All posts by SSD

The MTI Method

By Charlie Bausman

With the addition of the MTI Relative Strength Assessment, we decided to develop a training plan specifically programmed to increase an athlete’s relative strength scores.  We consider relative strength to be the most important type of strength to tactical and mountain athletes, measuring maximal strength relative to the athlete’s bodyweight. Here is a snapshot of the design process and results from our Lab Rats.

Program Design
When we develop an event-specific plan, it starts by analyzing the event requirements, and working backwards for our program design. The events in the MTI Relative Strength Assessment are fairly straightforward:

  1. Work Up to a 1RM Front Squat
  2. Max Reps Strict Pull Ups
  3. Work up to a 1RM Power Clean
  4. Work up to a 1RM Bench Press

With the events of this assessment in mind, we have have several variables to determine.

Length of a strength focused cycle
We’ve found that the highest strength gains occur within the first few weeks, and begin to level off with nominal increases in following weeks. This is a standard training adaption, but we must keep in mind that the athletes at MTI are not powerlifters/weightlifters, but Mountain and Tactical athletes. We care less about small, incremental changes in 1 RM’s. Extra weeks dedicated to such small increases is not a worthwhile return on training.

We determined that four weeks was the perfect amount of time to see solid strength increases, keep the athletes fresh and excited about training, and not significantly decrease our other fitness attributes (work capacity, endurance, etc).


Which strength progression to use
We have seven to choose from. Ultimately, we decided to use our Density Strength progression. Because we wanted to train all of the lifts, four times a week, we needed a time-efficient method. The Density progression keeps the athletes on a timer, completing five rounds of four reps at a given percentage, every 7:30 minutes.

Is this the absolute best method in training strength? No – but it’s effective and time efficient for a group of athletes training together, who have a hybrid set of fitness demands consisting of work capacity, endurance, strength, etc. 

Number of strength training sessions per week
Four strength training sessions a week gives the athlete a focused cycle without other fitness demands impeding on strength gains.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday would be our strength days, with the density progression format applied to all the exercises included in the Relative Strength Assessment. Wednesday was a short training session (approx. 40 minutes), with interval based shuttles to maintain work capacity and allow for recovery from the strength work. 

Testing Results
We started with seven Lab Rats when the cycle began, but a combination of vacations and work forced several of them to miss multiple training sessions. It happens, but the testing results may not accurately gauge the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the training program in developing relative strength.


Assessment #1
Name – Bodyweight Front Squat Pull Up Power Clean Bench Press MTI Score
Will – 178 245 18 185 205 5.36
Mike – 219 265 12 235 245 4.59
Ross – 143 165 22 105 155 5.16
Eric – 196 285 22 235 275 6.05
Assessment #2
Name – Bodyweight Front Squat Pull Up Power Clean Bench Press MTI Score (Increase from Assessment #1)
Will – 177 255 17 195 205 5.39 (+ .03)
Mike – 218 265 15 245 260 5.12 (+ .53)
Ross – 143 195 25 140 165 5.47 (+ .31)
Eric – 196 315 24 245 285 6.31 (+ .26)
Assessment #3
Name – Bodyweight Front Squat Pull Ups Power Clean Bench Press MTI Score (Increase from Assessment #1)
Will – 184 265 17 205 215 5.42 (+ .06)
Mike – 218 285 18 245 260 5.42 (+ .83)
Ross – 145 195 28 155 165 5.55 (+ .39)
Eric – 195 315 25 255 285 6.38 (+ .33)


The results show a solid improvement in the Lab Rat’s increases and MTI Relative Strength Assessment score. Overall, we were pleased with the progression, volume, and cycle length.

Four weeks proved to be just the right duration, as the constant grind on the same four lifts will get stale after a while. The majority of our lab rats have a high training age, and the gains would likely decrease should the plan be extended.

You can see that our lab rat Ross experienced huge increases in his lifts. Ross is professional Wildland Firefighter and relatively new to our style of training. He is quickly improving his lifting techniques so that his results are more truly representative of his actual strength. With that said, his increases skewed our average scores slightly, but we are confident in the results from the training plan.

Front Squat Pull Ups Power Clean Bench Press
Lab Rat Average Increase – lbs 25 3.5 25 11.25
Lab Rat Average Increase – % 11% 21% 17% 5%

Our two biggest concerns as we started the cycle were:

  • The athletes might gain muscle mass and weight, which is not the purpose of the program. Relative strength is strength relative to the athlete’s bodyweight. Any added weight is bad weight for this plan.

Only one athlete gained weight, but it is highly likely that it was due to a long weekend vacation. All of the other Lab Rats stayed within +/-1 lbs for the entirety of the cycle.

  • The athletes would not make the progressions. The Density strength progression works up to 4 Reps every 90 seconds at 90% 1 Rep Max. That is a heavy load with not much recovery period. We were concerned that the athletes would begin missing lifts, and be forced to drop down the prescribed volume or load.

While we had a missed lift here and there, for the most part the athletes were able to make all of their progressions. The last progression at 90% is absolutely brutal, but the lab rats were able to make it happen.

Further Questions
One of the biggest questions arising from this cycle was the role of the pull up as a measure of relative strength. With our 7th grade math skills on display, it seemed that the unloaded pull ups were overly weighted in the overall athlete score. We couldn’t quite figure out a way to determine if this is true or not – but intuitively it seemed that you could get a decent score with poor lifts and a high max reps pull up.

Have some math skills? We could use your help. Email 

This is a quick sneak behind the curtain of the MTI method of solving a fitness problem with program design… We go through a much more involved process in drafting a cycle, but it gives you an idea of how the MTI programming is created and delivered.

