All posts by SSD

Test Dummy MTI Assessment Results

Last week we asked for “test dummy” results for the following assessments:

We received twenty-four responses from folks who completed one or more of the assessments. Fourteen of those are military personnel, three are law enforcement, and seven are civilians. Here’s how they did…

Relative Strength

The Relative Strength Assessment had the most score submissions by far. The scores showed a wide range, with the lowest score at 2.8 and the highest at 6.4. However, thirteen out of nineteen of the respondents score over 5, which is in our “Excellent” range. What does that mean? Here’s a few options:

  • This group of athletes comprised of strength mutants
  • Our scoring system is too easy
  • Some combination of both

A bias towards strength training is common, especially amongst tactical athletes. It’s fun to lift heavy… Nothing wrong with that. What should be kept in mind is ensuring you remain balanced in training for and meeting the demands of job related performance.

Current Standards

If you can Front Squat 400 lbs, but can’t make the 8 mile movement under load to the objective, what’s the point? The three main fitness components we train and test (Strength, Work Capacity, Endurance) must work in conjunction with one another.

Lifts per Athlete

We didn’t have enough submissions for all three tests to analyze individual and search for holes in fitness. Ideally, an athlete will take all three tests in three consecutive days. The results should tell you where the holes in your fitness are.

Scored “Good” in Strength and Work Capacity, but “Poor” in Endurance? Grab your ruck and get to work.

Despite the high strength numbers, we’re going to keep the the strength scores… for now. The overarching question is whether athlete scores should influence the standards of the scoring system. We need more data in order to determine the right answer.

Work Capacity 

The Work Capacity assessment is our newest, and it’s a beautifully simple measure of tactical work capacity demands. Level change, sprint, and repeat. This was the second effort at collecting data for the assessment after Rob’s visit to a Hawaii based infantry unit.

Current Standards

The average of respondents for the work capacity assessment was 56, although with a much wider variation across our current scale of scoring. As a whole, the scoring was fairly consistent with the Hawaii results. We only received eight scores on this survey, so we’re anxious to gather more data and see if the variation changes.


The 3/3/3 Endurance assessment received the smallest amount of attention, with only 6 participants. The average score was 16.5, right in the middle of our “Good” range. None of the athletes scored in the “Excellent” range, and only one score in the “Poor” range. The scoring system for this test seems like it needs the least amount of adjusting, although the limited data leaves it open for tweaking.

Current Standards

We want more data on these assessments. CLICK HERE to go to the survey.

Want to help, but don’t want to take every assessment?
No worries – do what you can and fill out the survey to input your data on the assessment(s) you did complete.


Questions? Email

MTI Sandbags

We get asked for Sandbag recommendations all the time and even though we are not too interested in comparing our Sandbags to other brands out there, we can’t help but state that ours simply work best for what we’re looking for in a Sandbag.

Rob started experimenting with Duffle Bags and different kinds of Sandbags back in 2010. But the ones he was testing were either durable but then to ‘”stiff” for the intended workouts or they would simply break. Understand that, back then we were already using our Sandbags daily.

So he ended up making his own. One that is built to fit the custom needs of MTI training and volume: durable, bulkier and easier to handle.

Over the years we have evolved our Sandbags so to this day we can say that they are pretty much indestructible.

Watch Rob talk about our Sandbags during a Mountain Base Session in the following video.



Want to get your own? Click here

Quiet Professional: Service

By Rob Shaul

What Does It Mean to Be a Quiet Professional” has evolved into my most impactful essay. Over the next few weeks and months, I hope to expand on each of the 13 elements in that original piece. Today I begin with Number 1: Service.

From the Essay …. “Service to your team, your family, your community, your profession. Someone ready to serve. A promise keeper. Reliable. Solid.”

Let’s start with “Solid.” A solid person never says “it’s not my job” – if something needs done, from cleaning the toilet to challenging organizational direction, a “solid” person steps in, speaks up and serves –  because it needs to be done.

This is not complicated. It’s just hard.

A solid person is aware.The solid people in your life serve you before you ask, and often before you even know you need help. They seem supernaturally aware of the people, situation, and goal. In organizations, solid people are those quiet ones who do the heavy lifting and keep things moving forward.

The self-absorbed can’t serve. To serve we must be aware of others and the situation. And we can’t be aware unless our own stuff is squared away. Solid people have their stuff squared away. Their own problems and issues have been address and are well in hand.  This gives them the mental, emotional and time bandwidth to help others. You can’t help fight someone else’s fire, if your own house is in flames. 

“Reliable” and “solid” are brothers. After you find you can rely on someone, they become “solid” in your mind. Often you can trust them to be there, or have something ready or completed, without asking. They just know, and get it done. Solid people are treasures in your life.

The type of service we’re describing here doesn’t seek attention. Some serve for accolades, acknowledgement or glory. These aren’t Quiet Professionals.

There’s no reward attached to a Quiet Professional’s service. No sense of self accomplishment, hope for career advancement or response to religious teachings. It’s who they are.

