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Six Major Problems With the New USAF Tier II EOD Battlefield Airman Fitness Test and MTI’s Suggested Replacement

By Rob Shaul

Few have designed as many mission-direct fitness assessments as us here at MTI. We’ve made several mistakes in fitness assessment design and have, and have learned lessons along the way. In general, the more direct, focused and simple the fitness assessment, the better.

MTI’s Fitness Assessment Design Rules:

Assessment Must Test the Primary, Mission-Direct Fitness Demands of the Job
First step in designing any fitness assessment is to assess the primary fitness demands of the actual job. “Primary fitness demands” is key here and we find may strength and conditioning coaches and exercise science professors overthink this and develop and overly-complicated fitness assessment which extends into and attempts to assess textbook-driven general fitness components and/or periphery job fitness demands. Identifying the primary fitness demands of the job is the foundational step of any fitness assessment design, and this takes focused discipline. It’s tempting to add esoteric events with the goal of being thorough, but this quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns, and without focus, the assessment becomes cluttered, too long, too hard to asses, and too complicated to score.

Don’t Use Limited or Specialized Equipment
Issue here is not only access to equipment for the actual assessment, but also access to the equipment to train with. Tactical fitness assessment are “high jeopardy” events for the tactical athletes who take them. Poor fitness assessment performance at best can negatively affect job evaluation performance, and at worse, result in job loss. It’s simply unfair to design an fitness assessment for tactical professionals which uses specialized equipment that is either rare, single-source, expensive, and/or not readily available.

Avoid Redundancy
Pick just one event to assess each primary, mission-direct fitness demand. Don’t deploy multiple fitness events to assess just one fitness demand. For example, if max effort lower body strength is a primary mission-direct fitness demand, don’t include both a 1RM Back Squat and 1RM Front Squats in the fitness assessment. Choose just one exercise to measure lower body strength and move on to the next primary demand.

Easy to Administer and Score
Simple is always better. A fitness assessment which is difficult to administer due to design, limited and/or specialized equipment, exercise complication or range of movement determination can quickly collapse under its own weight. Complication in scoring includes not only the overall assessment score, but how to score individual events.

Doesn’t Take All Day
Two hours tops for 30+ athletes, including an endurance event. Ninety-minutes is better. High jeopardy fitness assessments are stressful events for professional tactical athletes, we owe it to them to get them in, get it done and get it over with. Limited equipment, or difficulty in scoring can quickly lead to bottlenecks which can slow stuff up significantly. For example, if max rep pull ups are an assessment event, and the unit has just one pull up bar for 30 athletes, things slow down. A two hour time limit, including rest periods, will help in the fight against overcomplicated, redundant, difficult to score, fitness assessments.

 

The Battlefield Airman EOD Tier II PFT

Below are the new USAF Battlefield Airman Physical Fitness Test events, what they measure, and notes. This information comes from the USAF “Tier 2 Physical Fitness Tests and Standards,” .pdf document dated April, 2019. Read the document HERE.

 

Six Major Problems with the USAF TIer II PFT

1. Rowing Fitness, Medicine Ball Throws and Hand Dynamometer Grip Strength are not primary mission-direct fitness demands for tactical athletes and use specialized equipment. 

USAF EOD technicians don’t row anywhere and the transfer of rowing-fitness to running, rucking is not direct as the rower supports the athlete’s bodyweight. In the USAF’s testing of this event, athletes finished in 3:30-4:30, fairly close in time to a timed 1-mile run assessment, which would be more mission-direct for EODs.

The Medicine Ball Throws assess muscular power, a general fitness fitness attribute. EOD technicians don’t throw medicine balls on the job. A better measure of mission-direct power would be a short, timed sprint from prone.

The Hand Dynamometer grip strength test is another common, general fitness fitness test, which unlike grip endurance, may or may not be Mission Direct for EODs.

Both events use specialized equipment which may or may not be readily available. The required rower is a “Concept 2 Model D Row Ergometer with PM2, PM3, PM4 or PM5 Module,” and the rower’s drag setting has to calibrated for each athlete.  To test 30 athletes efficiently, 10x rowers would be required.

The Medicine Ball Throw requires a 20-pound medicine ball, “14-inch diameter” medicine ball. Diameter is important as a smaller diameter ball would be easier to throw. Also important is the surface texture of the ball – an easier to grip surface texture would be an advantage.

Technique is also important in both events – especially the rower.

 

2. Special Equipment Required

In addition to a Concept 2 Rower, and 20-pound, 14-inch diameter medicine ball, this assessment requires a Lafayette brand hand dynamometer, trap bar, 2x 50 pound sandbags (brand unspecified), 30-pound weight vest and 3×3 inch Beam barbell.

Stateside, it’s safe to assume units will have access to Concept 2 rowers, but it’s possible 14-inch medicine balls, and likely that 50-pound sandbags, a Lafayette hand dynamometer, and 30-pound weight vest will all have to be purchased specifically for this test.

The specific model of Lafayette dynamometer isn’t specified, and Lafayette lists at least 4 different hand dynamometers at it’s website, which will add to confusion. As well, to be fair, the dynamometer may need to be calibrated prior to each athlete being tested.

Trap bars aren’t currently common in most weight rooms.

Sandbags are becoming more common, but the specific type/brand of bag for this assessment is not specified. A larger bag, with less dense filler will be more difficult to move for the Gruseter than a smaller bag filled with sand.

The 3×3-inch Beam for the grip endurance test as far as we can discern is only made by Rogue Fitness. Not sure what would happen if Rogue discontinued this product.

 

3. Athletes May Not Be Able To Train for the Assessment

It’s likely units will protect the testing equipment from possible damage/loss between testing days, which will limit the ability of athletes to train for the assessment. As well, we could find no academic research on how to train event-specifically for the hand dynamometer assessment.

 

4. Event Redundancy

Multiple events assess grip strength and grip endurance either directly or peripherally including the 1000m Row, Hand Dynamometer Grip Strength Test, Trap Bar Dead Lift, Pull Ups, Farmer’s Carry and Medicine ball throw.

Three events assess Anaerobic capacity – 1000m Row, Farmer’s Carry, and Gruseter. The row and Greseter finish times overlap in duration – which indicates they could both be assessessing a similar measure of Anaerobic Capacity. The Row finish times for scoring extend from 3:31 to 4:33, while the Gruseter times from 4:07 to 6:59.

Both the Gruseter and the Extended Cross Knee Crunch test core strength.

 

5. Over Complication

Redundant events, requiring specialized equipment, the number of events, and events which are difficult to administer all add up to an overly complicated fitness assessment.

 

6. Takes too long

Ten events alone will take time to administer. Add in specialized equipment which will lead to bottlenecks in testing flow (hand dynamometer, rowers, Gruseter), minimum wait time between events, and a mandatory 1-3 day rest before the 1.5 mile run combine to end with a fitness test which takes several hours to administer spread out over two days.

 

MTI’s Suggested USAF EOD PFT

The 4-Event Assessment below, which will take approximately 90 minutes to administer:

Required Equipment

    • Pull up bar
    • 80-pound Sandbag
    • 45-pound ruck

 

 

 Scoring

– 40 Points Total (see chart below)

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

 

Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email rob@mtntactical.com

Row Interval Calculator

Assessment Distance: Your Time: : :

Arete 7.18.19

Military / National Security / Foreign Relations

Fixing Light Reconnaissance Formations, Small War Journal
US has three options to subdue Iran, Pravda Report
No Manhatten Projects for Urban Operations, Small War Journal
Estonian defense policy official on alliance relations and Russian stability, Defense News
Options for U.S. Use of Private Military and Security Companies, Small Wars Journal
Venezuela Gives Colombian Rebels Free Rein, Small Wars Journal
Recorded drug deaths in Scotland highest in EU, BBC
As Duterte Courts China, U.S. Says Don’t Forget Your Old Friend, NY Times
Countering Missiles with Missiles: U.S. Military Posture After the INF Treaty, War on the Rocks
Krekar convicted, arrested in Oslo, NewsinEng.com
Ukraine’s Unsung Heroes: 3 Tech NGOs Leading A Democratic Revival, Forbes.com
Russia Is Perfecting the Art of Crushing Uprisings Against Authoritarian Regimes, Small Wars Journal
Terrorists Look to Drones and Driverless Cars to Avoid Martyrdom, Small Wars Journal
American Commandos Gear Up for New Shadow War With Russia, NY Times

