I’ve had great success with all of your programming I’ve tried, starting back more than handful of years ago with your Afghanistan prep plan before my first deployment. I ran the Virtue Series Packet throughout my most recent deployment last year, and left in some of the best shape I’ve been in a long while. I’ve got an older version of the APFT plan and have used it several times over the years with solid success, and I always recommend it to soldiers in my unit struggling with their scores- I’ve seen it turn a couple guys careers around at the last minute. It’s amazing what working up to a decent PT score can do for a soldiers morale. I’m a big fan of your programming and the methodology/mindset behind it. Keep up the incredible work!


I just wanted to send my thanks for your Ruck Based Selection Program. Just
got back from SFAS and was selected! I was in the top 10% for all events and
rucks. Was able to beast through Team Week even after the long days and
nights of the STAR Course. I couldn’t have made it through without your
program. Amazing job in what you and your team do. As a guy who isn’t
infantry, it was difficult in figuring out where to start with my training.
You took the guess work out of it, and it paid off in the end. Thank you so
much. – A


I would also like to give you all some kudos. I graduated Ranger School on Friday (17OCT) and was able to make it through without any recycles. A large part of that I think is due to my training leading up to Ranger using your Ranger School Prep program. The program did an excellent job of preparing my physically and mentally for the rigors of Ranger School. I cycled through it once before our Brigade level Ranger Assessment Program, then cycled through it again before going to RTAC at the WTC in Fort Benning. I would recommend that you somehow incorporate more flutterkicks into the workouts as they seemed particularly fond of them in Darby Phase. Also, for those of us who are time-constrained, if push comes to shove between a workout and a ruck march on the plan, always pick the ruck march. During Ranger School you spend so much time under a ruck that rucking will serve you best instead of lifting weights. For the rucks in the plan, since you have two per week, I would recommend having one be for time (i.e. to prep for the 12 miler that weighs about 50lbs) and then one that is for distance and at a heavier weight (i.e. 60-80lbs). After RAP week, I can’t think of a time when we rucked with anything less than 60lbs (maybe through Darby if you didn’t carry any squad equipment).

Just some thoughts and comments. All in all, I thought it was a great plan, and am still an avid fan of Military Athlete. Thank you for all you all do, and the support you give to the military and law enforcement communities. – J


I just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for the SFOD Selection Course Training Plan I purchased on your site. I did the program twice in preparation for A&S and it proved to be quite beneficial and I know it contributed to my success there. I would have to say the only thing I would change is that I would have increased the frequency of step-ups throughout the program. Other than that, I felt I was more than prepared for selection. I will definitely recommend your site and training plans in the future.


I just finished Humility. I had previously been doing a mix of different workouts from your Ruck Based Selection Packet that I bought a couple years back. I’m finally starting to prep for SFAS and your new philosophy on prepping for it caught my eye, especially with all the research you put in to back up your change of programming. I decided to get Humility and see how the new programming method was. I loved it.
The Quadzilla and Gorilla complexes thrashed me, as did the Devil Dog Circuits. Now that I’ve finished the program my “combat chassis” feels better than ever. The 7 mile IBA run and 12 mile unloaded run were once far off goals and are now a reality. Here are all my assessment numbers for Weeks 1 and 7. The program took me about 9 weeks to complete due to field ops etc.
Burpees 66  81
EOs 60  72
Box Jumps 38  40 (Week 1 done with 16″ box, Week 7 done with 20″ box. My bad.)
Hand Release Pushups 31  36
Jump Lunges 24  30.5
Pullups 23  24
3 Mi Run 22:14  21:29  20:49
Thanks for the great program. I really enjoyed it and made some great progress, especially on my lower body. Up next is Big 24 and I can’t wait.
Thanks – P


Love love love LOVE your Body Weight Foundation so far! Today was Session 14 and I did not think 800s would EVER be that easy for me. Your program is AMAZING and follows the KISS principle of “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Thank you SO much for creating these. I’m looking forward to the Body Weight 1 Training Plan when I’m finished with the current. – C


 

I am a little late to sending this, however, I wanted to take a moment and let you know that I appreciate what you do for our community. I recently successfully completed SFAS at the end of January and was selected to start the SFQC.

