All posts by SSD

Q&A 2.8.18


“As a follow up, I completed the long biathlon and used Gratitude as my training base.  A few deviations to tailor it more towards this event and my weaknesses:  1)  All runs were done with 27 # (plate carrier and hydration pack) 2)  My Long runs were longer than prescribed, longest being 14 miles (I’m accustomed to running with weight so wasn’t concerned about the extra stress)  3) During the last 2-3 weeks I integrated rifle/pistol dry practice into the grinds since that mimicks shooting done in a biathlon.

Loved the program, less physically intense than Humility but perhaps mentally harder, i.e., knowing you have to do 45 minutes of KB swings and 75m shuttles can wear on your mind.

Little scared going into this event because I won it last year but trained heavily on running.  This time I didn’t run near as much.  No problem on race day, felt strong throughout and shot very consistent, 1 of only a few competitors that cleared all 14 stages.  Did a negative split on the 2nd ½ and outran the 2nd place competitor by 21 minutes and took 1st place again.

Next up is a Kentucky 10k biathlon, I’ve chosen SWAT H&K to prepare for it.  Will keep you posted.

Thanks for all you do.”


I’m doing your APFT improvement plan and fat loss plan. I have very high relative strength (I did your test) but need to drop some fat. I’m 248lbs 24% BF . I want to get lean but still have strength to through push and carry.
Will these plans and your diet get me there? What about supplements?


80-90% of fat loss is diet related. Clean up your diet to start. Here are our recommendations.
The APFT Training plan isn’t designed to cut weight – it’s designed to improve your APFT score. To specifically cut weight, complete the Fat Loss Training Plan.
– Rob


Currently planning on training up for selections this fall.  I’ve been working through the spirit series since last fall with a little additional running and light rucking to slowly build mileage on feet and knees.  I’m planning on doing the MTI 9-week workup and finishing up the spirit series (just finished week 4 of vodka with tequila and bourbon to go).  I’m looking for something to bridge the gap between the spirit series and train up (about 10-12 weeks).  Anything you have that you recommend for that time frame?


I’d recommend the plans/progression in the “Gun Maker” series for full-time SWAT/SRT.
Start with Ruger.
– Rob


First of all I would like to say how impressed I am with you and MTI.  I bought the SF45alpha program last year and absolutely loved it.  Since I am 41 and in the Ak Army National Guard as an infantryman, it was just what I was looking for.  Years of heavy squats were taking a toll on my knees.  Lunges are a love/hate thing for me but I persevere.

The issue I’m struggling with now is that I just broke my hand on Christmas Day and just had surgery with a couple pins put in this past Tuesday.  I was wondering what suggestions you would have to work around this injury.  Continue on lower body lifts and what can I do for “grinds” workouts. Just really frustrated right now and am not the type of person to just sit and wait to heal.  I have a rower at home and elliptical as well.

Any advice is helpful.


I’d recommend our Training Plan for Athletes with Arm Injury. This plan isn’t a rehab plan for your hand, but rather trains the rest of your body around the injured limb.
– Rob


I am a volunteer for Team Rubicon with Wildland Fire Training in 10 weeks. I have the Wildland fire training plan from you guys, but have not been actively training. I have a few questions on how I could modify the plan in order to meet that deadline.

First, I do not have barbells but I do have an 80# sandbag. Can I use the sandbag in place of barbells? If so how would I use it in place of a bench press?

Second, I work full time as a paramedic, 3 days a week, I have 3-4 days to dedicate to the training. How, would you recommend I conduct the training in the time I have available?

Thank you for your help in this matter.


1) Skip the bench press and do 10 rounds of the following bodyweight circuit (up from 4 rounds).
2) Follow the training sessions as scheduled – don’t skip ahead. Get in as many as possible before you depart.
– Rob


I am wanting to start the Mountain Heroines series and wondering if they go in any particular order to find which I should start at.
Thank you in advance for any help as always,


Follow this order:


I am 45yo, 24 years LEO looking for some new programming.  Done the crossfit thing and not feeling that anymore.  I am not sure what route to take as I have to work around some injuries most recently a small labral tear in the right shoulder.
I would certainly take any suggestions you have on what may be a good program for me to start with.


I’d recommend our SF45 programming – which is designed for high impact athletes ages 45-55. Start with SF45 Alpha.
– Rob


I am a full-time structural Firefighter/EMT and I have been using your various Fire and LE programs the past couple of years with good results.
I am also 33 years old now and have been lifting pretty consistently since my late teenage years, and my body is starting to show signs of mileage.
I am wondering what you recommend for replacing some power movements, namely any sort of clean movement, where the bar lands on my upper chest and my wrists are folded back in a stretched and vulnerable position.
My body has never “agreed” with these kind of movements, my wrists have never been that flexible in that position, even with consistent yoga, stretching, and years of working on my form, I have never truly felt comfortable with these lifts.  Throwing and catching heavy weight and working up to one-rep maxes over the years has also impacted my knees.
As I am still somewhat early in my career, my goal is preserve my body as long as I can while maintaining strength and power.
I have no problem deadlifting, squatting with a safety squat bar, or doing pus-presses (when I do these I typically don’t let the bar come all the way down to my clavicles to “catch” it).
Just wondering what you recommend for replacing these lifts given my situation.
Please reply when you have some time.
Thank you!


Loaded squat jumps and/or loaded box jumps. You can do the squat jumps with a barbell across your back – but don’t go heavy – nothing above 135#. You can do loaded box jumps holding dumbbells. You may also want to try a Clean Grip Snatch, and 1-Arm Dumbbell Snatches. And of course, if you can, a hang power snatch, and hang clean snatch are great power moves if you’ know these exercises. Neither causes you to catch the barbell in the rack position.
– Rob


Is there any type of AD military discount? Additionally, wanting to purchase but am still rehabilitating from a knee surgery. Have not started running but will be next week, treadmill work or possible anti gravity machine. Is there a plan for anything like that? I can push weights in the gym, I walk a few miles at night. Looking at your fat loss program, just worried about the endurance run. I can step up but no box jumps or anything like that. Thanks in advance.


No discount. Sorry.
If you’ve been released from PT and given the okay to train, you may want to look at our Post-Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan.
– Rob


I hope all is well up in God’s country.  I grew up in Cody, WY (graduated high school in ’85) and spent as much time in the Teton/Jackson Hole area as I could.  That is definitely some of the most beautiful country in the world.  I actually did a summer internship while in college at Jackson Lake Lodge.  Love it up there!
I’m an avid hunter (have hunted AK several times, apply for 50+ tags in 9 western states and Maine each year, etc.).  Unfortunately, I am in the IT industry and spend a lot of time at a desk and behind a computer screen.  Over the years I have put on weight and am now 60lbs heavier than my college football weight.  I have a long-standing goal to get to 192lbs and sheep shape… my physical fitness goal.  Ultimately I want to be lean, strong and physically fit enough to complete 1-2 week spring turkey hunts and fall elk/deer/sheep/goat/moose hunts and feel as good at the end as I feel at the start.  I”m not getting any younger… turned 51 last week.  I want to find a way to make this happen.
Clearly, the weight needs to be the focus, and I’m working on that (paleo type diet).  But, I also want/need to establish a year round mountain hunter training program.
I just listened to a couple of your The Hunt Backcountry podcasts.  I’m interested in your big game hunter program/other programs or combination of programs but have a few questions…
  • Based on a review of the program, I doubt I am in good enough shape for the program at this point.  And, it doesn’t appear it is meant to be a repeating year round hunter program (e.g. repeat every 2 months)?  Based on relevant sections of the podcast, it appears a year round mountain hunter fitness program approach would be to use multiple programs/combine programs to make up a year round program?  What would this look like?
  • I need to be able to scale for my weight, age and current conditioning.  How can I do that with your programs?
  • I invested in a complete crossfit garage gym a few years ago, so want to leverage that investment in my program while still getting outside as much as possible. Your program seems to be focused on minimal equipment, which concerns me a bit.  I get it, but also want to continue to improve strength (in a measurable way such as squat weight, etc.), keep some crossfit type wods in my program, etc.  So, just wanted to get your thoughts on that.
  • Could you help me form a year round program, factor in my weight and condition as I progress toward my 192lbs/sheep shape goals? Are your programs that flexible and configurable?
Just wanted to say “hi” and see if your programs would fit my vision/goals?


1. Mountain Base Plans from the Greek Heroine Series until 7 months out from your hunt/season, then complete the plans and order in the Backcountry Big Game Training Packet.
2. The fitness demands for a backcountry big game hunt don’t change for your age – so the programming is the same. You may need longer to recover from the training sessions – but the programming is designed around the fitness demands of the hunt, not the individual athlete. All of our programming is designed this way. Your current level of fitness is another matter – and at 60 pounds overweight, you’ve got some work to do. From our stuff, fix your diet and start with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan.
3. The further away from your season, the more general your fitness training can be. The closer to your season, the more sport-specific it needs to be. In general, crossfit programming does not have nearly enough endurance to prepare you for mountain movement. Our Mountain Base programming includes gym-based strength and work capacity work, but also a solid dose of mountain endurance programming (running, uphill hiking under load).
4. We don’t do individual programming … but you don’t need it. See my recommendations above. Prove to yourself that your serious by fixing your diet, shedding weight, and sticking to a training plan. Both will take discipline. At 51, you’ll want to be lighter than your college football weight.
– Rob


Hope you are doing well. I wanted to connect regarding your eccentric leg blaster routine.
I am a former professional tennis player. Unfortunately, my singles career ended due to knee pain in both my knees in the patella region. I’ve been struggling with this for the last 10+ years and have modified my activities.
I now do some coaching and one of my students introduced me to your workout which I started today. I did a good 10-12 min warmup and got into the mini blaster routine. For the first 3 sets, I barely had any range of motion on the single leg lunges due to the stiffness and pain in my knees. But I did what I could and kept moving forward. Then after I completed the air squats in the 4th set, I suddenly could go all the way down on the single leg lunge and had no pain. This was the case for the remainder of the sets.
I noticed the same when I was competing that I would struggle with the knee stiffness and pain for the early part of a training or match, then things would ease up, and the pain would be back after the session when I cooled down.
– Have you seen what I’m experiencing with other athletes?
– Do you have any recommendations for me such as an extended warm up or any movements I should do in warm up to build the range of motion?
– Might you have any other advice for me?
Thank you and I’m excited to learn about eccentric strength and feel that it will help me overcome my knee issues.


I’m not a doctor, but it sounds to me like you have arthritic knees which loosen up when you warm up, and tighten up when you cool down. My knees are the same.
There’s nothing you can do about it to my knowledge.
– Rob


I’m broken between Soflete selection prep and Marsoc A&S. Both programs are particularly fresh so I haven’t heard any success from either. In your professional opinion why is the MTN Tactical method of going “sport specific” and training twice a day, rather than only rucking once a week with training once a day like Soflete? I want to be subscribed, but I also want to train the best way for success.
Thank you for your time.