 

Homeland Security / First Responder / Wildland Fire

Inside Trump’s Border Wars, NY Times
Police: Flushing drugs could create ‘meth-gators’, Police One
LODD: WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST KILLED DURING PRESCRIBED BURN, Firefighter Close Calls
2 suspects evading police drown in swollen creek, Police One
They want to make the Blue Lives Matter flag a symbol of racism. We won’t let them., LE Today
4 FDNY FIREFIGHTERS AT FIRE IN “DA BRONX”, Firefighter Close Calls
What to Expect from Wildfire Season This Year and in the Future, Homeland Security Newswire
Training to shoot from and through vehicles, Police One
Wildfire on Maui causes evacuations, burns 10,000 acres, Wildfire Today
Body Camera Video Shows South Carolina Sheriff’s Deputy Revive Unresponsive Baby, Officer.com

 

Mountain

REI, Media Giant? ‘Uncommon Path’ Magazine Launches Co-op Into New Role, Gearjunkie
Outside Names 54 Classic Adventure Books We All Need to Own, Outside
Why Some People Obsessively Hunt Elk Antlers, Outside
Double Standards: Our Conflicted Notions About Chipping—by the Numbers, Climbing Magazine
How GPS Devices Use Satellites and Atomic Clocks To Establish Locations, Unofficial Networks
The 12 Best Places to Live in 2019, Outside

 

Fitness / Health / Nutrition

The Best Electric Toothbrush, The Best Electric Toothbrush
How to Talk Yourself Into Better Endurance, Outside
Cutting 300 Calories a Day Shows Health Benefits, NY Times
Netflix deletes suicide scene from popular youth show, ’13 Reasons Why’, Reuters
Lessons from Columbine: Testing “Run, Hide, Fight” Approach to Active Shooter Situations, Homeland Security Newswire
How Hawaii Trains Its Lifeguards, Outside
Extreme heat is changing sports, from the Olympics to local races, Jamestown Times
Genetic study reveals metabolic origins of anorexia, Science Daily
Too Much Social Media a Depression Risk for Teens, WebMD
A Transgender Female Lifter Won Gold at the 2019 Pacific Games, and There Was Controversy, Muscle & Fitness
New contraceptive vaginal ring prevents pregnancy for a year, gives women more control, Reuters

 

Interesting

A Closer Look at How Religious Restrictions Have Risen Around the World, Pew Research Center
About one-in-five adult Twitter users in the U.S. follow Trump, Pew Research Center

Bitcoin And Crypto Suddenly Branded A ‘National Security Issue’, Forbes.com
How to Buy and Import a Rig, Outside
Fossil Fuels Are Far Less Efficient Than Previously Thought, Bloomberg
‘Fishyleaks’ website hopes to land those guilty of overfishing, The Guardian
Shell’s boss delivers some hard truths on oil and climate change, The Economist
10 Reasons Meetings Are Killing Your Business, Forbes
Stunning Apple Leaks Confirm Disappointing New iPhone, Forbes

Q&A 7.18.19

QUESTION

I am an active duty United States Marine and have been researching some of your programs for quite a while. I have completed the TLU strength program that you have written and really enjoyed it. However, I have been unable to find a functional fitness program that was strenuous enough and met my needs (speaking about outside of MTN). I am a SSgt and part of an enlisted commissioning program. My next step is The Basic School and then Infantry Officers Course (IOC). I have been debating about purchasing your Greek Hero package for some time and am very interested but have some questions I would like to ask first. 

I am very tall and have a tendency to hold weight on my body (6’4” and 240 lbs at 16 percent body fat). I worry about my endurance and weight going into the program. I run relatively often now and lift weights about 5 times a week. I wonder if my 3 mile run time (20:00 roughly) or ruck run time will improve if I follow your program which would have me working out less often than I do now. I do not mean to insult your intelligence or education by asking, I only worry because I have tried many “solutions” to no end in terms of maintaining a lean, mobile frame (I do not consider myself to be lean at the moment). My weight fluctuates rapidly and often due to schools like Officer Candidates School and various deployments so my metabolism often does not work in my favor. I hope to be closer to 12 percent body fat and 225 or so lbs at the end of next summer (one year from now). This is for height and weight requirements as well as my mobility and functionality. The running that is implemented that I could see from sample training seems like it is little long distance and at a moderate pace and then some shorter running in the 400 meter range, this is similar to what I do now but I wonder if the program develops later on to focus on unloaded and loaded endurance distances. 

My next question is in regards to the guarantee you offer. If I follow the program to the letter for the duration of all seven series that come with the Greek Hero training program, do you still honor the guarantee? Of course this is on the honor system and I would not ever take advantage of it (integrity and all). Just curious, a year is a long time. 

You and your staff all seem to be very educated in the field and I don’t consider myself an amateur or naive. I trust that the programs are “lab-ratted” and work, but in my experience, my body is stubborn. My wife is a trainer within the military functional fitness realm and is CSCS, TSAC-F among others and has struggled to develop a methodology that fits my agenda. My goal is to not only be physically ready but prepared to excel when I am called upon. I apologize for the novel but am very curious and eager to hear from you and your staff. Any information or guidance you could offer in the selection of a program would be greatly appreciated. I would also be happy to field any questions about myself that might better aid you in developing me. 

ANSWER

How do I stay lean or lose fat?
Answers: (a) 90% or more of fat is diet related. Clean up your diet significantly, and you’ll lean up. You can’t outwork a shitty diet. Here are our recommendations. Follow this, and if it doesn’t work, cut the cheat day. Cleaning up your diet is key to maintaining your lean frame. Again – you can’t outwork your diet.
Greek Hero Endurance Programming
Each plan in the series deploys different endurance programming. Understand that for grunts like you, there are two primary types of mission -direct endurance, running and rucking. Some plans deploy one or the other, and some both. How the plans train endurance differs primarily between assessment based, hard fast intervals, and longer moderate or easy efforts for both running and rucking.
Guarantee?
It’s on your honor not to take advantage of our guarantee. Every once in a while we’ll see a douche bag abuse our guarantee and our efforts, but the vast majority of the athletes who come to MTI don’t. I would suspect however that if you weren’t satisfied with the programming you’d stop and request a refund long before a year came up. As well, you can purchase the plans individually and each includes a look at the first week of training. I’d recommend you start with Hector, do the first week under the “Sample Training” tab, and decide from there.
Overall programming?
Your attention on body image and making sure you work out hard enough is misplaced. As a professional tactical athlete, all that matter is your mission performance. Next is addressing the “burden of constant fitness” and longevity. MTI has two types of programming: (1) Base Fitness, and (2) Event-Specific Fitness (selection, deployments, courses, pfts, etc.)
MTI’s Base FItness programming for military SOF and infantry concurrently trains what we fill are the mission-direct demands of these athletes: High Relative Strength (strength per bodyweight), Work Capacity (multi-mode and sprint-repeat-based), Military Endurance (Run, Ruck), Chassis Integrity (MTI’s proprietary functional core strength training), and Tactical Agility. The Greek Hero plans all train Base Fitness and are designed to build into the military athlete a solid “base” level of mission-direct fitness upon which to build event specific fitness.
Our event-specific programming is not concerned with concurrently training these different fitness attributes, but rather laser-focused on training the athlete for the fitness demands of the specific event he/she will face at the school, selection, PFT, etc.
In an ideal situation the athlete will use our Base Fitness programming as his/her day to day fitness, and then drop out of the base fitness programming in the weeks directly before the event, and complete the appropriate event-specific training. For you, this would be the USMC TBS/IOC Training Packet.
– Rob

QUESTION

Any recommendations on what program work. I’m 40 years old  I have done cross fit im the past and some personal training in the past. My goal is to build some muscles and get rid of fat.

ANSWER

I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan, and follow it up with the plans/order in the Country Singer Packet I.
Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan is no joke, and will kickstart your fitness. The Country Singer Plans deploy MTI fluid periodization for civilian athletes. These plans concurrently train strength, work capacity, endurance and chassis integrity (core). These plans are high-level general fitness programming.
Fat? 90% of it is diet related. You can’t outwork a shitty diet. Here are our dietary recommendations. Eat clean 6 days/week and you should shed fat and lean up. If not, cut the cheat day ….
– Rob

QUESTION

I am on my final week of Humility, about to start Backcountry Big Game.  However, my hunting plans have been shifted back to November, instead of September.  I’ll have 7 weeks extra now, 8, if I skip my rest week. I have a bear hunt in mid-August that won’t be too bad, then my deer hunt in mid-November will be packing in for over a week.  I will do the Backcountry Big Game for it, for sure. Do you have any suggestions on a program for the extra 7 weeks?