A little background on me and your training program. I first found your Mountain Athlete in 2009, when I was a Sophomore at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. I stumbled upon your programming by doing some of my own research. I was initially extremely disheartened when the only programming I could ever find for Military (or sport specific) training was all body weight and running that included thousands of reps. I quickly became pretty burnt out conducting “Army” PT in the morning and my own lifting regiment that I picked up from high school sports in the afternoon. Anyway, I quickly began to follow some crossfit workouts, but I did not believe in the “random” training aspect. I wanted to get more sport specific. So I compared all different athletes and tried to figure out what sport is most closely related to “Military Fitness” needs. So I researched professional climbing workouts and coaches. I finally stumbled upon your website as well as Gym Jones. Since then, I have been following your Military Athlete programs to help me complete and exceed at IBOLC, Ranger, and most recently SFAS. I can tell you up front that I could not have been so successful without the training you and your team develops at Mountain Tactical Institute.

I utilized your Ruck Based V5 Selection program to prepare for SFAS. I will say, the programming was definitely pretty difficult and required some dedication at times (but anything worth doing does). At selection, I was able to finish in the top 1% for the rucks, including the trek. However, the runs I was finishing more in the top 20%-30%. I would like to believe that is because the younger 18Xs are just ridiculously fast runners. I would like to offer some feedback to you from my thoughts on your training plan and its effectiveness in preparing for SFAS. ]

– APFT – I maxed the APFT and ran a 12:25 2-Mile. Only thing I would recommend here is addition of some extra push up training during the week, maybe included in the 6 mile run workouts.

– 6 mile running workouts – the 2 mile repeats were probably the thing I dreaded the most each week. I definitely got use to the mileage and suck factor, however, I was just curious on the effectiveness v. the recovery factor every week doing those repeats at a 13:30 pace after an AM workout.

– Strength – I believe your sandbag focused strength training effectively helped with the “awkward” lifting of heavy shit that occurs quite often at SFAS. Only suggestion I would make is possible addition of some extra low carry training.

– Rucking – obviously your ruck training was on point. It helped me finish consistently in the top  of the class. I don’t really have a recommendation here just kind of curious to the need of 16 Mile and 18 Mile rucks. Of course, I completed them because they were on my training calendar and for some reason I just can’t skip something that’s written down, possibly my stubbornness. However, I just thought maybe it was a little excessive to go over 12 Miles when we are focusing on a training effectiveness v. durability for Selection aspect. These are just me thoughts here, and like I said, I still completed the 16 and 18 miles.

I just wanted to provide you and your coaches with some feedback. I logged every single one of my workouts on paper and I would like to send my data to you if you believe it could be useful for improvement in the future. It astonishes me that the Military and its personnel are not treated more like athletes when it comes to fitness, nutrition, and recovery. All the Army programs that are out there seem to me to be half assed and behind the power curve. Your programming is the closest I can get to having an individual trainer who knows what I need ( and I would not be against paying you for personal training). Again Rob, Thank you for everything you and your team does at MTI, keep up the good work because there are a lot of us out here that rely on programing like yours.  


Sir,

I recently was selected through SFAS to continue in the SF Q-Course as a hand amputee. The difference between success and failure in many aspects was your Ruck Based Selection Training Plan. Thank you for your passion and ability in programming effective workout regimens.


Just wanted to pass along that I had my 3rd degree hapkido/jiu-jitsu test on the 21st.  I’m 42, will be 43 in April, 5’9 and 183lbs.  A lot of our guys are former military and current Law Enforcement officers and they let me have it for over an hour.  I was one week short of finishing “Vodka” prior to the test.  And while I didn’t move quite as fluidly as I wanted to (not because of fitness, probably more adrenaline dump related and nerves from being the only one on the mat for all the spectators), I was able to work at a very high threshold (higher than even I thought I could!) for the entire test.  I was to the point that it was pretty difficult to get me fatigued in training to simulate that dynamic.  But of course I’m much more comfortable there, where I can just focus on training and teaching our lower rank members.  I think that was why I wasn’t as fluid as I wanted, just because nerves and adrenaline and I just couldn’t seem to calm down.  Anyway, love the programs you’re putting out, and even though I’m not your “target” market, hoped the feedback would be useful.  And if you do get out to Des Moines anytime soon, please, let me know.