Our programming is designed to prepare athletes sport specifically for what they’ll face at the respective selection. The programming is designed to prepare you not only for the initial gate events, but also the long days and long weeks you’ll face, –  esp. the first 3 weeks. We use 2-a-days and weekend mini-events to these ends.
– Rob


Humility was awesome – from 46 burpees initially to 88 burpees at the end, and that final test was done three hours after my final PT test.

Now I’m on my second week of resilience. Im not timing between the main sets but just recovering decently to where I’m not out of breath.

What’s your recommendation for time between the compound Olympic lifts? Also between bench sets?



Each strength circuit includes a stretch or mobility exercise. This is your “working rest” between strength sets.
See below from Session 1 – the Hip Flexor Stretch is your “working rest” between rounds of craig special + push press and the rope climb.
 – Rob

(1) 8 Rounds

2x Craig Special + Push Press- increase load each round until 2x is hard, but doable

Rope Climb or 2/3x Tarzan Pull ups

Hip Flexor Stretch

– Rob


I used the Expedition Ice/Mixed 8 week plan to train for two very demanding climbs in Scotland last week, including a summit of Ben Nevis via Tower Ridge and North Buttress on Buschaille Etiv Mor. Had I not used your plan, I’d have been screwed. But instead I climbed better than ever.

I was wondering what plan you suggested I do now? I plan to continue ice climbing this season, and no doubt some winter climbs are on the horizon.

Thanks so much!


Congrats on your climb and glad our stuff worked for you.
More to the Mountain Base programming in Helen.
– Rob


I’m a Civil Affairs NCO with the Army, in decent shape ( 280s APFT ) looking to push my fitness to the next level this year.

Tomorrow I’m starting your Military On-Ramp Training program, but wasn’t sure where to go afterwards.  The Greek Hero series

and Daily Operator sessions both caught my eye, but I wanted your opinion.  As a side note I should be getting the opportunity to

go to Air Assault School in August/September so Ill be completing that program the prescribed number of weeks out.


Move to the Plans and order in the Greek Hero series – starting with Hector.
– Rob


I have a few training questions that I am hoping you could help with, I have set a personal goal for myself to hit a 500lbs back squat by May but I also have a APFT in April that I would like to score a 270 on. I have done fortitude and really enjoyed the program, I have adopted that as a foundation for kind of my own version of it which I have opted to do Deadlifts and add in another day for Squats and Bench. I have kept the 2 run days and the Ruck Run as well. Am I wasting my time with trying to do all these movements in a training cycle if so how would I best hit my target by April/May?

I really appreciate you taking the time to read my questions and the work you do.


Best is to train specifically for the APFT directly before the APFT using the APFT Training Plan.
Fortitude and the rest of our day-to-day programming is designed to train multiple fitness attributes at once – those needed by military athletes. The goal is to improve your “base fitness” – relative strength (strength per bodyweight), work capacity, chassis Integrity, endurance (running, ruck running) and tactical agility.
I’m not sure where you are on your goal for a back squat, but this is an arbitrary strength goal – not important for tactical fitness by itself. Understand that running, work capacity etc. will retard pure strength gains. So, if you want to really focus on your back squat strength, stop running.
What to do now?
I’d recommend a pivot to the Super Squat Strength Training Plan until 4 weeks out to the APFT, then complete the APFT Training Plan, then back to the Eccentric Strength Training Plan in prep for your May back squat goal.
Understand that during this time your tactical “base fitness” will decline – esp. endurance.
– Rob


I was recently introduced to your website by someone who used one of your programs to train for a GORUCK Challenge event and was extremely happy with the results.  I’ve looked through your available plans and I’m definitely interested in learning more.

The specific event that I am training for is the Blue Ridge Adventure Race, to be held in North Georgia this May.  As with most adventure race, this is a multi-discipline, off-road race which will incorporate trekking/running, mountain biking, and paddling (either light whitewater or lake) with navigation throughout.  The race timeframe is 24 hours over an unknown distance.

My current training plan is cobbled together from strength training programs, a few run training schedules and HIT workouts.   My fitness level is probably a little better than good (knowing there’s a lot of room for improvement) after 20 years in the Marine Corps and training for/participating in several obstacle races over the last few years.

You clearly have a wide variety of fitness plans, but I would like to solicit your opinion on which of the plans would be most suitable for my event.

Thank you for your assistance.


I’ve never designed an adventure race plan – the reason being the events are so similar to a triathlon from a fitness perspective – I defer to that programming. For your race, I’d recommend a significant focus on endurance, and the running and cycling programming from a 1/2 Ironman plan – trail run with your pack for the runs, and mountain bike, if possible for the cycling. If not, road biking/spinning will suffice.
Paddling in these events is a little tricky – and in our own kayak/paddling pre-season plan we recommend intervals on a lake or against the current in a stream/river. Swimming will have a limited transfer. I have seen people in a pool tie their kayaks to the side and just paddle – drudgery, but it works.
Finally – Orienteering – get it dialed. You know this already, but the civilians who compete in these races and orienteering comps are better then the military guys. Learn from them.
I’d plan for 10-12 week train up.
– Rob


I am a leader in an Air Force desk-job office. We plan to do a Teddy Roosevelt / JFK 50 Mile Challenge (walk 50 miles in 20 hours) on Memorial Day. There is no ruck weight requirement, but everyone will have at least Camelbaks and snacks. Some of us will ruck moderate weight (e.g. 30 lbs). I drafted a training plan to correspond with our office Tuesday and Thursday PT sessions. The plan is pasted below.

Is this plan reasonable? Any recommendations?
Tues Thurs Sat/Sun
Week 1 2 miles 3 miles 5 miles
Week 2 4 miles 6 miles 10 miles
Week 3 (Deload) 5 miles 5 miles 5 miles
Week 4 7 miles 8 miles 15 miles
Week 5 9 miles 11 miles 20 miles
Week 6 (Deload) 10 miles 10 miles 10 miles
Week 7 12 miles 13 miles 25 miles
Week 8 14 miles 16 miles 30 miles
Week 9 5 miles 5 miles Rest


Looks okay but you want the Sat/Sun effort to all at once. Don’t split it up.
– Rob


Best strength plan using dumbbell s not barbells?



Hi there. I’m a road cyclists getting ready to start my base training period for cyling in which I’d like to be doing 2-3 workouts a week of 3 x20 minutes at 85-90% of threshold so I can build my FTP.
I want to add that work into a plan that will get me fit for a ski trip to British Columbia that will involve some CAT skiing, slack country and general charging downhill. Any recommendations?



I am testing for the German Arm Forces Proficiency Badge on 24-25 Feb. 2018 (roughly 7 weeks away). I have never taken this fitness test and I was wondering what plan or combination of plans from MTI that you would suggest me to do.

I am a 2LT in the Army National Guard, so I have to get the highest score and get the gold badge.

Thanks in advance.


You’re the second person this week to ask about this badge – but in 12 years …. it’s the first time I can remember being asked!
So I don’t have a plan specifically for this test. From what I do have I’d recommend the Air Assault School Training Plan and adding the flexed arm hang to the APFT events and progressing it the same way as the push ups. You should also complete the shuttle sprint assessment 4x every wednesday, with a 4 minute rest between efforts.
I’ll look to build a GAFPB-specific event.
– Rob


Quiet Professional: Gratitude

By Rob Shaul

Gratitude bears two gifts:

1) Perspective.

When things are hard, stepping back, breathing, and identifying the good in our lives in general, and the specific situation in particular, puts stuff in focused perspective.

Things can get bad – but never so bad that we aren’t blessed in some or many ways, and can’t express gratitude accordingly.

In this way, gratitude is a potent weapon against despair; a single, beautiful flame in the darkness.

2) The Present.

Gratitude forces us to take stock of our current situation, and in doing so, makes us be in the glorious present. This is not easy, as past regret and future anxiety constantly nip at our heels begging attention.

A grateful person can swat away past regret and future anxiety, freeing space for the here and now.



Quiet Professional: Embrace the Suck

US Ski Team Member and Olympian, Resi, and World Champion Freeskier, and Professional Mountain Guide, Jess, soldier on.
By Rob Shaul


This isn’t the “Embrace the Suck” you see on a morale patch or obstacle course t-shirt, which advertises how much the wearer likes to suffer and how this makes him or her special and a badass.

But rather, “Embrace the Suck” is an acknowledgment that life is hard in general, doing important work is harder still, and along the way regardless, you’ll face adversity.

So don’t fight it.

With age and experience, I’ve learned not to waste energy hoping “The Suck” won’t arrive. Rather, I know adversity and struggle are on their way and wait to “embrace” them when they do appear.

Yes. This makes me a pessimist … but a happy one. The great thing about being a pessimist is you’re either right or pleasantly surprised.

Now, when I’m doing something and “the suck” is taking it’s time to arrive, I grow suspicious and impatient – not good. When it finally appears I work hard to welcome and embrace it.

I’m not always successful. I know whining, complaining and fighting against “The Suck” is fruitless and exhausting and only makes thing worse – but too often find myself doing this anyway.

“The Suck” will laugh at your struggle. It’s best to join in and laugh at yourself as well. When I’m at my best I’m able to smile at “The Suck” when it arrives, and ask, “what took you so long?”

Better still, appreciate “The Suck” as a great teacher. Perhaps none is better.

Comments/Feedback? Email



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Quiet Professional: Don’t Get Too Far From Your Purpose

By Rob Shaul


“I’ve yet to meet a man who felt his job or profession was beneath his talents and was truly happy.”


Sometimes this discontent surfaces in self-destructive behavior, or in obsessive hobbies, recreation, or other interests. Others manage with a balanced life, but coast at work and plan ahead in the short term for the end of the workday, coming weekend, next vacation, and in the long term, retirement when they’ll get to do “what I really want.”

I’ve often been criticized for my work ethic – by both family and friends. When younger, this bothered me. But now, I’m so thankful I have a job and career I enjoy so much work is never a burden. It’s a true blessing, and I feel sorry for the clockwatchers, and misplaced workers amongst us.

I’ve found women can prioritize family over career and be sincerely happy and content. But I’ve seen few men who can. I’m not sure if it’s our cultural expectations that men provide or the male psyche, but the men I’ve met who say they put family first have done it by default. They are not satisfied with their work and family attention masks this discontent.

The best men among us have work and family side by side and understand both make up their “purpose.”  Vacations, breaks, weekends are welcome and sometimes necessary “dessert,” but the real “meal,” and from work.

Of all the habits to be a Quiet Professional, this is the most debated and controversial. Some argue that faith and family should come first, and career, second. My response is if it works for them, keep doing it. But if they are unsatisfied at work, it’s naive to think this discontent does not affect how they interact with their families.