ANSWER

Fortitude. It’s 7 weeks …. take the full rest week.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am currently serving in the MN National Guard and need to get back into shape. I currently am not working out and would like a starting place. Would the military on ramp be a good plan for me to choose? Thank you for your time.

ANSWER


QUESTION

I’m doing Big Cat, if I can’t always work out in bunker gear and pack is it okay to still do the work out as prescribed or add to the loading/reps? Also, how can I mix in push up and sit up and improvement plan for my APFT? Thanks for your time.

ANSWER

Only some of the agility work in the sessions do we want you loaded in bunker gear, most of it no – so you don’t need to add any reps/sets.
You can add in push ups and sit ups at the end of each session. Easy would be to do 10 rounds of 20x push ups, 30x sit ups.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m headed to USMC BRC the first week of July, I know we’re going to be eating a lot of chow hall food, but do you have any other recommendations for a high performance diet over the next 4 months?
During USMC IOC, I ate as much as I could and still lost weight. My biggest fear is my body breaking down. I’m currently 5’ 10”, 165lbs. Keeping weight on has always been a struggle.
Appreciate any recommendations.

ANSWER

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to supplement while at school, but body-buiding type mass gainer shakes/mixes and recovery shakes with both carbs/protein might be a way to add to your caloric intake if you’re not getting enough through the meals.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m curious about how I might adapt the Running Improvement plan to shorter distance trail runs. I’m doing a series of 3.5-mile races on some local trails. My idea was to use the 2-mile improvement plan, and my road running has definitely been progressing, but based on my last race I’m not sure how much has transferred to the trails.

There’s a ton of other variables in my case, and I don’t really think the plan is to blame, but I am curious whether there is anything you would recommend that I do differently either within this plan or even with a different plan.
Thanks!

ANSWER

You could do the long runs on trails, or you could do the whole thing … the problem is the assessment and all the intervals would need to be on the exact, same section on the exact same trail.
– Rob

QUESTION

Hope all is well. First, Leg Blaster and all the little and big brothers of it are one of the best lower body exercises in existence. In my experience nothing compares to it in bulding strength, endurance  explosive power and mental toughness. Thank you for making them popular.
Second, is their an equivalent for Leg Blaster for the Hamstrings? Feel overdevelopment in the quads  would like to balance it out.
Third, in a recent article I read about the idea of working with shuttle runs in a small space. What would be a good protocol for fat loss?
Fourth, weighted Dips and pull ups, both in all their incarnations are overall the best upper body development exercises. With little adjustment they can train all athletics qualities.
Looking forward on your feedback

ANSWER

Hamstring Leg Blaster? No …. but the Hamstring Hell is pretty good. So are Nordic Hamstrings and the Russian Hammer.
Shuttle Sprints Protocol for fat loss? Best is to clean up your diet. You can’t outwork a shitty diet. Then look at 30/30 Jingle Jangles.
All these exercises can be found at our exercises page: https://mtntactical.com/category/exercises/
– Rob

QUESTION

I wonder if you have a program that would recommend you to basketball in off season?

ANSWER

I’d recommend Waylon. This is a general fitness training program with a significant strength component, 20-30 minute work capacity effort, chassis integrity and endurance built around a 1.5 mile run and 800m repeats. Solid programming which will build your durability via strength, and overall work capacity.
– Rob

QUESTION

Which one of your programs would you recommend for an off-road motorcyclist planning several weeks riding later in the year (months away from now). They will be riding mainly desert tracks and unpaved roads using a 520 lb Adventure motorbike.

ANSWER

I don’t have a specific adventure riding training plan. But from what I do have, and given the core/upper body and grip strength demands of your sport, I’d recommend San Quentin from our Notorious Prison Packet of plans of Correctional Officers.
This plan concurrently trains strength, work capacity, grip strength, upper body hypertrophy and chassis integrity (functional core). The fitness should translate well to your riding.
I’d recommend doing the plan now, and then repeating it the 7 weeks directly before your ride.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have a question regarding the pull-up portion of the Operator Ugly Improvement Plan. On my last iteration (May), I scored performed 24 pull-ups on the assessment.

Per the programming, I was to begin at 25% of the repetitions performed (six) with an additional 20 pounds; I used my body armor, ~23 pounds. As I progressed through the programming, I was performing 40-50 weighted pull-ups per day and hitting 200+ per week.

I have had tendonitis in my biceps tendon previously and am concerned about the volume of the pull-ups, especially weighted. I made the conscious decision not to move to sets of nine per the programming for fear of aggravating/reinjuring the tendon.

Is there a better way to progress the pull-ups without so much volume? Increase the weight further and reduce the number of repetitions? Decrease the rest period from 90 to 75 or 60 seconds?

ANSWER

Quick answer is I’m not sure. Increasing the load and dropping the volume will also increase stress on your elbows.
I’d recommend being safe and either …
1) Drop the IBA and do the prescribed reps unloaded.
2) Keep the IBA and cut the prescribed reps in half.
– Rob

QUESTION

I just started the ruck based selection packet. I wanted to say thanks for making this comprehensive plan. I’ve been an endurance athlete pretty much my whole life, and this plan is super valuable to me.
My strength stats are:
Squat 260
Bench 225
OHP 155
Clean 240
Should I still do the Big 24 cycle? I know my numbers aren’t great, but I’m worried that the gains will not be so great, and I will lose lots of endurance / ruck based skills in that cycle. I’ve been traditionally not very strong.
I plan to complete this whole packet prior to boot camp because I am going to go from Boot -> AIT -> Airborne -> SFPC -> Selection. So I don’t think I will have much time between Boot and Selection to complete the program.  Do guys usually keep doing this program in the pipeline?
Is it OK to ruck run in running shoes at first? I am still working on finding the proper boots.

ANSWER

Yes on Big 24. The strength programming in the plan is meant to build your durability.
Yes – complete the entire packet before Boot – you won’t have much time after entering to train.
Okay on rucking in running shoes.
– Rob

QUESTION

I used both the spirits and gun makers series’ in the past.  I was wondering if you’ve considered developing a program for K9 handlers.  Due to different demands placed on them than both patrol and SWAT officers.  If not, what would you recommend to help with tracking for distance?

ANSWER

I’ve been asked by a few handlers for a K9-specific packet – and will still consider it. But last year I developed a K9 Handler Fitness Assessment – sent it to several of the officers who wanted their own packet, and posted it to k9 fb groups, etc. and didn’t have a single K9 handler complete the assessment and provide feedback … so I’m just not sure there’s a lot of interest.
You now …. the plans in the Wilderness Packet will prepare you for distance tracking. These are designed for wilderness professionals including game wardens, forest rangers, etc.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have been doing a lot of barbell work this winter. I want to get more body strength going with some dumbbell work. What plan do you recommend.

ANSWER

Tammy – If you want a balanced multi-modal plan which deploys dumbbell strength work
Moe – if you want a strength-focused plan which deploys dumbbell strength work
– Rob

QUESTION

Just wanted to say thank you and great job with the Rainier Training Plan. I successfully summitted the mountain last week and everything went well. I felt amazingly fit, we moved extremely fast during the climb passing numerous teams on summit day. We got back to high camp from the summit and I felt like I could of keep on hiking. The training plan was fantastic.
Next on the list is Denali, would you recommend your new Everest 23 week plan as a lead up to the 9 week Denali plan? Or use it instead of the 9 week plan and include the tire pull exercises? I like the idea of a full 5+ month plan to stick with, instead of just the 9 week plan.

ANSWER

Congrats!
No … roll into the plans/order of the Wilderness Packet of training plans until your out weeks from Denali. Start with the first plan in the packet – Jedediah Smith.
9-weeks out from Denali, drop out of the wilderness packet plans and complete the Denali Training Plan the 9 weeks directly before your trip.
– Rob

QUESTION

I will be running a road marathon on October 26th. I already have a running training program for that race, so by the end of that program I’ll be running about 40 miles per week (probably 40% on trails), plus some weight training each week.

