All posts by SSD

Changes We Made to This Year’s Dryland Ski Training Cycle, and Why

Dryland Lab Rats work through a 30-minute endurance event of step ups @ 25#, prone to sprints, and sandbag clean and press.

By Rob Shaul


MTI’s Fall Dryland Ski Training Cycle is one of the few coached training cycles we open up to the public for training. It’s still a “Lab Rat” cycle where we test programming, however, the extra number of athletes provides more data points for our testing and overall evaluation.

Our process is direct. We take a look at the previous year’s programming, its results, make changes to the current year based on these results and other insights, design the programming and deploy it and then study the results.

Then, in the January/February time frame, we update the Dryland Ski Training Plan on the website with programming improvements based on our fall cycle.

In terms of program design, we’ve learned over the years that improvements generally come from cutting stuff, rather than adding stuff. Most programs begin “bloated” with elements which after deployment prove to have limited value. The hard part in programming is not cutting these elements, but avoiding the natural temptation to replace them with some other element. I’ve learned it takes experience and confidence to cut the unnecessary stuff, and instead of replacing it with more extras, find ways to increase the time spent on the programming that we know works and transfers to directly to the mission, event or sport.



Our Fall Dryland Cycle is designed to prepare athletes for lift-assisted downhill, side country, and backcountry, skiing. These activities have 3 specific fitness demands:

(1) Eccentric Leg Strength and Strength Endurance – During downhill or alpine skiing, gravity “bounces” the skier down the hill, and eccentric leg strength is demanded to absorb every drop and prevent gravity from driving the skier into the ground.

(2) Leg Lactate Tolerance – This is an MTI-specific idea and term I developed to describe the quad burn skiers feel in the middle to the end of a long ski run, especially through bumps, variable terrain, or powder. The concept does not include the obvious muscle fatigue, but also the anaerobic cardio hit.

(3) Uphill hiking/skinning endurance and stamina – both side country and backcountry skiing have significant uphill components – bootpacking mostly for side country and skinning mostly for backcountry. Preparing athlete’s legs and lungs for this uphill movement is a key focus of our dryland ski training cycles.

These are four days/week, 7-week cycles with the individual training sessions designed to last 60 minutes. Early in the cycle, we’ll have extra time after hammering legs and lungs for “other stuff.” As the athletes increase fitness, and our progressions develop, later in the cycle, more and more of each training session is spent hammering the legs, and less time is left for other types of work.

In past years we’ve spent this “other stuff” time on heavy lower body barbell training, upper body hypertrophy training, core strength/chassis integrity, calf strength and strength endurance, hamstring strength and strength endurance, glute medius strength endurance, and lower body explosive power.

Below is the basic weekly schedule for this year’s cycle:

  • Monday: Eccentric Leg Strength, Upper Body Hypertrophy, Chassis Integrity
  • Tuesday: Leg Lactate Tolerance, Uphill Endurance
  • Wednesday: Eccentric Leg Strength, Upper Body Hypertrophy, Chassis Integrity
  • Thursday: Leg Lactate Tolerance, Uphill Endurance
  • Friday – Sunday: Rest or light activity

Changes to the 2018 Cycle

1) Replaced Quadzilla Complex with Leg Blaster Progression and for select athletes, a weighted Leg Blaster Progression

In 2017 and a couple of previous years we used our Quadzilla Complex as the primary tool to train eccentric leg strength. This summer we conducted a Mini Study which compared the strength building ability of the Quadzilla Complex with Leg Blasters and found Leg Blasters to be slightly better. I was surprised by the results, as I’d designed the Quadzilla Complex as a more intense “big brother” successor to the original Leg Blaster, but I replaced the Quadzillas from last year with Leg Blasters for this year. As well, for a few experienced, veteran lab rats, including myself, I loaded the Leg Blasters by having the athletes wear a 25# weight vest. I’m interested to see if the athletes loaded with the vest can make the progression and if they notice greater strength on the ski hill during the early season.


2) Touch/Jump/Touch To Box – Inside Hand Touch and increase to a straight 20 minutes of Intervals

We deployed the Touch/Jump/Touch to a Box exercise last year with great effect. This is my primary training tool to train Leg Lactate Tolerance. This year I made one small technique change and one big programming change. For technique, last year I had athletes touch their outside hand to the ground each rep. I changed this to the inside hand this year to better reflect the actual weight distribution and edging technique in skiing.

The more significant change is the increase to 20 minutes straight of intervals, following the same interval progression as last year. First, on the progression – it’s a simple work/rest interval based on 1-minute rounds. We begin at 15 seconds work, 45 seconds rest, and over the course of the cycle, advance to 30 seconds work 30 seconds rest.

Last year I split the 20 minutes of intervals in two – we did 10 minutes (or 10 rounds) at the beginning of the session, the took a break from the legs to train other stuff, and finished with 10 minutes of intervals at the end of the session.

This year I grouped all 20 minutes of intervals together at the beginning of the session. The effect is significant. Personally, by round 7 or so, I’m near panic breathing at the 20 seconds work, 40 seconds rest progression, and many of the lab rats are gasping for breath with me. Grouping the intervals together in one long, brutal, 20-minute effort has created a significant overall increase in intensity which pushes my professional skiers to their limit.

The first video below shows the lab rats completing 20-second intervals to a 17″ bench.

Next one shows Freeski Pro, Forrest Jillson, completing TJT to Boxes using a 20″ box.


3) Committed to Multi-Modal Uphill Endurance Events

Last year for one of the uphill endurance days I programmed straight step ups based on reps. The second endurance day I programmed a time-based multi-modal loaded endurance effort of step ups, 25m shuttles and in-place lunges wearing a 25# weight vest.

The training effect and honestly, the variety, of the multi modal event I found to be superior to straight step ups, and as a result, for this year’s cycle, I’ve programmed multi-modal events for both uphill endurance events. Tuesday’s event combines step ups at 25# and sandbag getups. Thursday’s event combines step ups, prone to sprints, and sandbag clean and presses. The time-based progression for both events began at 30 minutes, and will progress to 40 minutes – which is as far as I can push it and still remain within the 60-minute session length.


4) Eliminated Total Body and Lower Body Concentric Strength Work to Focus on Upper Body Hypertrophy and Chassis Integrity

Last year’s cycle included heavy front squats and hinge lifts (our version of the dead lift). I cut these this year to focus all of the “extra” cycle time on upper body hypertrophy and chassis integrity.

Why upper body hypertrophy for skiing? This is a good question, and the direct answer is impact resistance. A half dozen of the professional freeskiers I’ve worked with over the years have suffered shoulder separations eventually requiring surgery caused by violent skiing crashes. My hope is by building upper body mass and strength, we can provide some “armor” for the coming season for impact resistance.

The remaining “extra” cycle time is spent training chassis integrity with TRE circuits, each of which trains one total core, rotational core, and extension exercise. Chassis Integrity is MTI’s proprietary functional core strength methodology and perhaps our most impactful programming development.


Lessons Learned So Far

We conclude the 3rd week of this 7-week cycle today and already I’ve made some programming changes from the initial design. Specifically, for the loaded leg blasters, my progression was too aggressive. In the past for Leg Blaster progression, I’ve programmed three training sessions at the same level, before progressing to the next level. I’m not sure this is possible for the loaded Leg Blasters … and may need to extend to four training sessions before progression.

Likewise, for the Touch/Jump/Touch to a Box – last year I progressed after three training sessions. This year, with the increased intensity of the 20 straight minutes of work – I’ve decided to not progress to the next level until the Lab Rats have four sessions under their belt.

See the chart below for the Leg Blaster and Touch/Jump/Touch to Box Progressions:


Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email





Arete 10.18.18

Military / National Security / Foreign Policy

America Is Winning in Afghanistan, War is Boring
The U.S. Navy Is Hiding Aviation Accident Data, Popular Mechanics
Air Force Eyes 1,600 Airmen for Possible ‘Deploy or Get Out’ Separation, AF Times
This new rifle optic basically guarantees ‘one shot, one kill’, Defense News
Almost 800 women are serving in previously closed Army combat jobs. This is how they’re faring., Defense News
Recon Shortage: Why These Elite Marines Are Facing a Manpower Crisis, Marine Corps Times
New Netflix series to tell Medal of Honor stories, Stars and Stripes
Mattis orders fighter jet readiness to jump to 80 percent — in one year, Military Times
Permanently Stationing U.S. Forces in Poland is a Bad Idea, But One Worth Debating, War on the Rocks
Has Combat Arms Gender Integration Been Successful?, Army Times
Why doesn’t Trump visit troops fighting overseas?, Military Times