Want to check out the MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan? Click here

Questions, comments? Email


Archery Stress Marksmanship, Part 2

By Rob Shaul

Work continues and we continue to evolve our Archery Stress Marksmanship system. We’re trying to shoot daily, and here are the changes we made since last week.

  • Increased the sprint distance to 20 yards
  • Now the same shooter runs the drill 3x in a row, with … 30 seconds rest between.
  • Standardized the balloon size to 8″ in Diameter
The ultimate goal of the system is two fold:
  1. Develop an Archery Marksmanship system which is both efficient and effective in train stress marksmanship
  2. Identify a maximum shot range for each individual hunter by establishing a drill standard
What We Know Now
  • – Sprint distance and time interval for the standing position are 90% set.
  • – Performance quickly plateaus at drill performance just doing the drills again and again. We learned shooting carbines that marksman have to step back and practice the fundamentals. We developed Range Fitness “Training Sessions” which always started with a drill “cold” out of the gate. Then stepped back to work on fundamentals … trigger control, follow through, position and weapon handling, then finished with another drill. Sessions became entire training cycles – which is where I’m headed with this on the archery side.
  • – Drill target and size: Balloons, 8 inch diameter.
  • – Training session format: (1) Stress drill cold, first thing, repeating the highest level (distance) the athlete has achieved previously. 3x Total Shots (2) Fundamental work – 20-25x total shots. (3) 3x Through the Stress Drill – 9x total shots. Total training session shots: 32-37. 45-60 minutes long.

What We Don’t Know and are Working On
  • – How to incorporate all three shooting positions (standing, kneeling, sitting) into the standard. 20 yards and 30 second intervals works for standing, but the time interval could be too short for kneeling & sitting. If so, plan now is to decrease the sprint distance to 15 yards for those shooting positions and keep the time interval at 30 seconds.
  • – Fundamental shooting drills, and target size. Right now my sense and experience tell me trigger control and follow through are most important. With carbines, we use ball and dummy drills to train trigger control. Not sure the most effective way to do this for archery. Target size for fundamental work? Right now thinking 1/8 sheet of 8×11 paper for 20-30 yards, 1/4 sheet of paper for 30-40 yards, and 1/2 sheet of paper for 40-60 yards. Paper is simple and cheap.
  • – Finalizing the Standard. Though right now is the drill “cold” – no warm up – 3x Through. First time, standing position, 20 yard sprints. Second time Kneeling Position, 15 yard sprints. Third time, Seated Position, 15 yard sprints. To achieve that distance, the athlete has to hit the balloon on all three shots.
Click HERE to Read Part 1 of this series
Interested in Being a Lab Rat and help develop this system? 
I could use a few more shooters. Pls email if interested.

Plan Focus: Gratitude

MTI’s Tactical Lab Rats grind through a gym-based endurance circuit of Sandbag Clean and Run, Sandbag Clean and Push Press and Step Ups @ 20″.

By Rob Shaul

We’ve been experimenting with gym-based, multi-modal endurance programming with our Wyoming lab rats (myself included) for the past several weeks.

In the process we’ve been revisiting some of our old theory and training session design.

In brief, gym-based, multi-modal endurance sessions are extended (45+ minute) constant movement efforts which can include dumbbell/barbell exercises, sandbag exercises, box jumps, step ups, short sprints, sled pushes, etc. Think a work capacity event, but much longer, and at a lower intensity.

First, Some background ….

For several years we had a “Stamina” training mode. See the chart below from an old programming course manual:

Our old Stamina Cycles were the most intense training we did, and had two goals:

1) Train Recovery from long events – It’s been our experience that relatively short, intense, work capacity training does do a good job of preparing an athlete for a single, long, endurance push. But he’ll be trashed the next day. Short, intense events don’t train recovery.

2) Train mental attitude toward long events or multiple events over a long day – Mountain and Tactical events are most dangerous when everyone is tired and beat down, and this is when athletes must be the most sharp. This is mental stamina. Also – long, extended events, and multiple events over a long period work to grind down athletes. This is where attitude stamina comes in. This is the ability to face each event with an enthusiastic, professional sense of duty, no bellyaching, and setting the example for others.

Our old Stamina Sessions are generally loaded, extended (60-120 minute) “gym-based” training events designed to use the efficiency of gym training to mimic the volume (legs/core, mostly) an athlete would experience on a long mountain or patrol day.  These sessions were long – 75, 90, and 120 minute Efforts.

Question: Why did you stop doing Stamina Sessions?
Answer: Garbage Reps

“Garbage Reps” are low to moderately loaded, deep squatting or lunging movements. Last year I became concerned about the long term effects of this type of work on knee health, and began to eliminate this type of programming from my work capacity programming. “Garbage Reps” were a key component of our old stamina programming … where we were trying to hammer the legs and mid section with lots of volume to condition recovery. Once I committed to eliminate “Garbage Reps” from future programming, our Stamina programming and sessions were orphaned. (More HERE).

Gym-Based, Multi-Modal Endurance

Our move to experiment with gym-based endurance was driven by my desire to implement some of the non-garbage rep aspects of our stamina programming (overall grind, mental and attitude stamina) and the simple realities of the hard winter we’re experiencing and it’s impact on our scheduled endurance work.

Note on intensity … on the cardio side, we want this to feel like a moderate-paced run … comfortable but not easy. I instruct my athletes to “grind” through. On the muscular side, where we feel it most is the midsection. It’s never sharp, but at the end, our entire mid-section is fatigued and the next day, our sides and low back are a “sore in a good way.” 

Here is a comparison to our old “Stamina” an the new “Gym-Based, Multi-Modal Endurance”:

More Mission Direct?
In terms of strength and conditioning, “endurance training” generally refers to training single mode efforts – running, rucking, swimming, biking, etc.

