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  5. The 6-time Fittest Woman on Earth is rucking to train for the 2024 CrossFit Games. She says it's an easy way to stay fit and elevate workouts.

The 6-time Fittest Woman on Earth is rucking to train for the 2024 CrossFit Games. She says it's an easy way to stay fit and elevate workouts.

Rachel Hosie   

The 6-time Fittest Woman on Earth is rucking to train for the 2024 CrossFit Games. She says it's an easy way to stay fit and elevate workouts.
  • CrossFit legend Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr is training to reclaim the title of Fittest Woman on Earth.
  • The six-time CrossFit Games champion skipped the 2023 competition after giving birth.

All eyes are on CrossFit legend Tia-Clair Toomey-Orr as she rebuilds her strength and fitness ahead of the sport's summer games, where she hopes to be named Fittest Woman on Earth for the seventh time.

Toomey-Orr gave birth to her first child, Willow, in May 2023, so missed last year's CrossFit Games. But after wowing fans by placing second at the 2023 Rogue Invitationals, another big competition in the CrossFit calendar — just five months after giving birth — she's gearing up to make her comeback.

Her secret weapon? Rucking.

In its simplest form, rucking involves walking while carrying some weight in a backpack. Because it works the whole body, rucking builds strength, cardiovascular fitness, and endurance.

Whether walking, hiking, or running, traveling on foot while carrying weight is an accessible way to work out, which is partly why it has exploded in popularity in Silicon Valley in recent years. But the exercise has long been a key part of military training, and Toomey-Orr exclusively told Business Insider it's been an important tool in her arsenal for years, too, because it's so effective at building strength and fitness.

As she pursues her seventh title, Toomey-Orr, 30, told BI how she uses rucking to elevate her workouts — and how regular people can too.

Toomey-Orr loves rucking in the off-season

Toomey-Orr particularly enjoys rucking in the offseason when she spends less time in the gym but wants to maintain her fitness.

"It's nothing crazy compared to training," Toomey-Orr said. "It's actually quite basic, but it still provides that level of challenge."

She added: "I actually really liked rucking when I was pregnant."

Parents may essentially be rucking without even realizing it as it's similar to carrying a baby on your front or back.

Toomey-Orr often wears a weighted backpack while taking Willow for a walk in the stroller alongside her husband and coach, Shane Orr, she said.

"You are working your upper body, which is so important for carrying a child," Toomey-Orr said. "And then you're also working on your conditioning and your leg stamina. So you're kind of hitting all facets of the body, and you're not having to go into the gym and just do pushups, strict press, back squats, and all that. You're just all hitting it at once."

Wearing a ruck is an easy way to make workouts more challenging

On Wednesday, Toomey-Orr was announced as a partner of rucking gear brand Goruck, which became Crossfit's new apparel and footwear sponsor at the start of the year. With that in mind, Toomey-Orr expects rucking to feature in the CrossFit Games in some capacity, but the workouts aren't announced in advance and change every year.

With that in mind, she's incorporating rucking into her workouts.

Like a weighted vest, a ruck (a backpack specifically designed to put weight plates in) can be worn while doing various exercises, including gymnastic movements and high-intensity workouts.

"Getting creative and thinking outside the box is very, very important," Toomey-Orr said.

The Australian native, who now lives in Nashville, is experimenting and said she finds the Goruck backpacks easy to wear while training.

"You don't have to worry too much about chafing or anything like that because they've reinforced the bags so well," Toomey-Orr said.

Start light if you're new to rucking

While rucking is generally an accessible way to work out, Toomey-Orr recommends starting light, short, and building up.

"As you build confidence, as you feel stronger, then start increasing the distance, start increasing the weight, and before you know it, you'll be rucking consistently and seeing progress," she said.

While you can add a ruck to your regular workouts, one of the best ways to reap the benefits, both physically and mentally, is simply to walk while wearing a weighted backpack.

"Pick a really nice track and get outside because it's so beautiful, especially when the weather is good," Toomey-Orr said.

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