All posts by SSD

Arete 4.27.17

Why Mattis Versus Kim Jong-Un Will End Badly For Us All, War on the Rocks
Syria’s War Has Been a ‘Goldmine’ for North Korea—and Don’t Expect It to Change Anytime Soon, Defense One
US officials say pirates have returned to waters off Somalia, Military Times
America’s Dangerous Love for Special Ops, NY Times
After ISIL: The Conflict Following the War, Small Wars Journal
The Army Needs an Urban Warfare School and it Needs it Soon, Modern War Institute
Communication – Easy to Break – Tough to Fix, General Leadership

Inside NASA’s Plan to Protect the Planet from a Massive Asteroid, Defense One
Combating Terror Together, Fire Rescue Magazine
Taking the ‘Terror’ Out of Terrorism Requires Outsmarting Fear, RAND
A Full Border Wall With Mexico? ‘Unlikely,’ Homeland Security Chief Says, NYTimes
Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis, CATO Institute

Reducing Vulnerability, Fire Rescue Magazine
The Shell We Wear – How Being A Cop Changes Us, Cops Alive
What Type of Girl Grows Up to be a Cop?, Bad Luck Detective
Firefighter Dodgeball, Orlando FD
The influence of officer equipment and protection on short sprinting performance, Force Science Lab/Minnesota State University

How to Get Into Ski-Mo Racing, Men’s Journal
Tendoys, Sitka (Video)
Historical Badass: Snowboarder Bruno Gouvy, Adventure Journal
Caroline Gleich becomes first female to ski all 90 lines in Utah’s “Chuting Gallery”, Freeskier
The Simple Joy of Being Bad at Things, Adventure Journal
Cerro Torre (Climbing Film) Redbull TV

Tested: Patagonia’s First Sleeping Bags, Gear Junkie
Shelter from the Storm: Best Backpacking Tents of 2017, Outdoor Gear Lab
How to Sell Your Used Outdoor Gear, Outside Online
The 14 Best New Hiking Boots and Shoes of 2017, BackPacker
Garmin Releases New Top of the Line Sports Watch, the Forerunner 935, Mens Journal

What I Learned from Fasting for a Year, Men’s Journal
Pump Up The Volume: Alternative Pre-Workout Boosts That Spare Your Wallet, Breaking Muscle
Anxiety: Are Nutritional Deficiencies a Common Cause? Mark’s Daily Apple
Shoulder Pain? Check Your Breathing,
Mercury: Its Role In ALS, Breaking Muscle
How To Rock A Cheat Day (Without Feeling Bad Or Getting Fat), Breaking Muscle
How we are wired to sleep and why we have sleep problems,
Running up a Mountain Makes It Feel Smaller, Outside Magazine
7 Easy-to-Make Endurance Fuels That Are Cheaper and Tastier Than Energy Bars, Outside Magazine

Physical Therapists Begin MTI Fellowships

Jaimie Cunningham

Jaimie Cunningham
Jaimie Cunningham is a physical therapist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  Jaimie graduated from Furman University in 2009 with a major in Health and Exercise Science, and she received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Elon University in 2014.  She will be attending the Tactical Advanced Programming Seminar in May of this year. 

Jaimie’s Fellowship Project is to research and develop a female-specific training plan to increase heavy rucking and upper body strength performance at military selections and advanced infantry schools. She and her husband are relocating to Fort Bragg, NC in May, 2017.

Macey McDowell

Macey McDowell
Macey McDowell is Physical Therapist in Colorado Springs, CO. She earned Doctorate in PT from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2014 and completed my Sports PT Residency with Evidence In Motion in 2016. In the rehab setting she currently works with occupational and tactical athletes.

Macey’s Fellowship project is to develop a Tactical Athlete Flexibility/Mobility Assessment and training plan.

Plan Focus: Running Improvement Plan

By Rob Shaul

This training plan is designed for athletes interested specifically in increasing their running speed, volume and running-specific aerobic base. It has three objectives:

(1) Increase speed over ground
This 15-week training program is divided into three, 5-week blocks for the speed over ground running work.

Weeks 1-5 deploy multiple 1.5 mile running assessments and 800m repeats based upon your assessment times

Weeks 6-10 deploy 3-mile running assessments and 1-mile repeats based upon your assessment times

Weeks 11-15 deploy 6-mile running assessments and 2-mile repeats based upon your assessment times

(2) Increase running-specific leg strength, core strength and upper body strength.
This training plan includes focused, running-specific leg, mid-section and upper body strength training deploying bodyweight and/or dumbbells.

(3) Increase running aerobic base and efficiency for longer distance runs.
While the Speed Over Ground work in the plan is anchored in 5-week blocks, the longer runs in the plan progress steadily throughout. Easy distance run volume increases throughout the plan and the pace is based upon your most recent speed over ground assessment.

You’ll run easy, long distance two times/week on back to back days (Friday and Saturday). These easy runs start at 3 miles on week one and progress to 12 miles on week 15.

Total running volume in the plan begins at 11 miles total in Week 1 and finishes at 34 miles total on week 15.

Automatically “Scales” to Each Individual Athlete
This 15-week  program deploys increasing distance running assessments (1.5, 3 and 6 mile), and uses the individual athlete’s assessment results and the MTI Running Calculator for follow-on progressions – both speed over ground and easy runs.

In this way, the training plan automatically “scales” to the individual athlete’s incoming running speed and distance and can be used for both unfit/inexperienced runners and/or fit/experienced runners.

