It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
All I was hoping for was a little fun…
I was trying to put some new programs together for the gym this past summer.
Kettlebell Club and our Spartan Race training programs were running smoothly, but I wanted to add another option.
Specifically, I wanted to do something rucking related. DFQ, our winter rucking program, was a huge success and I wanted to offer something similar, but different.
Each of our DFQ programs ended with an intense workout that added the element of sandbags to the usual ruck-based training. These workouts were hard, but they were a ton of fun. The feeling I had after each of these DFQ finales was not unlike the feeling I always get after a Spartan Race.
I felt strong, happy, exhausted, accomplished, proud, energized, and a whole bunch of other emotions that left me feeling all sorts of good inside.
I wanted to try to recreate those DFQ finales.
I wanted to try to build something that, while maybe not the ideal training method, would provide those same awesome feelings.
Sandbags, I figured, were the key.
Sandbags suck. But they’re awesome, too.
They are frustratingly difficult to deal with, but a heck of a lot of fun to throw down to the ground after a hard set of front squats or a long Zercher carry.
Sandbags, while not necessarily the training method of champions, made me feel strong, happy, exhausted, accomplished, proud, energized…
So it was decided. A sandbag + ruck training program had to be done. And Wolf Pack was born.
Wolf Pack was never meant to be anything more than an excuse to do some hard work. It was a reason to have fun throwing some weight around once a week with no real focus or goal other than to sweat through a tough workout.
There were no expectations to see measurable improvements other than an increase in work capacity, i.e. the ability to do a lot of work, or the ability to keep going when things get hard.
While it certainly lived up to that -- I had people messaging me about how much easier their workouts had gotten -- Wolf Pack also seemed to be making people stronger.
Members of our Kettlebell Club were telling me how the Wolf Pack workouts were helping them move up to a bigger bell. Or how they were able to do more reps with the same sized kettlebell than they could before Wolf Pack.
But it never really made sense to me. I expected people to get better at moving sandbags, but how could these beat-down sessions actually be making people stronger in other areas?
And then it dawned on me: the carries.
I was immediately reminded of an old Dan John article where he wrote that loaded carries do “more to expand athletic qualities than any other single thing” before sharing that “the ‘secret’ to taking loaded carries over the top” is by combining variations.
We typically do a lot of loaded carries by rucking. Many of us ruck weekly, if not daily.
But six weeks of dedicated loaded carry work once per week, where we combined rucking with carrying sandbags in all different positions, was making a huge difference.
From my own experience, I hit personal records in the double kettlebell clean and jerk and the double kettlebell clean and press with three kettlebell workouts and one Wolf Pack session per week over the past 12 weeks.
I’m feeling good.
I’m walking taller. My posture is better. My core is strong. And my grip, unsurprisingly, is pretty dang good right now.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Wolf Pack was just supposed to be fun. The incredible feeling of taking off your ruck and dropping a heavy sandbag after forty-five minutes of hard work was supposed to be reward enough.
But, here we are.
Our work capacity is through the roof and all our lifts are going up.
Wolf Pack has been a huge success!