Just wanted to say thanks for all the work you’ve been doing in the functional fitness field. I’ve used your plans a few times in my military career. Most recently your Ruck Based Selection Plan. I attended SFAS in November of this past year and was Selected. I was definitely prepared for the physical aspect thanks to your programming.

Keep it up! – A


I’d like to lead off by saying thank you. Thank you for providing an outlet for individuals to tap into your skill set, as it pertains to a deeper level of fitness knowledge. Myself and several of my friends and colleagues have utilized several of your workout routines, and the nuggets of wisdom contained within, to pass selection programs, train for personal improvement, and better ourselves for the mission sets we prepare for. – K


Sincere appreciation for y’alls work. I recently came back fromSFAS and was completely prepared physically for what we faced.

I appreciate the support! – T


I’m a huge fan of your work. I appreciate the scientific rigor you use to create truly inspired workout programs for military guys like me. I just (mostly) finished the Ruck-based Selection train-up and it helped me finish in the top 10 of a support company of over 100 Soldiers during a week of physical events that included the APFT, pull-ups, rope climb, CWST, 5-mile run, and 12-mile ruck. – N


I’m a Spanish fan of your website and methods and Master of Kinesiology (Exercise Physiology) student at the University of Calgary, in Canada and I’m also studying to take the CSCS. And I also try to be a mountain athlete (even though lack of time and money are important limiters to my time spent in the mountains).

I really enjoy the articles you share in your website and I have learned a ton from them and I appreciate your vision of training: train for mission performance, fluid periodization and efficient programming, the unorthodox way in which you plan training. I think you definitely are onto something and you and the MTI will help move the field forward

– F


Hi Mountain Tactical Team,

I recently completed the 50 mile training plan to prep for my first ultra in 10 years, which was a 50k. I threw in a lot of “bonus” rest days to take it slow, and would have liked to have had a few more/heavier more upper body pulling exercises in the program, (but then, I have chronically unstable shoulders, so maybe that’s just me). Anywho…

After doing this program, (mostly on a treadmill), I went and did my trail 50k and got first place among the females (16th overall). My stabilizers were more than capable of taking the strain of a trail ultra, and nothing got pulled or strained or overly stressed. The aid station crews kept saying it looked like I wasn’t even trying! I think that’s the mark of some stellar training.

Thanks for putting this together. You guys rock.

– S


I’d like to thank you for all you do and the knowledge and advice you share!  I had the privilege of competing in the OCR World Championships this past weekend in Ontario and couldn’t be more pleased.. I finished in the top 20% for my age group (40-44) in both races and more importantly completed every single obstacle and kept both my wrists bands! If you fail an obstacle they cut your band off and your considered disqualified for any prizes etc.  I’ve been following your programs for over a year now and felt lean, durable and prepared coming into this event.  I did a mixture of Humility which I’ve done in the past along with the mini events from the DEA FAST program with the running improvement program thrown in there towards the end of my training leading up to races.  I followed your new thoughts on chassis integrity and my lower back and all around core performed great!  I can’t thank you and your hardworking lab rats enough for the guidance I’ve found in your emails, Q & A section and the tried and true real world programs that you guys put out!  I look forward to branching out into more adventures of different types and will continue training and staying  prepared for whatever may come thru your great programs and the strong mind that ensues as a result!

-J


Based on your recommendation I completed the DEVGRU program  (with a cut back in some ruck/run volume and adding in more bodyweight PT circuits) and it was definitely the right call for the SEAL screener.  It was 28 hours, 50% got medically dropped or quit, and even several that finished came out of it with stress fractures and joint problems.  Me and a buddy, who have been on your programming for a while, only experienced the muscle soreness of a really tough lift, and were consistently top performers.  We credit your programming with that, so thank you!

