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Mini Study: Inconclusive Results on Varying Energy Gel Dosage and Carb/Fat/Protein Supplement Recipe Mix for Loaded Event Performance

Does loaded movement demand a greater or different event nutrition supplement than unloaded movement? This mini-study attempted to find out.

By Rob Shaul, Founder MTI

We conducted a mini-study to identify a recommended energy supplement dosage and/or recipe for extended loaded movement, but our results were inconclusive.

Much research has been completed, and entire nutritional supplement companies created around developing optimal event nutrition for long, unloaded, endurance events such as ultra marathons, triathlons and long road bike races.

However, in our review of existing research, we could find no research on the best performing event nutrition recipe and dosage for extended loaded movement.

First, a couple definitions.

By “event” nutrition we mean extended 2+ hour single mode or multi mode events where the athlete is in some type of constant movement. Anecdotally and the research has proven, that nutritional supplementation during these long events improves performance.

With “Loaded Movement” we are referring to athletes whose sport or job requires them to carry backpacks/rucks and perhaps other equipment during these extended events. Few, if any, mountain and tactical athletes complete extended movement as part of their sport or work without carrying some type of pack/ruck with extra clothing, safety equipment, bivy gear, weapons/ammo, etc.

Anecdotally, we can feel that loaded movement at the same speed as unloaded movement demands higher muscular demand and cardiovascular rate. MTI has completed another mini study on uphill movement which found that loaded movement increased caloric demand by 50%.

The most commonly used type of unloaded endurance event nutritional supplement is the energy gel. Multiple companies manufacture and sell carbohydrate-based energy gels including GU Energy, Hammer Nutrition, Clif Bar, and Honey Stinger. Recommended dosage for these gel products is 1 gel 5 minutes before, and then every 45 minutes for an long, unloaded, event such as a long trail run, bike ride, triathlon, etc.

The hypothesis of this mini study was that because loaded movement demands a higher caloric and muscular demand, a higher carbohydrate dosage and/or a combo carb/fat/protein event nutrition supplement would perform better than then 1 gel per 45 minute recommended dosage for unloaded movement. 

The “better answer” we hoped to provide mountain and tactical athletes with following the study is a research-driven recommended dosage and/or recipe for extended loaded events.

Study Design/Deployment
A small, quick mini-study is a great tool for us to accomplish several things before conducting a larger, longer, more involved study. First, we test the practicality and “churn” the testing protocols in the study. Second, mini study results can help us quickly identify obvious paths to follow with further research. Mini Studies are the primary tool we deploy for MTI’s Mission Direct Research.

The “mission-direct” emphasis of MTI’s research significantly impacts study design. Ideally, our mini-studies deploy elements which are practical and commonly used/experienced by our mountain and tactical athlete population. As well, ideally, our mini studies are simple enough that the same study can be completed by others, without special equipment, techniques or expertise.

We worked closely with Roxanne Vogel, Sports Nutritionist at GU Energy, in developing the design for this mini study. We had three questions going into the study design:

Question 1: What would be the nutrition supplement dosage and recipe variations?
To keep things simple we decided to use common, non-caffeinated energy gels and almond butter as our event nutrition supplements and conduct three trials.

With this mini study we wanted to test the affect of a supplement recipe which includes carbs, fat and protein. To keep this simple, we decide on a nut butter, and to keep it even simpler, decided to use Justin’s brand, Classic Almond Butter Squeeze packs as we felt these could easily be carried and eaten by mountain and tactical athletes during loaded movement. Each 1.15 oz. squeeze pack contains a total of 190 calories with 160 calories from fat. Each pack contains 6g of carbs, 7g of protein and 18g of fat.


Question 2: How would the event be designed to ensure the same amount of work was completed for every trial and how long should the event last?
We had two choices for event design: (1) loaded single mode, extended effort – either a ruck or step ups, at a specific pace, or; (2) loaded gym-based endurance effort. We went with (2) to facilitate completing the work inside and managing the nutrition feeding times.

I designed 3 separate gym-based endurance circuits which would be completed wearing a 25# weight vest. Each circuit would go for 45 minutes (135 min total work), with a break between to ingest the supplement.

To ensure the same work was done for each trial, I designed the circuits so each exercise would be completed for 3 minutes, and dictated how many reps of each exercise were to be completed in this duration. Below is the final design completed by the lab rats and supplementation schedule. As well, we mandated a 10 hour fast for each lab rat before each trial.

Events …. 3 Min Circuits, 5 Rounds, all wearing 25# Vest

****5 Min Before – Eat Energy Supplement

Circuit 1: 45 min

5 Rounds, 3 Min Each …
– 4x SB Pick Up & Carry @ 60#
– 20x 1-Arm KB Snatch @ 16kg
– 60x Step Ups @ 17″

****Eat Supplement between circuits

Circuit 2: 45 min

5 Rounds, 3 Min Each …
– 20x Sandbag Getup @ 40#
– 40x Keg Lift @ 40#
– 60x Step Ups @ 17″

****Supplement between circuits

Circuit 3: 45 min

5 Rounds, 3 Min Each …
– 20x Power Clean + Push Press @ 75#
– 5x Sandbag Clean & Run @ 60#
– 60x Step Ups @ 17″

Question 3: How would the nutrition supplementation for each trial be tested?
A previous study on event supplementation involved road cyclists who completed a 2 hour road constant load road cycle followed by a 20 minute max effort time trial. The “test” for the supplementation performance was the time trial finish distance. The further the finish distance in 20 minutes, the better the nutrition supplement performed.

We deployed the same methodology for this study. Our assessment was a 90 second, unloaded, 40-foot shuttle for reps, directly after completing the final gym-based endurance circuit. We assumed this short, hard, event would assess how much each lab rat had “left in the tank” at the end of the gym-based endurance event. A higher number of 40-foot shuttle reps would identify which supplementation was most effective.


Three veteran MTI Athletes (myself included) served as study subjects and completed the study trials over the course of 3 days. Each lab rat wore a Suunto Ambit 3 fitness watch and heart rate band to measure the total caloric burn for each trial. Results are below.

This mini study’s “test” of supplementation performance was the number of shuttle run reps completed after the 135 minutes of gym-based endurance. The idea was this event would test what was “left in the tank” for each athlete and thereby identify which supplementation dosage/recipe was most effective.

However, there was no significant difference in shuttle reps completed between trials.

Why not? Most obvious answer is a flaw in the study design. Specifically, either the gym-based endurance event was not long enough to take the subject to nutritional depletion, and/or the 90 second shuttle sprint duration at the conclusion was too short to identify a difference in supplement performance. Perhaps the test event – 40-foot shuttle reps – was poor choice to asses nutrition performance.

Perhaps another reason no significant difference was seen is that the body can only absorb so many calories per hour, thus the extra supplementation in Trials 2 and 3, though consumed, could not be absorbed and used by the body for fuel. During the study research we found a wide variation of answers and recommendations to this question with most ranging between 100 and 300 calories absorbed per hour. Complicating this is that individual athlete size and weight, and supplement form (liquid, solid or gel) all make difference.

Finally, we did not complete a trial without supplementation. Doing so we’d expect to see decreased performance in the shuttle rep performance. However, because this trial was not completed, we’re not sure how much, if any drop, there would be.

Next Steps?
The lack of any concrete results from this mini-study leave us somewhat at a loss on how to proceed next. Here are some initial thoughts:

– Perhaps we could re-complete the study with extended loaded movement duration and extended test event duration.

– Perhaps we could complete a single mode extended event (ruck) rather than a gym-based, multi-mode event. Anecdotally I can report that this overall event was no joke – and I doubt few of our other lab rats could have completed it. The muscular hit to the tactical chassis (legs and core) was significant. A 2.5 hour ruck would have likely been easier.

– Perhaps we could change the supplementation recipe and form being tested – liquid over gels, for example.

Please email

MTI’s Base Fitness Programming Fundamentals

MTI Lab Rats complete Base Fitness training during a cycle last year …. step ups for uphill hiking endurance, and campus board intervals for climbing fitness.

By Rob Shaul


First – let me define “Base Fitness” under MTI’s programming approach.