No….that’s not accurate. Few are born this way. Better is it’s who they’ve grown into.

Most must grow into this type of service – first by thinking it’s not our job, being selfish and self-absorbed, and slowly learning to take care of our own stuff. This process takes time, humor, wisdom, hard work and many, many mistakes to eventually understand, embody and demonstrate true service to our family, community and organization.

Quiet Professionals embrace this journey.


Arete 5.18.17

Back to First Principles: Four Fundamental Questions about Afghanistan, War on the Rocks
The Pentagon’s New Algorithmic Warfare Cell Gets Its First Mission: Hunt ISIS, Defense One
Leading Millennials in the Military, Small Wars Journal
Multi-Domain Battle Will Require a Totally Different Type of Leader, Modern War Institute
How American Special Operators Gradually Returned to Somalia, Defense One
Disposable Drones Could Deliver Supplies Under Enemy Fire, CNAS
The U.S. Army Wants to Replace Its Helicopters With These, Bloomberg Technology
‘Performance enhancing drugs’ considered for Special Operations soldiers, Defense News

Taking Stock: What the US is Learning from Europe’s Spate of Urban Truck Attacks, Small Wars Journal
How An Accidental ‘Kill Switch’ Slowed Friday’s Massive Ransomware Attack, Wired
The US Intelligence Community’s newest assessment of the jihadist threat, Long War Journal
AQAP leader calls for ‘simple’ attacks in the West, Long War Journal

FBI Reputation Hits a New High, NYTimes
Developing Critical Thinking Skills, Fire Rescue Magazine
Visualize the Meaning of Dickhead, Mommafargo (LE Blog)
Does firefighting increase the risk of dementia or ALS?, Fire Chief
You Get the Police You Ask For, Cop in the Hood

Top Climbers Visit Capitol Hill for National Parks, Gripped
Medical Alert: Dealing with Unexpected Emergencies in the Mountains, Backcountry Magazine
(Video) Pro Skier’s 270-Mile High Sierra Traverse, Salomon
Take a Tour of Alex Honnold’s New Van, Climbing
EWS Madeira in 60 Seconds, MB Action

The 10 Coolest Adventure Rigs, Outside Online
An Air Force Academy cadet created a bullet-stopping goo to use for body armor, Business Insider
Three Year Test: The Osprey Talon 22 Backpack, Gear Junkie
How Vision Impacts Your Shooting, Recoil
The History of Mountain Bike Wheel Size with Gary Fisher, MB Action

Why Large Deficit Deadlifts are Great for Improving Mobility
Insulin Resistance May Cause Cognitive Decline To Accelerate, Breaking Muscle
7 Reasons Why Your Testosterone Is Low, Breaking Muscle
What’s the Difference Between Primal and Paleo? Mark’s Daily Apple
Why humans lack an ‘anti-aging switch’
Noisy Knees? Arthritis May Be in Your Future
An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life
Collagen Supplements Aren’t Doing You Any Good, Outside Magazine
I Ate Like Tom Brady for a Week (And it wore me out), Outside Magazine
Heart Disease: Beetroot Juice Provides Benefits? Science Daily
Common Low-Cal Sweetener and Weight Gain Science Daily

Q&A 5.18.17


Hi Rob,

I wanted to send you a note thanking you for your article on what it means to be a quiet professional (
I run an engineering company in support of SOF…..check it out if you are interested.  I am having a company wide meeting next week and I found your article “What Does It Mean to be a Quiet Professional?” and it immediately struck a chord with me.  I plan to read it to my entire company since I live by this same creed.  My husband is a retired Tier 1 SEAL, so we truly know what it means.
I just wanted you to know that I appreciate your article, and wanted to send you a note of thanks.


Good Evevening, I’m requesting some info about your programs.
Im a Marines and I’m trying to get in better shape.  wondering what you guys can recommend.


I’d recommend you begin our stuff with the Military On-Ramp Training Plan:
– Rob


Rob, a friend of mine showed me your article on strength relative to mountain and tactical athletes. The part I found the most interesting was that front squat and bench press 1RM will be similar in a balanced athlete.
I was hoping you could expound on this? My bench and FS 1RM have always been close, and I had always thought or assumed that meant my legs were weak. Any exercise with ‘squat’ in it seems like it should be one of an athlete’s strongest lifts. Just curious.


I first learned about the comparable between 1RM Front Squat and 1RM Bench Press from Dan John, when I spent a week working with him when he was still a high school strength coach over a decade ago and we’ve used it since I started my company.
We’ve found it consistent not only for 1 rep max, but also reps at a certain weight – for example, our Operator Ugly fitness assessment for military athletes includes front squat and bench press at 185# for max reps, and with balanced athletes, these numbers will be the same or close.
Understand the front squat is a different lift than the back squat. With the back squat, the weight is more centered over the body, and it demands less mid-section strength to come out of the ‘hole.’ This is one reason athletes can lift much more weight doing back squats than front squats.
The load on the front squat is more forward, and rarely do the legs fail on a missed lift – the mid-section fails and the bar falls forward.
– Rob


In my youth I was a very capable athlete and Marine.   After years of being at a desk, raising children and neglecting my fitness, I’m 49 years old and 350 pounds.  At 6′-5″ and being very mobile for a guy my size, I’ve rationalized my condition for quite some time.   I realize I have to unf**k myself something serious if I want to live very long.