– K


I’d like to thank you for all you do and the knowledge and advice you share!  I had the privilege of competing in the OCR World Championships this past weekend in Ontario and couldn’t be more pleased.. I finished in the top 20% for my age group (40-44) in both races and more importantly completed every single obstacle and kept both my wrists bands! If you fail an obstacle they cut your band off and your considered disqualified for any prizes etc.  I’ve been following your programs for over a year now and felt lean, durable and prepared coming into this event.  I did a mixture of Humility which I’ve done in the past along with the mini events from the DEA FAST program with the running improvement program thrown in there towards the end of my training leading up to races.  I followed your new thoughts on chassis integrity and my lower back and all around core performed great!  I can’t thank you and your hardworking lab rats enough for the guidance I’ve found in your emails, Q & A section and the tried and true real world programs that you guys put out!  I look forward to branching out into more adventures of different types and will continue training and staying  prepared for whatever may come thru your great programs and the strong mind that ensues as a result!

-J


I recently completed the 50 mile training plan to prep for my first ultra in 10 years, which was a 50k. I threw in a lot of “bonus” rest days to take it slow, and would have liked to have had a few more/heavier more upper body pulling exercises in the program, (but then, I have chronically unstable shoulders, so maybe that’s just me). Anywho…

After doing this program, (mostly on a treadmill), I went and did my trail 50k and got first place among the females (16th overall). My stabilizers were more than capable of taking the strain of a trail ultra, and nothing got pulled or strained or overly stressed. The aid station crews kept saying it looked like I wasn’t even trying! I think that’s the mark of some stellar training.

Thanks for putting this together. You guys rock.

– C


I’ve been using your LE programming since April and have seen significant gains in strength, speed, and endurance – all while being pain free and without significant injury.  I’m on a Federal SWAT team and the workouts are definitely applicable to the type of fitness required to do my job.  I’ve done LE Whiskey, Tequila, SWAT Rugar and SWAT Beretta. I’m hoping to see you continue with the SWAT series as I feel its been the best programming for SWAT Athletes.

– K


First I wanted to just say thanks for your great training plans. I’ve been using your programs for years and seen great results from both your mountain athlete programs when I was a ski patroller and in my current military career.  My question for you in this, I graduate BUD/s this week and it’s time to get back into ‘healthy’ training.  My body is pretty beat up from the 6 month beatdown so I wanted your recommendation about what plans would be good to get into.  Obviously I’ve been doing a lot of running and bodyweight stuff but not a whole lot of weights for a while.  Any advise would be greatly appreciated!  Keep up the good work.

– O


Just wanted to let you know I followed your USAF TACP plan and supplemented some weight training prior to the ALO assessment.

Not only did I feel confident in my training during the extended training sessions, but I was selected out of a large pool of candidates.

– D


Wanted to send you another quick note and thank you for the recommendations and advice over the past year.  As you know, I have completed several of your ope plans (Humility, Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell) and recently used the Pre-Deployment plan to prepare for a week-long backpack-style archery elk hunt in the Rockies.  Long story short, I was able to connect on a 5×5 bull on the last day of the hunt, with an hour of daylight left.  As you know, just covering ground in Rocky Mountain “elk country” is hard work — but doing that for 6 days straight and then spending the 7th day packing out and elk?  That is quite a bit of demand.  I credit your plans for giving me the physical ability, durability, and mental toughness to make it through a long week, hunt hard right up until the end, and then still have something left in the tank to get an elk out of the backcountry.  I killed the bull about 5 miles and 2,500 vertical feet up from the truck, so doing two round trips of that with a weighted pack made for a long day.  (Thankfully I had a great hunting partner and a few pack goats to share the load with!)  The Pre-Deployment plan prepared me for the climbing, as well as the weighted descent, and improved my core stability to bear the heavy pack.

– M


I just wanted to reach out to you about your Backcountry Big Game Hunting Program. I’m just coming off of a three week backpack trip in the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories and I used your program to prepare for it. There’s no question in my mind that it more than paid off. I’d say that almost without exception, I was the only one not physically damaged in some way when we came out of the mountains. I think that endurance performance goes without saying, but the thing I noticed above all else was my durability. I mean we took some serious punishment and places where my body had previously failed me held up without the slightest problem. Seriously, well done on this and everything you guys do.