For the Mountain and Tactical Athletes we work with, we understand there is another kind of constant movement endurance which can be multi-modal, and is often loaded. Examples on the tactical side include long team events at military selections and line clearing for wildland firefighters. An example on the mountain side could be hours digging out tent placement locations on big mountain alpine climbs.

Often these efforts have a significant demand on the “combat chassis” – the musculature between the knees and the shoulders, and Chassis Integrity. “Chassis Integrity” is the MTI mid-section programming methodology of functional, transferrable core strength programming to the battlefield and real world.

We built our gym-based endurance programming around these demands … loaded, multi modal and with a significant chassis integrity emphasis. Below is an example of a 75 minute, Gym-Based Endurance effort. There is no rest between Parts (1) & (2) or (2) & (3).

 (1) 25 Minute Grind …

  • 5x Sandbag Getups @ 40/60#
  • 160-Foot Sled Push (unloaded sled, turf floor)

 (2) 25 Minute Grind …

  • 3x Keg Lift @ 40/60# Sandbag
  • 6x 40-foot Shuttles (3x laps) with Sandbag

 (3) 25 Minute Grind …

  • 5x Sandbag Clean + Push Press @ 40/60#
  • 20x Step Ups @ 20”

Gratitude is a 7-week, 5 day/week limited equipment training program with a strong focus on mission-direct endurance. It is the fifth plan in our “Virtue” series for tactical athletes and joins Humility, Fortitude, Valor and Resilience.

Gratitude deploys our new Gym-Based Endurance programming, as well as unloaded running to train an athlete’s endurance.

The gym-based endurance events you’ll experience in Gratitude extend from 30 and 45 minutes in Week 1 to 60 and 75 minutes in Week 6.

In addition to gym-based endurance, Gratitude also trains single-mode endurance in the form of unloaded running. You’ll run two times per week. Tuesday’s runs are at a “moderate” pace and extend to 7 miles. Friday’s runs are at an “easy” pace and extend to 10 miles at Week 7.

The first 4 weeks of the plan you’ll also train body weight strength, power and strength endurance. 


  • Monday: Gym-Based Endurance, Upper Body Strength, Power, Strength Endurance
  • Tuesday: Moderate Run which builds to 7 miles in Week 6
  • Wednesday: Gym-Based Endurance, Upper Body Strength, Power, Strength Endurance
  • Thursday: Gym-Based Endurance
  • Friday: Easy Run which builds to 10 miles in Week 7


  • Monday: Gym-Based Endurance
  • Tuesday: Moderate Run which builds to 7 miles in Week 6
  • Wednesday: Gym-Based Endurance
  • Thursday: Gym-Based Endurance
  • Friday: Easy Run which builds to 10 miles in Week 7

Click HERE for more on the plan, including the entire first week of programming.


Stopped Up and Fake Chew: One Month of Quitting Copenhagen

By Charles Bausman

This update brings us to a full month of no tobacco use. Just as our local addiction counselor had predicted, the past week provided a fresh wave of cravings. Heaps of nicotine gum was chewed, but no Copenhagen was purchased, borrowed, or chewed.

Once again, I received multiple emails of encouragement and support. Beyond my own appreciation to these folks, they’ve also given me a sense of responsibility… I don’t want to let them down. Thanks again to all of you who have written in.

Stopped Up
As those familiar with the quitting process of tobacco products will know, it makes you constipated. I ate enough MRE’s during my time in the Marines to know that I hate being constipated.

I had three options:

1) Be a reasonable person and eat some high fiber foods to get things going in a day or two.

2) Take the prescribed amount of laxatives according to the directions on the box

3) Take 200% of the prescribed amount of laxatives according to the directions on the box

As a life rule, I tend to make things harder than they need to be. Option 3 was the only answer. The directions said to take the pill(s) before going to bed, to be followed by a “gentle morning” of small intestinal relief.

The “gentle morning” commenced at 2 a.m., and lasted throughout the night. It was not gentle, nor relieving.

After this enlightening experiencing, a friend recommended using a daily spoonful of Metamucil. You know the stuff… you probably saw it in your grandparents pantry. Life changing product. Go get yourself some. Right now. You’ll thank me later.

Cutting Down on the Gum
As a reader pointed out to me, at this point I’ve only exchanged one habit (tobacco) for another (nicotine gum). To get my jaw tingling fix in, I ordered 10 cans of Jake’s Mint Chew. This stuff is made of Mint leaves (no surprise) with no other chemicals involved.

It doesn’t taste nearly as delicious as my old favorites, but it takes the edge off of the nicotine cravings and fulfills the tingling jaw sensation.

The idea is to ween myself off of all nicotine substitutes. I’m currently down to two pieces of gum a day, and hope to be completely done with it by next week. We will see how that process fares.

Lessons Learned in the Past Month

  • Don’t quit when you have other major stress’s in your life. The first week quitting was awful and I couldn’t handle much else besides the withdrawals
  • Find a support system. Having some folks (in-person or virtually) who have gone through what you’re going through is a huge. was a extremely helpful site in educating myself of what I was facing.
  • Have what you need ready to go. Buy the nicotine gum or whatever you’ve decided to use ahead of time. That trip to pick up some gum can veer off to the gas station for a Copenhagen run before you know it. Plan ahead.
  • Take your physical training up a notch. The best way for me to get rid of the craving was to do something active. Get your mind off it.
  • It will suck. Their is no way around it. Just like all the websites say, the first week is by far the worst. Prepare yourself. After that, it gets significantly easier. Stick with it!

Questions, comments, concerns?

Sandbag Squat Thrust

With the sandbag on the floor, bend your knees and grab the sandbag. Kick out your feet so that you are in the forward leaning rest position, and then bring them back in behind the sandbag. From here, Clean and Press the bag.

You can drop the sandbag from the top, or lower it for another rep.