Different Athletes May Begin the Plan at Different Weeks
This training plan designed so athletes who have different running improvement needs can begin the plan in different places to address their specific deficiencies.

Working on improving your 1.5 or 2-mile run time for a military PFT, and/or are new to running? Begin the plan on week 1.

Working to improve a 3-mile run time and/or have some running experience but need lots of work? Start at week 6.

Working to improve a 5 mile or 10K run time and/or are an experienced runner wanting to be pushed? Start at week 11.

This program is designed to be completed as a stand alone program, but it can also be completed concurrently a strength-focused MTI or other strength training program by starting this plan on Week 6 and dropping the Tuesday and Thursday strength days from this training program.

Below is the weekly training schedule:

  • Mon: Assessment or Speed over Ground Intervals
  • Tue: Strength Training
  • Wed: Speed over Ground Intervals
  • Thu: Strength Training
  • Fri: Easy Distance Run
  • Sat: Easy Distance Run

Common Questions

What is the Required Equipment?

  • Stop Watch
  • Pull Up Bar
  • Pair of Dumbbells (15# for women, 25# for men)
  • Foam Roller

How Long do the Sessions Last?
60-120 minutes depending upon your running pace. Longest days will be the Friday and Saturday long easy runs.

Click HERE for more on the plan.


This is Version 2 of the plan, updated April, 2017.

MTI Tactical Athlete Work Capacity Assessment

By Rob Shaul

We’ve previously developed the MTI Relative Strength Assessment, and Endurance Assessments for Military Athletes and Wildland Firefighters.

Today we announce the MTI Work Capacity Assessment for Tactical Athletes – Military, LE and Fire/Rescue.

I’ve been mulling this assessment over in my mind for several years and it’s been a significant hole in our theory.

Tactical work capacity is an abstract. In our research we’ve found others have deployed the generic beep test, 300m shuttle and other events borrowed from stick and ball sports and “re-tread” them as “tactical.”

We can do better.

In our mind, the tactical events which demand the highest work capacity are when things are most dangerous. For Military and LE athletes, this equals movement under fire. For Fire/Rescue athletes (wildland and urban) this equals rapid egress from fast moving fire.

As well, all tactical athletes are loaded with body armor, protective gear, hand tools or firearms, packs, etc. Anyone who had done burpees or sprints unloaded, and then added an IBA or weight vest and repeated the effort, understands that the strength demands, and corresponding work capacity demands of loaded movement are significantly greater than unloaded movement.

Finally, definitely for Military, LE and Urban Fire/Rescue athletes, this movement will include repeated level changes – from the ground to the feet.

Finally, duration is a consideration. We’re looking for maximum effort – which can only be sustained for so long. Also, often firefights and other dangerous tactical work capacity demands can involve periods of intense work, followed by a short respite, followed by another period of intense work, etc.

Below is the assessment we developed.

MTI Tactical Athlete Work Capacity Assessment

Uniform: PT Gear
25# weight vest, IBA or Ruck

Warm Up:
4 Rounds (unloaded)

  • 5x Push Ups
  • 5x Walking Lunges
  • Run 25m
  • Instep Stretch

Assessment wearing 25# weight vest, IBA or Ruck

  • 3 Minutes 25m shuttle sprints for reps – with a drop to prone at each end
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 Minutes 25m shuttle sprints for reps – with a drop to prone at each end
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 3 Minutes 25m shuttle sprints for reps – with a drop to prone at each end

1x Rep = 1x 25m length, so a round trip = 2x Reps. Only full lengths count. Athlete starts on the ground prone, and must drop to the ground prone at each turn around.

Tally the total reps for each round. A sum of reps from all 3 rounds is the athlete’s final score.

Discussion and Application
In general, when building assessments, we want to keep the assessment and scoring as mission-direct and simple as possible.

This assessment tests the two primary work capacity modes faced by tactical athletes when things are most dangerous – repeated sprinting under load, and level changes. The total work duration is 9 minutes. By splitting the effort into 3 minute increments divided by a 1 minute rest, we’re able to keep the effort at a high intensity, as well as test the athlete’s ability to recover rapidly from intense work demands.

In April 2017 we conducted the assessment with 20x Army Soldiers at Schofield Barracks on Oahu and used their results to develop the following scoring standards:

Of the 20x athletes tested at Schofield, 2x scored “poor”, 16 scored “good” and 2x scored “excellent.” The average final score was 49.9.

See clip below to see them completing the assessment. Uniform for the assessment is PT gear, but several of the soldiers chose to complete it in boots/cammies. It’s up to the command.


Arete 4.20.17

Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of War, Modern War Institute (West Point)
Marine makes history as Corps’ first female tank officer, Marine Corps Times
What’s Really at Stake for America in Yemen’s Conflict, Defense One
Why I Took the Bonus: A View from inside the Air Force’s Pilot Retention Crisis, War on the Rocks
Civilians with High-Tech Skills Needed to Counter Islamic State, AP/SWJ
Casualty Collisions: Why Special Operations Forces Remain the Best Weapon to Defeat ISIS in Syria, Modern War Institute
The Marine Corps just spent $6 million on a war tool invented in the barracks, We Are The Mighty

Dragon on the Border: Mexican and Chinese Transnational Criminal Networks and Implications for the U.S., SWJ
Suspected Gunman in Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s Killing Arrested, NBC News
Mexico’s brutal drug violence has hit a new level of complexity, Business Insider
Government Needs ‘Heavy Artillery’ for Cyberspace, DHS Chief Says, Defense One