My son used your OCS program and was very impressed with it, so I wanted to reach out to you for some guidance.  Since my old standard of running is out until I’m much lighter (and I have an arthritic left knee from injury and the weight), I’m looking for a beginning program to get me started without hurting myself, and to continue until I’m truly fit.  Do you have an existing program that would be appropriate?   Thanks.


Probably not. By my estimation, at your age and height, your at about 100 pounds overweight. From what I have, perhaps you could do the Bodyweight Foundation Plan:
But even this is likely too intense. At the link above you’ll see a “sample training” tab – and it includes the first week of programming. You can try and see how you recover. Walk where it calls to run.
I’m nearly 49 and guys our age die all the time of heart issues related to stress and deconditioning. Fix it.
– Rob


Rob, I have been reading up on your LE training plans and have a question. Is there any distance running involved in these plans or is most of the running just short distance sprint work? The reason I ask is my agency still has a 1.5 mile run in our annual PFT. Would these plans still prepare me to run this? Thanks


Our day to day LE programming includes sprinting, shuttle sprints and often short, optional runs. You can access it via an Athlete’s Subscription ( or our LE Athlete Spirits Series:
– Rob


I am going into marine boot camp in October and was wondering what is the best plan for me? I started working out in December 2016 just a few times a week and also never really do a lot of cardio


I’d recommend these plans in this order:
1) Military On-Ramp Training Plan:
3) USMC PFT Training Plan directly before bootcamp:
– Rob


Hi MTI, I’m doing a thru hike on the JMT this summer (4 days) & submitting Mt. Whitney.  I’m using your Bodyweight Training Plan & then Big Mountain Climbing training programs to get ready.  I’m in the midst of working through plantar fasciitis, (which the Dr. is recommending a period of rest from walking/running, although highly recommends weights & is fine with non load bearing cardio like rowing, biking, etc) & see a fair amount of running in your training programs.  I’m planning to substitute rowing & stair master for the runs.  Do you have a better recommendation &/or a plan already build with substitutes? Thanks,


o rowing … stair master and cycling are what I’d recommend. As you make the conversion think 1 mile = 10 minutes. So if the plan calls for a 5 mile run, stair master/cycle 50 minutes.
– Rob


Coach Rob. I’m set to start the Greek Hero training packet next week, but I had a question regarding the Tac SEPA portion of the plans. The gym I work out at is limited in regards to space and equipment so I doubt I would be able to do the Tac SEPA sessions as designed and was looking for a recommended sub. My running ability is not where I want it to be at the moment so I was thinking of subbing a moderate paced 30 minute run. Would this be acceptable or would you suggest something else?


TAC SEPA is not conditioning – it is agility and other work. Go outside if you need to to complete the drills. Be resourceful.
– Rob


Coach Shaul,

I have used your theories and programs and have great results. I am just coming off the grind of a grad school/ Army ROTC semester schedule and have suffered a little bit with overall strength, but have vastly in improved in my running and rucking because that has been my focus due to time constraints.

I will be attending Advanced Camp this summer. There is a 12 mile ruck (speed ruck with 35lbs.) and APFT test directly after we get back from a 14 day FTX.  I’m sure my body will be pretty worn down and would like to MAX the APFT and complete the ruck under 3 hrs for Recondo purposes. Obviously in the field I wont be doing much working out, besides push ups and situps. With all of this in mind, which plan would you suggest to help me prepare for worn down APFT/Ruck assessment and strength work?

A couple benchmarks for you to help gauge the type of shape I am in and direct me to  which plan may be best:

6 miles unloaded run in 42 minutes (7 min/mile pace)

12 Mile speed ruck 35 lbs: 2 hrs. 3 mins

12 Mile Tactical Ruck, (FLC, rifle, water, kevlar, etc)  60+ lbs. 2 hr 58 minutes.

300 APFT

After looking through some of the plans I came up with the Mil Athlete Endurance Cycle supplemented with some weightroom days, Gratitude, and Ulysses; but you are the expert.