Arete 3.23.17

Jihadi Killer Of Americans Added To FBI ‘Most Wanted Terror List’ While Happily Tweeting Away, HSToday
Cyber War I has already begun, Belfer Center – Harvard Kennedy School
Securing Global Cities, Brookings Institute
Former Israeli counterterror chief: War with Hezbollah is “only a question of time”, Homeland Security News Wire
Mexican Cartel Tactical Note, Small Wars Journal

Energy Drinks and the US Military,
The Dangerous Effects of the US Military’s Embrace of Energy Drinks, Modern War Institute
The Five Fatal Challenges of Korean Conflict, Modern War Institute
Any Fool Can Obey an Order, Modern War Institute
Anticipating Transitions to Seize and Maintain Initiative, From the Green Notebook
Military Personnel Bureaucracy Drives Out Talent: BPC, Breaking Defense

Murder of Self Defense if Officer is Killed in a SWAT Raid?, NY Times
Forced Entry Drug Raids Leave a Trail of Blood, NY Times
Facing the WUI Fire Threat, Fire Chief Digital
Keep an eye on state-level firefighting bills, Fire Chief
Evacuations Ordered in Boulder, CO Wildland Fire, Fire One
Keep the Saws Running, Firefighter Basics
Assessing Police Department Performance, Police One
A police officer view from street level, Cop in the Hood

The Essential Ski Mountaineering Gear, Men’s Journal
Video: Hardest Rock Climb in Thailand, Gripped Magazine
A Mountain Bike Film to Take You Places, Adventure Journal
The Joy of a Sufferfest, Powder
Skiing Is Not Important, Powder
Video: Colorado Backcountry Ski, Freeskier
Geography Lessons, Patagonia
Hiking and Mountaineering: Unbound, Salomon TV
Always Above Us,  The North Face
Hunting in Azerbaijan, Sitka Gear
Video: Mountain Running with Anton Kupicka, Outdoor Live
Video: “Drive” – Short Film Honors Female Bowhunters
Video: Snowbiking in Idaho, Redbull TV.

When to Replace your Gear, Rack and Rope, Gripped Magazine
A Glove Built for Uphill Skiing, Powder
Gear That Doesn’t Work, Outside
Gander Mountain Files for Bankruptcy, Outdoor Life
The Backpacker Magazine Gear Hall of Fame, Backpacker
Gear Week in Review,
Best Sleeping Pads, Outdoor Gear Lab
7 Reasons Cops Chose 9mm over .40,
Hard Knuckle Gloves,
New Soldier Body Armor System, Army News Service

Do WE Need to Give Up Alcohol to Lose Weight? Not Necessarily, NY Times
You Can Never Escape Runner’s Guilt, Outside Magazine
The World’s Most Unhealthy Health Foods, Outside Magazine
Feel The Burn? Or Is That an Injury? How to Tell the Difference, Men’s Journal
Is Vitamin D Causing Your Headache, Breaking Muscle
Parenting Strategies For Healthier Kids, Breaking Muscle
Want to Crush Your Inner Demons Use The Skywalker Theory! Nerd Fitness
Raman as A Recovery Food, Outside
Keys to Aging Well as an Athlete, Outside
De-Mystifying Flow, Black Diamond

Q&A 3.23.17


Rob, I am a 44yo firefighter that has been enjoying the big cat programs for the past 6 mos. I just finished lion. I wanted to take a break from the barbell work and was looking into different bodyweight programs. Should I stay in the big cat program and do panther? I was interested in the humility program but didn’t know if rucking and the long distance running was applicable to the fire ground. Thank you for time.


Humility will transfer good enough and give you a break from the barbell. Enjoy.

– Rob



Touching base to get your input on what plan I should hit next.  In the last 4-5 months, I’ve done Bodyweight Foundation followed by Dryland Ski, w/ great results.  FYI, I’ll be  49 in July & weigh in at 210 (on my way to 200).

For the last couple of months, I’ve been doing in season ski maintenance w/ run improvement layered in as I haven’t been skiing as much as I had hoped.  This of course sucks given the epic season, but hey, responsibilities are responsibilities.  I’ve picked up a bit of a calf/achilles strain which is I’m thinking it would be good to back away from double horizontal hops for a bit.

Also, I’m planning a Whitney climb this summer & plan on doing Peak Bagger six weeks out from that trip.  What plan would you recommend for me these next few months? BTW, I’ll mention that I’ve tried Big 24 twice & haven’t been able to make it out of the second week.  My shoulder simply doesn’t like heavy hang cleans so no sense in continuing to piss it off. 

I appreciate your support & guidance.



Strength for sure … Big 24 with exercises that work for you, or one of out other strength plans. If you can bench, Super Squat Strength ( is pretty awesome. 

But you should drop volume some and get under a barbell – strength will help with durability and give you a mental break before Peak Bagger.

– Rob



What does your cheat day meals look like? I need a baseline on how to cheat like a motherf.

A couple months ago I finished Whole 30 diet and have actually moved away from a cheat day … but before, my weakness was bread!  

Breakfast would be toast, butter and honey. Yum!! 

Lunch – a big sandwhich on heavy wheat bread. 

Booze? We have a couple convenience stores which sell alcoholic slushies. My favorite is strawberry lemonade with Vodka.  I’m a total lightweight, and one of these and I’m pretty much hammered and ready for bed. 

Desert? A big bowel of granola with yogurt or milk. Sometimes ice cream. 

But again, you can eat anything you want on your cheat day. What you’ll find is when you do, you don’t feel good – not guilt, but your stomach. Over time, your cheat days will decline in decadence, unfortunately – because eating bunches of carbs and sugar upsets your stomach.