2013 Boston Marathon Bombing After Action Report, Fire Rescue Magazine
The National Use-of-Force Data Collection, Police Chief
Day in the Life of a Norfolk Fire Rescue Recruit, NorfolkTV
A Day in the Life of a Michigan State Police Trooper Recruit, HOMTV
Out of Shape in the Line of Duty (Video) WXYZ-TV

Mountaineer Mike Libecki’s Fitness Philosophy, Men’s Journal
Vail Loses Request To Reject Lawsuit Involving 13 Year Old Killed In Inbound Avalanche, Unofficial Networks
Running Wonderland (Video), Salomon
Did Skiing Begin in China?, NY Times
Trango Vergo Recall Notice, Climbing
Pro Skier rips down dry mountain, hops onto mountain bike (video), GrindTV

Should You Buy Compression Gear? Men’s Journal
Suunto Core All Black Review, Tactical Way
6 New Pieces of LE Gear we Like in Early 2017, Tactical-Life
DPS Skis – Increased Alpine Mobility for the Warfighter, Recoil
Backcountry Hunting Boot Showdown, Journal of Mountain Hunting
The Best Airbags on the Market, Powder

Critical Analysis of Keto Diet Study,
Too much of a protein already associated with prostate cancer appears to also diminish the energy burning power of brown fat, Science Daily
Weird Recovery Methods that Actually Work, Men’s Journal
Attitude distinguishes champions on the bumpy road to success, Science Daily
Lessons From A Life With The Iron, Breaking Muscle
How to Train Your Dog for the Trails, Men’s Journal
Dopamine: The Secret to Staying Motivated in the Gym, Men’s Journal
Are Your Weak Neck Muscles Making Your Hamstrings Tight? Breaking Muscle
How to Augment and Support Your Natural Detox Capacities, Mark’s Daily Apple
Some Primal Answers for Kids’ Problem Behaviors, Mark’s Daily Apple
What 2,000 Calories Looks Like, NY Times

Upcoming Study: SCBA Emergency Breathing Technique Analysis

By Brice Long, MTI Fellow

During normal firefighting operations, the capacity to extend an air cylinder can allow a company to stay inside for longer, accomplish more work, and save the embarrassment of being relieved by another crew too quickly. Under emergency circumstances, making the most of a bottle can be the difference between life and death.

In this study, we’ll assess several techniques with the intention of identifying an effective and practical method of slowing the consumption of a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air cylinder.


Modern firefighting SCBA work really well.  The harnesses are comfortable and secure, the facepieces seal like glue to the user’s face, and the air cylinders are lightweight and durable. Yet even the most advanced systems still can only carry a finite amount of breathing air for the user.

For this study, we’ll use the Scott Airpack 75 with 4500psi air cylinders.  The 4500psi SCBA cylinder contains 1,840 liters (66 cu. ft) of breathing air and is stamped “45-minutes” on the side (1).  This is the manufacturer’s rating, not the fire department’s. Under working conditions firefighters should expect their cylinders to empty far sooner than the number on the side would lead them to believe. There are of course many factors that contribute to the length of time a firefighter takes to expend a full cylinder: size of the person, fitness level, stress level, work intensity, etc. However, it’s a safe bet that if a firefighter is wearing a 45-minute SCBA at a fire it will not last 45 minutes.

In basic training, firefighters are taught the rules of air management (ROAM) or some similar variation for safely working with a limited air supply.(2) ROAM dictates that 25% of the cylinder can be used to get to the fire, 25% can be used to work there, 25% is for getting back out, and the remaining 25% is a reserve in case something goes wrong.(3)  In theory this sounds easy enough, but in practice it’s not so cut and dry.  The amount of air a firefighter consumes when fresh and making his or her way into a structure is likely going to be less that the amount he or she will require to get out if something bad happens. When stress kicks in, the body naturally elevates respiration rate and in turn firefighters consume more air.  For this reason we need to identify the best method for conserving air – especially in the worst situations.

The best way to save air is of course to do as little as possible.  Sit down, stay still, and breathe as slowly as one is able. Utilizing this tactic, a full cylinder can last hours – but this is not real life.  Firefighters need a way to continue to work, to continue to search, and continue to make their way out of a bad spot while conserving their air supply as best as they are able.

The Mission Direct Study
We’re chasing a couple key questions here:

  • (1) Which technique works the best? Based on the results of the test, which one makes the cylinder last the longest?
  • (2) Which technique is sustainable? The best one might be tough to do, which could make it not a viable option in an emergency situation. We’re looking for the most effective technique that we can actually recommend to firefighters.

Six full-time firefighters, five males and one female, will take part in the study one morning after a 24-hour shift and our plan is to accomplish all the testing in one day.  Each effort should take 7-12 minutes and we’ll space them out with adequate time for a full recovery – at least a 1:2 work to rest ratio.

The athletes’ heart rates will be monitored during the test and we expect that the best breathing technique will also produce the lowest relative HR for the athletes. (Relative to the RHR of each).  This metric will be tracked using their average HR over the duration of each test.

We’ll be looking at four different breathing techniques for air conservation:

  • (1) Skip breathing – A normal inhalation held for several seconds, followed by an additional inhalation before exhalation
  • (2) Box breathing – A slow inhalation over 3-4 seconds, hold for 3-4 seconds, exhale over 3-4 seconds, and then hold for 3-4 seconds before the next inhalation
  • (3) The Reilly Emergency Breathing Technique (R-EBT) – A slow inhalation followed by an exhalation controlled by the athlete making a humming sound as the breath is released
  • (4) Straw breathing – A slow inhalation followed by an exhalation controlled by pursing the lips to mimic breathing through a straw

We’ll also conduct a control test without a specific technique. Participants will be instructed to try to breathe slowly and conserve air, but won’t be assigned one of the above listed procedures.