Thanks for your time,


I’d recommend the Ranger School Training Plan:
Use it prior to your camp, and then you can use it again in 18 months or so prior to Ranger School.
– Rob


Hello Ro, I recently got the SWAT Selection program and I had a few questions about the first week training program:

Session 2:
– For the warm up what does it mean by accel. every 25m?
– It says run 800m at “Hard” Run Calculator Pace, I can’t seem to figure out what that means?
Session 5
– For the 4 part of the training I don’t understand the instructions. Do we just do 8 rounds of what is listed, or do as much in 3 minutes and start back every 3 mins from the beginning 8 times? Thanks in advance


Session 2:
– Start the 100m slow and increase speed as you move to the finish
– Enter your Session 1, 1.5 mile time into the Running Calculator here: – and run the intervals at the pace spit out by the calculator.
Session 5
– Set a repeating, countdown timer to 3 minutes. On “Go” sprint through the circuit, faster you finish, more rest you get before the next begins (at 3 minutes).
– Rob


Can you please point me towards your experienced workout plans (military or similar) that do not require barbells or CF gym?  I do have KB’s, DB’s, sandbags, weight vest, ruck, etc.  thank you



Good evening,

I am a Cadet at West Point who is cross commissioning into the Marine Corps. I have 15 weeks until I report for TBS (West Point validates OCS – lucky me) and have had great success with MTI plans in the past. I just completed the Sandhurst competition, where the squad I lead (USMA Black – our first West Point “all-star” team) actually won. To prep for that we’ve been rucking and running distance all spring  and winter. I definitely feel like I built up a strong rucking chassis and given the results of the competition, am in good shape. I’ve never been a big lifter, so I think now is a good time to focus on some gains on the barbell before getting back into the ruck game.  I also think building some strength would help me stay injury free and generally healthier through TBS. My thought is I will hit Rat 6 and then go onto the Valor program leading up to my report date. Thoughts?

Thank you!


Congrats on Sandhurst!
I’d recommend Operator Achilles now:
This plan is more balanced than Rat 6 – but includes a solid strength component around our Super Squat progression. Simple, direct and hard.
Follow it up with Valor.
Good luck!


Hello, I will be attending West Point next year. I am trying to be in the best physical shape that I can be by the time I get there, so I started to look at your military fitness plans. I wanted to get your opinion on which fitness plan would best fit someone training for West Point/ Army. I am already in pretty good shape, but I could always get better. I thought the APFT plan looked pretty good but just wanted to get your opinion, as well. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!


The APFT Training Plan would be a great place to start our stuff for you:
– Rob


Sir, I am considering purchasing the Air Assault Training Plan to prepare to attend Air Assault School in June/July.  I have a few questions about the training plan: How is it delivered?  Are there videos or descriptions of the specific exercises/stretches?  Is 6 weeks the minimum train-up or could the program be completed in an shorter period of time?

Thanks for your assistance.


– Access to the plan is online via username and password.
– Unfamiliar exercises are found here:
– Shorter? Depends upon your fitness going in. Prep includes focused APFT work and focused work for the 6 and 12 mile rucks.
If you haven’t been rucking, don’t short cut the plan.
– Rob


About the grunt pt program. What is the consensus on additional cardio? Is the run and ruck days enough to improve running or should one add some additional runs in the AM or PM of the strength and work capacity days


Grunt PT does not neglect running and rucking. If you want to do more, watch for over training.
– Rob


Hi, I was recently tasked with creating the PT program for my platoon up until deployment,  and heard that this company works with active duty soldiers on the payment plans. I just wanted to touch base and see if there was anything that you could help me with or point me in the direction of.


We’ve created a Grunt PT program as day to day programming for military line units. More here:
If you’re deploying to Afghanistan, we recommend our Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Plan here:
We are also developing an Iraq/Syria Pre-Deployment Training Plan which we should have out this week.
– Rob



Just a little curious.  Is Grunt PT just one cycle (Michael) or are there others that will appear/be added later.

Very Respectfully,


We will continue to add cycles – the first 11 or so will be named after the Archangels – beginning with Michael. Next cycle should be up around the first part of May.
– Rob


Hi there,
I’m purchasing a weight vest for husband (firefighter and climber who follows your programming).  What would be the most useful weight for me to get for him?


– Rob


Hi Coach,

I just came off the BUD/s V2 program and did fairly well, wondering whether I should repeat the program or try another that you recommend?
Goal is to progress as a tactical athlete
Thanks love all the programs and information


Pivot to the Greek Hero plans – starting with Hector:
– Rob


I’m a snowboarder and have used several of your plans over the years (monster factory, preseason dryland, in season ski maintenance).  These plans have served me well. But I’ve always wondered if you modify or add any snowboard specific exercises to your plans. I know your snowboard athletes train alongside the skiers, but I’m wondering if over the years you’ve identified any training modifications for the snowboarders.  Thanks,


Nothing stands out but I always re-evaluate our programming between seasons and generally update our ski-specific programming in the summer.

Our Dryland Ski Training hits the same eccentric, chassis integrity (midsection stuff), and leg lactate tolerance needed by snowboarders.
– Rob


Good morning,

My wife is looking for a weight reduction program. Is that something that you offer. She is very active and attends group classes at our gym, as well as working out with me about 4 days a week.  She also eats a very healthy.  Her favorite meal is a huge green leafy Salad which she complements with protein.  For all her activity she feels she should have better results .  I don’t want her to lose her motivation, so I popping a flare for help.