Finding work you love, and diving all in is an incredible gift to yourself, and those you serve through that work. As well, it’s much easier to be happy at home, and make the best of family time.


Comments/Feedback? Email


You Might Also Like The Original Article What Does It Mean to be a Quiet Professional 



Q&A 2.1.18

KUDOS ON THE Ruck Based Selection Training Plan

“Completed your Ruck Based Selection Program in the weeks leading up to my SFAS date earlier this month. I definitely felt prepared for everything that was thrown at me during the course and was luckily ‘Selected’ to top it off. Just wanted to say thanks for the knowledge and work that is poured into your programs. Without them, I don’t know how well I would have done.”



Have had nothing but success with your programs. I’ve used the Rainier plan for rainier and also Mt. Washington non technical ascents. I’m going back to Mt. Washington NH towards the end of Feb for a mixed ice mountaineering course. I do not have a system board or place to build one, or ice tools. I know you have mountain base alternatives I’ve been doing Atalanta last few weeks and using the alternatives. Any suggestion on a plan to help me with the climb coming up?  I feel like I still need to up my step up game as well as upper body. I’m  a monthly subscriber.


– Rob


First and foremost, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed one of your programs and benefitted greatly because of it. I am heading to a federal agency academy in a few weeks and one of the plans I purchased definitely helped me pass and do well at the pft.
With that being said, I’m heading to the academy and don’t know what my schedule will Be to get into the gym. Do you have a suggested strength plan mixed with cardio that I could do on a 3-5 day per week basis?
Any advice would be appreciated. Again, thank you for your programming and knowledge. I’m a reformed CrossFitter that very much appreciates MTI.


Congrats and good luck at the academy. I’d recommend the MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan.
– Rob


In preparation for this year, I need to improve my 2 and 5 mile timed runs. No rucking is needed. I would like to maintain/gain overall strength, but the focus is running. After looking through many of your programs, I believe a mix of the running improvement plan, mixed with the strength days from the valor program will meet those needs. I was wondering in your opinion, if I am way off the mark here, or if there is a better plan or mix of plans to meet my goals. If the running/valor idea works, would the Friday workout be best utilized with the long, slow runs from the running improvement plan or the 40 min endurance workout from valor? Thank you for your help.


The Running Improvement Plan includes strength work. Do it alone – don’t double up. Also – start on week 6 – with the 3-Mile assessment.
– Rob


I am going into my second trimester and just finished the body weight foundation workout.  I was wondering if you had another program you recommended.  I felt like I didn’t want to repeat the body weight foundation because there are a lot of exercises that you do on your back and a lot of your core and just trying to move away from both kinds of those exercises.


Boy – I’m over my dumb strength coach pay grade here. I’ve been asked several times in the past few months to develop a pregnancy training plan, but haven’t had the time to do the needed research. I have had pregnant women train with me in the past, but simply watched them closely with loading and exertion, but still had them train alongside my other athletes. They all quit training on their own 1-2 months out from birth and went to walking only.
For your question specifically, the exercises in our Chassis Integrity Training Plan are all core-focused, and none are on the ground – all are from kneeling or standing – but you’d really want to be conservative with the loading and overall exertion. (
I would avoid all strenuous work capacity and stop all running – if you’ve been doing any – to limit your “cardio” to walking, fast walking, or perhaps walking with a light, 15-25# Pack. Unloaded step ups to a 12-15” box would be okay – as long as you watch exertion.
I’m sorry I don’t have anything more specific for you. Be smart.
– Rob


I’m a yearly subscriber and love your programming. I am a 50 year old truck driver recently retired from the military.  I have taken a transfer with my work to Northern British Columbia along the Alaska border. I am interested in doing the Backcountry Hunting packet but have run into a glitch. It’s is far too snow/icy and cold here to safely do any running for a few months. The rucking is no problem though.  In my basement gym I do have an Air Assault bike and was wondering how to do equivalencies for shuttles, 800m and 1 mile repeats as well as long slow distance. Can you give some guidance in this area please? I appreciate your time and look forward to your response.


Tough love for you here – but winter, snow/ice is no excuse to not run outside.  I live in Jackson, Wyoming, and unless it’s below zero, I run. I’m 49. (I used to run when it was below zero but I’m getting soft.)
When it’s less than 10 degrees F, I wear simple sweats, wool socks, long sleeve synthetic top, light windbreaker, light gloves, and a light hat. You can buy running shoes with metal studs, and also buy running cleats to put over your other running shoes if you want – but I don’t – and haven’t fallen in 20+ years.
If you’re determined to use your bike think time, not distance and assume a 9 minute/mile. So if the plan calls for a 800m sprint, ride your bike hard for 4.5 minutes. If the plan calls for a 300m shuttle, ride your bike hard for 1:15, if the plan calls for a 5 mile run, ride for 45 minutes.
– Rob


Recently purchased your Ruck-based Selection Plan because a lot of guys I know swore by it. Excited to get going, but I have a quick question regarding timing.
I’m starting SFAS at the end of March, so about 12 weeks from now. Given the 8 week program, is there a particular week I could loop a few times? Or should I start this regimen strictly 8 weeks out from my start date. I’m anxious to get back in rucking shape but I don’t want to mess with the program.
Thanks for your help and for providing such thorough training programs.


The Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan is too intense to repeat a week. Start it again the 8 weeks directly before selection.
Between now and then, from our stuff, I’d recommend the first 3 weeks of Humility.
Take 1 week off full rest before the Ruck Plan.
– Rob


I am a US Army Infantry Officer, planning to attend SFAS this coming year. Something I had issues with during my Ranger School trainup, and continue to struggle with is how to maintain fitness when constantly going back and forth from the field. Typically I can expect 2-5 weeks of time where I can regularly get in two-a-day workouts and control my diet very well. But then every month or two I will go conduct some kind of field training. Usually this will involve working 18-22 hour days, weird hours, and eating nothing but MREs and army field kitchen reheat meals for anywhere from 1 week to 2 months. Occasionally I will get the opportunity to go for a run, but rarely do I have gym access, and usually limited or no showers for much of this time, and often I don’t have extra space to bring PT clothes/shoes. Have you folks dealt with similar issues, and do you have any recommendations for maintaining a fitness routine through this kind of a schedule?


There’s no good answer for this and it’s similar to the mountain guides we work within the Spring who then spend long day’s all summer guiding clients and rarely find time for the gym.
I’ll tell you what I tell them … Gym training is where you build your fitness, and field work is where you “use” it. Our programming is focused first on mission-direct (field-based) performance, and second on durability. If I our programming can help you perform well in the field, and help keep you from injury while there I’m happy. But instead of thinking you’re “losing” gym-based fitness in the field – I think you’re “using” it.
When you get back to garrison and can train regularly it will come back fast.
If in the field you can find time to break off and do some sprinting, bodyweight work, etc. great, but don’t worry about it if not. You should be getting plenty of exercises.
Diet – I understand it’s hard to eat “clean” on MRE’s. Do your best and don’t worry about the rest.
– Rob


I have gotten a couple of emails from you urging me to purchase one of your programs.  I am very interested but I do have questions/concerns.  Let me first try to qualify my questions:  I’m a 42 year old guy who works 12 hour shifts as a cop.  I have always been a devoted athlete but I have noticed my body isn’t handling the recovery as well any more and I am concerned about longevity.  My workout over the past three months has been the Metashred DVD’s three days a week and running 2 to 4 times a week.  My gym is basically a small workout area for police and firefighters without a lot of crossfit equipment or room.  I’m hoping to find a program that is easy to follow, doesn’t require I buy $1,000 worth of equipment and is functional for both my profession and my age.  What program would you recommend?


The plans in our Spirits Packet are designed as day to day programming for full time LE Patrol and Detectives and concurrently train strength, work capacity with a sprinting emphasis, chassis integrity (core), tactical agility and upper body hypertrophy.
Each individual plan in the packet includes an equipment list – and it’s not clear from your note, what equipment you have to train with so you may have some equipment issues you’ll have to work around. I’d recommend you start with Whiskey – the first plan in the packet.
If you don’t have access to barbells, and only have dumbbells, I’d recommend Moe – which is built around dumbbells and/or kettlebells, and includes strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, tactical speed and agility, and endurance.
– Rob


My company is a mountain company within a light infantry battalion. Two questions:
1. I figured our best bet would be to adapt the Grunt PT cycles to include uphill hiking under load. What’s the best way to go about this?
2. I have both beat-up older NCOs and less fit new guys. How can I adapt the training for these soldiers? I want the whole platoon to be able to work out together. I need buy-in from the NCOs so we can’t be crushing them right out the gate.
Open to any other suggestions as well, especially regarding implementation.
By the way, after the first burpee/quadzilla day of Humility, I suddenly understood why you named it humility.


1) Best would be to do the Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Plan or the Mountain Warfare School Training Plan. Both are limited equipment training plans – so equipment shouldn’t be an issue.
2) Both plans and progressive – increase in difficulty as you work through them – so everyone can start at the same time. However, these are hard plans and you’ll have whiners, including NCOs. They are a leadership challenge but understand the best in your company will appreciate the focus and being pushed.
– Rob


I’m currently preparing to entire the army hopefully with a 40x contract and just started the body weight foundation program. I’ve been reading through the standards for tactical athletes though and realized I’m not just out of shape but also weak too. I’m wondering how you prioritize getting a new athlete up to par. Am I correct to focus on a work capacity and endurance program like humility before worrying about strength?


After Bodyweight Foundation, I’d recommend you follow the plans and progression in the Rookie Training Packet.
– Rob


I was recommended to you by a friend of mine, and am looking at doing a monthly subscription very soon. My question is basically just trying to find the best plan for myself currently (sure you get this a lot). I am in overall good shape, and will be going to FLETC in March for training to become an NCIS agent. My only PFT test consists of the 1.5 mile run, bench press, flexibility test, 30 yard maze run, and just general calisthenics. I could easily pass this now, but would like to work on perfecting it (especially the run), and would just like to get in better overall shape. Anything you would suggest to prepare me for this but also push me beyond it and constantly test myself. Thanks for your help!


6 Weeks directly before you depart prior to FLETC, complete the FLETC PEB Training Plan.
Between now and starting the FLETC Plan, I’d recommend you complete the Whiskey – from our Spirits Packet for LE Patrol/Detective.
– Rob


I’m a new Athlete Subscription subscriber and I’m interested in a recommended start point. I am a mountain athlete spanning climbing hard desert crack, skiing, BASE/Wingsuit base jumping, mountain biking and find myself traveling often doing any of the above year round. I work 5 days a week and play hard in the weekends. In the past I used CrossFit for my base fitness but wanted to try something different more specific to a “mountain athlete”. I loved what CrossFit did for me and felt strong in all disciplines but wanted to refocus on some training that had more emphasis on climbing. Where do you recommend I start in one of your Base programs? One of the Greek Heroine Series or Daily training?
Looking forward to getting to work.