I love your philosophy, your simplicity and the sincerity towards your athletes.

– T


“Thank you for putting together the training programs and Operator Sessions. Everyday is a challenge and a felt sense of accomplishment once completed. This is THE best workout program out there for those of us burdened with maintaining a constant level of fitness. ”


I just wanted to drop you a line and say thank you for the awesome programming. I just brought my company back from a very challenging 6 months in eastern Afghanistan. The bottom line is that without your program we would not have been able to accomplish half of what we did and we would not have brought home as many guys as we did. My Soldiers hated me when I first instituted mind numbing amounts of leg blasters, step-ups, and sandbag get ups, and training that was like nothing they had ever done before, but all these things became a rallying cry as the Soldiers realized how far ahead of their sister companies they were in their physical and mental fitness. Keep doing what you are doing, the benefit cannot be understated.

– B


Just got home from SFAS, successfully selected. I know you’ve got tons of athletes, but I’m going to run down a quick laundry list on how your program has had a direct and significant impact in my life:

In 2009, I was first introduced to your program as my USMA Sandhurst team used it to get ready for the 2010 competition. The training helped us place first in the nation that year. At the end of 2010, after working through operator sessions over the summer, I used your ruck based selection program to get ready for Ranger School. Day 4 of Ranger School, I blew my knee out on the Darby Queen.

Not knowing the extent of the injury, I got up, dusted myself off, and completed the next 59 days of Ranger School. I would later learn I had torn three ligaments and my meniscus. In November 2011, I had surgery on that injury and used your single leg program to get back in shape while my knee healed. With the help of the single-leg program, I recovered a month ahead of schedule and was able to assist in the rehabilitation of over twenty other soldiers in my unit dealing with leg injuries.

My unit used your programming to prepare for our 2013 Afghan deployment, to much success. In February 2014, I coached a Best Ranger Competition team from Fort Campbell- we used your BRC prep. The team, first time competitors, finished 21st out of 50 teams with zero training or competition injuries. Finally, I used your Ruck Based Selection Program to get ready for SFAS this past May- I placed in the top 10% for the course with zero recovery issues and zero injuries.

Thanks for what you do, from the programs to operator sessions to the forums and gear. Your work has helped me reach so many goals in this profession. Look forward to more.

J


“I took your advice I jumped feet first into the Bodyweight Training Program and one week in I have been completely humbled. Honestly, I was worried about losing the strength gains I had made through Starting Strength, halfway through my first mini leg blaster I could care less and I realized how out of shape I really was. If anyone doubts the effectiveness or difficulty of this program, please feel free to refer them to me! Thank you again! ”


It has been close to a year now since my injury and I wanted to say thanks for your help and programming. It was hard getting back into the groove of working out and not being afraid of re-injuring myself, but your low back training plan allowed me to get back to doing the things I love. I am happy to report that this January I was able to summit Cotopaxi, Cayambe, and Chimborazo in succession (~19k, 18k, and 20k feet respectively) with no problems whatsoever! I have also been able to begin pushing myself on sport and trad again. I am very excited for this spring climbing season.

Just thought I’d share, and wanted to say thanks once again.


“Not only did I never fail a physical evolution throughout this past year and a half, I was able to excel in them and experienced no injuries. It’s true that BUD/S is a mental game, but I can remember several times thinking to myself, “I could not have trained or prepared any better for this”. In any event, thank you for your program.”


What I like the most about your stuff is that it is programmed, progressed and it works.  I trust it.  I don’t waste emotional energy worrying if the work I’m doing is what I really should be doing.

I previously completed On-ramp twice (second time with more running), 357 Strength+Run Improvement (alternating days), then your chassis integrity sessions from the subscription, before moving onto Fortitude.  For someone as unfit as I was, I strongly recommend this or a similar progression of programs for true beginners.  It built everything nicely to begin Fortitude.