Thank you


We have a Fat Loss Training Plan Here:
– Rob

Plan Focus: SF45 Alpha

Cody, 45, works through Thursday’s heavy In-Place lunges during SF45 Alpha.

By Rob Shaul

“SF45” is an acronym for “Strength and Fitness 45” and this programming is designed for older tactical and other high impact athletes in the 40-55 age range.

I first started experimenting with developing programming for guys my age (I’m almost 49) a couple years ago, had to move away from it for a time, but am now back at it.

I’ve been doing my own programing for nearly 15 years now – 10 as a professional strength and conditioning coach. No one has done more sandbag getup, step ups, leg blasters, etc. than me … and honestly I’m feeling it. Not in my muscles – but in my joints and interest.

My knees began aching occasionally when I was 44 and now are a significant consideration. I’ve written about this before, but what it means from a programming perspective is heavy front and back squats are simply  uncomfortable. I’m not alone, two other of MTI’s long term lab rats, Cody (45) and James (41) are the same. Lunges and hinges are fine, but squats don’t feel good.

Interest is another issue. We like endurance work, and the long gym-based endurance and chassis integrity grinds, but are not super interested in hard, the hard, intense multi-modal power clean to burpee – esq work capacity events of our “youth” (I started the gym when I was 38). Shuttle sprints are okay.

Interest also affects the time we want to spend in the gym training. In my 20’s I’d do 90-minute gym sessions 6 days a week and couldn’t get enough. Now in my late 40’s 2-3 day/week is more than plenty. I still love the weightroom, but I’ve come to enjoy training endurance outside as much. Plus, the endurance work we do transfers better to our recreational pursuits … backcountry hunting, backcountry skiing, mountain biking, alpine climbing … mountain sports in general.

These changes doesn’t mean this programming is “easy.” Sometimes we let millennials train with us just to make us feel good when we crush them doing bench press, or lap them during gym-based endurance efforts. But it is different … perhaps more mature own way.


SF45 Programming has the following general characteristics:

Heavy, Low Volume Strength – think heavy barbel and 1-3 reps per set. The goal is to increase or maintain relative strength (strength per bodyweight) in the most efficient manner possible. Some SF45 cycles will feature bodyweight strength training, but none will include moderately loaded free weight strength training in the 5-12 reps per set range. This is to avoid unnecessary joint impact.

Endurance – Recreationally, most activities for athletes in this age range are outside and have a strong endurance component – biking, hunting, trail running, hiking, alpine climbing, etc. As well, for experienced athletes who’ve spent decades throwing iron around in gyms, the appeal of training inside wanes. Endurance programming includes assessment based intervals at a threshold pace, long distance intervals at an easy pace, and gym-based endurance training. This programming may include rucking and ruck running, as well as loaded step ups.

Chassis Integrity – MTI’s mid-section training methodology aims at building transferable mid-section strength and strength endurance. Four movements are emphasized: Rotation, Anti-Rotation, Total Body and Extension. Chassis Integrity can be trained in focused circuits, as well as in complementary gym-based endurance events.

Non-high Impact Work Capacity – In this age group, gone are the days of hard, intense, high impact multi-modal gym-based work capacity programming. For day to day training, the interest and need for this type of fitness is not worth the joint impact. Work capacity training is limited to lower impact gym exercises and shuttle sprints.

Deep Squat Avoidance – For our over-40 lab rats, it’s nearly impossible to do heavy back or front squats without limited joint pain. Lower body strength training in these cycles will focus on lunges, hinge lifts and bodyweight or lightly loaded complexes.

SF45 Alpha is the first of a series of 3 training plans in this collection – Bravo and Charlie will be designed subsequently. SF45 Alpha is a 7-week, 6 day/week training plan with an emphasis on endurance. Week 7 in the plan is an unload/re-assessment week.

Here is the weekly schedule for SF45 Alpha:

  • Mon: Heavy Total Body Barbell Strength, Gym-Based Endurance
  • Tue: Heavy Upper Body Strength, Low-Back Focused Chassis Integrity, Shuttle Sprints
  • Wed: 6 Mile Running Assessment or 2-Mile Threshold Repeats
  • Thu: Heavy Leg Strength (lunges), Gym-Based Endurance
  • Fri: Long, Easy Run/Trail Run
  • Sat: Athletes Choice: Long, Easy Run/Trail Run or Endurance Mode of Choice

More on the plan HERE.



Mtn Ops, Wilderness Athlete, and Gnarly Supplements – Any Different from the Rest?

By Charlie Bausman

In the last few years, several new supplement companies have marketed their products  specifically for mountain sports – backcountry hunting,

climbing, etc. . We were curious to see if anything, other than marketing, differentiated these brands and their products from the rest of the

crowded supplement industry.

The fitness demands of mountain sports are significantly different than those sports and activities (crossfit, team sports, body-building or image

fitness, pure endurance) most supplements are marketed to. It follows that the companies marketing their supplements to mountain athletes

would sell products somewhat different than the EAS, Muscle Pharm, CNC and other supplement manufacturers.