After that race, I have a 50k race planned on March 7th (approx 18 weeks between) that has about 14,000 ft in elevation change on pretty technical trails.  I was looking at your ultramarathon/mountain running plans, which would you suggest to fill this 18 week timeframe to have me ready for the race?

ANSWER

The Alpine Running plan will give you a little break from road volume, and help with uphill endurance, and the volume in the Ultra Pre-Season Plan is adequate for a 50K.
– Rob

Lab Rat “Geek Cycle” Explores Training “Explosive Power”

Long Time MTI Lab Rat Gabe demonstrating some explosive power during a tactical agility drill

By Rob Shaul

This week MTI Lab Rats began a 4-week “geek cycle” designed to test both “explosive power” assessments and training progressions.

By “Explosive Power” we mean explosive power demonstrated in a single explosive movement or short-duration series of the same movements.

In the strength and conditioning world, another way to consider power is on the endurance side, where rowing and cycling coaches use power meets on ergs or bikes to assess and progress an athletes endurance programming.

This cycle isn’t focused on these longer efforts, but rather is focused on “explosive power.” Think a power clean, snatch, high box jump or short sprint.

 

Background

Early on in MTI programming, I followed standardized strength and conditioning terminology referred to Olympic lifts programmed into training sessions as “power.” But I soon moved from describing this work as training “power” to training “total body strength.”

The main reason was trouble I had identifying where “power” left off, and strength training started.

Measured in wattage, the power equation includes the barbell weight, barbells, speed, and distance traveled. Before I started my own gym I traveled to LA and attended a coach’s mentorship at the Athletes’ Performance (now Exos) facility there. Athletes’ Performance had all the latest training gadgets, including expensive Keiser weight lifting racks which used air pressure to load barbells, and meters which measure load, distance and barbell speed, and spit out the resulting power.

The coaches said they used the power-measuring capabilities of the Keiser machines to assess athlete’s power output – not on a single movement, but rather on a series of movements such as 5x front squats at 95 pounds for time. To my knowledge, however, they didn’t use power as it’s own progression metric.

However, without a Keiser machine, or another way to measure power, coming up with wattage is difficult and exact.

A 2007 study found that peak power (speed x distance x time) is generated when athletes move about 30% of the 1 rep max load for a barbell strength exercise as fast as possible. This 30% of 1RM loading has been used by coaches for years as the starting point for training explosive power in the weight room.

Another study, from 1992, found that training both strength and plyometrics together, had the greatest impact on improving one measure of explosive power, the vertical jump. overtraining just strength or training just plyometrics. The programming for this study split strength training from plyometric training. Training the two together, in the same circuit, has been a feature of MTI’s TLU Strength Training Progression for several years.

We call this “complex training” – where we’ll follow a heavy set of a specific barbell exercise immediately with a fast, explosive, bodyweight plyometric exercise which uses the same muscles and movement patterns. For example, 5x Heavy Back Squats followed immediately by 2x Box Jumps (unloaded), or a set of 4x Heavy Bench Presses followed immediately by 2x clapping push ups.

While MTI programming has deployed power, and especially, complex training, for years, to this point I had never designed a specific power cycle.

 

Assessing Explosive Power

We work hard in our programming to use assessments and tools which can easily be repeated elsewhere. The trick for this cycle was identifying the easily repeatable assessments for explosive power. After some experimentation, I identified 5 Power Assessments, each with its strengths and weaknesses

(1) Broad Jump for Distance
Simple assessment, but it could be heavily influenced by athlete familiarity and technique training. For the assessment, each athlete got 1x practice jump, then three official “trials.” The longest trial jump was used as the athlete’s assessment distance.

(2) Backwards Medicine Ball Throw @ 25# Medicine ball
I have my doubts about this assessment, but I’ve seen is deployed by other strength coaches, and now by the Army for the new ACFT and the Air Force for some of their Tier 2 SOF fitness assessments. Like the broad jump, I suspect an athlete’s performance on this assessment could be greatly influenced not by increased “power” but by familiarity with the event and better technique.

(3) 10-yard Prone to Sprint for Time
This is a unique power assessment to MTI which I feel perhaps has the most practical transfer to a tactical athlete. Specifically, the ability to powerfully pop up off the ground from prone and explosively move quickly for a short distance. The practical application of this ability could be quick movement when under fire, or quickly closing the distance on a perpetrator or enemy soldier.

(4) 3x Sandbag Toss & Chase for Distance @ 40# for women, and 60# for Men
I’ve used a similar assessment before in our law enforcement training but narrowed down the event, and tightened up the assessment for this cycle. What I like about the Sandbag Toss & Chase from a power perspective is it involves two total body power movements – first a power clean from the ground to the chest, and next a push press forward for distance. This relatively light loading (60#) for men seems about right – heavy enough to be challenging, but light enough to move explosively.

(5) Work up to 2 Rep Max of “The Exercise”
I learned “The Exercise” from Strength Coach Dan John which he considered the single greatest movement to train total athletic speed and power. Coach John through his writing, working with CrossFit, and articles on T-nation became fairly well known in the celebrity strength coaching circles. But what many don’t know about his is his incredible success as a high school track coach – esp. with throwers. These field sports (discus, shot put, javelin, etc.) demand demonstration of fast, explosive power and movement.

“The Exercise” combines an Olympic lifting movement (hang squat snatch) and a strength movement (overhead squat). 1x “The Exercise” = Hang Squat Snatch plus an Overhead Squat. It’s an awesome movement and one I programmed into the first Big 24 cycle.

I don’t program it much anymore simply because many men, including me now … have shoulder mobility issues which limit the ability to do a snatch or overhead squat. But the lab rats for this geek cycle are mostly young and flexible and in their 20s … so no issues there.

 

Cycle Design

In designing this cycle I wanted to avoid “training to the test” and did so for the most part. The only time the lab rats will do a broad jump for distance, backwards medicine ball throw, 10-yard prone to sprint for time, or 3x sandbag toss and chase for distance is for the initial assessment, and the final assessment.

However, I do have “The Exercise” programmed two days/week throughout the cycle – using a Big 24 progression based on their initial 2RM. I’m curious to test Dan John’s endorsement of this exercise – and wonder if it’s effect will show up in the prone to sprint assessment.

The cycle also deploys 1RM assessment for the Hang Squat Clean and Push Press, and follow on complex training using 30/40/50% of these maxes and bodyweight exercises. It also deploys a body-weight pull up followed by ball slam circuit to train (hopefully) upper body pulling explosive power. I do modify the hang squat clean for the progression, but adding a squat jump with the barbell for each rep. See the clip below …

Finally, the cycle deploys simple plyometric training. Specifically, jumping lung intervals, and loaded box jump intervals using a weight vest. See the chart below for the progression:

 

Final thoughts Before the Results

I’m hoping to see across the board improvement on the assessments at the end of the cycle, but am not sure – esp. for the backwards medicine ball throw and I suspect that event is technique, rather than power, dependent.

Based on the conventional theory, my lab rats should see improvements in the broad jump for sure, and hopefully in the 10-yard prone-to-sprint.

More to follow in a couple of weeks!

Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email rob@mtntactical.com

 

 

 


You Might Also Like “Geek Cycle” Researching Working Strength Progression, Work Capacity Power Production, Endurance Mode Transfer and Hang Board Interval Protocols


 

Arete 7.11.19

Military / National Security / Foreign Affairs

US approves possible $2.2bn arms sale to Taiwan, Al Jazeera English
Army, Navy face big shake-up on the road to confirming the next SECDE, Defense News
More leadership changes at the National Reconnaissance Office, Defense News
More troops to border?; Houthi drones bomb Saudi cities; US-Taliban talks resume; Camo-piercing camera; And a bit more. Defense One
U.S.-British Relationship Sounding More Testy Than ‘Special’, NY Times
What the US needs to counter ‘unprecedented’ Chinese influence in South America, Military Times
U.S. urges Turkey to halt drilling operations off Cyprus coast, Reuters
White House threatens to veto $733B defense policy bill, The Hill
Fearing Iran, Qatar Continues Building its Missile Defenses, Defense One
Billionaires Can’t Buy World Peace, Foreign Policy
Amazon and Microsoft battle for $10bn ‘war cloud’ contract with Pentagon, Associated Press
Flight surgeon to face court-martial on sexual assault, abusive sexual contact charges, Air Force Times
How Strong is the United States Military?, Heritage Foundation
Iran Guards commander says U.S. bases are in range of its missiles: Tasnim, Reuters
Why gambling addiction among active-duty troops may pose national security risks, Navy Times
The Russian Submarine that Caught Fire and Killed 14 May Have Been Designed to Cut Undersea Internet Cables, Homeland Security Newswire

 

Homeland Security / First Responder / Wildland Fire

Pentagon to Get Its Fourth Leader in Six Months, Foreign Policy
New Iowa law benefits families of fallen FFs, police officers, Firerescue1 Daily News
California Police Use-of-Force Law Awaits Governor’s Signature, Officer
Training Officers More Efficiently and Effectively, POLICE Magazine
How a “Peace Officer” identity initiative is changing public perception, Police One
3 fire service myths: Data, response times and coverage equity, Fire Rescue 1
Border Arrests Drop by 28% in June in First Decline of the Year, Homeland Security Department
State AG: Sheriffs better not go behind my back and work with ICE. Cops: Kiss our … thin blue line., LE Today
Denver cops may start carrying food for people in need, Police One
4 tests to help officers survive ethical dilemmas, Police One
More Hotshot crews depart the lower 48 for Alaska fires. Wildfire Today
The West had below normal precipitation in June, Wildfire Today

 

Mountain

10-year-old Selah Schneiter climbs the Nose of El Capitan, Alpinist Newswires
Colorado transforms old landfill to a year-round ski hill 30 minutes from Denver, Freeskier
In Colorado, Most State Trust Land is Closed to Public Hunting. What Gives? Outdoor Life
Piolets d’Or 2019: jury and big list of world’s most significant, innovative mountain climbs, Planetmountain.com
Adam Ondra talks Silence, the hardest route in the world, Planetmountain.com
What Is UPF Clothing?, Wirecutter
Backcountry.com Founder & Former POWDER Editor John Bresee Has Died At Age 53, Unofficial Networks
Ines Papert, Luka Lindic and Brette Harrington complete The Sound of Silence on Mt. Fay, Alpinist
AAI 2019 State of Climbing Report, Climbing Mag
5 Films That Redefine “Outdoorsy”, Outside
Downhill Running Pro-Tip…Remember To Run Like A Boxer, Unofficial Networks
Why Outdoor Friendships Don’t Last, Outside

 

Fitness / Health / Nutrition

Loaded Carries Boring? Nah! They’re Essential, Breaking Muscle
A tale of two proteins: The best and worst of metabolic adaptation, ScienceDaily
SOCOM ‘does not envision’ mandatory keto diet for SEALs or others, Stars & Stripes
Muscle Cramps: Causes and Remedies Based on Latest Science, Road Bike Action
Exercise improves brain function in overweight and obese individuals, Science Daily
How to Do Less and Achieve More, NY Times
Drinking Matcha tea can reduce anxiety, Science Daily
Australian Man Dies from Too Much Caffeine Powder, Muscle & Fitness
The 3 Best Squat Variations For Bad Knees, Muscle & Fitness
Strengthening Muscle May Be Healthier Than Losing Fat, EurekAlert
What to Eat Before and After a Workout, Men’s Health

 

Interesting

Russia’s RT banned from UK media freedom conference, BBC News
Sunken WW1 Scapa Flow warships sold for £85,000 on eBay, BBC News
Cyclone, hurricane, typhoon: What’s the difference? National Geographic
The brain consumes half of a child’s energy — and that could matter for weight gain, ScienceDaily
Animated chart of the day: US electricity generation by fuel source, 1949-2019 – AEI – American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise, AEI
‘Overtourism is killing Big Sur’: activists raise banner in California vacation spot, The Guardian
The BMW X7 Pickup Truck Is Real, and It Looks Like a Yacht, Gear Patrol
Live fast and die young, or play the long game? Scientists map 121 animal life cycles, Science Daily
McDonald’s and Burger King are facing calls to scrap plastic toys in kids’ meal deals, CNBC
How Recover From a Major Mistake at Work, Forbes
Urgent Tips for Companies Dealing With A Toxic Boss, Psychology Today

 

Q&A 7.11.19

QUESTION

What plan would you recommend for improving both my apft( pushups need most improvement) and ruck during a seven week period.

ANSWER

Air Assault Training Plan. It includes focused training for the APFT and a 6-mile ruck.
Skip the Wednesday sessions in the plan to focus just on the APFT and the Ruck.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m planning an Ama Dablam expedition this November and want to know what MTI training program would best prepare me for it. It’s a 22,000 ft Himalayan peak. The expedition is about a month and the climbing will be semi-technical near the summit (jumaring/rappelling on fixed ropes). Thanks.

ANSWER

Over-prepare and do the Everest Training Plan. It’s a 23-week plan and you’ve got 23 weeks until Mid-Nov.
– Rob

QUESTION

If body weight foundations is too difficult, and I believe it is your easiest product, what would you suggest?  Should I do P90X or something for a month and then try again?  Just use my miserable numbers to calculate the work loads and go with it? For instance, after the 30 warm up squats, my legs get totally locked up and running the 1.5 after is almost impossible.  Not sure if I’m not stretching enough or something but I assume I shouldn’t be that smoked after just the warm up. Thank you for any assistance you can provide.

ANSWER

Stick with the plan and see how much you improve on the re-assessment in 3 weeks. You can walk/run the running portions as needed. Just keep grinding and don’t overthink it.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am focusing mostly on endurance (3 days a week, with interval work) and want to add the most appropriate and efficient strength program on top that won’t negatively impact my endurance days (running, trail and treadmill, mountain hiking under load whenever the snow starts to melt).
I’m kinda trying to build up strength and endurance before I have my first of two hip replacement surgeries in mid August.  So I will have a month of down time after that surgery before I start the backcountry touring pre season.
Let me know what you think?

ANSWER

I’d recommend the strength sessions from TLU Strength.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a newly commissioned FA 2LT and will be reporting to another duty station in early July.  I am looking for recommendations for how to change my fitness routine.  My main change will be that I will have PT in the mornings for an hour. A few weeks into BOLC I plan to try or for the Pre-Ranger Course at Ft Sill which will extend PT to 90 minutes and increase the intensity and focus the training specifically for Ranger School.  I am not really concerned with my fitness in regards to succeeding at FA BOLC, more so getting an early start to preparing for Ranger School.  Which program would you recommend on your sight to pair with regular BOLC PT and Pre-Ranger PT?  My understanding is both FA BOLC PT and Pre-Ranger are mixes of CrossFit style workouts, endurance runs, rucks, sprints, calisthenics, and occasional ACFT/Deadlift work.  I am looking for a 4 to 5 days split for my personal training.  Does MTN have a program that will fit my requirements? If not would the MTN help me build a split?  Thank you and excited to keep on training.

ANSWER

From what you describe, between PT and Pre-Ranger, your endurance/cals will be covered. What will decline is raw strength – so I’d recommend strength, 3 days/week as a two-a-day.
From our stuff, I’d recommend the strength sessions from the MTI Relative Strength Training Plan. This programming is focused, scaled and progressed, and super efficient in the weight room.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’ve got the full package (Athlete’s Subscription). How would I plan a year with a short to medium distance OCR in mind? Race season will be summer of 2020. Can you walk me through a suitable base for the remaining 9 mths?

ANSWER

Then drop into the plans/order in the Country Singer Packet I. 
Complete the 6-week Obstacle Race Training Plan – Short Distance, or the 7-week Obstacle Course Race Training Plan – Medium Distance (whichever is appropriate), directly before your race next summer.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m currently on the “Swimming Improvement Plan”.  I currently have a herniated disc causing sciatica and some weakness in my left ankle and calf.  This leads to fast exhaustion as well as ankle and shin pain on finning days.  I was wondering if there was a decent supplement routine you might recommend for finning days while my disc heals.  My goal is to prepare for the CCT pipeline, and improve PAST swim time.  I also could improve my underwaters; maybe there’s a hypoxic routine you’d recommend?