Start with Helen from the Greek Heroine Series.
The plan is built as a 5 day/week plan, but don’t let it interfere with your weekend performance. This means take Fridays off as total rest for the weekend. Don’t skip the Friday training session …. do it Monday. Follow the training sessions in order as prescribed even if you take days off.
If you’ve got a Spring rock climbing trip planned, drop out of Helen and complete the Rock Season Pre-Season Training Plan the 6 weeks directly before your trip. Spring Mountain Biking trip – do the Mountain Bike Pre-Season Plan prior.
Email questions and enjoy the programming.
– Rob


Hi Rob i recently purchased a subscription im not sure which program to start with. I am an experienced lifter and run often as well. Im former Army special operations (psyops) and a former cop. I am use to lifting and running and with my past am use to performing at a high level. I had a pretty in depth knee surgery last year and havent pushed much yet from torn patella tendon and medial meniscus, Dr told me to lay off because i have almost no cartilege in my knees left. I currently lift and run although my run times id love to get down eventually again as well use to be 6 min mile now is more like 8-9 min mile also looking to get back into best overall fighting shape.  Any help on where to begin again would be greatly appreciated. Looking to begin getting back into army sof shape eventually at least. Thanks for your time and reply.


A couple options:
I designed this training plan for athletes recovering from knee injury and it’s designed to be completed once released from PT, but before hard training. My sense is you’re beyond this now, so it would be a conservative place to start.
2) SF45 Alpha – The SF45 Series of plans are designed for high-impact tactical athletes in the 45-55 year old age range. I’m not sure how old you are – but it doesn’t matter – these plans are no joke, but they also avoid excess deep loaded squatting and have a slight overall emphasis on endurance. Aim here is to acknowledge joint issues common with older athletes … like me! (I’m 49).
– Rob


I recently purchased the FBI HRT Selection program and I have a question as to what a good alternative could be for the 8 flight sprint climb with the 55# vest and weight in hand. I can get the equipment but I don’t have access to 8 flights of stairs. What do you guys think could be an adequate replacement for this specific assessment?


For the assessment – Do a 400m Shuttle in a 55# pack and carrying a 35# dumbbell.
Set up 2 cones 25m apart. Shuttle Sprint back and forth between the cones for 12x lengths or 8x round trips. This is 400m. Time yourself.  Use this each time you do the full assessment – Mondays of Week 1, 4 and 7 – and see if your time decreases.
For the progressions in the training plan … here’s what is written:
(4) 2 Rounds
Sprint-Climb 8 Flights of Stars with 55# Vest + 35 Pound dumbbell or Ram.
Rest 5 min between Rounds
Do this Instead:
(4) 400m Shuttle @ 55# Vest/Pack + 35# Dumbbell
Rest 5 Mintues, then ….
144x Step Ups (72 per leg) for time @ 55# Vest/Pack + 35# Dumbbell. Use a 12″ step for the step ups.
– Rob


I found you guys over the summer. I was really impressed with your APFT program. It was nice being one of the oldest in my unit and beating the younger bucks.

Over the first weekend of May, my unit will be conducting a German Armed Force Proficiency Badge event. Unfortunately you don’t have one of those plans yet. I purchased the MARSOC A&S as it was the closest thing that had all of the elements. I wanted to pick your brain about how to tailor that program for the GAFPB. For example, the ruck is 8 miles instead of 12, so I thought about cutting the workouts by 1/3.

The biggest question is whether you thought replacing the flex arm hang instead of pull-ups would work. So instead of getting a baseline on pull-ups, get a base line on the flex arm hang. Instead of 30% of pull-ups, use 30% of flex arm hang time, etc.

Any insights would be great.



You’re mods sound good. For ruck intervals, use a 2 mile interval distance and go 20% faster than your 8-mile assessment pace.
Same progression for the flexed arm hang is what I’d try also – we’ve never done this so I’m not sure if it will work like the pull ups, but it’s a place to start.
Can you please send the specific events for the badge and I’ll take a look at it?
– Rob


I am currently starting to prepare for a Kilimanjaro climb in early April and have been looking at your different programs.  To give you a bit of background, my climbing experience is limited to a one-month mountaineering course with NOLS, including climbs of Mt. Baker and other peaks in the North Cascades, this summer, and while I came out of that program pretty fit, I feel like I’ve lost a lot of that base: right now a 2-3 mile run at 9-10 min. miles feels like a pretty challenging workout.  In addition, I do not currently have access to a gym (could join one, but would prefer not to if possible), making programs like your bodyweight foundation plan especially appealing.  Where do you think I should start, and how can I maximize the next three months to be as fit as possible on mountain?


I’d recommend first the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan, followed by the Peak Bagger Training Plan directly before your climb.
Good luck!
– Rob


I’ve just finishing the MTI Big 24 programme. I really enjoyed the programme and made some big gains on my 2/3RM for each of the exercises (between week 1 and the mid programme reassessment in week 4).
Other than some small disruptions over Christmas I managed to hit all of the sessions and complimented it with my normal run training sessions of 5 or 10km runs 6-7 days a week.
I’m now planning my next training cycle (6wks) to finish off my current deployment and again I’m looking at the MTI programmes! I’m thinking of the 357 Strength programme and I like the idea of some general overall strength training. I’d also like to continue training twice a day 5-6 days a week including my low intensity running sessions.
I’m ex-Military with a good level of fitness, relatively strong mental resiliance and like tough gym sessions. I’m working on a military camp and have access to a good gym with all the usual facilities and equipment.
Just wanted to see what you think about the 357 programme or would you recommend  anything else? Apologies on the long winded email but I’m very enthusiastic about training and have been really re-engergised by your programme and website support.


I’d recommend Hector from the Greek Hero Package.
Still trains strength, but doesn’t have a strength focus like 357 and is more balanced. You shouldn’t do 2 strength cycles in a row.
– Rob


Quick question that’s been nagging me for a while:  What would you substitute your shuttle runs with and for how much time relative to the distance (They’re part of many plans, so not one in particular)?  I train in my garage and don’t have much space to move around.  Going outside is not practical.  I have a skipping rope, skierg, rowerand  airdyne.
Thanks and happy new year!


There’s an assumption in your question that rowing, or biking, or something else is the same as shuttle runs as long as the work duration or distance is the same.
This is wrong. While it may not make a difference for general fitness, it does for the mountain and tactical athletes we work with. I don’t emphasize shuttle sprints because I’m lazy – these efforts transfer to mountain and tactical movement – where your move on your feet. We went away from rowers long ago for this reason – you don’t row anywhere in the mountains.
At some point, doing rowing stops transferring to outside the gym performance, and just makes you better at rowing the erg. This is a dead end for our athletes.
It’s amazing the number of questions I get from people who don’t want to run or do shuttle sprints … most with lame excuses like it’s cold outside, or not convenient, or shuttle repeats simply suck because of difficulty.
That being said, think time for the substitution. If the plan calls for 300m shuttles every 2:30, assuming you’ll run for 1:10-1:15 and row like hell for 1:15 every 2:30, etc. Just know that you’re training general fitness, and the transferability to the mountains or battlefield is questionable.
– Rob


I would like to have a workout program and am not sure which one to select.  I am not in the military or law enforcement.  I’m just an average middle-aged guy looking for something different.


If you know your way around the weight room, start our stuff with the Military OnRamp training plan.
If not, start with Bodyweight Foundation.
If you’re super fit – have been an avid CrossFitter, start with Humility.
– Rob


I just subscribed to your program and I’m super-stoked!  I’m going to start the Backcountry Ski V3 program.  I was wondering what the impact would be if I replaced the Friday running with cycling instead.  If you think I can swap the running for cycling what should the progression be on the bike?


The impact would be you wouldn’t get as much out of the program for mountain movement. Unless your approach your ski-mo objectives on a fat bike, run.
If you’re determined to run, sub time, not distance. If the plan calls for a 7 mile run, assume you’d run 10 min/miles, and bike for 70 minutes.
– Rob


Survey Results: Over 90% of MTI Athletes Take Supplements



By Mintra Mattison


Last week, we asked our community to participate in our nutrition survey, asking several questions in regards to legal and illegal supplements. The participation was great: we collected over 500 responses.


Survey Take-Aways

The participants were mostly male (95% male and 5% female) and ranged between the age of 18 to 74.
The Majority with 42%, was within the age group 25-34.

Overall we got a good mix of athletes from the MTI Community. Military Athletes (41%), followed by General Fitness Athletes (22%), followed by Law Enforcement Athletes (14,5%), then Mountain Athletes (14,3%) and finally Fire Rescue Athletes (6,2%).

The Survey stated that 92,5% of our community uses supplements. Protein being their main choice of product (73,4%).

The majority also stated to take supplements 7x/week (37%), to maximize fitness training effects (39%).

11% of the participants said that they are or have been using Performance Enhancement Drugs (PEDs). Mostly acquired legally by prescription (82%). Testosterone being the most used (24%).

What’s interesting was, when asked if taking supplements works and if so how – a lot of participants stated that they use supplements as a meal replacement, or to help with weight control and caloric intake.



Below are the results of the survey along with an extract of the open question answers.



  • 10
  • 10-12
  • see-saw over the years… from 0 to 6


  •  Full fat Chocolate Milk
  •  Caffeine/B vitamin water mixers


  • All of the above, minus weight lose.
  • Maintain overall health
  • Fill in dietary gaps
  • Hoping it will give some type of energy and sometimes others as meal add-on.
  • To supplement my current food intake and convenience
  • To increase protein intake quickly without having to cook something
  • heart health, joint health,
  • Health, maximize cognitive function, anti-aging and to prevent reoccurrence of a brain tumor
  • Memory/focus


  • Protein powder high quality with no sugars, multivitamin, fish oils, have done PED’s in the past, my strength levels are fairly high and do not have a use for them at this set age in life.
  • Caffeine/B Vitamins
  • Tart cherry extract, probiotic, BCAAs, creatine, green drink supplement(kale, algae, etc)
  • Spirulina Powder
  • Krill oil
  • Blended greens


  • Green Superfood
  • Calm – powder magnesium supplement to help me relax\sleep
  • Vit D
  • curcumin, fish oil, vitamin d, coqu10

Q12 Which brand(s) do you prefer? Please be specific.


  1. Optimum Nutrition (12,95%)
  2. GNC (4,08%)
  3. Vega (4,08%)
  4. Onnit (3,60%)
  5. Jym (3,36%)
  6. Soflete (3,36%)
  7. Thorne (2,88%)
  8. Wilderness Athlete (2,16%)
  9. Myprotein (1,92%)
  10. True Nutrition (1,62%)


Q 13 Have you had any negative effects/experiences with supplements/PEDs? If so, please be specific.