The participants will begin the test wearing PT clothing and an SCBA with 1,000psi of air. When the “go” command is given, they will attach their regulators and begin the test.  It was designed with the metabolic demands of an emergency situation in mind, loosely based on a popular firefighter emergency exercise, “The Pittsburgh Drill.” (4) Set to a 30bpm metronome, the procedure is pretty simple:

  1. 15 step ups onto a 20” box (crawling or other slow deliberate movement)
  2. Turn and address a barbell
  3. 5x,  95/135# Deadlifts (overcoming an obstacle, moving an object, using hand tools) – 95# for women, 135# for men
  4. Turn back and address the box

The participants will complete this cycle until the SCBA low air alarm stops.* At this point, they will stop working and continue the breathing technique until the cylinder is completely empty.**

*Why does the low air alarm stop?
The low-air alarm (Vibralert) on Scott Airpacks is activated when the cylinder pressure reaches 20-25% of its rated capacity, so 900-1125psi. At this point, the secondary pressure regulator is activated and the mask mounted regulator is supplied with air at 145-165psi, activating the Vibralert. When the cylinder pressure drops below 145-165psi, the low air alarm will stop and the user knows that his or her cylinder pressure is now about 3%. (5)

**So why stop working when that happens?
Not long after the low air alarm stops, the user’s breathing becomes restricted by the low air pressure. It feels as though each breath is being drawn out of the regulator, rather than being supplied.  Tolerance for this sensation, especially when working, is very much dependent on the individual.  By ceasing the work portion of our test before this occurs, each athlete should be able to continue the technique until the entire cylinder is exhausted.


  1. Marino D. Air Management: Know your air-consumption rate. Fire Engineering. 2006 Oct 1 [accessed 2017 Mar 25].
  2. Goodson C, Murnane L, editors. Essentials of fire fighting. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Brady/Prentice Hall Health; 2008.
  3. Gagliano M. Air management for the fire service. Tulsa, OK: PennWell; 2008.
  4. Rapid Intervention Training Associates. The Pittsburgh Drill. Prop Shop. 2002 Feb [accessed 25ADAD Mar].
  5. Air-Pak® Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Pressure Reducer and Low Pressure Breathing Regulator Theory of Operation. Air-Pak® Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus Pressure Reducer and Low Pressure Breathing Regulator Theory of Operation. 2000.

Brice Long is a career firefighter in northern Virginia and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. This study and analysis is his project for his MTI Fellowship. 

Mountain Flow

By Ryan Burke

When I moved to the mountains, I heard mysterious stories of her beauty in the lift lines and tales of her power at the local crag.

Others talked about her and I would nod my head like I understood, but didn’t.

She was an elusive spirit who lived in the hills and whose presence felt like a helpful, cool breeze. Groups would murmur in agreement that her spell could last for hours or mere seconds.

I was skeptical, but hardened alpinists swore she was real and their eyes would glaze over in desire when discussing her. “Flow,” they whispered, only appeared when you weren’t looking and only on her terms. She couldn’t be forced.

I had to see for myself. Taking off at a fast pace I waited for her arrival.


Jumping rock to rock, I summoned her to dance but I could only hear the increased beating of my heart in response.

Faster and faster I ran hoping to impress her with my speed and effort.

She did not care.

Ego demanded I return to town with a story, but she was not interested in my reputation. I walked back from where I came, frustrated and humbled.

I worked to master my craft, imagining that my skill would lure her out of hiding. I searched for her while crimping on tiny holds and called out her name while traversing the Teton Range.


Then one day, as the challenge in front of me hit the edge of my ability, she appeared and I tasted the infinite. Colors exploded, senses heightened, calmness overcame and I flowed through the granite like rain water.

A fleeting sensation, but its message was clear.  She had seen me that day and stopped to say “hello.”

That feeling consumed me, the pull to see her again was strong.  I fight to return to that someplace else she had taken me. But no map, formula, or equation succeeded in seducing her back to my side.

The harder I chase, the faster she runs away.

After many failed missions, I stop chasing. I learn to let her happen.

She’s here.

Tingling begins in my fingers and accelerates inwards. Weightless, my pace quickens and I breeze through terrain no longer knowing where my body ends and the rock begins.

She whispers an encouraging lullaby – urging me upward. Muscles relax, movement is fluid. I see the future and stay ahead of trouble.

Her and I slow dance in that heroic space between brilliance and disaster. It’s glorious, but fleeting.

She vanishes, breaking my heart. Again.

Flow is my muse, complicated and challenging, a siren luring me back into the mountains – to the edge of my ability and close to danger.

Rarely do I find her, suffer as I might.

With my face covered in dust and sweat, my mind swirling in self doubt, – Is it worth the challenge?  Am I devoting myself to a admirable cause or a wasteful fantasy?

Could I stop anyway, as my body and mind will never retreat to safety after knowing high achievement? 

Finding Flow has become a way of life that is impossible to escape.


Ryan is an accomplished alpinist who lives in Jackson, Wy. He was a 2016 winner of MTI’s Crux Award.

Q&A 4.20.17



I’m active reservist (something similar to National Guard in the States) here in Finland, and I think that I might benefit quite a lot from your Greek Hero training plan, but I have one giant problem at the moment.
I don’t have any access to sandbags. My gym doesn’t have them and I doesn’t have any smart way to have them at home. Is there any way to substitute sandbag work with something else?