ANSWER

I’d recommend decreasing the distance of the prescribed finning as needed … i.e. when it gets painful, stop.
Hypoxic … a simple way to do it is to swim 25m underwater repeats, but steadily decrease the rest between intervals each training session… …
SESSION 1
8 Rounds
Swim 25m underwater
Rest 2 minutes between efforts
SESSION 2
8 Rounds
Swim 25m underwater
Rest 1:45 between efforts
SESSION 3
8 Rounds
Swim 25m underwater
Rest 1:30 between efforts …. etc.
– Rob

QUESTION

I joined a new station for this year’s wildland season and my Chief gave me a ‘challenge!’

We got two brothers, the younger one is 162 kgs, the older one over 200 kgs (maxed out my scale).

My goal is to get them healthy and pass the ‘pack test.’

I plan on keeping detailed records…

Would you be interested in their transformation story?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

ANSWER

Not interested in transformation stories – it’s outside of our wheel house.
For your brothers I’d recommend the Rucking Improvement Training Plan … and that they fix their diet.
Email questions.
– Rob

QUESTION

Really quick one, why does Bench/PU equate to better Ruck performance? Is it the strengthening of the Posterior chain?

ANSWER

In general, stronger athletes and/or bigger athletes (who are usually stronger) ruck better. Reason is simple …. 2 athletes are rucking 6 miles with 60#. One is a 120-pound woman, the second is a 240-pound man.
The 120-pound woman is rucking with 50% of her body weight. The 240# man is rucking with 25% of his body weight. He should move much faster.
– Rob

QUESTION

Is there options to perform the gym based exercises in humility in a garage, in regards to the 30ft dumbell crawl in the grind portion can I get some Curtis Ps in there?.. I know it’s not the same, but an awesome exercise

ANSWER

Curtis P is a total body strength exercise … db crawl is a chassis integrity exercise. You can add curtis p’s … but don’t use them to replace the prescribed exercises … and go heavy on them.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am going into the final week of the SWAT prep programming and love the progress I had made. Unfortunately my agency cancelled the assessment. Maybe 6 months before the next one. The way they work is they will make an announcement for the assessment about 4 weeks prior. Usually there are rumors floating around a week or so before the announcement.
I am looking for advice on what to do now. I would like to do another cycle of the SWAT prep unless you advise against that and then move to something that will maintain what I have gained, but maybe some more variety.

ANSWER

Sorry about the cancellation…. here’s what I’ recommend.

Continue with and complete the SWAT Selection Training Plan.
After completion, take a week off – total rest, then complete the plans and order in the Gun Maker series of plans for full-time SWAT/SRT. These are designed as day to day fitness for full time SWAT/SRT.
Then, after 7 weeks before selection, drop out of the Gun Maker plans, and re-complete the SWAT Selection Training Plan.
Good luck!
– Rob

QUESTION

I was shopping around for some Father’s Day gifts for my husband and came across your site. My husband is just starting background investigations for the California Highway Patrol and is hoping to get into academy starting in the fall or early next year. I thought getting him a training program to help him prepare physically would be a good gift.
He would be working out from home but we have a garage gym with barbell and weights, dumbbells weight vest etc. He used to be a CrossFit coach and isn’t new to fitness but the training for Law Enforcement is different than what he usually does for workouts and he feels he needs to build his stamina.
Do you think any of your programs would be a good fit?

ANSWER

I’d recommend the LE Academy Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

About to start Tequila, just wondering about the strength days. When there are three dumbbell exercises in a row should I be doing the same weight for all three or different weights if I’m stronger with certain exercises?

ANSWER

Treat the exercises individually and increase load until the reps are hard but doable for each exercise.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m a new EMT working through the F/R On-Ramp plan.  I understand the importance of running to prepare your body for the rigors of the job.  Are there other forms of cardio you would recommend as a way to get variety for cardio, such as swimming, biking, air assault bikes, etc.?

And if so, what distances would be equivalent to a 1-mile run? And how would you recommend appropriately pacing the other forms of cardio?

ANSWER

Aerobic fitness is mode-specific. What this means is that you should train in the same mode as your mission-set.
As a F/R athlete, this means running or rucking.
Will swimming/biking/rowing, etc. transfer over to running/rucking fitness? Somewhat, but what happens fairly soon is if you’re biking, for example, the transfer to mission-direct running/rucking ends and all you get better at is biking. So, unless you bike on the job, it’s dead-end mode if you’re training for work.
At MTI we’re not concerned about variety. The programming focus isn’t to keep the athletes entertained and interested. The focus is to design efficient, mission-direct programming for the mountain or tactical athlete we’re working with.
Sometimes injury or something else prevents athletes from running/rucking and they’ll ask for substitutes. In general, a 500m row, 250m swim, and 800m bike are equivalent to a 400m run.
– Rob

QUESTION

Thanks for your diet breakdown but thanks as well for your honest, detailed delivery.  I’m just a couple of years behind you and live a similar life.  Try and train with you guys when I come out to visit my folks in Wilson.  I can’t get as deep into my squats or lift as much as I could once and my goals are different as well; more longevity/maintenance based, less goal accomplishment.
Happy to see and read about others and how they are meeting these challenges with age and body changes.

ANSWER

Glad you liked the piece. Thanks for the note.
– Rob

QUESTION

Questions.
Supplements / vitamins?
My experiments /initial thoughts would be no, but I still find my way to buying fish oil from Costco and I take 2 tabs after breakfast along with some vitimins D.  I take a vitimins B complex every other day, or so.  I had found some krill oil in the commissary for cheap, but I didn’t feel anything and won’t buy the stuff again.
Water intake?
I chug 16-24 oz when I wake to replace fluids that I lose overnight.  I’m usually good about drinking enough water during the day.
Sleep quality / Fasting period before bed?
I had a keep apnea problem, properly diagnosed by my wife since 1997… I snore.  Two sleep studies later and it had gotten worse with age and I was getting worse.  One CPAP later and I have been getting solid awesome sleep since December 2018… And the machine measures my sleep quality in an application on my phone.  Point of this is that now I’m trying to dial in my sleep “Performance”.  I asked my eye doc about blue light from the computer, I now have $150 basic yellow tinted screen glasses for work on the 2x screens on my desk.  Also I’m using the blue light filters on my devices.
I’ve noticed that my body is recovering better.  I feel better.  So now I’m hitting all the variables around sleep. Temperature, duration and body position. I know that I’m supposed to fast for a couple hours before bed. Just curious about your pattern.
Keep up the good work.  Your USMA neighbor from 1988-89….

ANSWER

Supplements/Vitamins? – None. All the research shows little to no effect. Eat clean and you’re covered.
Water? Don’t track it … and likely don’t drink enough.
Sleep Quality / Fasting before bed? I get 5-6 hours/sleep night – and pretty much have been that way forever. Haven’t heard of the 2-hour fasting rule … and might try it.
Computer Glasses …. I kept increasing my reading glass power to read the computer screen before I discovered these things. They are awesome.
I’ve written this before – I do have a prescription for testosterone .. which is pretty awesome. And something I recommend to every man over 40. Makes a huge difference.
Oh the B4 Buffs!!
– Rob

 

Q&A 7.4.19

QUESTION

Love your plans. I am going to Ranger School in February of next year and wanted to put together a plan for training. I was going to do your ruck based selection plan. But wanted to know how would you put together the plan with only 33-35 weeks left?

ANSWER

Weeks    Plan
1-8          Fortitude (repeat week 6)
9-16        Valor (repeat week 6)
14-24      Gratitude (repeat week 6)
25            Total Rest
– Rob

QUESTION

My husband was in the Marine Corps and introduced me to MTI. I love the workouts and was so excited when you created the Country Singer Training program for civilian athletes. I’ve been working my way through Country Singer Training Packet Part 1 and will be starting Willie in two weeks.
Though I’d run quite a bit in the past, I now suffer pain in my knees and ankles if I run beyond 5-6 miles. Is there something I can do instead of the longer 7-9 mile runs (scheduled on Thursdays)?

ANSWER

Options:
1) Drop the run to 5-6 miles.
2) Double the prescribed run distance and bike it.
– Rob

QUESTION

Always enjoy your mini-studies. You’re one of the few programs to openly test their programming and you put all the caveats out there and let people judge which I appreciate. Over the course of a three-week cycle, how much of the improvement do you think is simply “grooving the move” versus actual strength gain? Especially with the new athlete who had limited strength experience. I’ve wondered many times how to tease out neurodevelopment from actual muscle strength. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter as both are components of functional strength but I’m curious. Thanks.