  • No (64%)
  • Yes. Taking too much can harm my kidneys, and one day I felt bad so I decided to reduce the consumption to a normal post workout shake.
  • I haven’t had negative experiences, but I have had experiences with supplements that haven’t done anything for me. I’ve narrowed things down at this point to the products I feel are actually helping me to achieve my health, fitness, and performance goals.
  • Occasional bloating
  • Omega 3 + vitamins. Pain in heart region. Stopped taking immediately.
  • Excessive soreness with Progenex, Jym Products, and Optimum Nutrition Products
  • Pre-Workouts can be harsh.
  • Nothing more than an upset stomach.
  • Gastrointestinal distress with creatine, migraines with preworkout supplements that contain caffeine
  • With prescription testosterone- high blood pressure, hair loss
  • Trouble urinating with “Bang” energy/creatine drinks
  • I took a pre-workout supplement that made me nervous and anxious
  • Barack acne
  • Rapid heartrate with ephedrine, vomiting with a thermogenic
  • In past, Gonadal suppression with PEDs and “rebound”
  • I thought they contributed to my second kidney stone.
  • I tried a pre-workout supplement from Cellucor (C4 Sport). The first workout I used it, I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest, and I urinated constantly throughout the day. The second time I used it, I felt nauseous. The third time I used it, I felt nauseous and couldn’t stop breathing hard for a solid 2 hours. Also urinated excessively.
  • Some pre workout sups have negative effects on mood, sleep, appetite
  • I don’t use creatine anymore because of risk to the kidneys
  • Did not like the effects of pre workout i.e. itchyness
  • Yes, when I take off the shelf pre-workout it upsets my stomach.
  • Vpx Melton gave me heart palpitations.
  • Upset stomach from Creatine; constipation if I use more a couple servings of protein powder daily
  • nitric oxide enhance supplements, I faint
  • WAY back in the day I took ephedra based stuff. Pretty sure it’s partly responsible for a friend’s heart-related death at the age of 20 (we were at military school, he was SUPER fit), too.
  • When I didn’t know any better I used to buy cheap, unhealthy, and poorly manufactured supplements such as NO-Explode/other nitro supps, Jack3D, Animal Stack, and Antler Velvet spray, that provided an overwhelming ‘pump’ but side effects included jitters, skin flushing, headache, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, dizziness, anger, and diarrhea.
  • Eye-lid twitching when you using creatine
  • Went positive on a urine test
  • Problem keeping an erection
  • Light rash with traditional Creatine; switched to Creapure.
  • Extreme hunger craving after injection
  • No, but I never went crazy with pushing the envelope on dosage. Most people who I have known who have had problems either did to much, pre workout especially, or refused to cycle off (PEDs)
  • Yes. I used to take pre workout supplements (N.O.) and on multiple occasions it made my heart rate spike, which made it difficult to catch my breath during certain workouts. I have not used pre workout supplement in several years since those negative effects.
  • I have experienced cramping and kidney pain while on creatine. I struggle to consume enough water.
  • L-citrulline made me puke


  • Not using PEDs (26%)
  • SARMs – Ostarine and Cardarine
  • I don’t however in 2005 I tried prohormone Methyl-one-test from VPX prior to it becoming removed from the shelves, only for about 6 weeks. Haven’t tried or used anything like that since.
  • CBD / THC
  • Sermorelin Acetate
  • Trenbolone acetate

Q17 Have supplements worked for you?  If so, how?

  • Yes (40%)
  • Help with recovery/soreness (25%)
  • Yes, keeps my body supported in times of stress/neglect
  • Protein powder for convenience. Vitamins for health
  • Yes. Improved weight gain, muscle recovery, improved skin, hair, and nails
  • Yes, primarily the recovery-oriented supplements that address muscle/tissue soreness (specifically Hammer Recoverite + Tissue Rejuvenator)
  • I have seen DRAMATIC increases in strength through your programs (eccentric strength training) & supplementation (creatine hcl & protein)
  • Yes.  I don’t get sick & have stayed lean
  • Good for meal replacement and calorie control
  • Yes, I think so.  I’m stronger than before and have more muscle mass.
  • Preworkout helps, I use protein as part of my nutrition plan so it helps me get more protein in my diet, not sure if the EC stack works since I also have calorie reduction with it, the other two natural supplements are for stress reduction and cortisol reduction so can’t tell if they work in isolation or if the combo of everything else is where benefit is found.
  • The HCG brings my low T level up to the upper third of normal production, protein is just to ease the consumption of protein calories (extra food)
  • Yes, especially since I do not have time to cook and to eat all the calories I need to balance my training schedule.
  • Research shows that supplementation with protein post-workout helps with recovery and maximizes muscle growth. I also use it to help control my appetite at night!
  • Yes, i am very much stronger but not huge
  • Yes  mass and strength
  • Yes and no.  Supplements have only had a positive effect if I stay disciplined in training and recovery.
  • The Calm Magnesium powder helps me sleep and relax at night. I take the protein powder I out of habit so I don’t really know
  • Yes. After training I use one scoop of protein in 6-8 oz of whole milk for recovery and it keeps me from eating anything else until my next meal.
  • I guess….I think with creatine I have found less soreness once I started taking it. Protein shakes have been a quick post recovery food source since I work out at lunch time. I normally have  shake right after the workout (less than 30min) and then eat lunch about an hour later maybe.
  • Yes. More focus and energy at beginning of workout
  • yes, reduction in soreness and joint pain in order to keep training
  • Yes. I attribute at least some of my performance at my age to supplements.
  • Yes. Able to recover from field exercises and missions quicker and get back into training after injuries.
  • Yes, when I cut out the protein powder I struggle to eat enough calories and often lose weight. 
  • yes, helped with weight gain, strength
  • Yes. Reduces recovery time, increase focus and intensity of workouts
  • Protein and vitamins fill gaps in my diet when I can’t cook and eat optimally. Creatine has a noticeable effect on training intensity. ZMA noticeably helps recovery.
  • For my protein at breakfast, muscle growth support
  • Preworkout gets me motivated to train, it’s a nice kick in the butt. Creatine, BCAAs help me recover.
  • Help to promote and sustain muscle growth Ephedrine – YES (energy, bronchodilation) 6 OXO (helped “beef up” testicles post cycle LOL), Prohormones (Size, strength, recovery)
  • Yes. I feel less drained the next day after a hard workout. My muscle mass has also been maintained as I’ve gotten older compared to others my age.
  • I think they do fill gaps in the diet, and i do like Soflete’s Teddy Bear nite nite to help me sleep and recover.
  • Yes improved cognition sleep
  • As a former military now “quinquagenarian” athlete at least for me is a qualitative focused work out.  Whether its kettlebells, olympic lifting, WODs or rowing crew I prefer sustained “safe” energy with collagen as part of joint recovery. This also includes a occasional can of V8 with a couple of aspirin or tylenol 🙂  The collagen is working as I don’t really need aspirin/tylenol for post recovery, and the vote is still out on NADH as I just started taking it. 
  • Healthy and handy meal replacement.
  • Yes, It helped increase size and strength
  • They have worked but noticed poor performance without supplements.
  • absorbable protein, vitamins to supplement loss from physical stress (long endurance sports) glucosmine for joints
  • Seem to help if I’m consistent.  Strength gains in lower rep ranges from creatine.  Body comp improvements from protein supplement when deployed to get proper amount each day
  • Beta alanine reduces the amount of lactic acid and muscle soreness helping me during endurance events and short max effort situations. Protein powder helps me get the amount of protein my body needs to sustain muscle while maintaining an endurance aspect of training. Vitamins help me fill in the gaps in my diet specifically on long days at work where a proper diet is impossible
  • I feel a noticeable difference in strength with creatine usage.
  • Less joint soreness and overall well being
  • yes,  less soreness, stronger and more lean
  • I didn’t take supplements for a very long time.  My thought was that if I couldn’t do it naturally, then my body didn’t need to do it.  I started with protein about 4 years ago, shortly after my training focus shifted from endurance-based to strength-based and I noticed more energy during workouts and faster recovery.  I added creatine about 2 years ago when I noticed some plateaus that I had difficulty overcoming.  After using the creatine I was able to overcome some of those plateaus in fairly rapid succession.  It should be noted, that I simultaneously shifted some training, so I can’t give full credit to the creatine, but I believe it assisted in the process.
  • yes, significant recovery and stronger workouts on creatine
  • Yes. Alpha Brain gives me clarity on daily tasks and makes me remember my dreams. I don’t usually remember my dreams. 
  • Yes, I could actually tell a difference in my workout routine. Now after I stopped using some of them during Oct – Dec, I did fall into a somewhat lethargic status. Now that could have been because I had stopped working out and my diet started declining because of a work schedule issue. That my appetite changed literally overnight. So by a degree, it is necessary for certain supplements. 
  • Magnesium helps the legs after a big day. I think my mixture of BCAAs and Beet root powder amp up my workout staminaThe vitamins and joint complex supplements that I use daily seem to help with recovery and maintaining consistent energy levels throughout the day.
  • gained in size and recovery due to shift work and travels they are very useful

Q19 Any other comments or thoughts about supplements?