With kind regards,


No. You can make a sandbag out of any old duffle bag. There is no good substitute. Be resourceful.

– Rob


Hey Sir,

I am looking for a PT Plan that will help me get back into shape.  I am in the Army  and I have APFT in May.

I have not been able to do any real physical activities the last 4 months due to major lower back pains and pain in my left knee.

In the last past 5 yrs I had a C-spine surgery and Debridement cleaning in both left and right knee.  If you need any additional information please let me know.

Could you let me know a PT plan that will help me get back in shape and allow me to stay away from injuries.

God Bless


I’d recommend the 6-Week APFT Training Plan:
It will sport-specifically help you prepare for your assessment, and kickstart your fitness.

– Rob



     First off thanks for your time and everything you are doing. This is exactly what I needed and I have no doubt that if I follow your plans I will show up physically prepared and the rest is up to me.
       I have come across your plans some time ago but not nearly soon enough. And I have recently come across your base fitness video which as led me to rethink my strategy for JTF2 selection. But I am unsure as how to go about doing that at this point as I was planning on doing the marsoc and ruck based selection back to back before selection, while adding in some body weight circuits and dropping the odd ruck as I have never had an issue rucking as I am 6’4″ and 235lbs and have carried my house on my back for most exercises.
My plan:
I ended up doing a barbell foundational strength program which allowed me to hit some serious weights. I did some lighter single weight workouts to try and ensure a strength balance.
Then I went through the Valor training program, in which I have found I can outwork everyone at hockey now. But my power lifts have gone down considerably (which is not very concerning) but my bodyweight exercises have gone way down: push-ups from 76 to 52, pull-ups from 21-15 and my one minute sit-ups from 52-45.I also found that my run times never really improved (I couldn’t do too much running due to the ice and snow so I rowed and biked just to give the heart a good workout). So I am currently at 10:02 for my 2.4km run and I need to get it down to 8:15-8:30 for my coopers test at the end of June.
I am now only 2 weeks into the Fortitude V2 which I was going to follow up with Marsoc and the ruck based. But now I am thinking just Marsoc as I am more concerned with my swimming and running than rucking. What should I do to fill the gap between Fortitude and Marsoc? Selection is in October. I will also be spending a few weeks training in the jungle this year, I am bring your sandbag and some rings to set up a pull-up bar. So there will be some minor breaks from training.



I’d recommend Humility after Fortitude. Humility will push your endurance and help prepare you for the MARSOC plan, while also allowing an unload from the heavy barbell work of Fortitude. I recently updated Humility and it’s a great plan.

– Rob


Good afternoon

I am interested in several of your LE and military programs which range in price, however they seem to be included in the subscription, which is cheaper for one month than the cost of the programs.

Is there a limit on the amount of programs that can be accessed through the subscription?



You get access to all 190+ of MTI’s training plans plus the operator sessions for military, LE sessions and Mountain Base sessions with a subscription. There’s no limit to how many of these you use while subscribed.
– Rob


Good morning! I am climbing three volcanoes in Washington this year(St.Helens, Adams, and Rainier). I recently started the Mountain Athlete workouts. My plan is to get a base fitness with the daily sessions, then transfer over to the Peak Bagger plan, and transition to the Rainier plan. I think this is the right training regimen that is required. Thoughts? Also, thanks for developing a great training regimen as well. I have done the Military Athlete when I was in Iraq in 2009, and had great results! Thanks again!


Your plan is solid.
– Rob


Good morning,

I was searching your site to try to see if you might have a training program specifically for the Secret Service PFT requirements. I am a female, age 25. I am not completely out of shape. I am relatively active but my fitness is not exactly at the “excellent” standard for each of the exercises in the test.

I was a crossfit coach for over 2 years, i engage in HIIT classes, spin classes, and recreational soccer. I was also a competitive weightlifter a couple years ago. But i am definitely not at the peak of my fitness currently.

Are you able to provide me with pricing and a program that may help me reach these specific goals? I don’t have a clear deadline thus far. I do know that the PFT will be sometime in the month of July at the earliest.

Thank you for your time and i hope to hear from you soon.


I don’t have a plan specifically for this test, but I do have one that is close, and which you can easily modify – the FBI SA PFT Training Plan:
This is a 6 week training plan which I just updated this month.
1) Skip the FBI’s 300m assessment and replace it with a Max Chin Up assessment.
2) Put a 1-minute time limit on the push ups.
3) Follow the same progression for the Chin Ups as is prescribed for the push ups and sit ups in the plan. Do your chin up progression in the same same training sessions that the push ups and sit ups are prescribed.
Email questions.
– Rob


I am reaching out to you because I suffered a fractured (displaced) clavicle and you’ve provided me with some sound fitness plans for APFT and SFAS.
Obviously, it takes 6+ weeks to fully recover from the fracture because I opted not to have surgery at this time.
Besides getting on a boring elliptical, do you or anyone on your staff have recommendations to still perform at a high level while in the healing process?
I have some general ideas on what will work, but I lack validation during training.
No rush on a response, only if you have some time.


We build the Training Plan for Athlete’s Suffering Arm Injury for guys in your position:

– Rob


Hi Rob,
quick question for you. Have you any fitness standards that a candidate training for SFOD-D selection or SFAS should be aiming for at the end of the programs… for example a great/good/average/below average time for the likes of 10 mile rucks or 5mile rucks? I know the minimum times for passing all tests but It would be good to have a standard to aim for for strength/stamina/endurance while completing your programs.

Thanks in advance for your help.