– Rob


Hey there

Im overseas right now and I have been doing Starting Strength as it came recommended from a friend.  Im a about 6 or so weeks into it and I realize that its good for strength but not for fitness in relation to the military. My questiom has 2 parts. One , should I try and finish a 12 week cycle with Starting Strength to get a foundation or should I start looking into different programs now? And two, do you have a recommendation for a plan when I do get to that point? We dont have much of a gym and for running tread mills are as good as it gets.


I’d recommend you transition over now to Fortitude:

Fortitude trains heavy strength in the gym, concurrently with military endurance (running/rucking). It also includes one day of hard work capacity. 

– Rob


I’m finishing week 5 of bodyweight foundations and looking for advice on which plan to start next. My hunting partner and I are planning on doing a train to hunt (TTH) competition on June 3rd as a goal to start getting prepared for a wilderness back pack hunt in late October. 

The fitness portion of the TTH competition consists of 5 stations that start with 10 reps of a movement (sandbag getups, burpees, weighted step ups, etc.), then a 300 yard run, followed by shooting one arrow. The final portion consists of a 2 mile, 50 pound hike, with a couple more shooting stations. I have noticed that you point many folks towards Humility after completing Bodyweight foundations but your description of what the Ultimate Work Capacity plan prepares you for seems to make that plan a good fit for my short term goal. However, I’d really appreciate your insight on that question. 

If I did do Ultimate Work Capacity prior to TTH, I was planning on starting into Humility afterwards, moving towards the Big Game plan the weeks immediately prior to the hunt. Thanks for this great training resource. It has really helped me get my fitness on track 


Keep your focus on the hunting season and work back from there. You’re right in completing the Backcountry Big Game Hunting Training Plan directly before your season.

Moving into June, Humility is a great option. Another is Valor (, also focuses on Work Capacity and includes hard ruck running intervals. Humility’s loaded runs are at 25# … Valor’s are at 45# – and will better prepare you for your event. Valor also has a significant gym-based work capacity element.

– Rob



I just bought a subscription and was curious as to what programming would be suitable for an FPE type deployment, more focused on CPP, Mounted QRF etc. Would it be more useful to program for a Grey type role or Green? 

Much appreciated,


Green. You have to be prepared for the longer mission/infil or exfil. 

– Rob


Love and respect everything you. Your passion and critical analysis is great. Just wanted to make a few comments, with all due respect.

1) I completely agree with your thoughts on junk reps. Remember when people would do hundreds of situps and pushups? It got to be ridiculous. Great for mental toughness, but not great for your body. So yeah, we need to weed out junk reps. That got me to thinking about some stretches that you throw into the middle of your workout plans. I don’t like that type of stretching. I’d rather just collect my thoughts and rest for a moment. Is it possible that tossing in a stretch between sets is “junk stretching?” Stretching is great, but I personally get more benefit doing a slightly longer more focused session before bedtime or right when I wake up. Lots of benefit in stretching, as I feel more balanced, more symmetrical, more able to get into different positions. Wondering what you thought about keeping stretching separate from strength and cardio building and doing it in a way that doesn’t feel like filler.

2) Although it is true that the mountain doesn’t care, it is also true that one day we will all probably be 70. Performance athletes do need to perform, but it is still important to think about longevity. I’ve had the back surgery, the torn meniscus, and am on the back side of 50. Some of the rhetoric coming from young super athletes seems to create a needless paradigm of “great performance now and who cares if I’m in a wheelchair later.” A better approach may be “maximum performance now, AND maximum performance later.” Tom Brady jumps to mind, playing pro football at a high level for a long time. Is it worth thinking about high performance over time vs. get to the top of Denali right now, damn the consequences? Maybe we should look for a way to climb Denali now and still be active and relatively pain free later?

3) Also, I laughed out loud at you trying to sneak a peak at the clock as you exercised. Thanks for all you do.


1) It’s been my experience that most men will skip stretching all together if we don’t integrate it into the circuits. My thoughts on this are continuously evlovling but we are again working on a “mobility” standards of our own which may bring clarity.

2) Not sure you’re point here, but it’s safe to say Brady is an outlier. More interesting may be to look at the pro hockey players into their 40’s. Back to Brady, my sense is over the years his mental game has improved to a point where it’s overcome/made up for the natural declines in his physical game. I’m not sure he’s where he was strength and other wise now compared to 24 yrs. old, but he’s far ahead on the mental side. From a tactical perspective, durability when you’re 35 doesn’t matter that much if you can’t get out of a bullet’s way when your 25. Same is true for Denali. Durability doesn’t matter at 70 if you physically couldn’t escape the wind and cold at 25 and died on the mountain. 

Even more broad, it would be interesting to compare 60 year old mountain guides/carpenters/linesmen and other “industrial athletes” to 60 year old white collar cubicle workers for current health across a broad spread of measures. Certainly the guides have “beat” up their bodies in a narrow sense, but one could argue decades of sitting isn’t good for you either. 

There’s just lots of different ways to think about it….

– R


I am a Marine currently at a training command trying to figure out a program that I can realistically accomplish, while still getting the training results I want.

Our schedule allows for limited amounts of personal physical training, set alongside physical training requirements and field exercises which obviously disrupt any programming I try to implement. The constraints I am working with are- no guarantee of gym time, limited time to train, and a frequently disrupted schedule.

Is there a particular program that you would recommend? The Greek Hero series was attractive, I am not sure how I would implement it.

I would appreciate any thoughts or advice you have.



The plans in the Greek Hero require frequent access to a functional fitness gym, which leaves you with an equipment issue while in the field. 


(1) Do Humility (, which requires minimal equipment and you could do wherever….

(2) Do Humility in the field, and one of our strength plans, Super Squat Strength ( when in garrison. 

– Rob


Hi Coach!

Thanks for all your awesome work. I’ve been following the site for years and I’m really loving it now more than ever.

