This program is designed to build your legs and lungs in preparation for training exercises or individual schools at the US Army and US Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Schools. These schools encompass a wide range of military-based mountain skills, but all require a high level of fitness for loaded, uphill movement. This plan has a heavy emphasis on developing the legs and combat chassis for physical requirements of the course.
The plan requires little equipment and would be appropriate for an individual preparing for a course, or for small unit leaders preparing for a unit deployment to the Mountain Warfare School.
This is a 6-week, 5 day/week training program designed to be completed the 6-weeks directly prior to your Mountain Warfare School training date.
The plan is built around the following exercises and activities:
DOT Drill – The DOT drill is a basic-level plyometric drill used in collegiate and high school weight rooms across the country. It serves as a great warm up. Also, it helps build ankle and knee joint strength, key for hiking and rucking over uneven terrain.
Leg Blasters – Leg Blasters are an intense, body weight only, lower body complex of exercises which builds incredible leg strength, and lactate tolerance. Also, we’ve found it key to building eccentric leg strength. You’ll be climbing plenty of steep hills, but you’ll also be hiking down them. Coming down forces your legs to work eccentrically, and can lead to crippling soreness in the early weeks. Leg Blasters will help you prepare for this.
Step Ups – Step ups are a basic, butt-kicking single mode exercise used to build sport-specific climbing leg strength and cardio in a controlled, gym environment. During this program, expect to do thousands of step ups with a 40# pack. This is the primary exercise I’ll use to get your legs and lungs ready.
Sandbag Getup – We’ve found that core strength is a huge determinate of performance. Even more important, a strong mid section protects vulnerable limbs. I’m using this exercise to make you not only strong, but durable. The sandbag getup is an old school, basic exercise which builds core strength like no other, plus it makes you breathe like a mother. Expect to do hundreds of these with an 80# sandbag.
Tabata Calf Raises – One of the first muscles to fatigue when hiking steep hills is the calf muscles. We use the Tabata interval protocol and calf raises to help strengthen your calves. The Tabata protocol is a 4-minute long interval of 8 rounds, 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest. Tabata Calf Raises are 20 seconds continuous, rapid calf raises, un loaded, for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds in a holding “rest” position up on your toes (it’s really not a “rest.”)
1/4 Tabata Calf Raises would be just 1-minute long, or 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest.
1/2 Tabata Calf Raise would be 2-minutes long, or 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, etc.
Rucking – You’ll be doing bunches of rucking down range, and nothing will prepare you for rucking like rucking. On the other hand, too much rucking can lead to nagging joint and other overuse injuries. You’ll ruck once a week on this program at a 55# load. When possible, ruck over broken, uneven, hilly terrain.
PFT Prep – Individual training courses at both Mountain Warfare schools have an initial PFT that you must pass. Keep in mind that there is a significant elevation at each location, so showing up overly prepared for the PFT is critical. You’ll assess your PFT in Week 1, 3, and 6 and a percentage based progression to automatically scale to your current level of fitness.
Important Note: No matter if you are Army or USMC, you will assess for both Pull Ups and Push Ups, and complete all follow on progressions for both exercises.
Soldiers will use Sit Ups and the 2-mile run for the PFT assessments. Marines will use Crunches and the 3-mile run.
WEEKLY TRAINING SCHEDULE
- Monday – PFT Assessment or PFT Progression
- Tuesday – Loaded Step Ups
- Wednesday – Leg Blasters, Sandbag Get Ups, Calf Tabata
- Thursday – PFT Progression
- Friday – 5-9 Mile Ruck @ 55#
What equipment is needed to complete this program?
- Stop Watch with Repeating Countdown Timer – smart phone app will work.
- Pair of Dumbbells – 25# men, 15# women.
- Sandbag (60# for Women, 80# for Men)
- 16-19” Box, bench, stool or whatever for step ups
- ALICE Ruck or same ruck you will use during your course, 55# of filler, 10# Rubber Rifle (No rifle? Use a 10 lb sledge hammer or a 10# dumbbell)
- Pull up Bar
- Highly Recommended – GPS-enabled Stop Watch with repeating countdown timer (Garmin Forerunner 10 is recommended ) A GPS enabled watch will make measuring run and ruck distances much easier.
What if I miss a day?
Don’t skip ahead. Start where you left off. The plan is progressive, and its training sessions designed to be completed in order.
What if I have less than 6 weeks before I start the my Mountain Warfare Course?
Still start at the beginning of this training plan anyway. Don’t skip ahead.
What if I can’t handle the training volume at first?
Building stamina and resilience is a key training goal of this plan, and physical and mental stamina is also key to completing the course. If you can’t handle the training volume at first, it is better to cut training sessions short, rather than take unscheduled rest days.
What if I can’t make the prescribed reps for the bodyweight exercises, or the prescribed interval times for the rucks or runs?
Do your best, and be sure to do the total number of rounds, even if you can’t make the reps or the time. Don’t quit.
CLICK HERE to see unfamiliar exercises.