For Tactical Athletes, “Base Fitness” is a foundational level of Relative Strength, Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity, Endurance (if applicable), and Tactical Agility required for tactical mission performance. 

For Mountain Athletes, “Base Fitness” is a foundational level of Relative Strength, Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity, Endurance (running, uphill hiking under load), and Climbing Fitness required for mountain sports.

On the Tactical side, the majority of a Tactical Athlete’s fitness training should be based on developing, improving and maintaining his or her “Base Fitness.” Training Base Fitness should be considered day-to-day training for tactical athletes without pending fitness assessments, deployments, schools/selections or specific missions.

“Base” fitness attributes differ by type of Tactical Athlete. For example, the mission-direct fitness demands of a Law Enforcement Patrol Officer do not include the running and rucking endurance demanded by the mission sets for military SOF. Likewise, the upper body muscle mass which acts as a deterrent for a Patrol Officer would be an unnecessary weight for a Green Beret.

How much “Base Fitness” a mountain athlete should complete over the course of a year depends upon how versatile the athlete is in terms of the mountain sports he or she participates in. Most mountain athletes we’ve worked with over the years – recreational or professional – are “multi-sport” mountain athletes who generally do a different mountain sport every season. Rock Climbing in the early Spring and early Fall, ice climbing in the late fall, skiing or backcountry skiing in the winter, mountaineering or alpine climbing in the late Spring and Early summer, mountain biking and hiking in the late Summer and Early Fall.

These “multi-sport” mountain athletes may spend one third to one half of their fitness training completing “Base Fitness”, and the rest completing sport-specific, pre-season train ups directly before the season. Examples include completing a dryland ski training cycle directly before the ski season and a rock climbing cycle directly before a Spring rock climbing trip to the desert in the southwest U.S.

While the specifics of Base Fitness programming differ between mountain and tactical athletes, and even between the different types of tactical athletes, the Base Fitness Programming Fundamentals for all mountain and tactical athletes are the same.



1. Train in the “gym” to perform outside

Don’t treat fitness as “sport.” Don’t get caught up in loads lifted or workout completion times. Gym training should improve your athlete’s mission performance, durability, and survivability. Fitness training must have a positive, “Mission-Direct” impact. If it doesn’t, change it.

Tactical athletes are not “fitness athletes” – and gym numbers and/or performance in isolation of transfer to mission performance, mean nothing. Don’t get caught up in workout completion times, strength numbers, or appearance. Train inside to perform outside.


2. Start programming with the fitness demands of the work or mission

Identify the Fitness Demands of the work/mission and design programming which addresses, develops and improves those demands in your athletes. The needs, wants, weaknesses, strengths, and opinions of the individual athlete are not a concern. You’re only concern is improving mission performance. All fitness training is focused on improving mission performance.

It’s important to be ruthless in identifying the key fitness attributes of mountain or tactical athlete mission performance and being deaf to the most recent fitness trends in exercises or methodology. While different exercises and progressions can be used to improve mission-direct fitness attributes, don’t let the tail wag the dog. Improving the mission-direct fitness attributes comes first – the exercises/methodology to improve them, second.


3. Periodize, Program, and Progress

Know where you are taking your athletes, always. Know the purpose of each training session, every set, every rep and every exercise. Don’t design “workouts” – design “training sessions.” Semantics is important.

“Random” programming is lazy and not professionally appropriate for professional mountain and tactical or high-level recreational mountain athletes. Training sessions within mesocycles (3-8 weeks), and mesocycles within the larger macrocycle (12 months) should be planned, periodized and progressed.  

The difference between “training” and “working out” is planning. Soldiers, Marines, LE Officers, Firefighters, mountain guides, ski instructors, river guides etc. are all professional athletes. Professional athletes “train” – every training session has a focused intent and is part of larger cycle fitness goal.


4. Keep it simple

Sophisticated design is immature. Stick to the fundamentals. Toss out programming that bounces all over the place or that you don’t understand. Toss out exercises which are too complicated or don’t make your athletes work and breath hard. Discard exercise equipment which is complicated, difficult to use or not readily available. Respect your athletes’ time and deploy proven exercises and training modes inefficient, mission-direct training cycles and training sessions.

It takes experience, confidence, and hard work to get to “simple.” Fitness programming is judged on its effectiveness, not fancy exercises, equipment, or trendiness. No single exercise is a “sacred cow” – identify the training attribute you want to improve and find the most simple, effective, easy to teach exercise to train it. Beware the latest piece of exercise equipment and latest fitness trends. If something new shows merit – test it first. Program design is like all other design, it’s always improved by cutting stuff away (simplifying).


5.  Train Sport/Work Specifically in the Gym

Work hard to develop mission-specific programming in the “artificial environment” of the gym. This takes creativity, courage, assessment, and analysis. All fitness training must transfer … continually work to make this more simple and efficient.

This can include creating new exercises and progression methodologies to train tactically-specific fitness attributes, and focussing on deploying exercises and modes which have the best mission-direct transfer. An instructive tactical example is rucking for military athletes. Can you improve rucking performance by lifting weights and running? Yes – but soon, the programming reaches a point of diminishing returns and only improves lifting strength and running. The best way to improve rucking performance is to ruck. The transfer is direct. If you are training military athletes, rucking should be a key component of your program design.

On the mountain side some coaches use Bosu-Ball balance training for skiers. We don’t. Why? We believe at some early point in the Bosu-Ball balance training the athlete quits developing balance for skiing and just gets better at doing squats on a Bosu-Ball – i.e. the training doesn’t transfer to the mountain. 


6. All Training is cumulative

Don’t worry about moving from gym-based fitness to sport specific work and therefore “losing” all the progress made in the gym. All training is cumulative – it will come back fast.

Often, mission-direct programming can work against base-fitness training attributes. For example, most military fitness assessments involve bodyweight strength exercises (strength endurance) and unloaded running (unloaded running endurance). Training sport-specifically to improve fitness assessment performance (lots of bodyweight exercises and running) will negatively affect mission-direct relative strength and rucking performance. For this reason, we recommend military athletes spend the 3-6 weeks prior to a scheduled fitness assessment to train sport-specifically for that assessment. Some athletes express concern about how doing so will negatively impact they gym-based strength and rucking ability. We respond that all training is cumulative, and after the fitness assessment, the athlete’s gym-based strength will return quickly. 


7. Don’t let physical training get in the way of technical practice

Physical training can be “easy” compared to technical practice, but often technical proficiency has a much greater role on mission accomplishment then fitness.

Mission-direct fitness is just one element of tactical mission performance. Fitness improvement will not improve technical deficiency in other areas such as small unit tactics, marksmanship, tactical communication on the tactical side, and climbing or skiing technique on the mountain side. Often, non-fitness technical practice can be harder than fitness training, but it cannot be avoided. All that matters is mission performance. A super fit tactical athlete who fails the mission because of marksmanship or poor communication still fails the mission. Likewise, a super fit climber who has poor foot placement won’t be able to onsite the climb. In the team and individual competitive sport world, rarely is the best athlete in the game the strongest or most fit in the weight room. Keep your eye on outside performance. 


8. Continuous Improvement

Question everything and don’t be afraid to change. Little improvements add up. Don’t be “wiz banged” by exotic programming or exercises or become so wedded to you’re own methodology you become blind to deficiencies. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Constantly test and experiment. All that matters is outside performance. This is liberating.

The “liberating” effect of continuous improvement cannot be overemphasized. Not only does this liberate the coach from conventional wisdom and the latest fitness trend, it can also “liberate” him or her from their own programming dogma. In our experience, this has taken the form of continuous research and assessment of our own programming. Every “mini study” yields not the “perfect” solution, but rather a small step towards a better solution than we have now. These small steps add up.



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Our Most Popular Assessment Based Training Plans

By Mintra Mattison


Assessments provide coaches and athletes with quantifiable data that can be used to measure training and scale workouts to fit the ever-changing needs of an athlete. Our assessment based programs automatically “scale” to the incoming fitness level of the individual athlete. Because they are assessment based, some of them are appropriate for both new and possibly unfit athletes, as well as experienced, fit athletes. Every athlete will be pushed and can benefit.