I’m training up for the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run in September, and was wondering what you might recommend as preparation.

The race is a non-stop 205 mile loop with a 100h cutoff and 35k feet of gain/descent over some occasionally rugged terrain, though nothing too technical. I’m thinking the Denali plan subbing the tire drag with running (Big Mountain V2 doesn’t seem to have enough running/mileage), followed by the 100 Mile Ultra plan, perhaps with some extra mileage on the weekends or one or two all day events.

Happy to provide more details if you have any questions. Excited to hear what you think, thanks for your time!


I don’t have a plan for you for that kind of distance and I’m not experienced designing a plan for something like that. I’m not sure if it’s something you can properly train for based on the normal/typical running programming … simply because you’d be running like 150 miles/week … I’m now sure you could endure that volume without over use … or time!

My guess is guys train for 100 miler’s then just suffer the last 75-50 miles … as if the first 100 isn’t enough suffering! 

If you were to supplement the 100-Mile Ultra plan, I’d push you to the Peak Bagger Training Plan, vice Big Mountain V2.

But better, I’d recommend finding a professional Ultra Running coach and getting a 200-mile specific plan.

– Rob



                I am currently a senior at the United States Military Academy. My twin brother and I began your Ruck Based Selection Packet Plan in December to get ourselves in the best possible shape before we report to Infantry Basic Officer Leader’s Course (IBOLC) in late July, and then Ranger School in January of 2018.

                Unfortunately, I suffered an injury in my knees and had to stop the Humility program 5 weeks in (early January). The last two months I have tried to work around the injury, completing your Upper Body Round Robin plan, various operator workouts, returning to running for a few weeks prior to reinjury, and now I’m currently on week two of the Single Leg injury program. I have almost made a full recovery and anticipate returning to full exercise in the next couple weeks. However, due to the established report date for IBOLC I am now far behind in the program and would like to jump in during Phase 3 (Fortitude) so I can complete the last phase during IBOLC.

                I have a background in track and cross country from middle/high school, as well as 2 years of powerlifting experience from my first few years at the academy, so I’m not new to gym-based strength or running. However, it has been a few months since I’ve done any real LB weighted strength training, especially axial loading, so I think it may be in my best interest to prepare my body for the stress induced by the running, rucking, and heavy lifting characteristic of the later phases of the Ruck Based Selection Packet. Are there any programs you suggest for this Sir, or any other recommendations you may have? Thank you very much Sir, I really appreciate the help and I apologize for the lengthy email.

Very Respectfully,

You’re good with Fortitude … the loading will scale. The one change I would make is to complete the ruck running in the plan with 25# for the first 2 weeks, increase to 35# for weeks 3 and 4, and then bump up to 45# for weeks 5&6. 

Just be smart and listen to your body along the way – it’s okay to drop ruck run loading if needed.

– Rob 



I am about to start Infantry Basic Officer Leaders course (IBOLC) soon. I will have free time in the afternoons and weekends to workout on my own when IBOLC begins and nearly all the days to myself until march 20th. I have been attempting to do the ranger school prep program while I have had free time but I am just not physically “there” yet in terms of being able to do the program with all of the rucking involved while still recovering enough to complete the next workout to satisfaction. I wanted to get your recommendation on a plan to improve physically as a future infantry officer looking to improve the most he can throughout IBOLC and then moving on to pass ranger school. My current weak points and my push ups (low 50s) and pull ups (can manage 4), in addition to just a generally weaker upper body compared to my lower body. Time to workout is somewhat of a concern but I can make time to get to the gym and have access to dumbells/kettlebells at home if need be as well as full TA-50.

I hope to hear back soon, thank you for putting out great products for us who need to work a little differently 


Pull back from the Ranger Plan, and go to work on Humility:

– Rob


Hello coach, hope all is well. After a successful trip trekking to everest base camp this past october ive signed on for my first big himalayan climb in october 2018. Im sure you are familiar with Amadablam given your athlete roster.

I wanted to discuss a plan that will start this spring and prep me for a month (august) in the tetons and carry thru into 2018 with a taper leading into the climb in october.

I know what it takes to get to the base of the mountain having spent a couple days there during my everest trek. What I need to be prepared for is the 8k feet of alpine above base camp.

Ive done a few of your programs in the past ( kettle bell, peak bagger, hypertrophy ) and have extensive experience in the tetons and other ranges.  Ideally the first portion preps me for august, grand in a day, crest trail, middle in a day etc. Im sure I can figure on my own but feel I need to take it to the next level for the Himalayas and would like to start sooner than later.

Will be arriving first week of august and will be in town until sept 9th.

The tentative plan was a GT in a day, possibly the crest trail,  lots of road cycling and paddle boarding. Will probably be doing a bunch of day hikes ( amphitheater, delta etc).

Let me know your thoughts, happy to jump on a call to discuss further.

Thanks for your time


I’ll be designing a Grand Traverse Plan this Spring, and would recommend you complete it directly before your trip here. It will likely be 8 weeks long (check back in May).

Between now and then, work through the plans in the Greek Heroine Mountain Base Packet:

We’ll touch base again after August, but likely I’ll have you drop back into Mountain Base, and then complete our Denali Plan ( directly before your climb.

– Rob


Hey Rob,

  Just curious if it’s advisable to mix RAT 6 and the ruck run improvement programs.

I’m training for Nijmegen in Holland with the Canadian Armed Forces. You’re required to ruck 180km in for days with 10kg. There’s only 9 spots and about 20 people gunning for those spots, so I’d like to kick some ass.

Thanks for your time


You could mix – by doing 2-a-days. Better would be to do the ruck-intensive SFOD-D Selection Training Plan ( and decrease the prescribed ruck weight in the plan to 15kg.