The Supplement Industry

The supplement industry as a whole is notoriously shady and mostly unregulated by the government. This PBS Frontline investigation provides a

overwhelmingly negative insight into the industry at large, showing example after example of poor manufacturing practices.


The science behind supplements is often lacking. This infographic by shows the validity of a wide range of supplements

based on scientifically founded studies. It’s worth a look for those of you spending $100 or more on supplements monthly.


The industry is also booming, with the global market at $82 billion as of 2013 with continued growth of 5-6% annually.


Entry into the industry as a distributor and/or retailer is simple. A person may establish themselves as a business, and reach out to the non-

branded supplement manufacturers. The new business owner has two options in making supplements to sell:


  1. Private Labeling – This is the practice of picking a formula which the manufacturer already makes, and slapping your own label on it. Thiscaninclude powders, pills, or pill packs. There is nothing original about the formula, and two different brands next to each other on a shelfmaybe the exact same.
  2. Custom Formula – Ingredients that the distributor wants combined into a powder or pill from the list of available ingredients whichthemanufacturer carries.


The barrier to custom formula’s is the cost and initial purchases. Most supplement manufacturers require a minimum order, usually between

5,000-10,000 pills or a similar total volume for powder. This comes with a high initial cost. Private labeling on the other hand has very low

minimum order, allowing a start-up supplement company to start selling without a major financial investment in product. Unless a supplement

company has significant financial backing, they’re likely to start with privately labeled supplements.


MtnOps, Wilderness Athlete, and Gnarly


The athletes we train with are the collective market which MtnOps, Wilderness Athlete, and Gnarly focus on. The physical demands of these

athletes are certainly extreme, and the nutrition they require reflects those demands. How do these companies products compare and

differentiate from products marketed to your everyday gym rat?


For the sake of comparison, we chose the protein powder supplement from each company along with a protein from EAS, a widely recognized

supplement company.


Mtn Ops Magnum Protein Chocoloate – $44.95 2lbs 1 Scoop = 31g, 29 servings per container Wilderness Athlete Protein Plus Chocolate – $39.95 1 lbs 1 Scoop = 30g, 30 servings per container Gnarly Whey – $59.99 2lbs 40 Servings

per container

EAS Myoplex Protein Blend – $29.99 2lbs 1 Scoop = 38g 24 Servings per Container
Calories 110 Calories 115 Calories 40
Calories from fat 10 Calories from fat 16 Calories from fat Calories  130
Total fat 1g Total fat 1.5g Total fat 2g Calories from Fat 15
Saturated Fat .5g Saturated Fat 0 Saturated Fat 1g Total Fat 1.5g
Trans Fat 0 Trans Fat 0 Trans Fat 0 Saturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 10mg Cholesterol 16mg Cholesterol 35mg Trans Fat 0g
Total Carbohydrate 4g Total Carbohydrate 5g Total Carbohydrate 5g Cholesterol 10mg
Dietary Fiber <1g Dietary Fiber 1g Dietary Fiber 2g Sodium 170mg
Sugars 1g Sugars 2g Sugars 1g Potassium 220mg
Protein 23g Protein 20g Protein 12.5g Total Carbohydrate 2g
Calcium 338mg Calcium 36% “Gnarly Absorption Blend” 30mg: Black pepper extract, amylase, bromelain, celluslase, lactase, lapase, papain, protease Dietary Fiber 1g
Iron .31mg Iron 8% Bacillus Coagaulans (Lactospore) 16.5mg Sugars 1g
Phosphorus 186mg Phosphorus 20% Lithothamnion Clacareum (Aquamin S)  


Protein 26g
Magnesium 23mg Magnesium 12% Calcium HMB (ß-hydroxy ß-methylbutyrate monohydrate) 1.5g
Chromium 4mcg Vitamin A less than 2% L-Leucine 500mg
Sodium 75mg Folic Acid 14% Phosphatidylserine 300mg
Potassium 160mg Pantothenic Acid 50%
L-Glutamine 1.5g Thiamine 70%
Niacin 15%
Manganese 26%
Vitamin C 50%
Vitamin B-12 135%
Pyridoxine (B-6) Riboflavin 65%
Biotin 55%


As you can see, there is little variation between MtnOps, Wilderness Athlete, and EAS. Gnarly stands out as it’s the only protein “Derived purely

from antibiotic-free, non-rBGH grass-fed cow’s milk” according to their website, as well containing a probiotic formula.  It should be noted that the

advertised nutritional values per serving (25g protein, 5.5g BCAA, 4g glutamine) do not match the nutrition fact label (12.5g protein, no BCAA, no

glutamine) on the website’s product page.


We attempted to reach out to all three manufacturers regarding their manufacturing processes, as well as what makes their supplements

specifically suited for those in the outdoor sport arena. By the time of printing, Gnarly was the only company to respond. Here’s what they had to



  • What makes your supplements better or different? Any specific ingredients you’d like to highlight?