In general I’d recommend sub 12 min miles for a 5-mile ruck, and sub 14 min miles for a 12 mile ruck. Understand these selections are not fitness events. Often very fit guys don’t make it through. Often fit guys make it through and don’t get selected. Some selections have “gate” PFT’s from the get go, but fitness is not nearly the only thing being evaluated. I recommend guys prepare for the long war, not the initial “battle” which is the gate PFT.
But you know this already…

– R



Would be curious to get your thoughts on time of day and training efficacy. I’m clearly weaker first thing in the morning, not sure about aerobic capacity. Obviously multi-variable but would be curious for thoughts.

Thanks for the good programming. Going through 357 strength again.


Never put much thought into it. On the tactical side – including LE, I always encourage athletes to train first thing – before their shift – to ensure it gets done.
In general, I feel the body will adjust – yours included.

– Rob


Mr Shaul,

it’s been a long time since I spoke to you. Getting straight to the point, I’ll never be tired to thank you and all at MTI for your amazing job. Your programming is always on point and truly delivers. I’m currently half way through the Kettlebell Strength Program which I’m using to get back to resistance training (did Strength and Honor and Big 24 back to back over the past few months, but had to take a full stop for a few weeks as I moved to Scotland and had to look for a job and a place to live. Funny enough, here in Edinburgh finding a job is way easier than finding a flat!). Tons of stress but I’m back on track. I’m planning to do the whole Strength Packet next, followed by Bodyweight Foundation and either Ultimate Work Capacity or the updated Military On Ramp plan, depending on a few things. Does it sound like a good plan to you? I still fall a bit short on the strength standards, but I’ve lost a lot of weight and now sit comfortably at 5.11″ and 174-176 pounds of bodyweight. Checking out the Beta newsletter has become kind of a weekly ritual for me! And every Q&A makes me understand and appreciate more and more your approach to training and research. You have earned a life long customer.

Kind regards,


Thanks for the note and I’m glad our stuff works for you.
Your plan … don’t like it – too much strength focus. I’d recommend interspersing the strength work with a plan which doesn’t have as much emphasis. Or even better, work through our plans which already deploy fluid periodization … and they mix the different fitness attributes for you – specifically the Greek Hero series.
Bodyweight and strength … remember our interest is in relative strength – or strength per bodyweight – not how much you weight and/or how much you can lift. It all ties back to your relative strength.

– Rob



I recently got a new job flying internationally for FedEx. Normally I’d be able to hit my gym at home but now my find myself on the road for 9-14 days in a row per month.   I am starting the body weight I training plan, but am wondering if I can combine that plan with another when I have a limited gym like the Helena Dumb bell plan?

At home I have access to a full gym and participate in Krav Maga, and BJJ. I’m also a member of the CA Army National Guard and want to stay in fighting shape. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated



Well I don’t envy your travel schedule. I dread traveling – airports and motels tend to drain the soul out of me …
To your question – absolutely you can mix and match plans – use one for traveling, and another while home.
Traveling – the Bodyweight Foundation Plan is solid for this, as is the Stuck in a Motel Training Plan:
Home? – I’d recommend you work through the Greek Hero Packet of Plans – these offer lots of variety, concurrently train strength, work capacity, agility, endurance and chassis integrity, and will keep things interesting and dynamic for you.

– Rob


I am a member of TCSAR and local physician.  I have been a lifelong runner and have, in the past, done a 100 miler.  While I am a solid runner I must admit that my overall “fitness” is probably lacking and I have been searching for a program to help improve my 40 year old toughness (especially for SAR).  My other obstacle is my work schedule.  My ED shifts are completely random and 12 hours (often 13-14 by the time the paperwork is done) long.  This makes serious training on work days difficult.  I am looking for a bodyweight or dumbbell/kettlebell workout that can be done at home and honestly don’t think I will be able to do more than 4 days a week and often not consecutively.

So… Is there a program you might recommend for this or a way to approach your current programs that would better fit a 4 day a week schedule?  Any feedback is very much appreciated (even if it is to be more dedicated and simply make 5-6 days a week a priority).



I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan:
This plan will kickstart your strength training. The bodyweight strength work in the plan is no joke.
Follow it up with Humility:
Humility comes from our tactical side, and falls in line with your TCSAR fitness demands. It’s an intense, low equipment, training plan.
I also got your note about heuristics and avi education. Lindsay returned to her ski coaching this winter, but we at MTI continue to work on and research this idea. We interviewed Ian McCammon and hoped he could offer a way forward. He really didn’t …. below are the links to our interviews with him, but in general, he said tools used to address heuristic traps in professional environments (checklists, formal debriefings, etc.) don’t work for hedonistic activities like recreational backcountry skiing. So, we’ve all got work to do.
– Rob


I’m coming off of a layoff due to post tibial tendonitis in my ankle. I can run and do pretty much anything but am feeling like I’ve lost a bit of strength on my left side from the injury.

Would this be an appropriate training program to bolster unilateral strength in both legs?

My goal is to get back running at full strength without feeling weaker on my left side.



The Post Rehab Leg Injury Program trains both legs unilaterally, and bilaterally.

– Rob


Hey Rob, just looking for a bit of advice.
I’m active duty Army Infantry and over the past year I bulked up a lot, I still do pretty good on The APFT but my run time is still weak compared to my strength. I’m looking to drop a lot of weight, I’m pretty strong (my deadlift is 585lbs, bench is 360lbs, squat is around 560lbs or so) but I’m just too heavy. I’m 73in/230lbs/14% body fat but when I run it just feels like my bones want to shatter. I’ve been doing the Greek Hero packet since November 2016 and it seemed to help a little but I just would like to hear your opinion on how you think I should go about doing that or if you have a different idea. Thanks.