– Rob


Hello Rob,

I’m 29 and just beginning the SFQC after completing SOCM. I just purchased a subscription and would like your advice regarding which plan to begin with. I have 7 weeks until I begin my next phase of training in the Q. My primary goal is to improve my rucking and overall strength, as well as some improvement or at least maintenance of pushups. I’ve been looking at Fortitude. Is there a way to incorporate pushups in Fortitude or do you recommend a different program? My distance running is strong. 



Valor ( – the second plan in the Virtue Series, includes focused push up work, and will also push your rucking speed. I’d recommend it. 

– Rob



I’m trying to determine the best plan for my given circumstances…

I am currently lifting 4 days per week, per Wendler 5/3/1, with

conditioning work and a Chassis Integrity workout on 2 additional

days, and 1 day of complete rest. I plan to continue this through a 12

hour GORUCK event in mid-April. I then have approximately 6 weeks

until a 2 week vacation, which will see extensive walking and a few

body weight workouts, but little else in terms of exercise. I will

then have approximately 4 weeks before a back-to-back GORUCK Heavy,

Tough, and Light (24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours, respectively) the

weekend of July 4th.

Based on that, should I use the Heavy training plan and somehow scale

up volume, the Ruck Based Selection program, or something else

entirely? How do I best adapt the ideal plan to my schedule?

Thank You!


I’d recommend you move now to the GoRuck Challenge Training Plan:

After that event, move to the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan:

Take your 2 weeks off, then finish the last 4 weeks of the RBSTP … you’re repeat weeks 5&6. 

Even better, skip totally the Heavy, Tough and Light GoRuck events, and do a real adventure that first week in July – 7 days – …. traverse the Wind River Range in Wyoming following the Highline Trail from Big Sandy to Green River Lakes (60 miles), over the course of a week. Bring your fishing pole. Drive to Pinedale, Wyoming and arrange a shuttle with the Great Outdoor Shop. 

The mosquitos will be out with a vengence, so bring a head net and some deet. 

You could do it faster, but you’ll want to take your time and enjoy. 

It is hard to describe how awesome this will be. Let me know if you’re game and I’ll send you a proven gear list. 

– R


Hey Rob,

I have a general strength question . I have been following your strength programs for over a year and made significant gains. I began with ultimate meat head then did strength & honor, 357 then big 24.

Prior to the strength push I did about 6 months of operator sessions. My goal is to meet or exceed your relative strength standards, I’m still short on all of the lifts. Here are my stats:

 I’m 6’2 202 lbs 10% body fat (according to the box pod).

Bench 230
FS: 195
DL: 360
BS: 250
Sqt clean :  180
Push press: 180

I am 37 years old and have been in Army SOF for 18 & 1/2 years. I have always been a decent runner/rucker/good in full kit. I am still on a team and want to remain operational for many years to come.

Focusing on strength as opposed to endurance or crossfit style suffer-fests for the past year has made me feel amazing .

As I said before I want to meet the relative strength standards but I need to maintain my “green fitness”.

What plan do you recommend I take on next?

Thanks !


Move to our most recent evolution of Fluid Periodization for military athletes and a plan from our Green Hero series, Apollo:

– Rob


Hello Rob,

Hope all is well. Big fan. Just wanted to ask you a couple of questions. Im a career firefighter here in Canada and im looking to do a GORUCK tough in July. So 12 hrs around 15 to 20 miles. Just wondering what plans I should follow to develop my PT numbers and Rucking ability. Im completly new to it. 

Also I was wondering if your planning on releasing any online knowledge courses. Id love to learn to program the way MTI does and bring it to the guys in the hall. 

Have a great day, Thanks,


I’d recommend our GoRuck Heavy Plan ( for your GoRuck event.

We are currently building out our online programming courses, and actually finished 3x last week. Here’s the latest selection:

– Rob



I’m a Firefighter/SWAT Medic and I just started back practicing ju jitsu.  What plan do you offer that would help both in my fire career and in ju jitsu?

Best Regards,


You’re like the 50th guy who’s asked, so I’ve finally broken down and we’re actually building a Ju Jitsu conditioning plan right now. It should be out this coming week or the next. 

We’ll announce it in our weekly newsletter, “Beta” (sign up here if you’d like: … or email back next week.

– Rob


I am a 51 year old recently retired Cop.  I am probably 10-12 pounds over weight…..too much retired fun.  Currently I have be doing the Gun series….in the middle of Glock now.  Some stuff I scale down a little.

Any way, at the end of June they are doing a LE memorial hike to support fallen guys and their families.  12000 ft peak.  Sorry I don’t have the starting elevation or the total up distance, but the town is at 9000.

Looking of r some guidance on a plan or two to work on leading up to the hike.  Will be in Flagstaff so warm weather and only load I carry will be snacks and water for the wife and I.

Take care


6 Weeks out do the Peak Bagger Training Plan:

This plan is perfect for your trip.

– Rob


If i purchase a plan, does it come in a book or is it a pdf.



Access to the training plans is online via a login/password.

– Rob


I have FBI Special Agent test in the next 3-4 months. How effective is the training plan if followed correctly? Also, how do I access the plan? Is there an app so I can follow on my phone or do I have to print off the plan to follow along during my workout? 

Thank you for your time,


We generally see 15-40% athlete improvement with our PFT plans – and much depends upon the athlete’s incoming fitness. The more fit coming in, the less improvement. 

Access is online.

– Rob


I purchased a monthly subscription to MTI. I take my FBI SA PFT in June. I have two questions. 

1. If I do the FBI SA PFT Prep, can I lift weights while doing the prep?

2. If I wait to do the FBI SA PFT Prep close to May, what program do you recommend I perform until then?



1. Yes, but you won’t see the gains you would on your PFT score if you didn’t do extra. 

2. Humility:

– Rob

Plan Focus: Resilience

Amy builds chassis integrity for her upcoming backcountry snowmobile riding season.