First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

ICE union calls for criminal investigation of Ore. mayor, Police One
Gloves produce a strong opinion, Wildfire Today
Marijuana OK’d for off-duty Canadian cops, Police One
Minneapolis Mayor, Officers Clash Over Displaying Signs in Patrol Cars,
Study: Marijuana arrests overstated to FBI by nearly 70 percent, Police One
Oregon City Ordered to Pay Officer Fired Over Facebook Posts, Police One
Female Officers Attend 2nd Annual ‘Back the Women in Blue’ Presented by GLOCK, Soldier Systems
Mission firefighter diagnosed with cancer wins long legal battle, Firefighter Close Calls
Technology increasingly being used by firefighters in Oregon, Wildfire Today
Report of “extreme spotting” 6 miles ahead of Klondike Fire, Wildfire Today
Cop Block, Police the Police and Hundreds of Other Pages Removed in Facebook Purge, LE Today
The FBI of the National Park Service, Outside



Surviving The Toughest Mountain Bike Race In The World, Forbes
How To Make A Ski Bum Hot Tub, Unofficial Networks
How to Do Everything: 9 Tricks Every Hiker Should Know, Backpacker
How to Do Everything: Stop Muscle Cramps, Blisters, Rolled Ankles, and More, Backpacker
How Caite Zeliff Became the Inaugural Queen of Corbet’s – This former ski racer has mastered the art of going full send, Powder Magazine
Storm Kills 9 Climbers in Nepal Including Korea’s Top Alpinist, Adventure Journal
Japanese climbers complete a new route on Cerro Kishtwar’s northeast face, Alpinist Newswires
9 Astonishingly Hard Hikes (That You Should Do Anyway), Backpacker
Cresting the Sierra in a Wheelchair? Bob Coomber Says ‘Why Not?’ Adventure Journal
Video: Jan Hojer Makes the Third Ascent of Es Pontas, Climbing Magazine
NEWS: Nick Bullock’s Tides wins in Banff Mountain Book Competition,
Winter ticks killing moose at alarming rate, Science Daily
Alpinist story receives Best Mountaineering Article Award at Banff Book Competition, Alpinist
Conflict On The Rise, Eastmans Hunting Journal
Hikers: Stop Hating on Hunters, Outside


Fitness / Nutrition / Health

How to Use A Foam Roller: Step-by-Step Guide, Nerd Fitness
Get ready for dietitians, physical therapists and more in every Army battalion, Defense News
Top Five Deadlift Mistakes, The Barbell Physio
Vigorous Exercise, Even a Trek Up Everest, May Be Safe During Pregnancy, NY Times
Millennials Kill Again. The Latest Victim? American Cheese, Bloomberg
The Company That’s Making Fitness Equipment Cool, Gear Patrol
What You Should Know About Intermittent Fasting, Outside
A List of Performance Enhancing Drugs and Their Definitions, Muscle & Fitness
Broken feet and bruised egos: Male Marines have far more injuries at Infantry Officer Course, Marine Times
Fix Your Broken Metabolism, Breaking Muscle
Measuring the Position and Mobility of the Patella, Mike Reinold
Nutrition has a greater impact on bone strength than exercise, Science Daily
It’s Okay to Be Good and Not Great, Outside



World has 12 years to limit catastrophic impacts of climate change, Homeland Security Newswire
Do fires produce more emissions than cars?, Wildfire Today
The Best Hammer, NY Times
The Next Big Thing Is Weed Beer, Bloomberg
Boston Dynamics’ humanoid robot can now jump up stairs like a parkour pro, Business Insider
Cannabis Alcohol Is Here! These Are The Drinks You Need PLUS How To Make Your Own, Men’s Health
Nice people finish last when it comes to money, Science Daily
How to Get Better at ‘Back of the Envelope’ Calculations, Wired
Key facts about Latinos in the 2018 midterm elections, Pew Research Center
Email Mini-course on U.S. Immigration, Pew Research Center
I Ditched Google For Bing. Here’s What I Found—And What I Didn’t, Gear Latest

Q&A 10.18.18


I have a pretty good understanding on nutrition as it relates to powerlifting and body building regimes. I am a former world class power lifter with world and national records and championships. I also did a body building show when i realized being a legitimate meatball wasn’t worth the damage to the body and health. So then I drastically switched and dropped 137lbs. Now I am a CPT in the Army and want to get a better balance overall for fitness in my military career and nutrition on point with the balance of military life/training and everyday life. My pt scores are passing but I don’t want to just pass I want to dominate at everything. I hate the height and weight standards and generally have to tape (which makes me feel like I failed bc it’s a scape goat). I run my 2mi 1530, 108 push ups, Situps (my weakest) right around 52-55. Any help on nutrition that can be put into an organized plan with your programs?


Our approach for military athletes is not to be able to max out the APFT at all times, but rather to constantly build your combat/training related fitness demands of strength, work capacity, endurance (run, ruck), chassis integrity (core), and tactical agility. We call this “base fitness.”
Then, when you know a PFT, school or selection, is approaching, drop out of this base fitness programming and complete an intense, sport specific program directly before the event – examples include the APFT Training Plan, Ranger School Training Plan, etc. After the PFT/Selection/Course, drop back into the “base fitness” training.
For you now – if you’re super concerned about your APFT score, complete the focused APFT Training Plan. If you’re more interested in all around “base fitness” complete the plans/order in our Greek Hero series of plans – which is our “base fitness” for military athletes – until you have an APFT or school approaching, then drop out of these plans and complete one of our sport-specific plans.
Interested in how you test to our metrics. Complete these assessments:
– Rob


I have messaged you a few times regarding my favorable fitness results, I have much appreciation for everything you and your team do.  I recently ran your Marine Corp PFT program for the last 6 weeks.  I have seen a great increase in pullups as well as pushups by adding a voluminal program that is similar to the one you have.  I want to continue this excellent success, but I need your help.  I am actually waiting to get pre-screened to go to MEPs, an oxymoron perhaps, and I need your help.  I am well outside of an acceptable timeline to go to Marine Corp OCS, March minimum from what I am being told, and I need a program that will help me increase my reps further and lower my time while giving me enough.  I am at 12 reps for pullups, 98 crunches, 38 pushups, and a 25 minute runtime.

I would like to increase my upper body strength for the Marine PFT/CFT while concurrently training for anything specific I might see at OCS.

Thank you for all your help again, and I look forward to hearing from you.


I’d recommend the Marine Corps OCS Training Plan. This plan includes focused work for the PFT, while also training rucking, work capacity, etc for all-around military fitness and the events at OCS.
– Rob


With all the training plans you have is there any way you could make one for us reservists who have to workout somewhere, sometime after our jobs and before drill weekend?


Many reservists do our current programming – specifically the plans/order in the Greek Hero Series (Army). As well, much full time, active duty athletes do PT with their unit in the AM, and do our programming on their own, at a base, home, or commercial gym, after the duty day.
I’m not sure reservists need a special plan – unless your job has you traveling a lot and no regular access to a gym. In that case – we already have many limited equipment plans athletes use for these situations.
– Rob


I have two questions: do you have a postpartum plan to help get me back into a full balanced workout and is there a new ACFT plan in development to replace you APFT plan I can look forward to?


Postpartum? Not specifically – but I’d refer you to our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan – which automatically “scales” to your incoming fitness and is a way to get started. Unless you had a C-Section .. in which case, I’d start with Core Strength, Bodyweight Only, and some walking – once the doctor releases you for activity.
ACFT? Yes – we’ve already built a plan for this: ACFT Training Plan.
– Rob


I am currently on rotation in Kuwait until March. Once I get back I plan to take the SFRE in May. I was released from physical therapy in November for a jacked up hip flexor and adductor I got during one of the 3 mile rucks in Humility but due to our training rotation (basically thrown out in the field for 3 months at a time leading up to us getting in country) I haven’t been able to build my rucking and running back up like i’d like to. Now that we are here barring any random training we aren’t told about till last minute (which is everything) I have plenty of time morning and evening to get to the gym.
I saw the SFAS training packet you have but noticed it is set for 13 months, I have 5-6 months. If you had to shave that package down to that time frame which programs would you keep?


6 months = 26 weeks. Here’s what I’d recommend:
Weeks    Plan
1-7          Military OnRamp
8-14        Fortitude
15-18      Valor
19           Total Rest
20-26      SFRE Training Plan
– Rob


I’m interested in your programming to help me get as prepared as I can for my job. Right now I’m coming out of a period of breakdown physically, and my upper body strength is very low, but my running and rucking stamina is pretty high. I’m looking to add size (I’ve lost a lot), strength, and explosive speed, but the priority is mobility and upper body strength as I’m a bit older in a young man’s world. I would like to possibly talk with one of your coaches over the phone and attempt to explain it better so that I can see if you have anything that can help me achieve these goals.


From what you describe I have a couple of program suggestions:
1) MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan – Focused, scaled, strength training plan focused on increasing your relative strength – or strength per bodyweight. It includes focused work on bench press and pull ups.
2) Hypertrophy Training Plan for Skinny Guys – You could be one of those tall, skinny guys who can run and ruck well, but perhaps struggle with upper body size/strength. This is a proven, intense, total body hypertrophy (muscle mass building) training plan which includes upper body work.
– Rob


I am 62 and have been a runner for 40+ yrs. Noticed some muscle imbalance and weakness in legs. Would like to transition into more hiking, rucking and become a Peakbagger. What plan would you recommend?