  • I think it is okay to try and to evaluate what works and what doesn’t. When it does not feel right, stop. Sometimes take less is better than too much or just nothing. What works for somebody else does not mean to automatically work for you. I read a lot about Supplements, Vitamins and Minerals. It’s more complex than just taking some pills and some pulver. You should not take something without knowing what it really does to you, this is not a game it is your body and you only have one…
  • I am a recreational athlete and while I aim to maximize performance, I do believe that I can get every nutrient necessary for recovery in real food. So far, it’s been working great!
  • Real food first. Vitamins and protein shakes fill gaps within reason. Steroids, T, “preworkout,” etc. will be the “big tobacco” killer of my generation – I guarantee it.
  • I didn’t seem to notice gains and then I found out I was gluten and dairy intolerant and 15 years ago there weren’t any supplements that met that criteria.  Haven’t felt the need to try them since.
  • I think there’s a lot of junk out there.  There’s also a lot of white-label stuff that companies are reselling and just adding their own margin.  And the vast majority is not FDA-approved, so it’s entirely on you.  It’s important to research each company and its products + ingredients.  Know the purpose of each ingredient, how it affects your body, and the expected benefits.  If you don’t know what you’re putting in your body, then don’t do it.  Simple.
  • For the most part, I think that legal supplements only help you “get over” plateaus. This is just my opinion though.
  • I do question them sometimes Still. But maybe the mental aspect is the most important part. I have also started reading for their advice on supplements, including vitamins and minerals supplements.
  • I have low t and have been prescribed t for a few months. Noticed a difference within the second month. Recovery time, endurance, fat loss have all had significant changes. I sleep better and have energy again.
  • I am interested in trying steroids later in my life when I feel that it’s hard to progress in natural means.
  • Protein after a workout seems to reduce soreness. I also will drink a protein shake instead of eating while on shift work. 
  • Whole, real food is always primary.  But, the convenience of powdered protein/creatine/BCAA and multi-vitamin/fish oil capsules goes a long way toward helping me believe I’m doing everything I can to take care of myself and live well.
  • Protein shakes are used as dessert and quick breafasts
  • I never questioned my supplement use until 2011 when I started with MTI.  I honestly feel better and healthier when I don’t take any.
  • Have to be cautious, lots of money to be made out there so always room for corruption. 
  • Wosh it were possible to conduct a mini-study on myself and isolate the supplements to validate them, but sadly my schedule/work expectations do not allow for that.
  • I’ve wasted a lot of money on supplements that didn’t work as advertised.
  • Certainly interested in what comes out of this survey.  Always looking for better more effective supplements that are legally acquired on the market. You guys do a hell of a job programming by the way.
  • I honestly have no idea if whey really works.  I know that when I followed Meathead cycle, it helped to eat extra “add on” meals after normal ones (extra tbsp. of peanut butter, for example).  I think that drinking a monster 2-3 per week before working out gets me mentally ready as far as a ritual.  I used other pre workout supplements when I was younger and newer to training, but now I think it’s more about mindset versus what proprietary blends I can shove down my throat.
  • I am in the minority- long time fitness person who goes on caffeine , good , food and occasional protein shakes.  I have yet to find anything else worth the $ for fire dept work
  • I also take a pre work to help me get going at 4am
  • I am huge on the supplements being clean, transparency and 3rd party tested.
  • I workout early, before work. I pretty much take C4 to get things (poop) moving before my workout/run so I’m not interrupted. Protein powder for filler and taste.
  • I think that like anything, moderation is everything for supplements. I only take whey protein when I have trained that day and it seems to help with my endurance and progress in the Big24 program.
  • Supplements ARE NOT NEEDED, that’s why they are called supplements. Eat food as close to the way God made it, get about the right amount of calories and macros, vary your diet,  and listen to your body.  It’s a lot smarter than you realize.
  • Supplements, like any other substance, when taken in moderation can have positive effects on training.  However they can become addictive (especially preworkout) and I have personally experienced and witnessed addiction.  Its is important, in my experience, to take supplements in cycles, training with them and without them.  I believe better education on supplement use would prevent many of the problems people experience when they take them.  A lack of education is the real problem, not necessarily the supplement itself.
  • I try and keep it to only protein shake and creatine. I am not a regular user of either. Some weeks I might use it every day, some weeks only a couple of times. I try and feel how my body is doing and tweak usage, if tired and feeling down I will use it to help. Especially if I did not sleep good and don’t have energy I will take a pre-workout like NOEXPLODE but only for strength days. I don’t take NOEXPLODE on cardio focused days…I don’t want to have a heart attack during the workout lol…
  • I eat whole food.
  • This survey uses radio dials so I can only choose 1 item. But actually I use several supplements: protein, bcaa, glucosamine, chondroitin, msm, omega 3, etc.
  • I’m still learning about what I need and what everything is used for. That being said, I wish a better way to understand what to use, when to use it, and what you should see from using it. I have a hard time finding proteins that work for me without adding a lot of extra weight
  • Money has been worth it in some ways. It has been an arduous (and expensive) process to find what works. I am not a huge eater – subsidizing calories with a high-calorie protein drink has been crucial in keeping weight and adding strength. Consuming whole foods as often as possible is still the main focus. I think creatine and protein has been the only supplement that works. Undecided on my opinion of cordyceps as a natural PED. Ideas I am interested in: intermittent fasting, real PEDs.
  • Interested in the PEDs argument for tactical athletes. Combat is unforgiving and you want to have as much advantage in your favor. Why not increase physical abilities, provided it is done under the watchful eye of medical professionals?
  • It’s difficult to know which products/companies are legit and use quality ingredients
  • Keep in mind n=1 but I have kept my food and training steady and experimented with pre and post training supplements as well as cutting off all supplements. The one thing that seems to work and be worth the money is protein supplements. It is a convenient way to get enough protein and does seem to make a difference in my recovery time and how I feel overall. I switch between lifting 3 days a week to 4 days a week at different times during the year and ruck 2 days a week in most weeks. Protein does seem to work for me.
  • I think almost all otc supplements are a total waste of money. SARM’s, while weaker than steroids have been designed to massively reduce side effects. I’ve tried many different kinds and have never had any negative side effects.
  • I thought you were including nutrition products for endurance – i.e. GU, salt tablets, et cetera – I would  be curious what products people use.
  • Eat real food.  Drink coffee and water.  Eat lots of fat.
  • With the exception of AS (which undoubtedly work), the majority of the BEST start out as “legal” or “On the GRAS – generally recognized as safe” and are made illegal. 6 OXO was amazing with no side effects – the various evolutions of “prohormones” work but have consequences such as gonadal suppression which suck. =)
  • There’s a lot of junk out there, but there are reputable brands and products. Pays to do your homework.
  • Read labels closely and always try to eat real whole food before any supplementaion.
  • Survey won’t let me select multiple items as requested. Recheck using the right code to let users check it. Right now’s it’s a radio button versus a checkbox which lets you select more than one option.
  • there should be a line for comments under question 18 haha. generally I’d say what I do now is worth it, however there was a lot of, education, trial and error and understanding what really matters and is effective according to research and how to implement supplements to get greatest effect/benefit. Overall I would say that as I get older I will likely wean off of some of the supplements to avoid dependence (both physiological and likely stronger psychological). I think they can be effective when used safely and properly and I do think as we get older and have fitness and performance goals, skillful use of supplements and diet can be a great aid in continuing to maintain that “warrior” status that some of us can’t or don’t want to put down. But again i fully believe that one can achieve good results without supplements but it takes alot more work and detailed diet, timing and planning that some people may not have the ability or knowledge to implement……I will say, as my anatomy professor stated, “the more you screw with hormones, the greater the dangers and potential repercussion.” again, being properly educated. But that is why I have stayed away from out right HGH and steroids…..and also, I have no need for them. 
  • Protein shakes have been good for me as a quick meal replacement. I think real food is probably better in the long run as a regular calorie source .
  • Used just to fill in possilble gaps in diet
  • I think it’s just very hard to figure out what you are really lacking and need without extensive blood work done.  Probably the best things I’ve had are plain old fish oil and teddy bear nite nite, with a little melatonin to facilitate sleep and consistent protein through the night. 
  • I take my supplements under the direction of  a functional medicine practitioner (I’m also a functional medicine PA)
  • I would rather spend my money on high quality food.
  • They work for me since food isn’t always readily available. More convenient to have a protein shake and go then carry around a bunch of food. GU packs are great too!
  • Some are worth it, some are not
  • While attending MARSOC Assessment and Selection in Spring 2016. Supplements were prohibited and highly discouraged. This guideline is something I follow to this day. I follow it believing that it is best to train without supplements because supplements are likely not there for you for when you need to perform on the job.
  • I suggest them if you can tolerate them and they don’t have bad side effects
  • Might want to divide the survey into vitamins/protein and legal/illegal PEDs. I’ve seen the damage caused by PEDS, not worth it.
  • I think it’s a dicey business, wish it was a little more regulated.
  • gotta cycle off or they become useless
  • So much marketing BS only once that I started using only naturopathic doctor prescribed have I seen any benefits!
  • If you are going to take them, don’t buy the cheap stuff.
  • What would be the best stack or group of supplements to take all the time for training 5-7 days a week. Just a base line of supplementation
  • Protein to supplement diet.  Fish oil to supple fat intake, ZMA, glucosamine and tryptophan  and the other stuff for recovery/sleep.  Not looking for magic in a bottle.
  • I think most have a placebo effect at best.
  • I think these are more important for us aging athletes with regard to muscle and joint soreness and general well being. Young guys can suck it up better.
  • Go to to see the top rated/ cleansest type of supplements and all the study results that have been done on each supplement by brand.
  • I don’t know that I have tested the full effects. I take protein powder daily just to make sure I hit my macros (I’m bad at whole foods) and vitamins daily. Otherwise I only take protein and creatine after working out, which is minimal right now because of my schedule.
  • Not dependent on them.  Know proper nutrition and rest are truly the key to recovery.
  • I believe that most supplements work with consistency and without abuse especially when used properly
  • Generally supplements, multi, b, d and fish oil I think help.  Protein is another that I think has help me with keeping muscle mass and recovery. Outside of these and maybe a few for me the rest have been a huge waste of money.
  • Eat Clean and do the workout.
  • I can’t say whether they’re actually effective, but if nothing else, the positive mental stimulus provided by the placebo effect is beneficial.
  • I only use on heavy or long work outs
  • I notice the negative effects of NOT taking them for a few days, increased fatigue/ lethargy, soreness, stiffness.
  • As I continue to age, especially through the later part of my 40’s, I feel the benefits of supplements more.
  • Curious about the actual effects of joint support supplements
  • It may just be placebo, but a protein shake makes me feel better after lifting hard.
  • Stick to basics. Protein, creatine, carbs(whole oat powder mixed into shakes).
  • Keep it basic. My pre workout is coffee. I don’t spend any $ on aminos or the other “new breakthrough” stuff, because it’s to expensive & when I was younger & buying those things, it didn’t make a difference. Protein, creatine, & glutamine are all I’ve seen any results with. *Looking forward to TRT now that I hit my 40s.
  • Convenience. It’s easier to eat a protein bar or drink a shake before an early PT session than getting up earlier and eating.
  • I used to take BCAAs, protein powder, pre-workouts, creatine and glutamine about 5x days a week for about 4 years. I didn’t notice much of a difference and no longer use them.
  • Some supplements really do help especially when you don’t have time to eat and you have a tight schedule to maintain. 4 days out of the week, I eat what I can when I can, while the other 4 days that I am off I can have a decent meal with all my nutrients. Eating healthy is expensive.
  • I think supplements have their place, but prefer to use them sparingly
  • i minimize my supplement use.  I do not want to have my performance dependent upon them.  Out in the woods they are not available and if my fitness was based upon them I do not think I would be able to perform.
  • Omega3 is supposed to be good for so much…VitaminD3 because I live in Canada and we suffer for the lack of Sun… But for all the rest, we (north-americans) are supposed to have enough of good food by it-self. Just Training, Whole Food and enough Rest. Like the Kavadlo brothers preach !!!
  • Make one that works, rob
  • I feel like the most beneficial supplement I take is the fish oil, for joint health.
  • I have made sure My family and I use only once daily vitamins and whey protein as clean as it gets.  I hope in five years a study doesn’t come out saying whey protein is bad for you.  Lol
  • High dose vitamin D is an absolute game changer…especially for those with crazy schedules. It helps keep the hormones in balance when lack of sleep and calories would normally get in the way.
  • This survey didn’t let me select all that apply, so a few answers I wasn’t able to select all supps I use etc. I believe Whole Foods is the answer as well. However, supplements are convenient and they work pending you’re buying quality products. To be good at what you do, you don’t need supplements. To optimize your performance as a human, I believe supplements are needed
  • no more achy knees (maybe it’s the collagen) and my sleep is good. (magnesium)
  • I think most supplements are a scam. I have A-B tested a lot of supplements and found their effects lacking.
  • If sleep and nutrition aren’t strict then don’t waste your time on supplements.
  • Take it or leave it. I can do great with or without. Always try to remember that without i might loose some gains if they gave any. Also need to keep a good diet with or without them. Research what they’ll do to you and side effects.
  • It’s hard to measure the effects of supplements but if nothing else it give me a mental edge and keeps me focused on staying consistent with fitness
  • Highly recommend trying out SOFLETE’s Teddy Bear Night Night sleep/recovery protein powder.
  • I noticed improved sleep after just one night. Try the Cinnabon flavor as the Lemon Cake is reportedly horrible.
  • Giant scam. PEDs definitely work(haven’t tried them but just look at mark mcgiire) but supplements are generally garbage. I take branch chains and creatine eratically just because I have a big bag and need to use it. Probiotics work for me as does tart cherry. Overall the supplement industry produces nothing of value and I could live without any of it.
  • I use them as an adjunct and not as meal/ real food replacement.
  • I did BioGenesis for several months.  It really does help with recovery.  But there’s no long term studies, so I would only use it for massive train ups 60 days before an event/trip
  • As I mentioned earlier- creatine was something I was warned against because of joint issues in the body. I would often get injured in football (high school)  after working out for longer than four to six months. It would seem as though whenever I would make significant gains in 1RM lifts, I would seem see an injury to my shoulder joints or back. As well, I think supplements have a dangerous side effect of keeping athletes from eating real food, especially essential foods for the body- relying on supplements to do all the leg work. It was standard practice (and sometimes with athletes I know it is still this way) that food is fine, but supplements are the necessary super food to get true muscle growth.
  • I wish the market wasn’t so flooded with claims of grandeur. Some stuff works well and other stuff is overpriced snake oil. Navigating which is which is hard.
  • I’m not big on supplements. Used rondo fish oil but didn’t seem to do much for me.
  • Currently do a protein powder shake with peanut butter and banana post workout. I don’t have an appetite after working out so it’s an easy way to get some fuel in me afterwards.
  • Definitely make a difference in results
  • I think your survey is not functioning properly there are a few questions that i think are supposed to me multiple entry and you can only pick one.
  • There are a lot of bogus supplements.  Greens, protein and multi vitamins
  • My GP Doc tells me there are new studies on vitamins (supplements) that claim adverse effects.  I stopped everything except Red Yeast Rice.
  • It is vitially important to research your supplements before you take them. So many companies take so many shortcuts to save a buck. These shortcuts such as amino spiking, supplying an inferior form of an ingredient, or allowing heavy metal contaminants are not only ineffective and a waste of your money, but are a detriment to your health. Which is ridiculous cause we are all supposed to be doing this for our health! Research and learn!
  • I think most of them are a waste. Most folks are low in magnesium and I’m a type 1 so I really need to supplement this mineral. Most folks have an omega 6 heavy diet so the omega 3 in fish oil helps (even though I’m grain-free).
  • GSM/ MSM @ 36 to alleviate joint pain sounds insane – but I do palpably feel worse without it. But I was also a high mileage cross country & track athlete through high school and in college (NCAA D1 level). My knees have been through a lot.
  • They are a great tool to be slightly better than your own typical times/weights. I find that a really fine tuned diet is by far the best tool and you can’t out train a bad diet. If your diet is on point, the supplements are much more beneficial and you don’t even need to take them in the same quantity vs not having a really good diet.
  • More research has to be done on the use of PED for military service members. Proper use can provide an added 5-10 years of operational time to older more experienced personnel.
  • After a 14hr day, I need a pre-workout to energize myself enough to get an effective workout in. The Rivalus brand helps me do that safely.
  • I take whey protein, vitamins and caffeine/pre-workout daily. Occasionally, I will take intra-workout carbohydrates and bcaa’s when I can afford it. Also, I sometimes take creatine.
  • I add protein powder to my smoothies as a meal replacement
  • I use a gnc vitapak which has vitamin recovery stuff fish oil etc and protein powder
  • I don’t know how much they really help. I feel like eating balanced should provide all you need.
  • I used to take creatine, protein powder (Whey and casein), post recovery powders, BCAA’s, Beta-alanine, pre-workout powders, whatever was in vogue at the time. I noted minimal improvements from any of them with the exception of beta-alanine which I was using during an endurance phase. Creatine was good for raw strength but took away too much endurance, likely via added weight. Now I prefer to eat real foods for recovery, etc and find I get just as good effects. If I was doing two-a-days I might try a whey and carb powder/recovery drink, if I was into a heavy endurance phase maybe an endurance powder for use on run, bike, etc. Now my main concern as an ex tactical LEO is health and maintaining a healthy body composition. I have struggled all my life with be fat so that is my main priority which I find easier to do when eating real foods.
  • I wouldn’t take any supplements if they didn’t work.  For me they do.  It is somewhat about convenience, but they also allow me to get a lot of specific nutrients at levels that I would not be able to obtain on my own (realistically), this is where science has succeeded to a certain degree.  I will say there is a lot of crap out there that is nothing but empty powder full of fillers so you really have to research your items or see a dietitian/naturopath who can do it for you.  I buy high quality supplements that are either organic or non-GMO (depending on the type), sourced from third-party checked companies, most of which need to be refrigerated to stay fresh.  I prefer powders and liquids,  and avoid all pills as they tend to be the most processed (plus I hate swallowing giant pills).  The stuff I buy costs more but as usual you get what you pay for.   
  • I’m not convinced by whey proteins. I think that they may work for hard gainers but I find they just make me fat
  • Great when in the field and get necessary amounts or types of nutrients from field chow or MRE. Otherwise, Whole Foods are the premier choice.
  • high quality food has a bigger affect on my performance and recovery then supplements.
  • I do believe that, for the most part, supplements are unnecessary if we eat a balanced diet and get appropriate amounts of rest.  That’s not always easy to accomplish during critical work events lasting days/weeks or unusual life challenges (family illness, death, etc.), so they can help fill the gaps when nutrition and rest are lacking.
  • Need better science, testing need for the industry
  • I take protein immediately after workouts along with daily fish oil and multivitamin supplements.
  • I don’t like to waste money on them, guys who do don’t get great results or lasting results. There isn’t a magic pill for fitness
  • some of these answers should be multi select!!! especially “what supps do you take?”
  • Only took Sermorelin Acetate for a short period of time to help speed recovery from an injury and reduce recovery after training in preparation for a military assessment school. It was expensive, approximately $150 a vial for a months supply but I felt it was worth it at the time. I was doing anything I thought would help me and the wholistic doctor I worked through recommended it instead of HGH.
  • Stan Efferding has a great rant on the supplement industry that I feel embodies my beliefs.
  • I would use illegal peds, however I do not know enough about safe channels to acquire them.
  • It’s hard to tell if the supps are making a difference. I’ve seen the research on creatine and bcaas and do believe it’s worth it
  • When I do cycle off of my multi-vitamin/joint complex supplements, I notice that my energy level and motivation to train is not as consistent and my body will feel more sluggish throughout the day. I try to increase nutrient rich fruits and veggies in my diet when I cycle off but I can never seem to get all of the right amounts of vitamins/minerals that keep me consistent. I only take 16-20g of whey protein after workouts and don’t usually take protein supplements on rest days.
  • Scoop of protein powder in my morning smoothie—seems like it can’t hurt. No idea if it helps, but I’m getting good trainers my results.
  • Just eat real food!
  • Magnesium works miracles