The assessment is usually deployed during the first training session and then reoccurs throughout the plan. This way the follow-on progressions are based upon the individual assessment results.


These have been our most popular assessment based training plans for 2017


  1. 3-Week Push Ups & Pull Up Improvement Plan
  2. APFT Training Plan
  3. Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan
  4. Running Improvement Training Plan
  5. Military On-Ramp Training Plan
  6. Humility
  7. Fat Loss Training Plan
  8. Big 24 Strength Training Program
  9. Ranger School Training Plan
  10. Ruck Based Selection Training Plan


Learn more about our Plans and Subscription HERE


Arete 12.7.17


Why is it So Hard to Down a Missile, NY Times

N. Korea Says It’s New ICBM Completes Nuclear Fleet, Washington Examiner

The Rifles That Made America, Popular Mechanics

The Battle of COP Keating, Modern War Institute

America’s Obsession With The Military, Psychology Today

Army Drops Search for 7.62 Rifle,

7 Critical Truths About N. Korea, NY Times

The British Military Is At Risk, and the US Military Isn’t Far Behind, Real Clear Defense

Army Probes Criticism of Green Beret Training … Numbers over Quality, Real Clear Defense

Military-Grade Killer Drones Hitting the Market, Popular Mechanics

Video: Chances of War with China, Modern War Institute

Navy Commander Gets 18 Months in “Fat Leonard” Scandal, Real Clear Defense

Can’t Kill Enough to Win? Think Again, Proceedings

Army’s New M17 and M18 to Change CQB Combat, Scout Warrior

Sen. Graham: US Dependents Should Leave S. Korea, Real Clear Defense

No More ‘Whack-a-Mole,’ Real Clear Defense


Homeland Security/First Responder/Wildland Fire

Diary of a Suicidal Cop, LE Today

Body Cameras – Why Everything You Know is Wrong, Police One

Study: Body Cams Reduce Use of Force Incidents, Police One

Asian Officers File Discrimination Suit, LE Today

Border Patrol ‘Tunnel Rats’ Hound Drug Smugglers,

Are Cops Holding Back? Arrests Down Nationwide,

Study: Economically stressed white male gun owners: Emotionally attached to guns, likely to justify violence against U.S. government, Homeland Security Newswire

20,878 Murders in Mexico So Far in 2017, Forbes

Hawaii Police Reviewing Policy Requiring Marijuana Users To Turn Over Firearms, Police One

Dallas Police Chief Demotes Top Brass in Major Shakeup,

The 7 Layers of Grief After a Line-of-Duty Death, Police One

When Cops Need Help, How Come it Takes Them So Long to Get It?, Psychology Today



Dropping Corbet’s on a Mountain Bike, Unofficial Networks

Utah Ski Resorts Experiencing One of It’s Worse Early Seasons Ever, Unofficial Networks

2017 Best Men’s Ski Jackets, Outside

Mountain Running Rhythm, Black Diamond Equipment

What We Mean When We Say “Alpine” Climbing, Outdoor Research

Extreme Wellness – Intersection of Adventure and Health, Marmot

2017 Gear of the Year,

Proof You Don’t Need Much Snow To Trigger A Large Avalanche, Unofficial Networks

A Glimpse at the Sweet, Simple Life of a New Zealand Hut Warden, Adventure Journal

How and Why To Train on a Moon Board, Climbing

Backcountry Skiing – How To Start!, American Alpine Institute

Patagonia Gives Trump the Finger, Outside

Backcountry Ski Edit 101, Powder

From Shirt to Dirt: Thoughts on the Patagonia Design Philosophy, Patagonia



How An Olympic Runner Hits Race Weight, Outside

Many NFL Players Have Enlarged Aortas, WebMD

Fitness Retreats, NY Times

The Power of Tiny Practices, Psychology Today

The Best Workout to Hammer Your Chest, Muscle & Fitness

Can Baby Food Replace my Sports Gels?, Outside

What’s the Difference Between Size and Strength Training?, Muscle & Fitness

60% of US Kids Could Be Obese By Age 35, WebMD

Buoyancy Suits for Water Training, NY Times

Want To Have Better Sex, More Orgasms and a Stronger Libidio? Get a Vasectomy, Men’s Fitness

6 Rules for a Better Dead Lift, Muscle & Fitness

5 Ways to Avoid Slacking Off on Winter Running, Men’s Fitness

Q&A 12.7.17


I am 41 years old and a former college baseball athlete turned police officer turned tactical operator. I have subscribed to your training for many years. As a SWAT team operator I was in charge of the physical fitness program for our full time team here in NJ. In 2013, I received a pretty severe in the line of duty injury which ultimately required me to retire. In short I was shot in the stomach and run over causing a series of surgeries to my right leg, knee hip and stomach. I have had three knee surgeries repairing pretty much my entire right knee. The last surgery was botched leaving my knee pretty much un-repairable without a replacement knee (which I refuse to do at my age). I have followed your operator courses, your LE courses and most recently your fat loss program. I am currently 5’10” 210 lbs. my optimum weight for my body type is around 190. I know how diet and I have the discipline to do so. However, with the fat loss program I have found that my knee and cardiovascular endurance is not up to the challenge. As I am getting older my metabolism is slowing down even the my first is on point.
This is a very generic question based on the background I mentioned above but do you have any idea that could kick start my metabolism, burn fat while keeping some of my muscle tone?  I’m normally a pretty muscular guy and my mind may be playing a little bit with me in so far as I can’t do the thing I used to be able to do. But any help would be much appreciated as my fat ass keeps getting fatter!


Nothing groundbreaking here:
1) Try unloaded endurance/work cap modes which your knee can handle: cycle/spin, swim, or row. Because body weight isn’t supported it will impact your knee less.
2) Get your Testosterone checked  – low T can lead to belly fat.
3) Get a 2nd and 3rd and 4th opinion on your current knee. Not all doctors are created equal and it’s amazing how often two will look at the same issue and say completely different things. Some of the best knee doctors live in ski towns … these guys do a 1/2 dozen surgeries/day during the season.
4) Stop being stubborn and get your knee replaced. The technology is getting better all the time. If you haven’t already, do some research and talk to 3-4 other young people who’ve had the procedure.
5) End the “Cheat” day in our dietary recommendations – and/or try the Whole 30 Diet. I did and liked it – It’s pretty much our recommendations minus the cheat day. It does make you realize how sugar is in everything …. ketchup, etc.
– Rob


I’m planning on using your SFOD-D selection packet before I assess but I’m not sure how far out I am from my date. Could be 12 months or 18 months. Should I start with operator programming or just jump right in and hold off in the final prep and taper till I’m 10 weeks out?


I’d recommend assuming you’ll go in 12 months and starting now with the completing the full SFOD-D Selection Training Packet.
If you go in 12 months you’ll be set. If you go in 18 months, I’d still complete the full packet, then drop into the Greek Hero Series plans for 2 months, then repeat the final 10-week plan directly before selection.
– Rob


I have competing fitness demands and I am hoping you can recommend a plan. I am a LEO on the department’s part time SWAT team that trains bi-monthly. I am also in a National Guard infantry unit with has long rucks and patrolling during our drill days. We have a deployment coming in a little less than a year. To compound this I have been flirting with the idea of attending SFRE in a few months. I am trying to find something to help round me out for all of these things. Any advice? I appreciate any help I can get.