I’d recommend you begin our programming with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan. Follow it up with the Peak Bagger Training Plan.
– Rob


I’ve slacked off a bit on my diet and working out  for the past three months.  I  am wanting to get back into it was looking at your plans to lose some extra weight around my midsection and get back into better shape.  I’m 38 and about 20 – 30 lbs heavier than I want to be and I just read through your nutritional guidelines.  I am going to do the Whole 30.  I recently purchased the Bodyweight Foundation and the Military On-Ramp to get me started.  I was looking through the Q&A’s and saw that you also had a Fat-Loss Training Plan.  Would you recommend I start there and then move to the Bodyweight Foundation followed by the On-Ramp?  Or do you think that they Bodyweight and On-ramp will be fine coupled with a better diet than I’m currently eating?
My second set of questions is I have a 75% thickness tear in my right elbow and the Ortho Docs told me I should let pain be my guide so pull-ups are OK so long as they don’t hurt.  On the Bodyweight Foundation you provide a modification to the pull-ups and I plan on starting there.  Would you recommend for or against the use bands mummy bands for assisted pull-ups?  Would you recommend for or against chin-ups?  Otherwise I will just use the progression prescribed in the Bodyweight Foundation and take it slow and if need be, run through the program again.


80-90% of weight loss is diet related – so stick with the plan – Whole30 plus Bodyweight Foundation and Military OnRamp.
Pull ups? We like negative pull ups better than bands, – jump up, let yourself down slow – over banded – but it’s up to you. Protect your elbow as needed – including chin ups.
– Rob


I am looking for a program to help with cfa prep
Not interested in running portion since i train with a track coach
Need to help with current scores
17 pull ups
71 pushups
73 situps
(My situps need the most work of all of them)


– Rob


I am starting your USCG rescue swimmer plan this week, with boot-camp beginning in late October.
A couple quick questions about the plan:
1. Are there any resources you would recommend for helping improve on the underwater test? I saw all the drills you included in the plan, but didn’t really see anything specific to improving the underwater swimming, so just wanted to double-check if I missed it.
2. If I can currently only continuously do 3-4 pull ups and chin ups, would you suggest doing banded pull ups instead? Like for session 2 of week 1, if I didn’t use a band, would that mean I would just do 1 pull up 5 times (w/ 90 seconds rest), and then max pull ups (3-4)? So that portion of the workout would only be 9 pull ups before going onto part 2, with the sit up rotation? It seems like such a short workout, so just wanted to make sure it’s enough. I’m used to ironman triathlon training, so time-wise it’s just less time than I am used to putting in, but understand solid effort is more important than just time alone!


Underwater Test? I think you’re asking a technical question – and we’re not the best source for this. Technique matters – I’d recommend research there.  Pull ups? We’ve had better luck with negative pull ups (jump up, let yourself down slowly to a 5-second count) than banded pull ups.
– Rob


I am an Australian Army Officer and was recommended your website and programs by a senior officer at work in order to assist me getting prepared for my next posting. I have already conducted the ADF SFET and been selected for a SOCOMD unit next year. Obviously I want to be in the best condition for when I conduct my REO cycle starting in Jan.
I have had a look at your programs and believe Humility is probably the best starting place. Just looking for some advice on whether this is an appropriate fit or if another program may be more suitable noting I only have about 3 months before I start at the unit.
I’m 30 yrs old, 6’4” tall, weigh 90kgs (190# approx) so I am quite tall and lean. I’m a decent long distance runner but struggle a bit with high intensity, short duration cardio training. I have been running a lot of beep tests in order to improve my VO2 Max. I also tend to work upper body with either body weight circuits or standard gym weight sessions. I’ve never been good at maintaining any regular lower body training so my legs are definitely in need of improvement.
I need a program/s that will increase endurance overall especially with high intensity training, increase strength both upper and lower body (and some muscle mass too so I’m not so skinny), improve my ability to recover quickly and basically keep me competitive with the 20 yr olds I’ll be training with next year.
My work schedule is fairly busy and inconsistent. I generally conduct PT in the morning and then am stuck in the office all day. I am often out field on exercise or away support training courses and other activities so I need a minimalist equipment program/s that I can conduct where ever, when ever.
I appreciate any advice you can provide and look forward to getting started with MTI.


I’d recommend Fortitude, followed by Valor.
– Rob


I have another question for you as well. I am currently active duty and deciding between Rangers or SF right now. My questions for you would be up until I have a class date which program would you recommend doing ( I am currently on week 3 of operator Hector and loving it). My strength fitness wise is mainly power from playing rugby and football in my youth, and my running is not awful. My army 2 mile time is 12:30 which is 100 to the regular army, but of course I want to get faster given the nature of both selections. My other question for you would be how would decide between them, my chain of command has been of little to no help in advice on what decision to make, so I was wondering if you had any insight into it.


Programming? Continue with the Greek Hero series of plans, then complete either the Ranger School Training Plan or the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan directly before your school/selection.
Rangers vs. SF? Whoa …. that’s a question I’m not the one to ask! I was in the Coast Guard! However, there are some pretty hilarious youtube cartoons about which is best! See HERE!
– Rob


I wanted to reach out with some kudos and a question. I’m wrapping up the TLU cycle and have thoroughly enjoyed it. As a former rower turned military athlete, I was used to having very structured endurance plans but felt like my strength training wasn’t deliberate enough. TLU has fixed that and provided the variety and progression to keep me hooked. That said, some lower body stress injuries earlier in the year really cut down on my endurance and distance training. As I plan for the next training cycle, I’m looking to maintain the strength gains I’ve made during TLU but safely build my endurance back. Does starting the virtue series seem like the right fit?


I’d recommend Fortitude from the Virtue Series, next. This plan includes focused, gym-based strength, endurance (run, ruck), chassis integrity and some work capacity.
– Rob


I’m a big fan of your work, I’ve been following your articles for some time and completed a few of your programs with good results.

Now I’m looking for some advice for choosing my next program. I started training in Muay Thai recently, so I’m busy Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening (1,5h each). The focus there is mainly on techniqe with some conditioning thrown in, so I’m looking for a program to supplement that, preferably with a big focus on strength/ explosive work (since that’s not a priority in Muay Thai) for balance. I can workout almost every evening, but I won’t be able to put in 2 workouts a day. I have access to a standard commercial gym.

My best guess would be the TLU Strength program and doing the strength Workouts on the „off-Days“, while skipping the Work-capacity/ Core Workouts and instead adding some of the corework on Muay Thai days/ strength days for a total of 6 days per week.

Is that a reasonable approach or do you have another recommendation?


Your plan is solid. TLU strength sessions on the off days, skip the work capacity sessions.
– Rob


Thanks for all you do.
  Just staring out with a subscription. “Briefly” – who I am, what I’m doing, then questions.
  47 year old Caucasian male (5’8″, 200 lbs). Beginnings of garage gym with sandbags, treadmill, plyo-boxes, kettlebell and some assorted dumbells.
  In moderate fitness (at least that was my belief before starting MTI)…
Goals: Long term – Overall fitness that will help with quality of life in advanced age.
   Short term – Spartan Race (I’ve done a Sprint), GoRuck event (eventually Heavy), 1/2 Marathon (I’ve completed one, not great), better 5k – 10k times. Eventual return to Krav Maga and kickboxing classes.
  Currently doing:
    1) 10 minutes Yoga first thing in morning
    2) Ruck with 30# pack alternate days during lunch break – 14:50/min miles, usually 3 – 4 miles total.
    3) Climbing rope work (it was my weakest point during the Spartan Sprint) alternate days (currently plank-form lowers and “pull-ups”)
    4) MTI – Limited Equipment Training Pack – currently on Bodyweight.
    5) MTI – Chassis Integrity Training Plan – concurrently
    6) Indoor soccer league (goalie) and occasional runs with my wife.
   1) I’m not recovering as well as I used to so I’ve added an additional rest day into the plan between day 4 – 5 (or as needed). Am I sabotaging the plan by doing so (will this cause me to plateau I guess I’m asking)? I’m in no rush.
   2) I’ve replaced the pull-ups in the Limited plan with the rope work. My max was one pull-up so I thought I needed to improve this before switching (and I’ve no easy place to do horizontal pull-ups at home). I was doing assisted pull-ups (with band), but figured the grip strength and rope would be better long term. Agree? Disagree? Add it back in assisted?
   3) I’m doing Bench Dips instead of classic because I don’t have the equipment at home. Acceptable?
   4) Occasionally I’d like to switch to a Zercher Goodmorning during the Chassis plan. I’ve got some neck and lower back issues that make me cautious. Acceptable?
   5) Nutrition – I’ve watched the MTI video. As I’m married and the house cook, I’m a little less flexible for meals. I avoid processed foods and sugar. My wife is a vegetarian so I consume more carbs than you recommend. I do add animal protein where possible. I know I can’t out-train a shitty diet, but will the diet hold back muscular/fitness gains or just lower my power-weight ratio?
   6) I’m thinking about adding in some footwork mobility drills (looking at your Operator Agility Complexes with an agility ladder in lieu of hurdles). As you may have noticed, I can overtrain on occasion. I’m looking to develop footwork speed for eventual kickboxing/fighting ability. Too much?
  Sorry for the length. I appreciate any advice you can offer.