ANSWER

I used to get into arguments with an old coach of mine educated via the typical university BS/MS system. 6 weeks makes sense for the “untrained” athlete, not used to the movements, and new to strength or endurance training.
But, not true for trained athletes. As well, MTI isn’t after publishable research, but rather research which we can quickly deploy, learn from, iterate if necessary, and then apply to our programming.
For the ultra athlete in this study, your point is well taken, but not for the other lab rats.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’ve been working through Quick Operator 1 which has been a good level of challenge for me. I’ll be on leave and away from the full gym for a week or maybe longer.
I’ve got minimal kettlebells and possibly the sandbag (if it gets delivered by my leave dates). Is there a program you’d recommend sliding over to for a week or so before I head back to work and my quick operator schedule?

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

What’s your recommendation on best recovery practices for elbow pain, tennis/golf elbow? Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

ANSWER

We’ve had some luck with the Ultimate Elbow Stretch.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’ve been using MTI for a couple months now and absolutely love it. I’m currently deployed overseas and have applied the Grunt PT programming to our platoon PT plan. I’ve also been following the “1 lift per day” plan at night.

…Anyway, myself and a buddy are going to compete in the festivus games in September and we’re hoping to gain some insight into what plan we should be focusing on or altering to reflect these WODs. Any suggestions?

ANSWER

I don’t have programming for fitness competitions like Crossfit. My quick read is these games are very similar to CrossFit competitions.
In general, best would be to focus mostly on strength further away from the comp, and then as you get closer, focus on the work capacity by completing the specific events in the comp. None of MTI’s programming does this well. Closest would be 357 Strength, but it’s work capacity events and strength programming doesn’t match the fitness comp events exactly, and to do your best, you’ll want to train exactly what you’ll see at the event.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am currently training for my 1.5 mile with the running Improvement plan. When I’m done with week 5, should I continue with week 6 or restart at week 1, since the 1.5 mile is my highest priority right now?

ANSWER

Restart Week 1 and stick with the 1.5-mile distance.
– Rob

QUESTION

I recently got the itch for a meaningful career change. I passed for a potential job with the Dayton Fire Department. I have a decent physical ability base. I’m not a super athlete but I can hold my own. I ruck a lot, do a lot of GORUCK events and run quite often. I love OCR’s so I feel like my endurance isn’t complete shit. I’m going to be 35 in September so I’m slower than the kids right out of school but my life experiences have taught me perseverance.  I don’t have a date yet to take the actual CPAT and I’ll be moving for the next three weeks or so. My question is training wise should I just jump into your CPAT plan? I have a pretty extensive home gym available to me. Air dyne. Treadmill. 500lbs or so of plate weights. Trap bar. Oly bar. Bench. Squat rack. Adjustable dumbbells. Sandbags. Battle ropes. Pull up ropes. Pull up bar. GR1, a GR Bullet and plates to go in the rucks, 20, 20, and a 30. And my current job has a great selection of gym equipment available.

ANSWER

Ideally, you’ll complete the CPAT Training Plan the 4 weeks directly before your official CPAT.
Between now and then, work through the plans/order in the Big Cat Packet of plans for urban firefighters.
– Rob

QUESTION

I completed a few of your programs several years ago when I was active. I am currently looking at getting another one specifically to be able to hit 20 miles a day with weight, in the Colorado high country. This will be for Deer/Elk hunt. I know that your programs are then best in the business for getting legs/back in shape. 

Which program would you suggest that I get for this? My hunt is October 19-27.

ANSWER

Complete the Backcountry Big Game Training Plan the 8 weeks directly before your hunt.
Between now and then work through the plans/order in the Wilderness Packet of plans for wilderness professionals (rangers, guides, wardens, etc.)
– Rob

QUESTION

I purchased your ACFT workout plan.  In reviewing it, a few questions came to mind.  

Question 1, How to progress through this plan without readily access to a gym, i.e. mainly using bodyweight resistance to train.

Question 2, How to complete a basic assessment when unable to complete the ACFT, i.e. leg tuck.  

Since I first joined the Army in 1985, the emphasis has been push-up, sit-ups, and 2-mile run.  With the addition of new tests, new muscle groups are being tested.  As a 51-year-old in the medical field, there has been little to no emphasis on upper body pull strength.  How does one train these groups when faced with the natural physiologic decline associated with aging.

ANSWER

1) I don’t have a bodyweight only plan to prepare for this assessment. The reason is the assessment itself uses the equipment. This is the problem with the ACFT.
2) 2 options … 1) bring your knees as high as possible. 2) build up using the Cheater Ankle to Bar exercise: https://mtntactical.com/exercises/mnt1678-cheater-ankle-to-bar/
– Rob

QUESTION

Tweaked my shoulder pretty bad doing Valor Wk 1 Day 2 last week. Rested, got better, and restarted this week with same result. Think it’s the Mr Spectaculars. Can you recommend an alternate exercise until I heal up? Still want to do valor but will just substitute that one exercise in the program.

ANSWER

10x Box Jumps @ 24″. Heal up.
– Rob

QUESTION

I recently purchased the “Bodyweight Build” program. I’m finding my current training situation makes EOs externally uncomfortable (scraping my back from uneven concrete). Is there a suitable replacement exercise that activates the same muscles?

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

I am taking my Alpine Guide Course in August and I am wanting to prepare for it as it has been several months since I have deployed any of those skills or level of conditioning. Your online courses seem great, however I am wondering if you have any partner trainers situated in other locations that use your program to help train athletes? I am recovering from some injuries and am getting back into normal functioning and I also am interested in individualized help around my nutrition being mostly vegan and gluten free and needing to retain sustainable levels of energy for endurance and performance. I guess I am just looking for some mentorship here rather than just a course that isn’t necessarily catered to me and where I am at.
Do you either 1: have advice for how I can go about this and get what I am looking for?
2: do you have one on one training locations?
Thanks so much for your time reading this! It means a lot! I am an iranian woman striving for my alpine guide cert and it is hard not to already have imposter syndrome all the time, worried that they are just admitting me to fill a quota on their courses and that my skill level or fitness level doesn’t measure up. I have tried to tackle this alone as finances have been a barrier, but I am realizing that this is what has lead to my injuries and burnout (which then makes my imposter syndrome worse. I know i know I need to work on my mindset too) and I am finally open to biting the bullet to financially invest in my own success by having some actual support and intentional plan.
Any guidance or advice would be so appreciated!

ANSWER

It seems you’re asking for two things: (1) Technical/Alpine mentorship and (2) Fitness Programming.
MTI’s programming is only fitness …. not technical/alpine mentorship – ie. mountaineering skills, climbing fundamentals, mountain awareness, etc. I can’t help you there – and I’d recommend you reach out to the AMGA for help. Angela Hawse – the current president of the AMGA – has trained with us and could be a great resource for you to find a mentor.
MTI only has one training location – in Jackson Wyoming.
Thousands of athletes around the world – both on the mountain and tactical sides – follow MTI programming. From the fitness perspective, you don’t need a personalized training plan. You need to get to work. The AMGA Alpine Guide Course Training Plan is designed specifically to prepare you for the fitness demands of the course.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m looking at your plans and one caught my eye in the limited equipment packet. It is the Sandbag/ Weight Vest/ Dumbbell training plan. I’ve searched for it on your website, but I can’t seem to fine it as it’s own program. Do you sell that as a program and I simply can’t find it, or do you not sell that as its own program?

ANSWER

Sorry, this plan is only available through the packet or with a subscription.
Look at Humility.
– Rob

QUESTION

How much “downside” is there to using “squat rack on rails” vs true free barbell for squats?   I know it is cheating regarding balance/proprioception (sp?) or at least that is my understanding.
Asking because nearest gym is Planet Fitness….no heavy free barbells.   I’m 60, ex-runner and not a previous lifter so not using a lot of weight.
Considering dryland ski training program or maybe a general fitness program to start first then ski training.  Live too close to sea level.   Goal is better skiing. Still ski pretty hard for up to 2 weeks at JH or Canada, some bootpacking at Silverton but not a great skier….blacks, get down some double black
thanks.  Enjoyed your website.

ANSWER

Better to do freeweight, but if all you have is the slider squat rack, that will work.
The Dryland Ski Plan is intense – so start with a general fitness plan …. Bodyweight Foundation.
– Rob

QUESTION

What did you find was the most effective training plan for Rucking?
I run and organise the COPS30MILER event in the UK.