I just finished Fortitude… awesome stuff.  I was doing some swimming concurrently (only time I could get coaching) which when coupled with the Big24 progressions of bench and push press, was just murder on my shoulders (impingement).  I found the speed of my runs and rucks didn’t increase much throughout the program, but I definitely feel that it built a solid base ready for some future speed work.  I just did my assessments for Valor and my run and ruck times per mile at max effort have dropped considerably.

I utilised your stuck in a motel programming for a cruise I recently went on just after Fortitude.  The program fitted perfectly with the equipment available on the cruise ship, though I did add some pull ups because there was a pullup bar.  I did however get a lot of weird looks when doing such things as a renegade manmaker and treadmill run work capacity session in a pretty packed gym, but anyone who asked got pointed your way.  It was also interesting doing exercises such as craig specials and front squats on a rocking ship, definitely taxed the proprioception.  I feel that the programming has suitably maintained my fitness ready to start Valor.

I will be working through Valor before then doing the USAF PFT programming (this suits Australian Army BFA training) before taking a test in March.  Not too sure after that but I’m thinking a gym based work-capacity program would be ideal.

I’ve gone from a complete functional fitness beginner to nearing your strength standards and nearing my own endurance goals (12km in 60 minutes) in only 10 months.  I cannot wait to see where I’ll be at in another 10 months.

Your programming really is the shit.  Quite often when looking at the next days programming it looks easy.  Then you start the workout and the lightbulb soon goes off that Rob Shaul won’t let you off that easily.  What I like the most about your stuff is that it is programmed, progressed and it works.  I trust it.  I don’t waste emotional energy worrying if the work I’m doing is what I really should be doing.  It’s not “working out” it’s “training” and that’s also one of the things that keeps the motivation so high.

Keep up the good work.


Rob,
I need to take a moment to say thank you. I recently completed Humility. It took 11 weeks to finish your 7 week plan. At the time I finished I had dropped three minutes from my three mile time, I chalked that up to the possibility of it being significantly warmer than my last four time trials (from the plan and PT tests). Today I was given a short notice APFT and dropped 1 full minute off my 2 miler (I’m now 45s from maxing) and took my sit-ups from 66 to 76 (maxed out). I found this progress incredible considering the program was just building general fitness and not sport specific training for the APFT. I’ll be finishing big 24 soon and rolling into Fortitude; even with the change in run volume I hope I can continue to see progress on my run.

Thanks for great training plans!


Rob,

First of all, i just wanted to say thanks.  I did your 8 Week Ruck Based SFAS prep program and just got selected.  Physically i was well prepared for the events, and afterwards am recovering much faster than some others.  A few days after the last event i actually felt completely fine.
Thanks again!

I completed a GORUCK Tough event after completing your GORUCK Challenge plan and the plan certainly did it’s job.  Firstly, the rucking was never an issue and my core never felt fatigued.  The sandbag get-ups and low back complex forged a tough chassis that never failed me.  Secondly, the Monday and Wednesday strength and work capacity session did there job, no single “smoker” during the event put me out for more than a minute or two and even on hour ten my recovery was quick.  Finally, the Saturday mini events were also spot on, after the final and longest of them all I knew exactly what to expect for the event.

During the whole GORUCK I felt like I had energy on reserve, enough so that I felt that my individual performance exceeded my expectations but I was also able to continuously contribute to the team and motivate individuals when things got tough.  Thank you for the plan, it is perfect.


Coach,
Just a quick shout. The new TLU strength program you made is great! Loving the strength gains without the loss in endurance.
I can walk right into a 5 mile run and complete it in under 40 minutes without straining. Same with weighted rope climbs, pushup/situp events, etc.

Thanks again for the great program.