1. No. Take another recovery day if needed.
2. I’d rather you do negative pull ups (jump, up, let yourself down slowly). Also – I’d like you to lose 25 pounds, which will help.
3. Ok
4. Ok
5. See above – I’d like you to lose 25 pounds, even if it’s all muscle. 200 pounds at 5’8″ is too heavy – esp. for someone 47 years old. At 175# everything will feel better.
6. yes – if on top of training. Train just once a day – so if you get into MMA or something similar – your work there is your training for the day.
You’ll want to move to the SF45 programming for your day to day programming.
– Rob


I had a question when it comes to nutrition. And Is peanut butter bad for you during the selection training plan.  I love eating peanut butter and I know it has a lot of fat in it. So I was wondering what your advice is.


Peanut butter is ok. Better would be almond butter. Here are our nutritional guidelines:

– Rob


I am a recent graduate of OCS. I performed pretty well physically at OCS, but still do not have a max PFT score. I am looking to do the PFT program in order to get to the first class PFT category. I was wondering if you think it is a bad idea to incorporate other lifts into the plan, I do not want to lose strength in other areas of my body.


You could add to it, but stop if you aren’t making the progressions in the APFT Training Plan.
– Rob


I’ve heard great things about your programming and have enjoyed (and seen good results) from the couple of plans I have done.

I was wondering if you have a plan that would help prepare me for USAF EOD training. I’ve seen articles that they will be going from the current PAST (pull ups, sit ups, 1.5 mile run) to a new Tier 2 standard.

From what I’ve read on USAF websites the new Tier 2 standards include the following:

EOD Tier 2 Physical Test components:

• Run, 1.5 miles

• Row Ergometer, 1,000 meters

• Grip Strength

• Medicine Ball Toss, Back, Side and Log 20 pounds

• Trap Bar Deadlift, five repetition maximum

• Pull-up • Extended Cross Knee Crunch, metronome 56 beats per minute

• Farmer’s Carry, 4 x 25 meter, 100 meters

I could not find any information on what an airman would need to do to pass the standards but I would prefer to exceed them. Here’s a link to the most recent article I could find about the new EOD Tier 2 standards.


Quite honestly it’s been difficult for me to keep up with all the AF fitness assessments. Not only is there a shift for their battlefield airman, but each job category (TACP, CCT, EOD, etc.) seems to have their own test in development. Closest I have to what you describe is a specific assessment for the TACP test:



**Rest 5-10 Minutes Between Events except as noted. Scroll down for event explanations and scoring

(1) Med Ball Toss Sum Total:______________

(2) Three Cone Drill Time:______________

(3) Grip Strength (Dynomometer) Total:______________

(4) Trap Bar Deadlift (5RM) Total:______________

(5) Weighted Lunges Total:______________

(6) Max Pull-Ups Total:______________

(7) Ext Cross Knee Crunch Total:______________

(8) Farmer’s Carry Time:______________ 

(9) 1,000m Row Erg Time:______________

****** Rest 15 Minutes *****

(10) 1.5 mile Run Time:______________

Once all this settles I’ll develop individual plans for each job category.
– Rob


I am thinking of doing the super squat online course, instead of just buying the program.   What’s the difference between them, online course and program?   I’ve completed the one lift per day and the 45 alpha.

Didn’t care for the Alpha.  Too much running.  Messes with my hip.
My goal is to gain strength.  I like your combination of strength building and chassis work.


The course is for coaches who want to understand/implement Super Squat progression and how to program it into their own training sessions. It’s not a training plan.
The plan is for athletes.
– Rob


I’m interested in competing in the backpack trail race at the sheep show in Reno this year. It’s about 6.5 miles, with 1200′ elevation gain, 50 lb pack.

I have until Feb 7 to train for it.
What plan(s) do you suggest Ruck Improvement and do the rucks on hills?


I’d recommend the Peak Bagger Training Plan the 6 weeks directly before the event- with the following modifications:
Use a 50# pack and 12″ step for the step ups in the plan, and do the prescribed rucks with a 50# pack.
– Rob


MTI Initiatives Which Never Gained Traction: Part I – Range Fitness

LEOs conduct a Range Fitness Drill as part of a mini-study we completed in 2015.


By Rob Shaul

The beginning for MTI’s Range Fitness effort began with a comment from a USAF Combat Controller at the first tactical programming course I taught nearly 8 years ago now.

The programming course only addressed fitness and at its conclusion, this individual stated, “it would be great if you could design programming to improve accurate marksmanship under stress.”

My military time post Academy was in the Aids to Navigation branch of the Coast Guard – my first duty station was a buoy tender in Oregon, so while I had some shooting experience growing up as a kid in Wyoming, my military shooting experience was minimal.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued by this idea and began earnestly thinking about and developing programming, and more broadly, a system, for training accurate marksmanship under stress.

I called this system “Range Fitness.”

It’s hard to describe the huge investment in time and resources I deployed to develop MTI’s Range Fitness programming. We began with the purchase of a couple assault rifles, EO Tech sights and thousands of rounds of .556 ammo. As well as a couple Glock 17s, and a bunch of 9mm ammo.

We spend hours at the local shooting range in Jackson testing different targets, fitness stressor events, shooting positions. Myself and my interns/coaches were the initial lab rats. As well, when I would go to teach fitness programming courses to tactical units, I’d try to schedule in an afternoon at the range to test our developing theory, events, and system on actual tactical athletes.

We attacked Range Fitness in typical MTI fashion … research, design, test, evaluate, fix and re-design, re-test, re-evaluate, and on and on.

Early on we discovered that paper targets were not efficient. Athletes could not identify hits and misses at the time of the shot, and putting up new targets between shooters was a major time suck. We needed “reactive” targets and went cheap at first … pieces of wood, used frying pans, balloons, and cardboard, etc. and finally migrated to metal, reactive targets.

At first we purchased simple round targets and jury-rigged frames with wire to hold them up … only to find that the shrapnel from target hits chewed through the wire – causing the targets to fall. Eventually, I bit the bullet and purchased high quality but expensive, reactive metal targets with durable frame holders.

Another issue was the target distance. Through hours at the range and focused trial and error, we settled on 1 MOA target distance, which meant we were using 8″ round targets at 80 yards for our mid-range carbine Range Fitness events – or 10″ targets at 100 yards, etc.

I read everything I could about marksmanship, fine motor skills, and the impact of stress and increased heart rate on fine motor skills. Physical stress was the first stressor we put on athletes and our initial physical stress events included sandbags, barbells, kettlebells, and complicated mixes of sets and reps between shooting efforts.

We started cutting stuff and eventually settled on two types of fitness modes – simple burpees and shuttle sprints. As well, we learned we could also add additional stressors – a time limit, ammo limit, “hit” standard for marksmanship, and by running athletes side by side – a competition stress element.

Our initial range fitness events would run for 4-8 minutes, and soon we learned this was way too long, and began to cut duration significantly to where our longest event lasted 2:30.

We learned that by using a set time for each event, limiting ammo load, and manipulating the number of hits for each level of progression, we could run expert marksmanship alongside rookie shooters at the same time and have each pushed to his/her limit.

In our own testing, we found we would quickly plateau in Range Fitness achievement simply by doing the events. We had to step back, identify the marksmanship fundamental skills which counted most …. trigger control, follow through, and develop events to train and develop these. Ball and dummy drills became a key way we saw improvement.

Through our own testing, and attending other shooting courses we found that longer than 90 minutes of intense, focused shooting we became mentally exhausted and stopped learning and improving. We attended a tactical shooting course in North Carolina which boasted that students would shoot 1,000 rounds over two days, and discovered the same thing there …. after about 200 rounds, we stopped learning.

Eventually, we were able to put all of this together into focused, efficient training session which included a stress event ‘warm up,’ fundamental shooting drills including ball and dummy drills and follow through work, and concluded with an efficient, progressible Range Fitness Event. The entire effort could be completed in 60-75 minutes, and take just 100-120 rounds per shooter.

We then took what we learned shooting mid-range carbines (70-100 yards) and applied it to pistols and CQB Distance Carbines. We couldn’t use metal targets for our CQB distance carbines and actually designed and had printed custom paper targets which could be used by multiple shooters for several events so inefficient target change out was minimal.

Finally, after all this, we asked our community for unit volunteers who we would visit for free, and demonstrate our Range Fitness system in return for feedback. Over three weeks one October we worked with an FBI SWAT Team, Rangers at Fort Benning, a USMC MARSOC unit in California, and a full company in the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.

Range Fitness worked awesomely! Excellent, experienced shooters in SOF and SWAT were all pushed by the system and training sessions and provided glowing feedback. They reported the system alone identified “holes” in their shooting/marksmanship fundamentals in everything from equipment choice to shooting positions to mental approach. Likewise, new shooters at line units saw first hand the application of marksmanship fundamentals to shooting success and across the board, they reported a preference for the Range Fitness system over their typical range training.