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Arete 2.1.18


American G.I.s Revealing Sensitive Military Locations on Strava, Adventure Journal
The Recurring Problem of the Overloaded Infantryman, Think Defense
Winter Gloves for Operators, Recoil
Russia’s Military Used 215 new Weapons Systems in Syria, The National Interest
Why America’s Next Tank May Not Be a “Tank,” The National Interest
50 Years On: What the Tet Offensive Tells Us About War and Strategy, Modern War Institute
Germany’s Leopard 2 Tank Was Considered One of the Best — Until It Went to Syria, War is Boring
AI is the Weapon of the Next Cold War, Real Clear Defense


Homeland Security / First Responder / Wildland Fire

Number of Muslim-Americans Involved In Terrorism Continues to Drop, Homeland Security Newswire
Fentanyl Found At Drug Scenes is Putting Drug Dogs in Danger, In Homeland Security
Mexican Cartels Compensating for Marijuana Profit Loss with Hard Drug Sales, In Homeland Security
Fire Narratives: Are Any Accurate?, Wildfire Today
‘Split-Second Decision’ Led to Hostage Death During FBI Raid,
4 Street Drugs Affecting Police in 2018, Police One
MS Firefighter Injured – Mask Failure at Fire, Firefighter Close Calls
3 KS Firefighters Injured after Floor Collapse at Fire, Firefighter Close Calls
NH Committee Opposes Restrictions on LE Tattoos, Police One



The Best Ski Runs in America, Men’s Journal
Op-Ed: How to Fix the Mountain-Town Housing Crisis, Outside Magazine
5 Spots Where You Can Actually Ski This Winter, Outside Magazine
A New Battery-Powered Avalanche Airbag, Powder Magazine
Jonathan Siegrist on Improving Your Climbing Training Beta
The New Ikon Season Pass Has These 23 Ski Resorts, Powder Magazine
Here’s Something You Can do with Old Fuel Canisters, Adventure Journal
Legendary Ski Filmmaker Warren Miller Dies at 93, Adventure Journal
Outdoor Retailer “Best in Show,” Gearjunkie
How to Trek to Aconcagua Completely Independently, Adventure Blog
Professional vs. Recreational Avalanche Training … What’s In It for Me?, Backcountry Magazine
Freeskier’s OR 2018 “Best of Show” Awards, Freeskier



Flipping the Switch: Dietary Fat, Changes in Fat Metabolism May Promote Prostate Cancer Metastasis, Science Daily
Soy Milk Is Best Plant-Based Milk, Science Daily
Video: Breakfasts that keep you fuller longer,
Use Olympic Weightlifting To Transform Strength Into Speed, Breaking Muscle
Marcus Luttrell, the Ex-Navy SEAL Who Inspired ‘Lone Survivor,’ on Learning to Recover, Men’s Journal
Got High Blood Pressure? Try the Sauna, Men’s Journal
What Is “Running Power,” Anyway? Outside Magazine
Paleo vs. Keto,
I Tried DNA Testing to Lose Weight And the Results Blew My Mind, Best Life
Why Even Sunscreen Users Get Burnt on Ski Trips, Men’s Journal

MTI’s 3 Favorite Lower Body “Pull” Strength Exercises

By Rob Shaul

Years ago as a young Ensign in the Coast Guard I was training with a big Samoan guy in a tiny little gym in Juneau, Alaska. Johnny was a former Alaska State Power Lifting Champion, and that day he said we were going to do the “pull.” 