We have focused training plans and packets for LE Patrol/Detective, LE SWAT/SRT, and Military. If you weren’t thinking about SFRE, I have you do our LE Patrol/Detective Training – specifically the plans in the Spirits Packet. But with SFRE looming that programming wouldn’t build the military endurance (running/rucking) you’ll need at SFRE. So I’d recommend you complete the plans in the Greek Hero packet for Military Athletes. These plans concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity (core), tactical agility and endurance (running/rucking).
Seven weeks out from SFRE, stop where your at and roll into the SFRE Training Plan.
– Rob
How are the Greek and Virtue plans different? I have heard a lot of good things about Humility as well.
1. The training plans in both series were both initially completed by our tactical lab rats, including myself, at our facility in Wyoming. The Greek Hero Series deploys our most recent programming. The Virtue Series deploys our previous version.
2. Both Series are designed as day to day programming for tactical athletes. The Virtue Series concurrently trains strength, work capacity, endurance and chassis integrity. The Greek Hero Series trains these attributes plus TAC SEPA (tactical speed, explosive power, and agility).
3. Each plan in the Virtue Series trains these attributes concurrently, but each also emphasizes certain attributes. Fortitude, for example, emphasizes gym-based strength and moderate paced mid distance endurance. Some of the Greek Hero plans likewise have areas of emphasis, but it is more subtle.
The more defined emphasis in the Virtue Series allows me to target these plans to athletes relatively new to our programming, or who need to work on specific areas.
In general, the Virtue programming is simpler, more direct and more “jagged.”
As tools, I can deploy for athletes the Virtue plans are a little blunter. The Greek Hero plans are more fluid, subtle and sophisticated.
The Virtue Plans make a great foundation for the Greek Hero plans.
– Rob


I am currently using the SF 45 Alpha training plan and find it to be exactly what I was looking for as a multi-sport outdoor athlete.

The sandbag and posterior chain work seem to engage the core muscles.

Should I supplement with any additional core work?


The Chassis Integrity circuits in SF45 deploy our current answer for functional, transferable mid-section strength and strength endurance training for mountain and tactical athletes. Read more on the theory behind Chassis Integrity HERE.
More core work? No.
– Rob


Thanks for all the great training programs you guys develop. Wish I lived closer to your facility, and I’d stop by to get my ass kicked!

Here’s the question I have…

I’m 40 years old and about to retire from 20 years of active duty Navy service. I’m in great shape, but beat up from years of barbell work, AND I have a recently diagnosed fracture (birth defect apparently) between L1 and L2 on my spine. Deadlifts and weighted squats are out because they agrivate that injury…and it’s bad.

All that being said, I’d like to find a bodyweight program that allows me to maintain my current level of size and muscle mass, and work down to 5-7% bodyfat. I’m sitting around 10-12% bodyfat now, at 6’2″ and 191 lbs. I don’t usually run long distance… anything more than 3 miles because I’m not training for or expecting endurance improvements at this point.

As much as I like bodyweight training, I historically lose muscle mass when that’s what I focus my training on, even when my diet is on point.

Now that I regurgitated all that, do you have any thoughts?

LT Ryan Mausolf


Hypertrophy (mass building) demands set/rep schemes in the 10-15 rep range per set. The athlete will adjust the loading on the bar/dumbbells to hit this range – with a “hard but doable” effort.
The issue with bodyweight only work is for most exercises, and most athletes, this rep range is too easy. And, going higher reps, i.e. 20-50 or whatever, stops training hypertrophy and starts training strength endurance. You won’t add mass.
So somehow you’ll need to “scale” bodyweight exercises by increasing their difficulty back down to the hypertrophy 10-15 rep range.
For upper body pressing movements (push ups) you can do this by elevating your feet – i.e. handstand push ups, using rings (ring push ups, ring dips) and loading (weight vest).
For upper body pulling movements (pull ups, chin ups, horizontal rows), you can do with loading (weight vest) and rings – muscle ups.
Lower body is tricky – I would an anecdotally that we’ve seen significantly lower mass gains via our Quadzilla Complex with the skiers and others who have used it for programming. Another option is to complete our Leg Blasters in a weight vest.
Is a weight vest allowed with your back? If so, I still wouldn’t push it past 25#.
A place to test this would be our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan – all done in a 25# Vest.
5-6% Bodyfat? No training program alone will help you get here. I’d add that this low percentage is may not sustainable. You’ll have to get here with a very restrictive diet i.e. bodybuilding comp and fitness body comp stuff. I’d recommend you research pre-comp bodybuilding diets for insight. I’m assuming there will be a combo of caloric restriction and super low carbs at work. The caloric restriction is the non-sustainable part for most.
– Rob


I am a long time user of your programs. I am currently using you apft program for my troops remedial pt program and my plt just completed the six week body weight program which I think has helped keep my guys motivated since we are limited on equipment here in Poland.

If I was to start the Afghanistan pre deployment program would I still gain push-up and set-up strength? I don’t want to loose what these guys have worked hard to achieve.

Or what do you suggest to maximize gains with a limited amount of equipment.


Would your guys gain/maintain push up and sit up strength if they completed the Afghanistan Pre-Deployment or another one of our training plans? It depends upon the fitness levels of the individual athletes. My guess is the unfit guys would continue to gain, but slower and the fit guys would maintain, or perhaps lose some.
But that’s the issue right? Traditional Army PT is APFT focused and ends up being push ups, sit ups, run, repeat for years on end.
Best is to use the APFT Training Plan the 6 weeks directly before the APFT, and then do more mission-direct programming in the spaces between.
For your guys in Poland, as a solid PT challenge, I’d recommend the Urban Conflict Pre-Deployment Training Plan. This thing is no joke, will require some equipment and programming resourcefulness on your part, have perhaps a more mission-direct application and push everyone in your platoon
– Rob


I recently heard great things about your training and want to try it out for myself. You have so many plans though that I do not know where to start and would appreciate any help.
I am a sophomore in college and in Army ROTC. I want to become an Infantry Officer (1.5-ish years away) and way, way down the line, put in a packet to become an SF Officer (6-ish years). My APFT at the beginning of this year was a 249 with 61 PU, 61 SU, and 13:40 2-Mile. Obviously, I need to increase my PT score to the max (300) but I will not have another record PT-test until March. Until then I want to become the strongest and fastest I can be. I am 5’11 and 191 pounds, overweight -not from muscle. Any help selecting a plan and anything else would be greatly appreciated!


I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Military On Ramp Training Plan.
– Rob


Just a couple questions;
-dynamic warm-ups, is there a repository of these anywhere on the site,
specifically for lumbar, thoracic, core, etc?
-I’m restricted from doing barbell squats of deadlifts, prevents the
opportunities to lift heavy things, options that offer that level of
strength activation and growth?

Thanks for the great content and training plans.


Dynamic Warm Ups? No – and I sense your bigger questions concerns your back. You may want to look at our Low Back Fitness Training Plan – it’s been a successful plan over the years to build back low back fitness. But even this plan includes gradually progressed lifting.
It’s not clear from your not if you’re restricted from all weight training – including dumbbells, sandbags, etc., – but it seems it might.
If that’s the case – I’d recommend you begin with our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan.  This plan deploys an initial assessment and follow-on progressions based on your assessment results. In this way the plan automatically scales to your incoming fitness level.
An intense step up from Bodyweight Foundation, which deploys dumbbells, sandbags and loaded running (25# vest or IBA) is Humility.
Look at these options and send back questions.
– Rob


I just purchased a subscription. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction for a training plan.
I have a 10 day backpacking trip coming up in January. And I spend most of my free time skiing and mountain biking. Also, hoping to train 3-4 days a week, with the other days devoted to skiing/mtb/etc. Is there a plan that you’d recommend?


I’d recommend you complete the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday sessions from the Backpacking Pre-Season Training Plan. These training days will hit strength, uphill hiking under load (step ups) and rucking (movement under load).
– Rob


I am new to the site and was hoping you had a minute to point me in the right direction as there are so many programs from which to choose.  I am ex-military, about to turn 50, and I’m looking to get on a regular plan that trains the fitness aspects your plans cover.  I’m 6’2” and 2I5 lbs.  I’m in decent cardiovascular shape, and don’t have any injuries to work around.  I need to lose some fat, which I know is mostly diet, would like to work up to the MTI Relative Strength standards, and be able to run a sub 20 min 5K.  I was going to start with the fat loss plan, but I thought that may be better saved as a focused program to lose that last bit of fat, if required.  In my experience, the fat will come off with a good rounded program as long as diet is in check.  Routes I was looking at include Rat 6, as I feel my relative strength needs the most work, followed by the Best Ager, Virtue, or Greek God series.  What would you recommend as a solid way ahead plan?  Thanks so much for your time.