Good morning Coach,

I purchased the limited equipment plan back in January after hearing you on the Art of Manliness podcast.  I had shoulder surgery back in September for an old rugby injury and was looking for a plan to get back in shape since my physical therapy was completed.  I am a freshman in NROTC at UC Davis and totally latched on to your sport specific approach.  I had always struggled with the idea of focused training to actually make progress, and the importance of being well-rounded.  I had built great fitness running XC and track in high school with calisthenics in the mornings.  By committing to and completing the bodyweight foundation and SB/DB/WV plan I am pretty much back to my pre-surgery level of fitness.  I am starting Humility next week and looking forward to it.  Most importantly, MTI’s attitude has really helped me get back on track.  Ever since I was a kid I loved to plan.  Hell, I was working on my Halloween costume in August and had the my Lego cities organized to the T.  In training, it’s easy to have a great idea, but then before you give it a chance, you go down the rabbit hole of another modality. I was definitely in the paralysis by analysis camp.  However, hearing you talk about being a professional tactical athlete changed that for me.  I have now adopted a blue collar attitude towards training; I show up, put in the work, go home, and let the training take care of its self so I can focus on school and my other responsibilities.  Developing the discipline and attitude of a professional athlete has been very liberating.  In addition, your article on commitment struck a cord with me.  I am currently in the midst of the “yolo” mentality in college and your article helped dispel some insecurities I had about not living that lifestyle.  I share MTI’s articles and work with my fellow Midshipman and it is appreciated.  Just in case you are having one of those inevitable days where you wonder if what you do matters, it does.


Rob,

I wanted to send along my gratitude for the programming and assistance you provided over the past few months. Last week I went through a USAF Special Tactics Officer Selection. The week was full of grueling workouts and leadership challenges. Your CCT/PJ/CRO Selection plan left me more than prepared to handle it all.
Each of the focus areas (ruck run, heavy ruck, swim work cap, PAST, etc.) was spot on for what we saw at selection. The workouts provided a meaningful and objective challenge each day, with logical progression towards improvement. I’ve used other selection workouts with success, but none of them matched the logical layout and sensible progressions for your workouts. All of this is to say that I was extremely successful at selection and was picked up. I couldn’t be happier with my Mountain Tactical Institute experience and will be returning to the site for tune up training as I get ready to hit the pipeline.
Can recommend some changes as someone who followed your program exactly and then went to selection? First, put STO in the title! It works perfectly for those of us trying to become STO’s as I’m sure it works for CRO hopefuls too. Personally, I was weak in my sit ups to begin with. Overall the PAST preparation was great, but I wish there was more of it. The once a week focus on calisthenics might not be enough for people needing work on their muscular endurance. I might suggest throwing in an extra day or workout for calisthenics. Overall the plan is great. These were minor things that I altered or fixed on my own, but might help another hopeful in the future.
Best wishes,

Sir,

I want to extend my appreciation to the team at Mountain Tactical Institute. The variety of plans, nutrition guidance, articles, exercise database, Q&A and so much more make MTI a go to for effective, time-efficient training. It has had a tremendous impact on myself and undoubtably many others within the military community. Please extend my thanks to all the folks on your team.