By Rob Shaul

Resilience is a 7-week, 5 day/week training program with a strong focus on the athlete’s “combat chassis” and overall Chassis Integrity. It is the fourth training plan in our “Virtue” series for military and tactical athletes. 

The “combat chassis” is the musculature between the knees and the shoulders which supports loading, braces for impact, and is the power center for explosive movement.

“Chassis Integrity” is the MTI mid-section programming methodology of functional, transferrable core strength programming to the battlefield and real world.

Our Chassis Integrity programming theory evolved in the fall of 2015 after a personal experience. I had moved away from the tactical programming to some distance running and bodyweight work. The bodyweight training included plenty of core work – sit-up variations, bridging, lower back complexes, EO’s, and some ground and equipment based work such as Russian Triangles, Ankles to Bar, GHD Sit ups, etc.

Further, my core circuits pushed beyond what I commonly programmed for athletes in both rounds and duration. I really hammered it – or so I thought.

After a couple months I got back underneath the barbell for some front squats and struggled to go heavy. My legs were strong, in isolation, and my core was strong, in isolation, but the link and coordination between the two wasn’t there – I lacked “chassis integrity.”

This had a real impact on me – as I’d hammered my mid section, but all that work hadn’t translated into a the functional task of lifting heavy while standing. It caused me to question my core programming theory to that point and I began to develop the Chassis Integrity model.

Specifically, the experience caused me to question why were we doing so many ground or equipment based core exercises when in reality most core work is done standing? I reasoned that not performing core exercises from a standing or kneeling position had compromised my chassis “integrity.”

Second, I questioned the need for isometric and flexion core exercises in general. Real life mid-section strength demands for the athletes we serve (mountain/tactical) is dominated by extension and rotational movement patterns. Real life also includes isometric work, but not in the way we had been training it. More specifically, rather than isometric work, what really occurs is anti-rotation. Mountain and Tactical athletes must fight force trying to torque them rotationally.

Third, previously I had programmed core circuits using the standard round and reps format used as examples above. This approach seems to train strength, but not necessarily strength endurance. Perhaps grinds for time would be more transferable outside the gym, I reasoned.

Resilience is designed for Military Athletes looking to strengthen their combat chassis and complete which builds integrity across the entire “combat chassis” skeletal/muscular system.

Resilience strengthens the combat chassis and builds Chassis Integrity in three distinct ways:

  • Complexed Total Body Barbell Exercises with significant level changes: i.e. taking the barbell from the ground and putting it overhead. Exercises include complexed versions of the power clean, hang squat clean, and snatch.
  • Extended Chassis Integrity Circuits which build both mid-section strength and endurance by deploying Total, Rotational, Anti-Rotational and Extension mid-section exercises from primarily kneeling or standing positions.
  • Heavy Ruck Running, out to 5 miles. Ruck Running by definition mission-specifically trains the combat chassis in a mode which directly transfers to the tactical mission set. Ruck running is also mode-specific military endurance training.

As well, Resilience dedicates one day/week to speed, and work capacity deploying unloaded sprints out to 800m. We deploy a 1-mile time trial, and use your assessment results to determine follow on 200m, 400m and 800m repeats. In this way the plan automatically “scales” the sprint pacing to each individual athlete – everyone gets pushed. Ouch.

Finally, Resilience trains upper body strength in a focused manner via the Bench Press and MTI’s Eccentric Strength programming progression.


  • Monday: Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Tuesday: Strength, Chassis Integrity, Eccentric Bench Press
  • Wednesday: Unloaded Sprinting, Work Capacity
  • Thursday: Strength, Chassis Integrity, Eccentric Bench Pres
  • Friday: Ruck Running out to 5 miles

This is the second version of this training program, updated in March 2017.

MTI Fellowship Program

MTI has developed a 2-4 week Fellowship program for active duty military, law enforcement and fire/rescue personnel, as well as professional mountain athletes, mountain professionals, and strength and conditioning coaches.

MTI Fellows can spend their entire Fellowship at MTI, split their time between MTI and their home duty station, or complete the fellowship remotely from their home duty station under MTI guidance.

For the Fellows who do travel to Jackson for all or part of their Fellowship, MTI will provide austere living conditions, and a stipend toward travel expenses.

Course outcomes:
MTI Fellows will become de-Facto staff members, and work at the direction of founder, Rob Shaul, on focused mission-direct MTI projects within their area of expertise to include job-specific fitness, research articles, tactics evaluation, development and critique, leadership and organization, etc.

As well, MTI will work with Fellows to brainstorm and complete a focused mission-direct research project or white paper during their fellowship.

To Apply:
Prospective fellows should send the following to Rob Shaul at

1) Biography not to exceed one page. Biography should include brief personal background information, level of education attained, professional schooling completed, and the last 3 jobs held.

2) Proposed Mission-Direct Research Project/White Paper subject(s)/idea(s).

3) Describe why you’re applying for the MTI Fellowship, and what about MTI’s approach synchs with yours.

None – This is a rolling Fellowship and it is possible for MTI to have multiple Fellows at one time.

Common Questions.

Is there a rank or experience minimum to apply?
No. But in general, we’re looking for Fellows who have enough experience in their job to bring perspective, reflection and insight. The MTI Fellowship is not appropriate for brand new members in their field.

So I could complete the Fellowship remotely, from my current duty station?
Yes – we understand it will be very difficult for many candidates, especially first responders, to get extended time off from or away from work for this type of professional development. MTI Fellows can complete their Fellowship completely at MTI in Wyoming, remotely from their duty station/home, or a combination of both. Once accepted, we will work with individuals to make it happen.

More Questions?