My first recommendation would be Humility from the Greek Hero Packet. If you’ve done that already, pivot to Bodyweight Foundation. Goal is to stay out of the weightroom for another 6-7 weeks.

– Rob


I am finishing up a 6 week TLU strength cycle (using 369 work cap sessions for work cap days, 10k rows or 5mi runs on endurance days, and ROMWOD for mobility/recovery).  I’ve been very pleased with strength gains while maintaining work cap/endurance.

I have a rim-to-rim-to-rim backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon scheduled for September, and am trying to map out the next 20 weeks of training.  I’m 45, weigh 190-193, max clean 200, bench 260, FS 280, back squat 350, DL 440.
My questions are:
1) What should my training priorities be between now and September?  If 20 weeks out and planning 6-8 weeks to peak for the packing trip, should focus be strength first (w/endurance and work cap maintenance), then endurance/work cap for the trip?
2) Would backpacking pre-season or peak bagger template work better for a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike over 3 days?  Will plan on carrying about 40#.  I used the preseason template for a multi-day hike on Tanner Trail in the GC and I was well prepared.
Thanks in advance for your assistance and any advice you can provide.  I’ve loved using MTI for training and knowledge over the past year and hope to continue using your resources.



1) Pivot to Mountain Base programming which includes focused mountain endurance work (uphill hiking under load, unloaded running), etc. I’d recommend the plan progression in the Green Heroine Packet:
2) I’d recommend the Peak Bagger plan, simply because you would have been doing the Mountain Base programming as a lead up …. but either will work. Peak Bagger Training Plan:

– Rob


Hey rob! I’m going to go into tacp but I’ve been out of the game for a
while, I’m bored of normal civilian life so I’m going back haha, what kind
of programming should i use for getting back into serious shape for
running/ruck/strength/cals? Thanks alot!!


8 weeks out from school, complete the TACP Training Plan:

Between now and then work through the plans in the Virtue Series:

You can purchase the plans at the links above. As well, access to all
of them come with an Athlete’s Subscription:

– Rob


Hello, I’m a truck driver and I’ve been looking for a
fitness program for a while now that I’ve been able to do while out on the
road, and there is nothing out there. We are a big industry with lots of
overweight men and women. I know the company’s want healthier drivers and
the drivers themselves are very interested in having a better way of life.
We live in the cabs of our trucks. We sit down and drive for 12 plus hours
a day and live off of gas station food, which gets real expensive. Lots of
drivers gain weight real fast, and don’t know what to do. If you guys are
interested in making a program for truck drivers and would like more
information about drivers and their schedules please let me know. If you
decide to and need a lab rat I am more then willing to help out. Thanks for
your time.


Thanks for reaching out.

We already have several bodyweight-only, and limited equipment
training plans which are great options. The place to start would be
our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan:

– Rob



I’m a subscriber, I have been using the MTI Str Assessment since it came out last fall… Thanks for the associated training plan (the numbers don’t lie!). Its a great tool. What other assessments are there out there, I’m thinking about endurance and work capacity…more on the preseason general mountain side. In the old  days I did the PFT in the Marines and the newer combat conditioning assessment, but I’m no longer on the tactical side. Assessments are great snapshots of where you are and what you need to focus on, esp. in preseason….



We’ve built multiple assessments:

– Rob


I was thinking of taking advantage of your 20% discount on the
Backcountry Big Game Hunting Training Program which you just updated.  But
before I bought it I thought I’d better ask if you intend to revise it again
before the upcoming hunting season.  Thx.

I just updated the plan last month (March, 2017).

– Rob


Hey guys,

As per usual, thanks for the great work. I had a quick question about the
Humility Program, which I started about a week ago:

I reached a maximum of 83 burpees during the ladder test, which means that
I needed to do 16 burpees per minute for eight minutes at the next session.
I tried that and couldn’t get past the fifth round without going over a
minute of work. Is this something you usually see with athletes who are
starting this program? The “humility” aspect is noticeable here.

Thanks again!


It’s killer. The best we’ve seen is 20/minute.

– Rob


I am at Army Engineer Basic Officer Leader Course, and our morning PT is by
the book Army PRT which as I’m sure you know doesn’t quite get it done. I’m
looking for a recommendation on a program to stack as an evening workout on
top of my scheduled, mandatory morning Army PRT. Goals are: max the Army
PFT (maxed on pushups now, situps are pretty good, 2 mile run could use
work), and improve general upper body strength.

Best regards,


I’d recommend allowing your PRT to improve your PFT scores and using
evenings in the weightroom to work on relative strength.

From our stuff I’d recommend the MTI Relative Strength Assessment
Training Plan:

– Rob

Plan Focus: Upper Body Round Robin

By Rob Shaul 

The Upper Body Round Robin (UBRR) is a Physical Fitness Test created for and by the SOF Community. Our quick research indicated the UBBR’s roots go back to Former Delta Force Operator Ed Bugarin, who originally created the series of events to work on his own weaknesses.

The test then got implemented by Bugarin’s leadership and is still one of the unofficial fitness assessments deployed in many SOF units.