Agree with a strength focused start. Rat 6 is solid.
After, drop into the Greek Hero series with Hector … see how you recover. I’m 49 and me and my other 40+ lab rats have moved to our SF45 Programming – which is easier on the joints.
If Hector is too much for your joints, switch to SF45 Alpha. The SF45 programming is awesome, but not quite as impactful to old guy’s joints. You could start there too.
– Rob


Cadet at USAFA here. Vaguely following TACP plan with other battlefield airmen type workouts in between. Working on increasing lower body strength while increasing speed for 1.5 mile and 5k runs. Any recommended exercises that could accomplish this?


No dumbbells? Leg Blasters … but start with Mini Leg Blasters.
Here’s a study comparing the effectiveness of Leg Blasters vs. Front Squats.
– Rob


Thank you for the great work you guys do. I have browsed some of your programs for a while and am now looking for some assistance with picking a workout package that best suits my goals.

I am a 23 year old male. On the civilian side, I currently work in a corporate atmosphere but am in the application process with multiple fire departments in hopes of changing careers. On the military side, I currently serve in an infantry National Guard unit and will be attending Mountain Warfare School next May. My goal in the next year or two (depending on things in the civilian side) is to attend SFRE, and if all goes well, SFAS.

Fortunately, it appears you have packages for all of these things (CPAT/Firefighter, Mountain Warfare, SFRE, SFAS/ruck-based selection). Unfortunately, I cannot purchase and simultaneously follow all of these great programs.

My question is … if there was only 1 (or 2) program(s) that you could recommend to best prepare for all of the above opportunities, which would it be? Please let me know if you would like any additional information.


I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Military On-Ramp Training Plan.
This will kickstart your training, and lay a solid foundation for whatever is ahead as your plans/future shapes up.
– Rob


I’m an active duty soldier who was introduced to you guys thru another person in my unit as a possible place to help me get ready to train for and go thru 160th SOAR’s green platoon selection process. I saw training plans for Rangers and stuff and was wondering what you guys recommended for training for this. Any information and guidance I could receive would be very helpful. I look forward to your response.


We recommend SOAR Green Platoon candidates use your Ruck Based Selection Training Plan.
Good luck!
– Rob


I’m a mountain guide and hotshot candidate out in CA. I am on week 3 session 2 of the Body Weight Foundation plan and am really enjoying it as well as seeing some pretty terrific results both physically and mentally. So I guess, first of all thanks for that!

I’m am however struggling with hand release push up and pull up numbers which have historically been my hardest movements. I did suffer an injury (rhabdomyolysis/right shoulder) in the navy and have never performed these movements the same since. I am an avid climber and have had little issue there, but for whatever reason I’m getting smoked after 25-30 push-ups and only 3-5 (inconsistent) pull-ups.

Granted, my overall fitness has been limited to a trekking/super mellow climbing routine before I started the plan, but is there any additional movements I can do to help improve my numbers with these movements?

I have seen an encouraging 18lb drop in weight, as well as a noticeably stronger core and cardio endurance but don’t seem to be improving in the areas I referenced earlier.

Thanks in advance for any and all advice you can lend regarding this!


Be patient and follow through with the rest of Bodyweight Foundation. Email back on the other side with your Week 1, Week 3 and Week 6 (if I remember right) assessment numbers.
– Rob


For context, I’m a former Navy SWCC and a two-time cancer survivor. I’m looking to get back into peak fighting condition
My condition: I’m 6’2″, but less than 180 pounds, and less than 13 percent body fat. I’d love to get stronger and gain more fighting weight, but joint issues (especially in my elbows) prevent me from doing many pull-ups and chin-ups.

As a former NSW guy, I was looking at your Pirate Training Packet, but I no longer have consistent access to an adequate pool. So I’m looking at the Greek Hero Training Packet instead. Would that work?
My home gym doesn’t have everything on your list. I’ve got dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, pull-up and dip bars, and rucks; I can probably improvise for some of the rest.
Also I noticed your Pull-up Improvement Packet and your Push-Up Improvement Packet. I’ve still got a few years before I’ll need your SF45 Packet. =)
For what it’s worth, your MTI diet video made a lot of sense to me. Do you offer more about diet?


You’ll need a rack/bench, bar and bumpers for the Greek Hero plans.
I’d recommend you start our stuff, assuming you’re pretty fit already, with Humility, from the Virtue Series. This limited equipment plan will take you back to your Navy days minus the water.
More diet stuff? No. That’s the point of our approach … don’t make it any more complicated than it needs to be.
– Rob


I recently found out I have a small tear in my patellar tendon. Next week I am having a procedure done to fix it. It’s not surgery it’s an injection that will speed up the healing process apparently. I’ll be in a brace and will have to stay off of it for 2 weeks. After that I have rehab for 3 months. After I can get off my crutches and out of my brace would your “training program for athletes suffering leg injury ” be ideal for me? What do the work capacity circuits look Like? Because I won’t be cleared to run for at least 2 months.


I’ve had athletes do the Leg Injury plan on crutches – it’s designed to work around your injured leg – including the work capacity efforts … i.e. no running.


I am preparing for PRMC but have longer than 6 weeks. What other plans would you recommend before the PRMC plan? If you could choose just 1, or a series of 2, 3, 4?


I’d recommend the plans and order in the Virtue Series now.
Start the Potential Royal Marine Course Training Plan the 6 weeks directly before your course.
– Rob


I have a quick question here. I just purchased the fortitude workout program, I just need some clarification on the “grind” portion of the workout. 15 vs 17 vs 20 min grind? why does the time intervals increase? Also the 3x Keg Lift with Sandbag @ 40/60# is it 3 60sec reps or only 3 reps total. Any help to clear this up would be appreciated just would like to perform the workout properly.


“Grind” = work steadily at a moderate pace. Don’t be frantic. Time intervals increase because we’ve found that athletes not used to this start slogging if we jump right to 20 min.
3x Keg Lift = 3x each side, 6x total.
– Rob


I am currently deployed with a lot of time on my hands to workout. I have used many of your programs in the past with great success. I used your pre-Ranger program in my train up to Ranger school and can happily say that I am now Ranger Qualified.
I am currently training up for Special Forces Assessment and Selection using the THOR-3 program. I have about 10 months before I go to Selection. I am also trying to improve strength (THOR-3 by itself isn’t getting me where I want to be, for reps and for power). I have trained using the Fortitude, Vertue, SFAS progression in the past, however, my location only allows me to run / ruck 3 days out of the week.
In your opinion, is it feasible to mix THOR-3 and Big 24? THOR-3 in the AM and big 24 in the PM? My concern is that limited rest time would actually reduce any potential strength gains/fitness gains. I am very accustomed to doing 2 a days, however the THOR-3 program is difficult to co-program with, as the strength days are typically whole body. Is there another program that you might recommend?


Best not to double up programming.
I’m not impressed with the THOR stuff. I’d recommend you switch to the MTI plans and progression in the Ruck Based Selection Training Packet.
– Rob


I would love some help picking a new program, I am about to complete the Busy Operator program and I have loved it, I want to continue with a similar program and was looking through the various Operator plans but I am unsure which would be best.  I would like to have a program that was similar but focused on strength gains while still keeping me running on occasion, not because I like it, but because I need it.  Which of your Operator programs, or maybe a mix of programs, would you recommend?


I’d recommend the plans in the Greek Hero Packet, beginning with Hector.
– Rob


10 Things To Look For in A Strength Coach or Trainer

Look for a coach or trainer who does his/her own programming. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and still make programming mistakes – which I find by doing the program first, myself!

By Rob Shaul


1. Simple, Progressive, Not Random Program Design.

Programming is everything. Solid programming is more important than exercise choice, equipment, coaching technique, background music, etc. I don’t consider someone in the fitness industry a “coach” until he or she personally designs the programming being implemented. The programming should be simple, and progressive – built upon itself.

If your coach/trainer is “making it up” every day, and/or doing “random” training sessions, find someone else to work with. Don’t fall for questionable theories like “muscle confusion” or a coach/trainer who justifies random programming because “it keeps the body guessing.” There is nothing random about effective program design – Olympic Weightlifting, Endurance, team sport, tactical, mountain – all effective fitness programming is planned and progressed. When CrossFit first came on the scene in the mid-90s, random training sessions, especially for work capacity, were often promoted. But believe me, now, none of the CrossFit Coaches designed the programming for high-level CrossFit competitors are deploying random design. Their programming has a focused method and is progressed.