Gnarly Nutrition began with the desire to create high quality, delicious and natural products for athletes of

all disciplines. Our roots are in the mountains – we are climbers, skiers, trail runners and mountain bikers,

but it is in the common athletic experience of wanting to better ourselves and the commitment to do more

to reach those goals that we see overlap between all athletic pursuits. We make products that support

these pursuits and we create a culture that inspires them. Our goal is to help individuals get where they

want to be no matter what their dietary preferences may be, so we include both dairy-based and vegan

products in our line and we leave out potential gut irritants, like soy and gluten, that may cause digestive

issues for some folks. We also include probiotics and digestive enzymes in all of our proteins to improve

assimilation and promote overall gut health. The whey protein concentrate in all of our dairy-based

products is sourced from New Zealand grass-fed cows, both because it guarantees that our product is

GMO-free, antibiotic-free and hormone-free and because it is the method of dairy farming we believe is

best for the environment. We choose to include vegan branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) in our

products (most other BCAAs are sourced from duck feathers) despite the higher cost because they go

into solution better and taste better leading to a more efficacious product that all of our customers can

both enjoy and feel good about sourcing.


  • What nutritional supplementation do you believe outdoor athletes need, that others do not?

It truly depends on the athletic goals and lifestyle of the individual. In general, athletes need increased

carbohydrates and protein (amounts vary based on endurance vs. strength athletes) to fuel their pursuits,

recover quickly and physiologically adapt to the stressors they’re putting on their body. Is it possible to meet

these increased needs through diet alone? Yes. With busy lifestyles are most of us actually able to do that?

No. This is where Gnarly Nutrition comes in. We make high quality products that mix well and taste great; our

protein shakes are a convenient alternative when you don’t have the time or energy to whip up a full meal

following a long day in the hills but are still committed to giving your body what it needs to recover properly.

After increased protein and carbohydrates the needs of an athlete and how they use supplementation can get

very sport-specific. Proper hydration is key for endurance athletes and longer efforts, so electrolytes are a

must. More research is showing that both endurance and strength athletes can benefit from BCAA

supplementation through decreased delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and improved recovery. Creatine

has a proven track record for increasing power for strength athletes and outdoor power athletes, like

boulderers, may benefit from dosing with creatine, although for some, water weight gain may be a concern.


  • What manufacturer do you use for your product?

We are based in Utah and use local manufacturers that pass our own quality standards as well as those of 3rd

party quality auditors like NSF. The manufacturers of Gnarly products are NSF and NSF-for sport certified for

cGMPs. Manufacturers that carry NSF certification are audited bi-annually for cGMPs which includes, among

many other quality measures, product testing for label claims and contaminants. NSF-for sport certification

takes an additional step to ensure that none of the 200+ banned substances are present in manufactured


In addition to choosing manufacturers that are third-party cGMP certified, Gnarly Nutrition performs regular

quality audits of our manufacturers. These audits include site visits to evaluate cGMP compliance, reviews of

quality paperwork including ingredient documentation, manufacturing records and standard operating

procedures, and finally, random product testing to validate CoAs and specifically ensure that label claims and

standards for purity (we use those of the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP)) are met.


  • Are your supplements privately designed, or private label from a manufacturer?

Privately designed.




As this example shows, there is no significant nutritional difference between supplement brands – even between those who market to backcountry

hunters like MtnOps, and football players like EAS.
Gnarly product nutritional data is similiar that of the other brands, but the company has taken a “organic” marketing position with

milk whey from grass fed milk cows and easier to digest ingredients. Food ethics aside, the nutritional benefit is similar.

MTI in general does not support nutritional supplement use.  As Greg Glassman, founder of Crossfit, stated in 2012

“Let’s leave the supplements and the power bars and the apparel as a critical part of your revenue, let’s leave that to a different gym model….Now

I’m not going to tell you not to do those things. I’m just telling you I’d never do them. Never, ever, ever.” We feel is just not necessary. The cost is

significant and athletes get the nutrition needed from a healthy “clean” diet. Don’t get tricked by the hype and marketing. There is no short cut.

Save your money, eat real food, and train hard.








Mini Study: Load Effect on Tactical Shuttle Sprinting Performance

Test subjects started the shuttle sprint prone on the ground. Stand, sprint 50, turn and sprint back … 100m total.

By Rob Shaul

Loading for tactical athletes significantly increased over past decades with the development of body armor and other protective equipment, electronics (radios, night vision, GPS, batteries), and unit/mission-specific SOP equipment standards.

All of this adds up to extra weight on the athlete, and common “fighting loads” for day-missions on the military side in excess of 60 pounds including ammo, weapon, protective gear, water, electronics, batteries, etc.

Extra loading costs in terms of not only physical demand on the athlete, but also in movement speed. Last month we conducted a MTI Mini Study on the speed effect of increasing loading with 9 soldiers at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

Data Collection Details:

Test Subjects:
Nine volunteer soldiers at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Cammies, helmet, boots, carbine and loaded military issue ruck for loaded trails.