The UBBR contains the following 9 events:

(1) Bench Press for Reps
Load: 80% of Bodyweight
Minimum score: 6 reps
Time: no time limit

(2) Push-Ups
Minimum score: 40 reps
Time: 1 Minute

(3) Sit-Ups
Minimum score: 40 reps
Time: 1 Minute

(4) Pull-Ups
Minimum score: 6 reps
Time: no time limit

(5) Dips
Minimum score: 10 reps
Time: no time limit

(6) 25” Rope Climb in IBA
Pass or fail event
Time: no time limit

(7) Kipp-Ups
Minimum score: 6 reps
Time: 1 Minute

(8) 4x 25m Shuttle Run with blocks (approx. 3x3x1 inches)
Minimum score: finish sprints within 24 Seconds
Then, depending on Unit, Company etc. it is either

(9) 5 Mile Run
Minimum Score: finish run within 40 Minutes
(9) 5 Mile Ruck
Load: 45# dry
Minimum Score: finish ruck within 75 Minutes

As soon as one event is finished, the next event has to start in no more than 10 minutes.

MTI’s 6 Week, 5 day/week Upper Body Round Robin (UBRR) Training Plan is designed to specifically prepare athletes for the UBRR.

We updated our UBRR plan in April, 2017.

Here are the specific changes we made:

  • Increased the length from 3 to 6 weeks
  • Simplified and focused the plan by narrowing exercise menu
  • Standardized weekly training, simplifying the bench press and bodyweight calisthenic progressions
  • Deployed our most recent endurance programming to the run / ruck run progression methodology
  • Increased the plan’s intensity

This training plan deploys the UBRR Assessment three times – beginning, middle and end. The follow-on 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.

Depending on your chain of command, you will perform either a 5 mile run or a 5 mile ruck NOT both. Hence, you need to choose whether you will be using the running or rucking progression on this train-up.

Each week has the same structure, with objectives by day as follows:

Monday: Bench Press / Pull-Ups / Dips / Fast Run or Ruck Run Intervals
Tuesday: Push-Ups / Sit-Ups / Kipp-Ups / Rope Climbs / Shuttle Sprints
Wednesday: Bench Press / Pull-Ups / Dips / Fast Run or Ruck Run Intervals
Thursday: Push-Ups / Sit-Ups / Kipp-Ups / Rope Climbs / Shuttle Sprints
Friday: Bench Press / Pull-Ups / Dips / Easy Run or Ruck Run

The longer sessions are on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. It is okay to split the sessions into 2-a-days if needed to complete them. Sessions run from 75 to 120 minutes, depending upon your run and rucking speed.


Required Equipment?

  • Bench Press set up including bench, rack, barbell, plates for loading.
  • Pull Up Bar
  • IBA (Individual Body Armor) and 25-Foot Rope for Climbing
  • Stop watch with interval coundown timer (Timex Ironman or iphone)
  • Track or known distances for 5 miles, 2 Miles and 1 Mile
  • Ruck and 45# of Filler (if you are doing the ruck in the UBRR)
  • Foam Roller
  • 5-foot piece of PVC or a broomstick


Arete 4.13.17

Seven Disturbing Implications of Trump’s Syria Strike, Defense One
How will we train for a hybrid war?, From the Green Notebook
Forget the Subs: What Taipei can learn from Tehran about Asymmetric Defense, War on the Rocks
What is Modern Military Leadership? A Primer, Grounded Curiosity
Israeli, U.S. officials unveil David’s Sling air defense system, Homeland Security Newswire
A Vietnam War Reading List, War on the Rocks
SWJ/Military Writers Guild Writing Contest Results, Small Wars Journal

Predicting terrorist behaviors with more than 90 percent accuracy, Homeland Security Newswire
In Search of the Islamic State in Georgia, Stratfor
Somali Pirates Are Back in Business, Foreign Policy
Low-Tech Terrorism: The Threat of Vehicles and Vehicle-Assisted Attacks, Police Chief
The Danger of Overreacting to Terrorism—and How to Resist It, World Politics Review

Military-Grade Spy Gear Is Flooding into Local Police Departments, Defense One
First Responders Rescue Hiker Pinned Under 1,500lb Boulder, Gear Junkie
Bill would ban ICE agents from labeling themselves as police, Police One
The Undefined Problem in the Fire Service: Dispatched to a Suicide, Fire Rescue Magazine
Hot Zone, Warm Zone: How to Combine the Protective Services, Fire Rescue Magazine
13 things that make fire department leaders great, Fire Chief

To eat or not to eat (before exercising): That is the question, Science Daily
Study: Inactive Kids Make for Injury-Prone Adults, Mens Journal
What We Think Is “Healthy” Sure Has Changed A Lot, Mens Journal
Does 1-Minute Interval Training Work? We Ask The Guy Who Tested It, NPR

The Right Way to Store Winter Gear for Summer, Adventure Journal
Montana Lawmaker to Out-of-Town Bikers: You’re an Invasive Species, Outside Online
TNF To Give Half-Million in Outdoor Grants, Gear Junkie
How to Build a Green-Wood Grill for Camp Cooking, Outdoor Life
Q&A with Charles Post – Ecologist, Storyteller, and Photographer, Mountain Hardwear
VIDEO: The Grueling Beauty of the ‘Toughest Mountain Race’, Gear Junkie

The 40 Most Significant Tools and Toys Ever Designed, Outside Online
Top 10 Self-Defense Handgun Loads, Outdoor Life
Fabulous Feet: Master Bootfitter Talks How to Approach Boot Fitting, Backcountry Magazine
3rd Group’s USASOC Sniper Comp Winners Rely On Wilcox RAPTAR-S, Soldier Systems
South African Rooftop Brand Introduces Hard Top ‘Stealth’, Gear Junkie