Method and progression = knowing the programming goal and how the programming is going to get you there.

At any time, your coach or trainer should be able to go through your training session part by part, explain clearly what the goal of each part is down to the set/rep scheme, exercise choice, and how each part fits into the overall aim of the current training cycle.

Often I’ll gather my athletes around the whiteboard and do this with them without being asked. Even my veteran athletes are naturally curious and invested in what we’re trying to do at MTI and how today’s training session part of that.


2. A Coach/Trainer Who Does His/Her Own Programming.

Few strength and conditioning coaches have the design experience, across multiple sports, missions, and activities, that I do. However, even though I invented the programming myself, and have more programming experience than 95% of other coaches, I still make mistakes. How do I find them? I do my own programming and experience first hand what I messed up so I can fix it before I prescribe it for my athletes.

One of the most obvious “tells” which will indicate a coach doesn’t do his or her own programming is a wide discrepancy between how long he/she believes the training session will take to complete, and how long it actually takes.

A few years ago I visited a THOR3 coach/facility at Fort Bragg along with a Green Beret who had me in for a visit. My host had shown me before the visit the training session the THOR3 coaches had designed for him. It included 8-10 “pre-hab” exercises/drills as a warm up even before he began training. It was obvious to me completing all these pre-hab exercises would alone take 30-40 minutes. When we visited THOR3, I asked the head coach there how long my host’s training session should take. “Sixty minutes,” he answered. On the way out, my host told me “no way” … these sessions were taking him 90-120 minutes to complete. It was obvious the coach wasn’t doing his own programming – because he would immediately discover too much pre-hab was prescribed.


3. He/She Is Not Your Friend

An effective coach or trainer will push you past your comfort level, won’t tolerate whining, and will hold you accountable. This can’t be done if the relationship is overly casual. Not surprising to people familiar with me and MTI, I’m personally pretty stern and all business in the gym. It’s clear who’s in charge and what is expected. I’ve found this clarity works best.


4. No Gimmicky Exercises

It follows that simple, direct and effective program design will be supported by simple, direct and effective exercises. The longer I coach, the smaller my exercise menu becomes. Early on I used to be concerned about keeping my athletes “entertained” with a wide variety of exercises – many of which, in hindsight – were silly. Overall, my exercise menu has gone from a mile wide and a foot deep to a foot wide and a mile deep. Over the years I’ve identified which exercises are effective, easy for me to teach and coach, and easy for my athletes to learn. I’ve done this long enough to finally learn that what matters to athletes is not how fancy and exotic and “fun” the training session is, but how well the training transfers to outside performance. This is all they care about.


5. No Gimmicky Gadgets

Same for gimmicky exercise equipment and gadgets. Our storage area at MTI is littered with gimmicky exercise gadgets I’ve tried and discarded over the years – slosh bags, water balls, fancy grip strength gizmos, etc. Ninety-five percent of my training sessions deploy a mixture of these proven 10 types of exercise equipment:

1. Barbells + Bumper/Iron plates (iron 5s, 10s and 2.5s)

2. Simple, moveable, racks

3. Dumbbells/Kettlebells

4. Sandbags

5. Plyo Boxes

6. Step Up Benches

7. Weight Vests

8. Pull Up Bar

9. Climbing Ropes

10. Backpacks/Rucks


6. Safety Focus

Not only in terms of loading but also basic common sense stuff like tripping, getting hit with a moving barbell, training session “flow,” spotting, etc. A good coach and trainer will be constantly aware of safety hazards and address them immediately when they arise. A good coach will quickly be able to spot poor movement, labored, unusual breathing, and other signs out of the ordinary for regular athletes. Often I’ll shut down athletes after spotting some type of problem. Often I’ll stop an entire training session to re-emphasize proper movement or highlight a safety concern.  A good coach/trainer will be like your mother …. always aware of what you’re going wrong. 


7. Starts on Time. No Matter What.

Nothing will set the “we’re here to work,” professional tone for a training session like always starting on time. All my athletes know the penalty for being late is 10 burpees … I don’t even have to tell them – they’ll do them on their own right away if late. No one is immune – World Champions and Olympic Skiers have all done burpees at MTI for being late.

Demand your athletes respect the gym by being on time. Show your athletes respect by starting on time.


8. He/She Makes you Clean Up.

My athletes get out their own equipment and put it away when completed. They mop the gym after the session and take out the garbage. This demonstrates respect for the mission we have here at MTI, and reinforces the idea that all athletes are treated the same – no prima donnas.

9. Doesn’t Tolerate Whining.

Nothing will kill a gym’s mission and atmosphere like whining athletes. No good coach or trainer will tolerate it … even if it means firing the athlete (I’ve done this). Everyone is there to do what the coach prescribes and work hard. Whining needs to be called out and punished immediately – usually with more work.

This includes seemingly innocuous stuff like gym music. At MTI, the music is for the entertainment of the coach, not the athletes. When I have an athlete complain about the music playing (either Tool or country), I calmly walk over and turn it up, then ask them, “better now?” That stops it.

This doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from your athletes and should always be open. Often veteran athletes have questioned my prescribed loading, exercise, or brought to my attention concerns. Often they are right, I’ll reconsider the issue, change it accordingly, and thank them for bringing it up.

There is a difference between “whining” and constructive criticism. Be open to suggestions.


10. Isn’t Righteous.

Every single time I’ve been righteous about an exercise, method, or piece of equipment, I’ve always been proven wrong and had to eat my words. In general, the more experience I got, the less righteous I became. As a new coach there were all kinds of exercises, pieces of equipment, training progressions, and other stuff I either righteously embraced by or said I would never do. As I learned and matured as a coach, I’ve let results, and not my uninformed biases, dictate how I program. Along the way, I’ve learned everything works, but nothing works forever, and there are many ways to skin a cat. 


Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email



You Might Also Like The MTI Programming Method


Arete 11.30.17


Marines Want “Toxic Leadership” Test,

War On the Rocks Holiday Reading List, War on the Rocks

Personal Misconduct by Senior Officers Spiked 13%, Defense News

US Shouldn’t Take Sides in 1,400 Year Old Shia-Sunni Conflict, Defense News

2018 Military Pay Raise Biggest in 8 Years, Real Clear Defense

How the Pentagon is Preparing for Drone Wars, The Virginian-Pilot

An Alternative Strategy for 9/12/2001, War Is Boring

The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2037, Modern War Institute

Military Branches Battle for Prized Young Recruits, The Post and Courier


First Responder/Wildfire

Looking Back at the Fatal Gatlinburg Wildfire, Wildfire Today

Sheriff Says Body Cameras Unfair to Officers, Police One

LA Sheriff’s Dept. Tests 2018 Police Vehicles, Police Magazine

Convicted Man Sues Officer Who Shot Him,

3 Texas Firefighters Saved After Building Collapses On Them, Firefighter Close Calls

10 Best States To Make A Living As A LE Officer, Police One

A Short Documentary About the Deadly Portugal Wildfires, Wildfire Today



A Skier,s Guide to Baggage Fees, Powder Magazine

The World’s Best Belayer, Outside Magazine

Deepest Snowpacks in the US So Far, Unofficial Networks

Bedroom Communities: The Next American Ski Towns, Powder

The Most Expensive Ski Towns, Unofficial Networks

Speed Climbing Cho Oyu, The Adventure Blog

From Pro Snowboarder to Mother, Unofficial Networks

The Best Women’s Ski Pants, Powder

Avy Kills Anchorage Ski Icon, Unofficial Networks

Snow Safety – The Extended Column Test, Black Diamond Gear

Mountain Running Rhythm, Black Diamond Gear

Hazards of Dating a Way Better Skier, Outdoor Research



To Delay Death, Lift Weights, Outside Magazine

Climbing Coach on Weight Training, Climbing Magazine

3 Tips for Safer Bouldering Falls, Climbing Magazine

The Health Toll of Financial Stress, Mark’s Daily Apple

Scientists Race to Regrow Lost Knee Cartilage, WebMD

Q&A 11.30.17


Currently looking for a new program to begin. Little background information: I am active duty military (currently serving on Recruiting detail though) and I just had a subpectoral bicep tendenesis performed 3 months ago after nursing an injury for three years. So, I am basically starting from scratch. I was wondering which of your programs you would consider the most beginner. I noticed your on-ramp program states “Designed for reasonably fit military athletes ” and I am worried I would be overwhelmed as, like I mentioned, I am practically starting over in terms of fitness.