I was proud of building this system from scratch and thought we really had a solid, successful product on our hands.

We offered the Range Fitness Course on our website, and I build out an entire Range Fitness training cycle and waited for the orders to roll in.

Then …. crickets.

This was near the height of the Iraq Surge which was quickly followed by Obama’s Afghanistan Surge and units were flush with money for shooting courses, just not ours. We never sold a single Range Fitness specific course.

When I would go out to teach programming courses to active units I’d always try to schedule in an afternoon at the range to teach the system, and several units took me up on this – but it was essentially a free add-on.

Unit shooting instructors who participated loved Range Fitness! Several told me they planned to add the system to their own range instruction. The only negative comment I received came from a Border Patrol BORSTAR team leader who said the 1 MOA target distance was too hard.

But regardless, Range Fitness never gained traction. Why? It could be tactical athletes aren’t interested in learning marksmanship from an old Coastie – especially when it seemed at one time every retired Delta force or DEVGRU operator were starting their own shooting schools.

It could be our system didn’t have the “whiz-bang” of the slow motion, weapons manipulation Magpul videos at the time.

Honestly, I’m not sure.

I still own three assault rifles, three Glocks and thousands of rounds of .556 I’m not sure how to dispose of. But overall, have no regrets. I learned so much about testing, system design, and overall project completion from developing the Range Fitness system which I’ve subsequently applied to new projects within and without MTI.

As well, through our Range Fitness testing and work with tactical athletes, I got to meet and work with front-line individuals in LE and the military I may have never encountered. Those relationships have continued and we’ve relied on them for follow up research.

Finally, if you’ve followed MTI for some time, you know my interests and our work extend beyond physical fitness. Developing Range Fitness was my first concentrated effort to move outside fitness programming, and I’ve followed up most recently with our work in mission-direct research and Quiet Professionalism, both of which have enriched my work life, and enhanced our value to MTI followers.

For old times sake, below are some of the Range Fitness events and fundamental drills we developed.










MTI Wildland Fire Fitness Assessment

By Rob Shaul

We’ve worked with committed Wildland Firefighters for several years and previously developed the MTI Wildland Fire 3/600/3 Endurance Assessment.

The assessment described below is a comprehensive assessment across several fitness attributes. We consider Wildland Firefighters “Tactical Athletes” with the same fitness demands as military infantry and land-based special forces:

  • High Relative Strength (strength per bodyweight)
  • High Multi-Modal Work Capacity with a sprint emphasis
  • Endurance (uphill hiking under load, rucking)
  • Chassis Integrity (functional core strength and strength endurance)
  • Tactical Agility

While the mission-direct fitness demands of Wildland Firefighting include work capacity, rucking, high relative strength, rucking and hiking under load, few Truck Crews, Hotshot crews and Smokejumper teams train to reflect this. Similar to line unit military, in our experience most wildland firefighter unit training revolves around push ups, sit ups and unloaded running. This test is a step away from that tradition and step toward assessing the true fitness demands of fighting wildfighters

A couple of notes on this assessment

  • Equipment is minimal by design. There is no standardized fitness equipment at Wildland Firefighter bases.
  • Same loading for men and women. Both sexes use the same weight – for fit women, it is more than manageable.
  • Grip/”tactical chassis” focus. This assessment will really test your grip and tactical chassis strength. Tactical Chassis = legs, lungs and core.
  • No Joke. This assessment is difficult. So is fighting wildfires.
  • This assessment also tests stamina. By design, this assessment lasts 90+ minutes, and is designed to test not only the individual fitness demands, but also the overall  physical and mental stamina of the athletes, and hopefully reflects a long multi-hour shift on the fireline.

 Required Equipment

  • 60# Sandbag
  • 16-18” Bench or box for step ups
  • Marker Cones and 25m of open, flat ground for the Work Capacity Assessment
  • 48” Ledge
  • Stopwatch
  • Backpack or Ruck with 45 Pounds of loading.


  • Shorts, T-Shirt, Sneakers

Questions?  Email me:


3 Rounds
10x Air Squats
10x Push ups
5x Walking Lunges
Run 50m
Instep Stretch


(1) Max Reps Strict Pull Ups

Protocol: Dead hang, to chin fully above the bar. No kipping. No time limit, but you cannot change your grip, or touch your feet. You can “rest” at the full hang position, but cannot touch your feet. No time limit – athlete goes until failure.

Record total reps.

→ What this event assesses: Upper body pulling strength.


Rest 3 Minutes before next event


(2) Max Reps Hand Release Push Ups in 60 Seconds

Protocol: Athlete begins lying prone on the ground, hands near his/her armpits, and up off the ground. On “Go” athlete completes as many Hand Release Push Ups as possible in 90 seconds. When the athlete pushes up, his/her torso/butt must rise up in line with his/her chest. The chest cannot rise first, followed by the butt/legs. Athlete must come to full elbow extension at the top of the push up, and his/her hands must come off the ground at the bottom. Athlete may stop and rest in the down position (lying on the ground) as needed.

Record total reps.

→ What this event assesses: Upper body pushing strength.


Rest 3 Minutes before next event


(4) 30/30 Sandbag Keg Lift for Reps @ 60# bag, 48” Ledge

Protocol: Sandbag must move from ground at athlete’s side, across his/her body, to a 48-inch Ledge. Start with the SB on the left side, at 30 seconds, switch so sandbag is on the ground on the athlete’s right side. Max Reps in 60 Seconds. Entire bag has to be on the ledge for the rep to count. The clock does not stop for the switch. 

Record total reps.

→ What this event assesses: Chassis Integrity, functional core strength, Grip Strength, Work Capacity.


Rest 5 Minutes before next event

(5) Modified MTI Tactical Athlete Work Capacity Assessment 

Protocol: Modify this event so the athletes wear a 25 pound backpack, instead of a weight vest or individual body armor. Total, this is an 11 minute event. Each completed 25m length counts as one rep.

Record total reps.

→ What this event assesses: Sprint-based work capacity, recovery, level change, tactical agility, mental fitness.


Rest 10 Minutes before next event


(6) 1/300/1 Ruck Run, Step Up, Run

Protocol:  On “go” athlete runs one mile wearing a 25# back pack, returning to the start. He/she then completes 300x step ups to a 16-18 inch bench or box. Once the step ups are completed, the athlete runs one mile, unloaded.

Record the total finish time.

→ What this event assesses: Mission-direct endurance (ruck running, step ups, running), stamina, mental fitness.


– 50 Points Total (see chart below)

General Score    Total Points
Poor                     0-20
Good                    21-35
Excellent              36-50


Pull Up Reps

Hand Release Push Up Reps

Sandbag Keg Lift Reps

Work Capacity Assessment Reps

1/300/1 Finish Time






45:00 +
























































Q&A 10.11.18


I’m a 23 year-old female wildland firefighter looking to jump to a hotshot crew next season. The biggest challenge I’m looking at is improving my hiking up super steep hills with a 45 # pack 35 # chainsaw. After trail -running and crossfitting all fall and winter I completed your hotshot training program this last spring with mostly great results- I was performing really well among the guys during critical training in running, push-ups, pull-ups, and work capacity but still gapping/dropping in PT hikes with the saw. I attribute some of my lack of success in packing the saw not to programming but to a lack of intensity and realistic terrain in my pre-season hikes, which will be corrected this year. I also think a lack of overall strength and power is to blame. Luckily I’m looking at 6 months of off-season time to fix my hiking problem. I’m wondering about which programs you’d recommend and in what sequence for that 6-month timeframe. Besides being able to hump a saw up the hill with the best of them, my goals are to improve my 3-6 mile runs to a 7-minute mile pace (currently around 7:30-45) increase pull-up and push-up scores, and pack on some muscle and increase strength and endurance for running the saw or digging all day.

Here’s my pt scores from last spring’s critical:
1.5 mile run: 10.30
Pull-ups: 10
Push-ups: 40
Pack test: 42 minutes
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 155

Thanks for your time, and for all your excellent programming, research, and essays. I really appreciate what you guys are doing at MTI.

How do you carry the saw when hiking? In the back, by hand? – Rob

I carry the saw balanced on my right shoulder. I included a link that shows a picture. Last year I through a 16# sledge and a 15# bumper plate over my shoulder during step ups and hikes to sort of simulate that weight.
The obvious disadvantage you have is your size at 155#, humping a total load of 80 pounds. This is over 50% of your bodyweight. Getting better at this mode will likely impact your other fitness goals – fast unloaded runtime, for example. I’d recommend you keep your eye on the goal and weakness – which is improving this uphill movement mode.
Now – I’d recommend you complete the Peak Bagger Training Plan – but use a 10-12″ step for the step ups, and wear a 45# pack and carry a chainsaw – or your sledge + plate combo. See if you can push and develop this mode.
After Peak Bagger, take a week off and drop into the plans/order of the Greek Hero packet of training plans. These are designed as day to day fitness for “green” tactical athletes – which includes military SOF and wildland fire. These plans concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, endurance (run, ruck run), and tactical agility.
13 weeks before your season, re-complete the Peak Bagger Plan, take a week off, then complete the Hotshot Crew/Smokejumper Training Plan directly before your season. For the step ups in both plan, again use a shorter step, 45# pack and carry a saw.
This all is going to suck, big time …. but it is focused training for your goal.
– Rob


I have been a big fan for a few years now. I was hoping to get your guidance on something. My question is:
 “Can I do the APFT plan in the morning and the PSYOP selection plan in the evening, or is that overtraining is some way?”
 I was just Picked up by Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) for Psychological Operations  (PSYOP), I am currently in Maneuver Captain Career Course  and attend Selection in May 2019, about 9 months out. I take my first Army PFT in 6 weeks. Also I see ARSOF website puts out a 4 week workout plan, can you tell me how that differs from yours? I have always been a huge fan of your programming and really want to use your knowledge to my advantage to be successful at Selection.
I am 6 feet 250 lbs and currently do very little running (need to change that) and bodybuilding workouts.