Two cones were placed 50m apart on a flat, grass course.

From prone on the ground, on “Go” the subject came to standing and sprint 50m to the far cone. Stop, turn around and sprint back. Stopwatch was started on “Go” and stopped when the athlete crossed the staring cone.

Each test subject completed 5 trials:

  • 1) Uniform, Helmet, Rifle only – no ruck.
  • 2) Uniform, Helmet, Rifle + 45# Ruck
  • 3) Uniform, Helmet, Rifle + 65# Ruck
  • 4) Uniform, Helmet, Rifle + 85# Ruck
  • 5) Uniform, Helmet, Rifle + 105# Ruck

Only one ruck was used for the data collection. Before each new trial began, load was verified using a crane scale.

Rest between trials averaged 9 minutes.

See video for trail examples at each load.

The largest jump – nearly 5 seconds – in shuttle time came between the first and second trail – no ruck to a 45# ruck.

The curve slowed continually, but at a smaller rate across the three remaining trials – 65, 85 and 105 pounds.

The average speed loss for all 9 athletes from no ruck to 105# ruck was nearly 10 seconds.

We purposely started the athletes prone, and conducted a shuttle to simulate a movement under fire scenerio. The significance here is that with a 45# load, athletes would be exposed to fire an extra 5 seconds, and this exposure increased to nearly 10 seconds when the load increased to 105 pounds.

On our mountain side, the high level alpinists we work with often say “speed = safety” and consciously work to decrease pack weight accordingly. Based on this mini study, the same could be true of tactical loading.

One surprising result of the study was that bodyweight did not significantly impact results. On prior rucking studies with distance events, MTI and other researchers have found that a greater bodyweight improves rucking speed performance.

The lightest test subject for this mini-study had a bodyweight of 141 pounds. The heaviest test subject has a bodyweight of 239 pounds.

In all we had 3x test subjects weigh less than 165 pounds, 3x between 165 and 210 pounds, and 3x over 210 pounds. For this study, on average, the lighter test subjects ran the shuttle sprint faster for each trial.


In our work with military athletes, loading has been a conscious concern for longer movements but rarely discussed for sprint efforts. The assumption many have is when coming under fire, military athletes will drop their ruck, and move with their “fighting load.”

However, fighting loads can weigh in excess of 45# which alone slowed our test subjects down by five seconds and 24 percent over this 100m course.

Two take-aways come to mind:

  • First – carefully consider necessary gear and loading.
  • Second – train sprinting under load. This is one of the goals of our TAC SEPA methodology.


Plan Focus: USMC PFT Training Plan


Our USMC PFT Training Plan is not a general fitness training plan. Rather, it has a laser focus on increasing your performance for the 3 events of the PFT (pull ups, crunches, 3-mile run), regardless of age,  gender or incoming fitness.

Program Design
The plan deploys the PFT Assessment three times – beginning, middle and end.

The follow-on pull up, crunches, and running progressions are based on the athlete’s most recent assessment results. In this way the training plan automatically “scales” to your incoming fitness and continues to “scale” and push you as your fitness improves during the plan.

Here is the Weekly Schedule:

  • Week 1, 3, and 6:Monday: (AM) PFT, (PM) Pull Ups/Push Ups, Crunches
  • Tuesday: Running Intervals
  • Wednesday: Pull Up/Push Up, Crunches
  • Thursday: Running Intervals
  • Friday: Aerobic Run, Pull Ups/Push Ups, Crunches,Week 2, 4, and 5:Monday: Pull Ups/Push Ups, Crunches, Running Intervals

How To Use the Plan
This plan is designed to be completed the 6 weeks directly before the official AFT.

Many Marines members continuously train to the PFT events during their regular PT time. We feel this is the wrong approach.

Training continuously for the PFT means athletes are always doing push ups, sit ups and runs for PT – which can lead to boredom, staleness and overtraining.

Also – the PFT events don’t well represent the real-world fitness demands of a deployed Marine or field training where heavy loads, rucking, relative strength, stamina and chassis integrity (mid section strength and strength endurance) are needed. Training continuously for the PFT means training for these demands is pushed aside, which leads to poor downrange or field exercise physical performance.

Rather, we feel military athletes’ day to day fitness should build and maintain these real world fitness demands. Then, when an PFT is on the horizon, athletes can step away from this base training to focus 6 weeks on specific PFT programming using this plan.

After the PFT – go back to the balanced “base” programming.

Required Equipment?

  • Stopwatch, preferably one that can record lap times and has a timer. (Timex Ironman is best, smart phone will work)
  • Pull Up Bar
  • Running area (track or other) with known 800m and 1 mile distances.

Changes to the updated USMC PFT Training Plan?
We updated this plan in May 2017. Here are the changes we made:

– Simplified the training plan in terms of administration, and deployment. Also reduced the equipment required to a track and stop watch.

– Standardized the weekly programming schedule across the plan

– Decreased the complexity of the running training to focus on 800m, 1 mile intervals and a long easy weekly run on Fridays.