Couple options:
1) Do the first week of the Military On-Ramp Training Plan (you can do this for free – click the “sample training” tab on the product page HERE) and see how it works for you.
2) Do the APFT Training Plan – this plan deploys the APFT Day 1, and bases your follow-on training on the initial assessment results. This way it “scales” to your incoming fitness.
– Rob


I have been using your programming for the last three years with outstanding results as a wildland firefighter and pro ski patroller for that I can not thank you enough.
I am reaching out to you for a little guidance as I am planning to attend rookie jump training next March and want to set my self up for success for both the coming patrol season and fire season.
As far as programming goes I plan to complete the rookie selection program leading up to the event, but tell them what should I focus on? I.e. Monster Factory, Backcountry Skiing Big 24?
I did have the chance to do a base tour in early October with all the base managers recommending 40 miles of running a week leading into the training.
Thank you for your time,


Let your seasons dictate your programming. Now before Ski Patrolling starts? Dryland Ski Pre-Season Training Plan – assuming you work at a lift-access resort. If not, and/or you do a lot of backcountry skiing on your own, complete the Backcountry Ski Preseason Training Plan.
During the ski season, depending upon your ski patroller work, focus on gym-based strength and endurance – including rucking. I’d recommend working through the sessions in Fortitude as you have time to train.
Exactly 8 weeks out from Smokejumper Selection, complete the Smokejumper Selection Training Plan.
– Rob


I’m looking to find a new program and break out of my old style of preparing for powerlifting competitions or for a physical fitness test specifically. Would I be able to email you my weight lifting stats, weight, etc. time limitations, and goals, and see if you could point me in the right direction? If not, no worries.
Thanks a lot,


I’d recommend you begin our stuff with the Military On-Ramp Training Plan, followed by the plans in the Virtue Packet of Training Plans – starting with Humility.
– Rob


First off, thanks for all the amazing content and programming you and your team provide. It has been invaluable to me over the years. That said, I have an itch to try a different direction of sorts. I read your newsletter regularly and also dig into the archives quite often for some knowledge and came across several articles that piqued my interest. One was discussing the “best” movements for strength and the other was discussing the “best” core/chassis exercises with samples. This got the gears turning about piecing these together for what presumably would be an outstanding program. Now before I lay out what I came up with and ask for your input, I know that your time is valuable and I would have zero problem paying you for that advice/time spent. That being said, here it goes. I tried my best to lay it out without over-training and using a 5×5/linear progression format for what has been successful for me in the past and dropping to 5×3/3×3 when lifts stall. Its a M-Tu-Thurs-Fri-Sat lift week with M-W-F core work and T-Thurs-Sat with weighted vest walking. Main goal of this is maximal strength and core integrity. So the questions are; Will it work? Is it efficient? Is it necessary? Is it too much/too little? Again, thanks for all you do and provide!


Most coaches would find issue with scheduling 3x strength lifts targeting the same area in the same session. It would be different if you were training hypertrophy/mass, but in general, this isn’t done for strength. For example on Monday, you’re going to be pretty smoked by the time you get to the leg blasters.
My own programming, for the most part, tries to avoid this, however, I have programmed 3x total body strength exercises in the same session.
All that being said, what most strength coaches and trainers don’t tell people is, “everything works, but nothing works forever” …. and it could be possible that shaking it up like this will work! You may want to drop down to 5×3, vice 5×5 because of the total volume hitting the same muscles.
You should also do some type of assessment during the first week. Perhaps do a 1RM each day the first week on the first lift of the day:  … Mon- Front Squat, Tue – Bench Press, Wed – Hinge, Thurs – Pull Ups, Sat – Power Clean + Push Press. …. then reassess on the final week the same way.
Saturday – Craig Special + Push Press and Power Clean + Push Press are redundant. I’d change the CS + PP to Hang Squat Clean.
Good luck!
– Rob


I have been following Apollo for the last 4 weeks while also trying to fit in 3-4 sessions/ week of Brazilian Ju Jitsu. I am new to doing BJJ, and I see that I fall behind on the program due to increased work load. I was wondering if another program might be better to follow due to the increased work load of both of them together. I am 40 y/o and am in Special Operations. I still want to work on increasing strength and maintain my work capacity and endurance. I have seen strength gains for squats and deadlift which is where I would like to continue to  focus on. My work capacity, endurance and upper body strength are all at a good level.

Any advice would be great.


Just do the Mon (strength), Wed (strength) and Friday (long run) sessions in Apollo. Skip the Tue and Thurs work cap sessions.
– Rob


I just started a subscription with MTN Tactical, and was looking through the available military plans to get me started on something new this month.  I’m looking for something that incorporates sandbags, rucks, and weighted vest exercises in the plan cycle.  Any suggestions?  Also, is there any rule of thumb on how your plan are broken down.  They all have great titles but I’m trying to find specifics about workouts without having to look all over the website.


I’d recommend Humility.
Click the link above to find a description of the cycle, including the entire first week of programming.
Each of our programs is relatively unique in how it is designed. The program description at the link above is fairly thorough.
– Rob


Can you purchase just one program or do you have to subscribe?


ou can purchase an individual training plan. You don’t need to subscribe. See below: – Rob

What is the difference between purchasing an individual training plan, packet of plans or an Athlete’s Subscription?

  • Plan – Like purchasing the DVD of the first Star Wars movie. You own it forever, including any updates we make to the plan.
  • Packet – Like purchasing the DVD’s of all the Star Wars movies. You own them forever, including any updates we make to the plans.
  • Athlete’s Subscription – Like subscribing to Netflix. You get access to all 200+ plan in our library, but lose access if you unsubscribe.


I have a Goruck Heavy coming up in mid January and a 50 mile trail ultra in late February. I’ve done several Goruck challenges over the past few years and completed a Tough/Light combo earlier this year. I’ve also done a handful of 50K trail races and have twice run 50+ miles in a 24 hour race format. I also completed my first half ironman earlier this year (not sure if that’s relevant). I currently average around 30 miles/week between rucking and running. I struggle with speed and upper body strength.

I’m curious what program(s) you would recommend to utilize in the 9 weeks between now and the Heavy and the 15 weeks between now and the 50 miler. I’m not sure which path to take since these are two very different events.

Thanks for your help. Please let me know if I can give you any additional information to help decide the best course of action.


I don’t have a perfect plan for you.
From what I do have I’d recommend you start now with the 6-week GoRuck Heavy Training Plan, then roll right into the 8-Week 50-Mile Ultra Training Plan. Take the week after your GoRuck Event off as total rest, then complete the rest of the 50-Mile Ultra Plan.
– Rob


First off, I love the program and have become a die-hard follower of y’all’s system. I am a Captain in the US Army heading back for my second attempt at SFAS. I had initially begun my training while in Iraq about a year ago. I emailed Rob during the deployment for some guidance and he definitely steered me in the right direction. I felt good at SFAS, but unfortunately ended up with a slight tear in my meniscus (freak incident), which left me unable to finish the last four days.

I have been training to strengthen my knee and I’ve been feeling stronger than expected. My next date, which will be my final shot is 3 JAN – 26 JAN. I have been in and out of the field since my injury, but maintained a relative amount of strength. My cardio and work capacity have suffered though. I am running around a 1345 for my 2 mile run, which I’d like to be back under 1300. My question is what hybrid program would you suggest splicing together. Currently, I will use the running improvement plan, busy operator II, and the ruck based selection programs. I will have 55 days remaining after this final field problem to truly focus on my fitness, which will hopefully be enough. I apologize for the elongated email, but I know you guys are the best and haven’t steered me wrong yet.


