig is up. It would behoove you to get that custom ruck plate or custom wall art for her now, before she's heard of us, and she'll probably think it cost more than you spent. You need to win a few brownie-points anyway, so do it while supporting a veteran-owned business. Lack creativity? Schedule a free 20 minute chat with us and we'll design anything for you. Procrastinating, non-thoughtful weirdos!

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