1) It would be redundant. the PSYOPS Selection Training Plan includes specific programming for the APFT.
2) I’m not familiar with the Army plan, and can’t comment there.
– Rob


I’m preparing for SFAS and I’m giving myself 6 to 9 months and I want to know what plan you recommend.


I’d recommend the plans/order in the Ruck-Based Selection Training Packet – this is our SFAS prep programming. This is a 52 week train up.
Because your timeline is squishy, I can’t give you a specific week by week plan recommendation.
When you decide on a timeline – email back and I’ll give you specifics. For sure, you want to complete the last plan in the packet, the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan the 8 weeks directly before SFAS.
From the plans in the packet, skip the Military OnRamp Training Plan and Big 24. Start with Humility and begin working through the remaining plans.
– Rob


I am moving through the BUD/S packet of plans and will be starting valor Monday. My question is concerning the ruck, since I do not need rucking for my job and am not actually preparing for BUD/s is the rucking the best exercise for that day or should I replace with running? I’ve heard that rucking is rough on the body (even though I enjoy it) but want to know if the extra core strength and mental toughness it provides is worth it.


Follow the programming as prescribed. The load carriage (chassis integrity), aerobic, and work capacity gains from ruck running are significant.
– Rob


Awhile back, I reached out about certain programs. Since then, I’ve completed the Humility and Fortitude cycles per your recommendations. I started the Valor training program, but stopped it just recently since my ROTC competition team and I are now training for an event that is similar to and would qualify us for the Sandhurst Competition. We just completed week 1 of the Sandhurst Competition training plan and will continue it until our competition is complete on 04NOV.

Also, as I mentioned before in previous emails, I will be graduating in December and hopefully heading to IBOLC sometime between January and March. When this competition is over, what program do you recommend I start? Also while I’m using the Sandhurst Competition training plan, is there additional programming or strength work I can do to help me continue my pursuit of IBOLC and Ranger School?

Looking forward to hearing your response.


Don’t double up with the Sandhurst Plan. After the comp, move to the plans in the Greek Hero series, beginning with Hector – these will train your “base Fitness” then 6 weeks before complete the IBOLC Training Plan before IBOLC.
– Rob


I am a firefighter that is looking to become a SWAT Medic in the near future. I would have to attend the police academy and SWAT school and wanted to see what plans you have that you could recommend. Thanks


I’d recommend starting with the LE Academy Training Plan.
Complete the SWAT Selection Training Plan prior to your SWAT try out.
– Rob


Good morning, active duty marine seeking training plan guidance. I have an intermediate-lower level advanced base fitness. I have completed marsoc’s assessment and selection course but was a non-select (not due to pt event failure). I didn’t let that hold me back and I have since secured a blue to green transfer to the army with an 18x contract. I have almost exactly 6 months before I execute those orders and want your opinion on what training plans if any you’d recommend I purchase from you guys. I see a lot of good things about your plans and would consider the ruck based SFAS plan but don’t have the 52 weeks to complete it. As per your FAQ, I am seeking guidance here. Thanks in advance for your time and consideration on this matter!


By my count you have 41 weeks between now and July 1.
Here’s what I recommend you complete from the Ruck-Based Selection Training Packet:
Weeks    Plan
1-5          Military OnRamp (First 5 weeks)
6-12        Humility
13-19      Fortitude
20-26      Valor
27-33      Resilience
34-41      Ruck Based Selection Training Plan
As you learn more and get a solid SFAS date, modify this plan so no matter what, you complete the Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan the 8 weeks directly before SFAS.
– Rob


I’m curious if you have any programs that are structured towards a back injury? Should be good to go in a few months after some physio.


Our Low Back Fitness Training Plan is designed to build athletes back up after they are done with Physical Therapy. My sense is that you’re still in therapy, and so the plan won’t be appropriate now.
You would try the Core Strength Bodyweight Only plan now to begin building strength – but check with your PT first.
– Rob


I purchased the back country big game hunting plan in January. I enjoyed the work out & the plan & progressively got my boys onto MTI. That said I am 50, I own a construction business, I raise performance quarter horses (a joint venture between my wife daughter and one son) and I enjoy archery & spend the time I can shooting with one son in particular & the other two when we all shoot or hunt.

Long story short there are not enough hrs in the day to work out 5&7 days a week. I would love a 3 day a week program that focuses exactly in the focus of the plan I have (even if it were spread out over a year). I want to stay in shape, I want to work out but I’m not a “lab rat” I have other interests, I have a demanding work schedule & 5-7 day a week workouts become so inundating that I get behind & tend to neglect.
I actually even thought about screen shooting the plans I have, convert to word & turn them into 3 day a week (lot of effort).
Do you have any thoughts.


We design our programming for the fitness demands of the event, not the fitness, work schedule, age, etc. of the athlete. A self-supported big game backcountry hunt had specific fitness demands – which our sport-specific plan hopefully addresses. Ideally, you’ll complete the plan directly before the hunt – so a few weeks of focused, intense training will prepare you for the hunt, then after you can scale back your fitness programming as it interferes with your other life.
That doesn’t mean you can’t stretch it out – so instead of 6 days a week, do the plan sessions in order, 3x/week …. but understand it will take you twice as long to complete the programming – so start 4 months out, instead of 2.
Base fitness training now? Most of our base fitness cycles are mostly designed as 5 or day/week plans. But again, there’s no reason you can’t do the programming as described, just complete 3x sessions/week. I’d recommend our SF45 programming – which is designed for athletes 45-55 years old (I’m 50 too).  Again, completing 3x sessions/week will strength out the cycles, but that won’t matter that much. Complete this programming throughout the year, the 4 months before next year’s hunt, complete the big game hunting directly before your season (if you do 3 days/week).
Bigger picture – you’re not the first person to ask about a 3 day/week program, and it’s something I can certainly look at designing.
– Rob


I’m looking for a day to day plan for federal law enforcement agent. Would you recommend the Spirit Series or the SWAT/SRT Program?


The Spirits Series unless you are full-time SWAT/SRT. If you are full-time SWAT/SRT, complete the Gun Maker Series.
If you’re part-time SWAT, still do the Spirits plans.
– Rob


Hello, I completed a workout series from atomic athlete last year in preparation for the Mt Killington Ultra Beast.  The program was designed for multi-day mountain hunting and while it prepped my legs for the elevation and endurance it did not focus much on the demands of 60 spartan obstacles. I see that MTI has a beast plan, but I’m curious what you’d recommend for the ultra distance, two laps of the beast, 8-10 hours for completion depending on the course and typically some decent elevation gains.
I’ll be running the South Carolina course this November so certainly not the elevation like Vermont but they’ll make it tough.
Appreciate the insight,


We have a sport-specific plan for this event, the Spartan Ultra Training Plan. Complete this 8-week training plan the 8 weeks directly before your event. It includes a taper week.
– Rob


I am 54 and pretty strong. I used to do meathead training and now do more athletic stuff. I love the sled and farmer carries. I dont run…but would like to start. I have some low back issues and have gotten my core pretty strong. Not so strong on squats but i love deadlifting. The sandbag stuff looks really fun and hard w little skill needed:) I would love to do a go ruck sometime and keep my back healthy and strong for digging up all the buckthorn in my yard.


I’d recommend you start out stuff with the Military OnRamp Training Plan – This plan will get you introduced to bodyweight strength training, work capacity, running/rucking, but still includes some barbell work.
Follow it up with Sandbag Ethos.
– Rob


I am about to finish up the Pirate Series and am wondering what your suggestion would be for the next program?
I head to A&S in April, and plan to do the prep program the 9 weeks prior to my report date. I am looking for something to fill in the space in between, that will help my preparation.
As always, you and your team rock!


I’d recommend doing the A&S plan now, then dropping back into the Pirate Series, then re-doing the A&S plan directly before selection.
This is going to suck, but you’ll learn alot about your self and your fitness doing the A&S now and you’ll get more out of the program the second time around.
– Rob


I’m having a very, very, difficult time finding a good balance between maintaining running endurance and keeping my strength.