Complete the entire Ruck Based Selection Training Plan the 8 weeks directly before selection – and nothing else. You’ll overtrain. This plan includes focused programming for the APFT – including the 2-mile run.
By my count, you’ll want to start this plan next week.
– Rob


As always, I am loving the programming. Currently, I am in week 3 of Resilience with plans to move into RBSTP upon completion. I am not training for SFAS but do have plans for a Goruck HCL mid-Feb at Ft. Bragg.
We are in the process of moving into a house near a lake with some outstanding hills/mountains. I would hate to miss out on some winter swims while also improving ruck times. The training in the RBSTP is great but I would like to incorporate open water swimming.
The BRC, BUDs, and MARSOC plans have great swimming included while retaining a lot of rucking. Should I switch to those instead the RBSTB, or add swimming to RBSTP?
all the best,


Switch to one of the other plans which already incorporate swimming. It’s asking too much to add swimming to the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan.
– Rob



I’m a member of the canadian navy and in a year i can apply to the new maritime tactical operations unit. The selection is very similar to JTF2. i work out regularly but am in need of guidance and a proper regiment. I came across this packet and it seems like a step in the right direction. However, nutrition has always been a huge issue for me and frankly, my family.. I was wondering if your packages include any type of guidance int hat manner.


No. The Pirate’s Packet is just the training plans.
Nutrition doesn’t take a lot of knowledge, it takes a lot of discipline. Here are our dietary guidelines.
– Rob


If I complete the FBI SA PFT Plan, can I continue to repeat it for greater results and once I pass the PFT, in your opinion, should I continue this program until I complete the Academy or is there another program you would recommend?  Thank you in advance for any assistance.  I am looking forward to beginning the PFT plan next week.


I don’t recommend repeating the training plan multiple times in a row. Eventually your gains will plateau and you’ll get board. Do it now, drop into some other training, and complete it again directly before your PFT. Between now and the second time through, I’d recommend the plans in our “Spirits Packet” for Law Enforcement.
– Rob


Looking for some help. I am currently deployed, so I have time to workout. I can’t run outside where I am and don’t enjoy treadmills, but will put up with them if I have to.
My goal is climb Denali in the month of June, and I need to be strong for the climb. I have looked at the Denali training plan and don’t want to do it over and over for 7 months. I’ll get sick of it and bored.
My background: 28 years old, played baseball and football through high school. Got into skiing and mountaineering in and after college. I have more a runner / cyclist build, not a really a strong guy. Better at endurance sports naturally.
I have been doing crossfit the past several months. I would like to get stronger overall. So I’d like to work on overall strength, plus building up leg strength before focusing solely on Denali specific training.
Any specific recommendations for scheduling out the next seven months? Do you have a couple specific plans you would think would be ideal?
Thanks for the time,


Complete the plans in our Greek Hero Packet for Military Athletes until 9 weeks out from Denali, then move to the Denali Plan. Start the Greek Hero plans with Hector.
– Rob


I am a strong recreational skier (ex racer) who gets 20-30 days of skiing in a season which includes 10+ days of touring/climbing.  Generally end up on one bigger trip (AK, Europe, etc) later in the season.  I am in good physical condition…run, cycle, hike, weights, bootcamp classes, yoga, etc.  What do you recommend for program(s) for someone like me?  Would def want to keep some sort of upper body fitness incorporated in overall strength training.  I have a 15% off email from you that has expieed would you issue a new one?  Thanks ahead of time.


Coupon? Sorry, not if it’s expired. Same rules for everyone.
– Rob


I have been doing the Greek Heroine series and recently injured my hip making running impossible for a bit.  Biking and rowing do not bother it much and I have been substituting either of those for the running whenever possible.  Do you have a recommended conversion factor for running time/miles to biking time/miles or rowing time/meters.


I’d prefer you bike/spin to rowing, In terms of substituting for running, think time, not distance. If the plan calls for a 5 mile run, assume you’ll run 9 minute miles and bike/spin for 45 minutes.
– Rob


I am wondering what plan[s] I should use for the following.  I have your amazing monthly membership 🙂
I would prefer 4 days a week if possible and “double up” on one of my non-working days but can work around that if needed as well.

I am getting back into Crossfit soon but would like 1.)build up my self” once again before I attend classes, as I tend to push myself too hard – recently took 3-4 week hiatus because of respiratory illness and was only going 2x a week along with Globo gym (back squats, presses, other strength and 1hr mod cardio).
I currently am 43 y/o female – weigh 140 – exercised pretty much whole life.

2.) rev up my 10 min/mile time to at least a 8 min/mile
3.) gain muscle and strength while decreased BF %

I work three consecutive 12 hour shifts per week
(Wed, Thu, Friday – 7am to 7:30pm or later up to 10pm max).

Access to Crossfit gym, Globo gym and my own equipment on the following days:
– Saturday
– Sunday
– Monday
– Tuesday
Access to Globo gym and my own home equipment on the following days/times, I don’t have treadmill (yet) and can’t run when it’s dark as much as I want to because of safety concern.
(At home, I have pullup bar, ruck, pylo box, ruck plate, some weights, sandbag, etc
No barbell.)

I work 7:00am to 7:30PM (sometimes later) the following days:
– Wednesday
– Thu
– Fri
(Have access to Globo gym AFTER work, and my home of course in the morning)

Thank you for your time!


I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan.
Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this is an intense plan, with a solid running element.
Complete the training sessions in order around your work schedule – so if you’re training 4 days/week, week one do sessions 1-4, week 2 do sessions 5-8, etc.
– Rob


Good afternoon, I have a question regarding the best training program for my son.


He is currently finishing up Army Bootcamp/Advanced Infantry Training and graduates in late November.  He is part of the 18-Xray program and will be moving on to Jump School after graduation.  I don’t have any idea on how much time he will have for additional training during Jump School or if he will in a “hold” for a few weeks, or even after the Christmas Holidays.  I currently purchased a few of your programs at his request to use during whatever down time he has now (pushups and pull ups).

Is there something you would recommend to prep for his SF 19 day pre assessment and SFAS?


For other with 18x contracts I recommend they complete the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan before basic – knowing their time won’t be their own once in. This is our selection plan for SFAS.
I doubt he’ll have time to complete the plan as prescribed now. From a fitness perspective he needs to be rucking, and building some strength for durability. From our stuff, I’d recommend Fortitude as a stop-gap. This will get him in the gym under the bar for some strength, get him running and rucking.
It doesn’t include focused prep for the APFT, but I’m guessing he’ll have no problems meeting the requirements there.
– Rob


Low Back Fitness was awesome. I’m ready to add in some running while continuing to make progressive gains with barbell/body weight strength. Still skittish about Oly- lifts. Continue with Low Back template combined with Running Improvement? Or what’s a better plan?


I’d recommend moving on to the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan, or completing the Running Improvement Training Plan alone. Running Improvement includes strength work.
– Rob


I’m do the 30 min/day dryland ski plan. So far I haven’t been getting very sore although I have noticed a bit of soreness.
I wonder if I could do some swimming (60 min workouts) and other weights on top of this program.


You can double up with this plan but avoid extra lower body work. Swimming would be fine.

– Rob


Good Morning,

I’m a Sheriff’s Deputy in Rapid City, South Dakota. I’m seeking help on a training plan in the same manner as your LE series. My problem is I don’t have a plan. I’m seeking help in finding a plan or putting one together that is built around the equipment I have available at this time. So far I have invested in:
-Kettlebells (I have 2x 40 lbs and 1 x 30 lbs)
-A sand bag
-Olympic bar with 210 lbs in bumper plates
-A pull-up bar hanging from the rafters.
-A 25 lbs weight vest
-Heavy bag
-Jump rope
My “garage gym” is a work in progress but it’s what I got. I enjoy your programs and have used them while I was deployed to Afghanistan and stationed in Germany. I admire your training methodology and saw great improvements in my strength and conditioning. Any help will be greatly appreciated.


I’d recommends the plans and order in the Spirit’s Packet for LE. These plans are designed as day to day training for LE Patrol/Detectives and concurrently train relative strength, upper body hypertrophy, work capacity with a sprinting focus, and chassis integrity. Sessions are designed to last 50-60 minutes. Start with Whiskey.
– Rob