Johnny then set up the barbell and started doing some light deadlifts. Until then, I’d just considered the deadlift a leg exercise, but was too embarrassed to ask him why he called it the “pull.”

Soon, as the weight increased and Johnny began doing offering me pointers. He told me not to think of “pushing” my heels into the floor to lift the barbell but to “pull” the barbell up with my butt and hamstrings. Johnny’s simple coaching cue, forever changed the way I thought about the deadlift and leg training in general.

It’s easy to understand and see the difference between “pulling” and “pushing” with your arms. From my old bodybuilding workout days, we used an EZ curl bar to “pull” the bar up using our biceps, and then, laying on the bench doing skull crushers, “press” the barbell up with our triceps.

In terms of the lower body and legs, when we prescribe a lower body “push” exercise, we’re prescribing a lower body exercise which trains the anterior, or front, part of the legs – the quads. Think Front Squat.

A lower body “pull” exercise trains the posterior chain of the lower body – the butt and hamstrings.

Below are my current favorite lower body “pull” exercises:


1. Loaded Walking Lunge

The walking lunge exercise – loaded either with a barbell behind your neck or more commonly, holding dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand – is deceptive. Doing the exercise, all you can feel is your quads fatiguing. But the next morning, or even later in the day, it’s your butt and hamstrings which scream.

For whatever reason, the loaded walking lunge hammers the butt and hamstrings like no other exercise in my exercise menu. It’s nearly a perfect exercise – focused, transferable, and simple.

We’ve done walking lunges with sandbags, dumbbells/kettlebells, and barbells. Sandbags don’t get heavy enough, and barbell walking lunges, which can get super heavy, also take a lot of space, and if the athlete reaches failure – there’s no place to escape.

I’ve found loading with dumbbells or kettlebells to be the most simple and most safe, way to load walking lunges. In terms of set/reps, in general, I like 6 sets of 4-5 reps to train strength. I’ve found that I can’t load my athletes heavy enough for 3 reps, but can for 4-5 reps. When I say 5 reps, I mean 5 steps each leg, 10x total.

→ Video: Loaded Walking Lunge

Dumbbell or Kettlebell Walking Lunges – Our Favorite Lower Body “Pull” Exercise


2. Hinge Lift

The Hinge Lift is our preferred exercise over the traditional deadlift. Other coaches call it the “Romanian Dead Lift.”

Many coaches consider the deadlift to be the king of lower body pull exercises – and there’s a reason it’s is one of the three exercises tested in powerlifting competitions.

However, years ago, we moved to the “Hinge Lift” because I found it more effective at targeting the butt and hamstrings, than the deadlift. Also, I found it safer.

The Hinge Lift has two significant downsides: (1) It can be difficult to learn for many athletes; (2) Bad form and/or not paying attention to keeping the back “set” in extension can lead to injury.

By far, I’ve found men struggle more than women to learn the Hinge Lift. Most women pick it up immediately, but 50% of men, struggle. I’m not sure why – but it could be related to tighter hamstrings in men.

Safety is another issue. There’s a reason that many college strength and conditioning coaches don’t allow the deadlift in their gyms – it’s considered by many to be the most dangerous lift in the weight room. For example, early last Summer I spent a day observing the University of Wyoming football strength coaches coaching the football team through a strength session which included deadlifts. Even with 1 coach, per platform, I saw many players with rounded backs lifting heavy weight and risking injury.

These are significant drawbacks, but for athletes who can master the form, and be smart about loading, the Hinge Lift is a great lower body “pull” exercise.

→ Here’s a video on how I coach the Hinge Lift:


3. Box Squat

I know the Box Squat looks a lot like the back squat – one of our favorite lower body “press” exercises, and I can’t explain why this exercise hits the butt, hips, and hamstrings the way the back squat doesn’t – but it does.

There are a couple significant differences between the two exercises. First – for the box squat the foot stance is significantly wider, and I coach athletes to flare or point their toes out.

Second, at the bottom of the Box Squat, I instruct athletes to totally unload their legs when they sit on the box, and then “explode up” when they take tension again.

For whatever reasons, the wider stance, flared out toes, and total unload really stimulate the hips and hamstrings.

In terms of box height, we generally use 15″. In general, for box height, you want the athlete’s thighs at parallel or slightly below parallel in the bottom of the exercise.

Another cue I use is to tell athletes to “push up with your hands like a military press” when first taking tension. This helps them rise with their chest first, and avoid excessive forward lean.

Anectdotally, one thing I’ve experienced with myself and a few of my athletes is, it’s possible to hit failure doing the box squat suddenly. You’ll get 4 of 5 reps fine, but suddenly get weak for the 5th rep. You don’t feel it coming.

For this reason, I always have athletes spot each other when doing heavy box squats.

→ Video: Box Squat

Sometimes we’ll add chains to the barbell during box squats for “accommodating resistance” – plus it looks cool…

Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email



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Plan Focus: 1-Lift Per Day Training Plan

By Rob Shaul


As the name indicates, this plan deploys “1-Lift Per Day” along with a work capacity effort and chassis integrity circuit each day. This way, the programming manages to concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity in one session.

The plan deploys a modified version of MTI’s 1-Lift Per Day programming approach. You’ll complete these sessions 4 days per week and run on Wednesdays.

Heavy lifting followed by a complex exercise. The lifts include Olympic lifts as well as classic strength lifts/exercises. 

Work Capacity
Work capacity efforts are all designed to last either 10 or 20 minutes.

Chassis Integrity
You’ll complete 20 minute ART Circuits and 10 minutes Low Back circuits 3 times per week.

6-Mile Running Assessment and follow-on 2-mile intervals based on your most recent assessment results. You’ll run 6 miles for time at the beginning, middle and end of this 7-Week plan.




The schedule is more fluid than most. The one consistency is you’ll run on Wednesdays. Here is the schedule for Week 1:

• Monday – Strength, Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity

• Tuesday – Strength, Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity

• Wednesday – Run 6 Miles for Time

• Thursday – Strength, Gym-Based Endurance

• Friday – Strength, Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity


If you’re interested in the programming theory behind this plan, view this video in which Rob explains the beta-version of the theory.



What Equipment is required?
Fully-equipped functional fitness gym to include barbells, bumper plates, racks, bench, plyo-boxes, sandbags, dumbbells, etc.

What if I miss a day?
Begin where you left off when you return to training. This program is progressed – each session builds upon the prior session – so don’t skip a session or skip around. Follow the training sessions in order, regardless.

What do you mean by 15 Minute “Grind”?
You should work your way through these circuits briskly not frantically.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run/Ruck Calculator is listed as an exercise.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE

Can I see sample training?
Click the “Sample Training” tab HERE to see the entire first week of programming. 
You are encouraged to do it before purchasing.

What if I can’t do the whole session?
If you don’t have enough time to complete the whole session, you can split the session into two.

How do I access the plan? Pdf? Online?
Plan access is online, via username and password.

Can I print out sessions to take to the gym?
Yes – you can print a week of programming at a time.

What if I have more questions?

Good Luck!

Rob Shaul
Mountain Tactical Institute
Jackson, WY


Arete 1.25.18


Army Chief of Staff Talks New Army Rifle,
Navy SEAL Jet Skis and Magnetic Climbing Gear, Popular Mechanics
Will the Army Pick a Bullpup for its Next Rifle, The Marine Times
Inside The Marine Corps’ Heated Campaign To Protect Its Sacred Brand, Task & Purpose
Pentagon Should Adjust Standards for Cyber Soldiers, War on the Rocks
The Moral and Strategic Imperative to Fix America’s Close Combat Units, War on the Rocks
The Military Dilemma of Artificial Intelligence, Strategy Bridge


Homeland Security / First Responder / Wildland Fire

Colorado Springs pays $2.5M to female officers to settle physical fitness test lawsuit, Colorado Springs Gazette
“Swatting Hoax” Victim’s Family Sues Police,
CAL FIRE Chief Removed from Position, Wildfire Today
SHOT Show 2018: 3 trends at Industry Day at the Range, Police One
The Heart of Leadership, Wildland Fire Leadership
Colo. sheriff’s office to pair mental health specialists with deputies for calls, Police One
Wisconsin State Patrol Troopers Now Equipped With Naloxone,
U.S. gun deaths in 2017: 15,549 (excluding suicides) – 3 percent increase over 2016, Homeland Security Newswire



Candide Thovex—and his Skis—Rip Everything But Snow, Outside Magazine
8 Rules to Plan the Ultimate Ski Trip, Outside Magazine
The Climbing Doctor: Pulley Injuries Explained Part II, Training Beta
Meet Your 2018 Olympic Freestyle Ski Team, Powder Magazine
Video: Skiing the Top 25 Runs in North America—with a New Baby, Powder Magazine
Should There Be a Leave No Trace Rule for Drones? Adventure Journal
AVYD: World’s First Visual Yardage Designator,
Weatherby Relocates from California to Wyoming, Recoil
Best Colleges for Skiers, Gearjunkie
First Look: 2018-2019 Winter Gear, Gearjunkie
Bigger Faster Avalanches, Triggered by Climate Change, NY Times
2018’s Best New Bows,
Why Do Nordic Skiers Nordic Ski? And answers to other unanswerable questions, Powder



Your Junk Food Addiction Is No Coincidence, Breaking Muscle
The simple running trick to avoid knee pain, Men’s Fitness
Does Your Metabolism Need an Overhaul? Men’s Journal
A Spirited Defense of Protein Powder, Outside Magazine
Do “Dominant” Neurotransmitters Impact Training? Mark’s Daily Apple
Heart Rate Variability and Sleep: How we are wired to sleep, part 3,
New Supplement Helps Women Run Faster, Science Daily
Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations, Science Daily
7 Ways To Squat for More Size, Strength & Power, Muscle & Fitness
Supplements You Should Be Taking, Mark’s Daily Apple
Is Obesity Contagious?, WebMB
9 Things That Can Give You Man Boobs, Muscle & Fitness
How Diet Soda Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss, Muscle & Fitness
Intermittent Fasting May Be The Best Diet Plan, Men’s Fitness