I’ve done several programs, RAT 6, Barbossa, achilles, big mountain, and many more, but running is typically one, maybe two days a week in the programs.

I’ve found that in order to maintain the same speed and intensity for running, at a minimum I have to run 4 times a week combined with strength training.

Eventually, something, “strength or endurance”, suffers…my question is programming.
Not particularly rucking, but leaning out and maintaining strength.
Can you offer any advise?

Thanks for the hard work you all do!


Few of our 5 day/week plans have doing endurance 3 days/week. One which does and you may want to try is Patsy. Patsy has you rucking one day – but you could do the same assessment and intervals and run instead.
Another option is to move to a 6 day/week plan and run on Saturdays. This is the programming deployed by SF45 Alpha – which has a significant running emphasis.
– Rob


I am an aspiring Battlefield Airman. I am definitely going into the service, but I am not entering soon. I noticed that on your plans it says to complete the programs just before you go for selection/assessment. What program do you recommend that I can complete multiple times a year to build my stamina, strength, and athleticism before the selection/pipeline programs that you have on MTI? Thanks for your time.


I’d recommend the plans/order in the Virtue Packet.
Just one plan from this series? Fortitude.
– Rob


I see that you don’t program sled drags very often and I don’t ever see wall ball shots programmed.  Is there a specific reason for this?


1) Sled Drags? Issue here is equipment for the athletes who follow our programming remotely. My guess is few have the sled and space necessary to follow the programming. Here at our facility in Wyoming, we use the sled frequently for work capacity efforts – including 20 minutes of sled push repeats in our last lab rat cycle. But because of equipment issues, I don’t program these in our remote programming.
2) I consider Wall Balls “garbage reps” which unnecessarily grind knee joints with little transfer to the real work. More on Garbage Reps HERE. You may disagree.
– Rob


Thank you for all your help thus far. Having completed week one of the Monster Factory I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to still get some exercise on the days off without compromising the strength building program. Specifically is there anyway to safely incorporate cardio training within this program?


Depends upon your fitness level. In general, rest it best. You could do some light, easy running/biking/swimming.  – Rob


I am a 51 yo male, with five wonderful children and a sometimes demanding job.  Trying to get back in shape, primarily focusing on strength and work capacity. I typically swim competitively for two months in the summer (most years without much prep) and like to hike/fish/hunt when I can.   I am currently two weeks into Starting Strength (not gaining every workout), with some cardio (rowing or swimming).  I typically get three days in a week, with some weeks only two and others four or five. I am 6’8″ at 235lbs.  Working out is feeling good, but recovery is definitely needed.  Starting Strength is good but boring.  Looking at your programs, I am a little confused about which way to go and I am concerned about having enough time.  Any ideas?  BTW, my endurance sucks.


Our SF45 Programming is designed for high impact athletes ages 45-55.
Start with SF45 Alpha.
This is a 6 day/week program, as prescribed … but you can complete it as your schedule permits. Just don’t skip a session – do the sessions in order based on your schedule. SF45 Programming is no joke and has a significant endurance component.
– Rob


I am 69, do construction work most days and need a way to get in shape for skiing this winter (sporadically since I live in PA with little hills). I plan to ski New England a few times though. What is the best program(s) to get in shape, stay in shape for the season? The eccentric thing makes a lot of sense to me! My season will start in Dec. if I am lucky and run thru March….hopefully longer. I am currently lifting weights 3 X per week and try to do some aerobics 2-3X. I walk mostly with 1 minute jogs a few times mixed into 30 minutes. My old knees won’t let me run anymore! I am not as flexible as I use to be. WIll these workouts help with that or should I add yoga? What I have seen so far makes me think your workouts incorporate both strength and aerobics? Also is there a program for me off season to keep me tuned up and possibly help me stay strong for my construction work?


If you were 39 I’d recommend the Dryland Ski Training Cycle, but I’m afraid it would be too intense for your knees.
What would recommend is our stripped down, 30 min/day Dryland Ski Training Plan. As written, this is a 4 week, 4 days/week program. I’d want you to stretch it out to 8 weeks and complete it the 8 weeks directly before your ski season starts and complete it 2 days/week (Monday and Thursday).
You will likely need to restrict your movement/knee flexion as your knees allow – just do your best.
– Rob


I’m a cadre member for an Army ROTC program and have been charged with coaching the Ranger Challenge team. Amongst the numerous technical challenges of the competition, the team will have to complete the new Army Combat Fitness Test, as well as, be prepared to do a lot of rucking, for time, in between events (distances varying from 2 to 6 miles, and maybe even a 12 mile). I noticed that you have already made a plan for the ACFT, however we have limited equipment to complete the training plan. We have an 11 person team (2 females)going to compete. We’re somewhat limited with our equipment. We have: 6 hex bars for the deadlifts, 6 – 45lb plates, 4 – 35lb plates, 4 – 25lb plates,  and 8 – 10lb plates, a quarter mile track, 3 station pull up bar, and 1 – 10lb medicine ball. The competition is on 25-27 OCT.

How should we adjust the ACFT plan based on our equipment and the need for rucking? Should we maybe train with another plan?


I’d recommend modifying the ACFT Training Plan like this:
Mon, Wed, Fri: Complete as prescribed, but add in Thursday’s 1 Mile Run Intervals after the Leg Tuck work.
Tuesday: 6 Mile Ruck for Time on Weeks 1, 4 & 7. 2 Rounds, 2-Mile Ruck using the Ruck Interval Calculator and your 6-mile ruck time. Rest 10 min between efforts. Use the same load you’ll carry at the Ranger Challenge.
Thursday: Longer rucks at a moderate pace (comfortable but not easy) – 6 miles on weeks 1/2, 8 miles on weeks 3/4, 10 miles on weeks 5/6.
Note – you’ll skip the power throw work and spring/drag/carry work in the plan … but this is okay.
– Rob

Arete 10.11.18


Erik Prince, in Kabul, Pushes Privatization of the Afghan War – and is Everywhere, Washington Post
US May Not Be Able to Fight Two Wars at Once, Defense News
Mike Pence’s Tough Talk on China: The Trump Administration’s ‘Evil Empire’ Moment?, The National Interest
6 charts on how Russians and Americans see each other, Pew Research Center
Nuclear Weapons Time for Australia?, The National Interest
USAF Special Tactics History, Soldier Systems
It Is Time to Update the President’s Nuclear Command Authority, The National Interest
The Mountains Weren’t Enough for Marine Dan Sidles, Outside
The US military is planning a serious showdown with China, a significant show of force on tense tides involving American warships and aircraft, Business Insider
More Than 7,000 Marines Could Get the Boot, Marine Times
Army, Air Force Struggle to Finalize New Deploy-or-Out Policy, Military Times
A Staggering Number of Troops Are Fat and Tired, Military Times
Top Marine in Australia Relieved for Drunk Driving, Wall Street Journal
Mike Pompeo and His Chinese Counterpart Trade Harsh Words, NY Times


Homeland Security / First Responder / Wildland Fire

Ford’s 2020 Police Interceptor Utility Fastest Police Vehicle at Michigan Test, Police Magazine
Trump Ignores Latin America’s Biggest Challenges, Council on Foreign Relations
One of the USFS’s First Female Firefighters Tells Her Dramatic Story, Adventure Journal
Full Conceal Firearm System is Flexible and Practical, Law Enforcement Today
Law Enforcement Legacies – The Evans Family,
Michigan K-9 Dies after Ingesting a “Foreign Object” Following Training Exercise, POLICE Magazine
IACP Quick Take: How police agencies can effectively communicate with Generation Z, PoliceOne Daily News
Miami PD hopes new ‘cop car’ will catch eyes, open minds, PoliceOne Daily News
FBI Says Crime is Down, So Why Does It Feel Like the Opposite is True?, Police Magazine



The Stay-at-Home Mom Turned Falconer, Outside
Decoy Test: The Best Mallard Floaters and Canada Goose Full Bodies Rated and Ranked, Outdoor Life
Department of Justice Believes Russia Hacked Anti-Doping Agencies Linked To US Ski & Snowboard Teams, Unofficial Networks
Freeride World Tour Dates and Stops Announced – In 2019, FWT athletes will return to five challenging venues, Powder
Best Bolt-Action Rifle Bargains, Outdoor Life
The Climbing Q&A:  Pro Photographer Savannah Cummins, Climbing Magazine
Ski Touring Kyrgyzstan, Outdoor Research
Quantifying Isometrics Part 2: Program Auto-Regulation and Its Implications on Finger Training, Training Beta
NEWS: Jan Hojer repeats Es Pontas, ~9a+ DWS,
To Look the Bear in the Eye; The Life of Yasushi Yamanoi, Alpinist Weekly
The Top 10 Hikes in the North Cascades, Outbound Collective
Top Status Symbols for Hunters,


Fitness / Nutrition

Breaking Down Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Breaking Muscle
The 7 Day Meal Plan To Get Ready For Spartan Race, Men’s Fitness
Fitness Machines Aren’t All Bad, Breaking Muscle
Are the Big Lifts Essential?, Breaking Muscle
The New Rules of Healthy Living, Outside
Congress Let the Land and Water Conservation Fund Die—and the National Parks Could Pay the Price, Backpacker
The Truth About Acai Bowls: Read this first!, Nerd Fitness
Milk Isn’t Bad For You (But 6 Types of People May Want to Avoid It), Born Fitness
What Is the Optimal Human Diet? Chris Kresser
Raw vs. Cooked Garlic and Onions for Blood Thinning,
Leg Press Versus Squat, Breaking Muscle
Evaluating the Proposed Tier 2 Operator Physical Fitness Test for USAF ALO/TAPC, Rand Corp.