Hi Rob, 
I recently purchased your Backcountry Program and have been enjoying it immensly.  I have finally found something to really prepare me to haul out 3 Elk in 4 days out of Idaho’s backcountry.  I love it and find the specifity unparrelled.  I am a former crossfiter who became frustrated at the lack of focus applied to the sports I like best spent in the mountains (hunting, mountain biking, ruck-runs etc….).  
I am 40 years old, a former Federal Law Enfocement Officer, and unstand your methodologies well. 
One of my concerns though as I age is the wear and tear I put on my knees when completing 75 plus lb ruck runs and other mini-events within your program that emphasis lots of weight over distance and elevation.
My body feels great when completing any of the routines with 50 pounds or less on my back.
When I put 75 plus, the aches, pains, and wear and tear of years of crossfit come out.
I am seeking some guidance from you if you have heard the same concerns with the backcountry training program, and if you may have some suggestions at helping to curb the pounding on the knees at these high ruck weights?
Again, I am not complaining but feel the need to reach out and see if you may have ideas to train with the same mountain endurance goals in mind but maybe have a few different applications of excises (mountain biking, ???, etc…) thought could be mixed in to help reduce the potential for overloading the knees from excess weight during the long rucks.
Any suggestions would be appriecitated.
Thank you for your time.
ANSWER
Our job with this program is to prepare you for your event – your hunt – that’s why the heavy loading is 75# – which in my experience, is a minimum pack out weight.
It’s up to you if you lower the training load to 50#, just know I can’t guarantee rucking at 50# will prepare you for the real thing – the pack out.
I’m 48 and have similar issues. The mountain doesn’t care.
– Rob
REPLY
Rob, 
Thanks for getting back to me.  I agree the mountain does not care.  Also agree the minimum pack out is 75 lbs minimum. 
More specifically, I am holding out hope there could be a smarter way to train as we get older and want to hunt for as long as we can.
When I was 23, I could ruck as far with as much weight as I wanted.  I would recover fast, probably not mobilize, probably drink a stupid amount of beer, get up and do it again the next day.
After 20 years of this I have changed a thing or two.  No Beer, added restorative Yoga, standing work-station, sleep more, even skip a workout if my body feels like crap.  I used to just push through thinking it was the right thing to do.  Now I am much smarter regarding recovery, nutrition, and can take an inventory so I dont push into an injury.
I guess I would be interested if you ever design a workout study if as an older athlete there could be some periodic substitutions for an athlete in their 40’s vs. in the 20’s in regards to the heavy long distance rucks.  It would be interesting to try and track injury rates of a couple groups as well.
I guess you risk not being prepped on a packout but if you could get close and not risk the overuse, tendonitis type, middle age knee problems it could be interesting.
Not sure what those substitutions are – have to research and reach out to my PT and training community for some answers.
Anyways good dialouge, love what you guys do, and specificity you have brought to my mountain prep/training.
Bought a sandbag from you as well.  Love it!  Very rewarding and efficient.
ANSWER
Believe me, I’ve considered this before. One change we’ve made to our programming is eliminated useless Garbage Reps (http://mtntactical.com/fitness/garbage-reps/), but I’ve yet to find exercise substitutions for heavy rucking, uphill movement under load, and especially, the downhill movement under load.
There may be ways to train good enough for the muscular and cardio demands with substitutions. But I’m not sure there is a way to short cut the joint and connective tissue demands of a heavy, backcountry hunting packout – i.e. knee/ankle connective tissue strength and stability.
As you know, backcountry hunting especially is 50% or more off trail – which adds to these joint demands. Walking off trail, down hill, with 75-100# on your back takes elements of leg, knee, ankle and mid-section strength which I’m not sure can be short cutted. There is a real risk of injury if the athlete simply doesn’t know what it feels like to carry that load, and/or isn’t strong enough.
Overall, I’m developing a day to day programming system for 45-55 year old athletes still in the game … but changes will be primarily to the day to day programming, not the sport-specific train ups – at least not until I can figure out how to do it.
– Rob

G’day Rob,

I’m a long time follower of your gym and Military Athlete training ideals from Australia – I’ve touched base with you a couple of times before. Just wanted to give you some feedback from my recent personal experience.  I had after a few years of relatively successful Olympic Lifting seasons here in Perth (couple of years as state champ at 94kg) followed by probably a year of general inactivity – I had no real training focus. The last few months I have jumped back into you Operator Sessions starting with John and am now half way through Luke. What a change it’s been! I’ve been strict with following your sessions in order – I don’t necessarily train monday to friday because of work but I have maintained the order to your sessions. I’ve dropped 11kg of body weight and my running went from struggling to break the 5 minute barrier on a 1km sprint to last night running (as part of my 6 mile/9.2km run Luke session 16) consistent sub 5-minute kms for 10km and feeling great afterwards. My estimated VO2 has gone from low 40s to 52.

I know my pacing is a little quick (quick for me!) compared to what you have prescribed on the run chart, based off my initial 3 mile test in session 2, but I’m generally pressed for time so if I can run it quicker I will. The run times aren’t super quick by comparison to a lot of people but they are for me! The gym-based endurance stuff is also a fresh experience and a good mental workout for me. Your Operator Sessions are putting me in a good place for an upcoming exercise in a few months and deployment at the end of the year, especially after being a lazy POS for so long haha. I am also gearing up for an attempt at SASR selection in 2019 if everything goes to plan and I feel like your training is absolutely right direction for me.

Thanks for the awesome work you are doing.


Hi Rob,

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

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