ANSWER

For up to 12 miles we like to combine assessment base intervals 1/3 the assessment distance, and longer rucks (20% or more) than the assessment distance at an easy pace.
For a 30 miler, however, doing a 30 mile assessment and 10 mile intervals woudn’t work, so I’d do a 6 mile assessment, 2 mile intervals, and combine that with steadily increasing distance rucks at a moderate pace – up to 40 miles over 2 days …. so at the top of a progression you’d do a 15 miler at moderate pace followed the next day by a 25 miler at moderate pace.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a 28 year old tactical athlete who attended SFAS in the Army last June. I sustained a torn meniscus while on the course and had it surgically repaired (five stitches in the posterior horn) last August. I have recovered and rehabbed well. I asked for a conditional release to go active duty and was granted it starting July 24th. I am very familiar with MTI programming. I will be going through the school of Infantry in July/August and have signed a volunteer for RASP. Given the strictness of AIT for Infantry reclass I doubt I will be able to get a train up like the RASP program before I attend post infantry OSUT. My question is what program should I use prior to Infantry school with longevity to RASP in mind? Just curious about the recommendation for an athlete post injury with some mileage on the body. I appreciate the time and consideration in the matter.

ANSWER

Do the RASP I&II Plan …. will it carry over? Not sure, but there’s not much choice and it will at least familiarize you with the assessment/events.
 – Rob

QUESTION

I’m a law enforcement officer currently on aesthetics based programming which utilized almost completely bodybuilding exercises (dumbbell, barbell, kettlebell etc) in addition to your regular pull-ups, pushups and sit-ups.

I’m not currently trying out for any tactical teams, but plan to in the future. So would probably be looking for more everyday programming. I really enjoy lifting and bodybuilding type training.

I have been looking at Mountain Tactical programming for a while now and am curious about how it will change my aesthetics and if the programming is more performance based than aesthetics based or if you have programming that you recommend for both?

ANSWER

Programming? Plans/order in the Spirits Packet of plans designed as day to day programming for LE Patrol/Detectives.
Aesthetics change? I’m not an aesthetics coach but I assume you’ll lose mass and gain work capacity/cardio/endurance, plus greatly improve your mission-direct fitness. The Spirits Packet does include some upper body hypertrophy work, but not to the extent you’re likely used to.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m just recovered from a prolapsed disk at L4/5 in my lower back. Its been 13 weeks since it first happened, I’ve been swimming for the last 4 weeks and this has really helped. I’m interested in the lower back fitness plan.
Just a question about the first sample week, it doesn’t have any warm ups included like the other plans I have purchased.
1) Should I do my own warm up or is it intended to be completed as is written?
I was planning on going through the bodyweight foundation afterwards, but I was going to replace the runs with swims because I feel brilliant after a good swim session, so basically following the BW strength progression.
2) Any plans that are BW/Swim focused?
3) What would be a sensible plan of action after that to stay in good health and protect my back?
I don’t have any sport specific needs just to keep myself healthy and strong. I would prefer swimming as my choice of cardio if possible.

ANSWER

1. You need to do the warm up prescribed. You can do your own warm up prior to the prescribed warm up, but you need to do the one prescribed.
2. None without included running. But some that do have bodyweight/swimming are the USCG Rescue Swimmer Plan, USAF PAST Training Plan, BUDs V2 Plan.
3. Our experience with low backs is that our low back fitness plan will help increase overall functional low back strength & durability, increase mental and physical confidence, and speed up recovery from further issues, but not always prevent future tweaks from athletes susceptible to low back issues.
Low backs are a mystery, and no one approach seems to work for every person. Many in the low backfield differ on what are the causes of issues – everything from stress to sitting, to too much lifting, to too little lifting, super geeky movement stuff, etc. The goal of the Low Back Fitness Training Plan is to increase an athlete’s low back/core strength in a functional/transferable to the real world manner, improve the athlete’s physical and mental confidence, increase durability, but also let him/her know that if the back injuries if the future, there’s a way back.
– Rob

QUESTION

I really enjoy the articles on your site.  I’m a contract LEO instructor and I’m interested in extended endurance events like the GORUCK HTL.  I completed my first HTL in November and want to do another at the end of August – in Texas.  I’m a pretty stocky guy and would definitely be more efficient if I lost some weight, but moreover, I want to focus on a plan that would require minimal equipment (I’m living out of a hotel until September at least).  I have a ruck and two sandbags.  Interested in any recommendations you could provide.
ANSWER
I don’t have an HTL plan, but do have a GoRuck Selection Plan – which is what I’ve recommended for others. It’s a limited equipment plan.
Another option would be Humility.
– Rob

Mini Study: Stress Decreases Archery Accuracy 23%

By Rob Shaul

BLUF

This mini-study investigated the effect of stress on archery accuracy and found that a simple stress event which applied a small fitness demand and shot time limit decreased archery accuracy by an overall average of 23% for two subjects.

 

BACKGROUND & STUDY DESIGN

Previously, MTI has done extensive work on stress marksmanship using firearms, including the development “Range Fitness,”  a system to train stress marksmanship for carbines and pistols. We’ve also conducted several marksmanship studies including the effect of dry fire practice on marksmanship, the effect of airsoft practice on marksmanship, and the effect of lighter trigger pull on marksmanship.

Somewhat surprisingly, given our extensive work in developing the Range Fitness system, we never actually tested the effect of stress on marksmanship … until now, and with archery.

In a bowhunting context, marksmanship under stress is a major concern. Every shot on game includes significant stress for all but the most seasoned hunter, and several bowhunters report suffering from “target panic.”

This mini-study tested the effect of stress on archery marksmanship over two shooting distances, 20 yards, and 40 Yards.

Two experienced bowhunters shot two no-stress, and two stress trials from each distance (20 yards and 40 yards) for a total of8 trials.

Three arrows were shot each trial, one each from standing, kneeling and sitting position. The same three arrows were used for each trial.

For the No-Stress trials, the subjects were allowed to shoot their arrows without a time limit and while rested.

The Stress Trials applied two stressors, a 30 second time limit, and the shooters were caused to run a 40 yard shuttle sprint prior to shooting. The 30 second time limit included both the shuttle and the shot. Shooters had a 30-second rest between shots from different positions during the stressful events. Here is the event.

 

    • Subject stands ready with arrow knocked.
    • 30 Second Time Limit. 9″ Round Target.
    • On “Go” Subject runs down 20 yards, and back 20 yards, then gets into the shooting position for that specific shot (standing, kneeling or sitting) and releases his arrow before the 30 seconds is up.
    • He then has 30 seconds rest to knock another arrow, and beginning the shuttle for the shot from the next shooting position.

 

The short clip below shows Travers complete one of his stress shots at 40 yards:

Three arrows were shot for each trial, a metric fabric measuring tape was strung around the outside of all three arrows, and the total circumference in centimeters used to measure accuracy.

The average circumference for the No-Stress and the Stress trials was then calculated, then compared to identify the effect of stress on marksmanship.

 

RESULTS & DISCUSSION

Below are the mini-study results:

We understand this mini-study has a small subject size (2) and it should be understood that small sample size likely skews the results. Regardless, the results were interesting in the consistency of direction and extent from the effect of stress.

Stress certainly has an effect on accuracy given the consistency demonstrated by the poorer shooting by both subjects at measurement distances.

From the results chart, “Plus 35.9%” means Rob’s 3-arrow average group circumference under stress at 20 yards was 35.9% larger than his 3-arrow average group circumference during the no-stress trials at 20 yards, or he was 35.9% less accurate. This is a significant decrease in accuracy.

Overall, both subjects at both distances shot 23% less accurate 3-arrow groups during the stress trials than the no-stress trials.

 

NEXT STEPS

The stress event deployed in this trial put two stressors on the shooters, a fitness/physical stressor (shuttle), and a time limit (30 seconds) to great effect. Moving forward, it would be instructive to conduct this mini-study on a much larger sample size of archers to see if the trend and results remain the same or similar.

Likewise, conducting a similar study using firearms and paper targets, or firearms and counting hits on metal targets would be valuable. We’ve seen firearm studies which assessed the stress on firearm shooters from CQB training and other events, but none which systematically tested the effect of stress on accuracy.

Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email rob@mtntactical.com

 

 

 


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