Why huskies have blue eyes, Science Daily
It Sucks Being a (White) Guy, Psychology Today
Rethinking lethality in youth suicide attempts, Science Daily
Are Asian Americans the New Jews? – Bias against Asian Americans at Harvard Heads to Court, Heritage Foundation
Bernie Sanders to McDonald’s: Raise your minimum wage to $15, CNBC
These are the 25 companies with the happiest employees in 2018, Business Insider
The Vikings: Everything You Always Wanted to Know, The National Interest
What Killed Anthony Bourdain?, Psychology Today
Three Must-Do’s To Deliver An Amazing Speech, Forbes
Personal Health: Unlocking the World of Sound for Deaf Children, NYT
Are Single People Happy Because They Are Free?, Psychology Today

The Surefire Sabotage of Self Importance



By Rob Shaul


Self Importance is incredibly effective in its effort to convince us we’re not getting ours.

“I work so hard, harder than anyone else, don’t I deserve to coast just this one time?”

“I’ve toiled in the trenches doing the grunt work for years, while Johnny takes the credit, gets the medal, receives the promotion. Why shouldn’t I demand a “hero” assignment, just this once?”

“I’ve been covering for Johnny for months – with no thanks, recognition, or acknowledgment. Not today. I’m not going to cover for him.”

We can’t avoid these Self Important, arguments. Self Importance is natural, feels righteous, and shouts its way into our mindspace, uninvited. 

But thinking, and acting, are different animals.

Thinking selfishly is natural. Listening to our selfish thoughts is unavoidable.  We must fight instinct not to act.

Not to act is to put Mission First. Not to act is to embrace Humility.

None of us is perfect. More than we’d like to admit, Self Importance wins and we act selfishly.

Self Importance beats humility in my own mind, daily. I don’t put Mission First despite knowing better, and act selfishly

While the regret of my failure isn’t instant, it always comes, bringing with it disappointment and a step back in my progress toward quiet professionalism.

“But aren’t there times when you should put yourself and your interests first?” you may ask. “When are those times?”

I don’t have a complete answer. I’ve thought about this for a long time and the question is still grinding away in my mind.

But, two instances are clear.

First, we all have different roles in life, and sometimes our responsibilities in the role will conflict with our responsibilities in another. An example could be a great, service-oriented but low-paying job which conflicts with financial responsibilities to provide for your family – home, college education, etc. Mission First with work conflicts with Mission First for your family – and you chose the family, quit your job and find another which pays more.

Second, often our individual interests and goals change, and to align with our current selves, we much change positions or occupations.

People are not static – and ideally, we are growing and changing daily. It’s possible to “grow out” of a job or career, and have to move on even if that sets the organization back temporarily. Staying on artificially will lead to personal integrity issues – where what you’ve been doing doesn’t align with who you are now.

One difference between these two examples, and those above, is after you’ve made these decisions, regret doesn’t come knocking.

“Whoa!,” you may point out, “So you don’t know if your selfish decision is okay until after you’ve made it!  You have to wait for regret to tell you!”

Yep. But wisdom can help. Learning from past mistakes, and visits from regret can help you recognize instances where acting selfishly can be the right thing to do – and where it can be the wrong thing. Remember, wisdom isn’t given – it takes work: reflection, self-examination, ownership. 

More on wisdom, HERE.


Questions, Comments, Feedback Email:

Arete 10.4.18


U.S. Threats Haven’t Led Pakistan to Restrict Taliban, Report Says, Small Wars Journal
Marines award contract for lighter, better fitting plate carrier, Defense News
Difficult Decisions: Practical Policy for the Air Force’s Pilot Retention Crisis, War on the Rocks
Social Media as War?  War on the Rocks
What is the Point of a Forever War in Iraq?, The National Interest
Is Erik Prince Pointing the Way Out of Afghanistan? Real Clear Defense
USSOCOM Replaces EOTech Sights With EOTech Sights, Soldier Systems
America’s Dilemma in Cameroon: Supporting an Abusive Military, Council on Foreign Relations
MWI Podcast: Iraq and Afghanistan Through the Eyes of the Men and Women That Fought There, Modern War Institute
It’s a Mystery What British Special Operators Did With This Silenced Pistol, War is Boring
Insider Attacks Are the Ultimate Treachery, War is Boring
The Battle of Mogadishu 25 Years Later: How the Fateful Fight Changed Combat Operations, Small Wars Journal


Homeland Security / First Responder / Wildland Fire

Experts on U.S. National Cyber Strategy (cont’d), The Cipher Brief
Envelopes containing deadly ricin poison intercepted at US Pentagon,
Homeland Security Agency’s Computers Couldn’t Track Separated Families, Report Finds, Homeland Security Department
Roosevelt Fire destroys at least 22 homes, Wildfire Today
A firefighter analyzes how the Carr Fire burned into Redding, California, Wildfire Today
Stop & Frisk Done Right, Police Magazine
Portland State protesters pledge to stay put until campus cops disarm, Police One,
House Passes Bill Allowing Concealed Carry Across State Lines, Police Magazine
How Durable Are Bulletproof Backpacks Against Gunfire? Officer
Border Patrol agent pleads guilty to starting 46,000-acre fire with exploding target, Wildfire Today
400 Guns Stolen From UPS Facility in Tennessee,



12 Types Of Nightmare Outdoor Shop Customers,
Killington Makes Move To Combat Employee Shortage By Buying Local Hotel, Unofficial Networks
‘Free Solo’ Is the Best Climbing Movie Ever Made, Outside
Best Men’s Winter Jackets, 2018, Outdoor Gear Lab
OutdoorGearLab Revamps Best Hangboards for Home Training Review, Outdoor Gear Lab
Resi Stiegler is Tired of Talking About Injuries, Ski Racing
Warren Miller Athlete, Forrest Jillson Profile, Warren Miller
This Lab Ranked the Safest Bike Helmets, Outside
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Bags, Outside
Who Lives and Who Dies After Climbing Accidents, Outside
What? Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison Just Skied the Lhotse Couloir, Adventure Journal
Learning from Mistakes of Others: Causes of Climbing Accidents in Boulder, Colorado, American Alpine Institute
Avalanche Airbag Packs Get Lean – Weight was always the biggest drawback with avalanche airbag backpacks. Not anymore. Powder Magazine
How To Bivy On A Climbing Route, Outdoor Research
Hilaree Nelson, Jim Morrison Ski First Descent of Lhotse Couloir, REI Co-Op
For Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain Are Faster Chairlifts Really Better?, Unofficial Networks
How a Mountain Guide Makes It Work on $35,000 a Year, Outside


Fitness / Nutrition

Larry Wheels Benches 225 Pounds for 70 Reps, Muscle & Fitness
80,000 Americans Died From Flu Last Year, WebMD
Caffeine May Increase Pain Tolerance, NY Times
The Best Protein Powders, According to You, Outside
What Pro Cyclocrossers Eat for Breakfast, Outside
NEWS ANALYSIS: More Evidence That Nutrition Studies Don’t Always Add Up, NY Times
Virtual reality can reduce pain and increase performance during exercise, Science Daily
Physical exercise improves the elimination of toxic proteins from muscles, Science Daily
Try These Top Triathlete Training Tips From Pro James Cunnama, Men’s Health
3 Ways to Avoid Back Pain at the Office, Home, and Gym, Men’s Journal
In Australia, Cervical Cancer Could Soon Be Eliminated, NY Times
Will a Low-Carb Diet Shorten Your Life? Chriss Kresser
A New Way to Reduce Sugary Beverage Consumption, Rand Corp



The annoying habits of highly effective people, Economist
Can Too Much Screen Time Dumb Down Your Kid?, WebMD
Bitcoin Dominance Is Crashing — Here’s Why, Forbes
Facebook Uses the Contacts In Your Phone to Sell Ads to Your Friends, Popular Mechanics
Why Disagreeable People Often Come Out On Top – And Three Ways To Become More Of A Jerk, Forbes
For Just the Third Time in 117 Years, a Woman Wins the Nobel Prize in Physics, NY Times
In Australia, Cervical Cancer Could Soon Be Eliminated, NY Times
Teen cannabis use is not without risk to cognitive development, Science Daily
Here’s How Much You Need To Earn To Buy A Home In Each U.S. City, Forbes
The Best Notebooks, NY Times
10 of the Highest-Ranked Cars to Own, According to 3.2 Million Owners, Gear Patrol
This Is How G-Shock Watches Are Tested and Built, Gear Patrol