Backpacking Preseason Training Plan


• 6-Week Plan, 5 days/week
• Laser focused on fitness attributes required by backpacking.
• One day/week of gym-based strength training for maintenance and durability
• Prepares you for a 7-12 day trip, hiking 7-12 miles/day with a 50# pack
• This training plan is one of the 182+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.


This sport-specific training plan is designed to prepare a recreational backpacker for a 7-14 day backcountry trip in the high country. The training plan assumes you’ll travel 7-12 miles/day and carry a 50-pound pack.

This is a 5 day/week, 6-week long training program. You’ll train on Mondays-Thursday and on Saturday. Friday and Sunday will be rest days.

Training plan’s focus is on the “mountain chassis” – legs, lungs, and core. It also has a strong mountain endurance component – step ups and running.

In addition, the plan includes 1 day/week of gym-based strength training including core and durability work.


Required Equipment

- Access to a fully equipped commercial gym
- Back pack or ruck from rucking and step ups
- Wrist GPS (optional) will add much variety to your long rucking (hiking with pack) routes
- Stopwatch


Sample Training


Obj: Strength, Durability (60 min)

Warm up:
4 Rounds
10x Goblet Squat @ 12kg/25#
3/5x Chinups (lower number for women)
5/7x Push ups (lower number for women)
10x Situps
Instep Stretch

(1) 6 Rounds
4x Front Squat - increase load each round until 4x is hard, but doable, then immediately …
2x Squat Jumps - be explosive!!
Pigeon Stretch

(2) 6 Rounds
5x Kettlebell Floor Press - increase load each round until 5x is hard, but doable
3/5x Pull ups (lower number for women)
Lat + Pec Stretch

(3) 5 Rounds for Time
6x Front Squat (M-65#, W-45#)
6x Push ups (go to knees if necessary)

(2) 3 Rounds
30x Glute Leg Lift
10x Poor Man's Leg Curl
Hip Flexor Stretch

Obj: Step ups, Core Strength (75 min)

(1) 700x Stepups with 35# Pack

(2) 4 Rounds
10x Ankles to Bar
30/30 Side Bridge
5x Kneeling Plate Halfmoon @ 25#
10x Slashers @ 12kg/25# (men), 8kg/15# (women)
10x 1-Leg Glute Bridge

Obj: Moderate Run, Calve Strength Endurance (60 min)


(1) Run 4 Miles at 8-9 min mile pace

(2) 6 Rounds
20 Second Calve Raise
10 Seconds hold in up position
20 Second Calve Raise
10 Seconds hold in up position
Rest 30 Seconds

(3) Foam Roll Legs and Lower Back

Obj: Long Ruck (200 min)


(1) Ruck 10 Miles with 50# Pack, at 20 min/mile pack.

Rolling or flat terrain - no steep elevation gain

Show More

1)  Mission Direct

Gym numbers mean nothing. All that matters is mission performance. 

To this end, MTI's fitness solutions and programming are not boxed in by convention, tradition, orthodoxy, public opinion or any other artificial constraint driven by inside or outside forces.

We begin with the raw fitness demands of the mission and build a fitness solution which directly prepares the athlete for those demands.


2) Fitness Solutions Built from the Ground Up

MTI's programming is not "re-tread" bodybuilding, football, CrossFit, kettlebell, strength or general fitness programming. We've built our fitness programming for mountain and tactical athletes from the ground up.

The Fluid Periodization methodology we deploy to concurrently train multiple fitness attributes is completely original and has continued to evolve and improve over the years.

Our mid-section training methodology, Chassis Integrity, is also original, as is our endurance programming, 7 strength training progressions, tactical agility, and work capacity programming.

Our mountain sports pre-season training plans, tactical PFT, selection, school, course, and fitness improvement training plans across military, LE and Fire Rescue are MTI-developed, tested and athlete-proven.

Over the years hundreds of athletes and coaches have taken our advanced programming and unit fitness leader programming courses and MTI is widely recognized within the mountain and tactical professions and fitness media as a thought leader in fitness programming for military and tactical athletes.


3) The MTI Method

→ Research: MTI begins program design with extensive research of the fitness demands of the mission, sport or event, identifies the exercises and progressions which sport-specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the training plan.

→ Deploy & Assess: We deploy the training plan "Lab Rats" at our Wyoming facility. Training session and cycle issues are identified and fixed as we work through the training plan. Post cycle we assess the programming's effectiveness and efficiency. We keep the stuff that works, and fix or toss the stuff that doesn't.

→ Publish & Assess Again: Plan is published for purchase as an individual training plan and made available to our subscribers. Feedback/results are assessed.

→ Iterate: We take what we learn from lab rats and athletes, re-visit, update and improve already published training plans. Several of our individual training plans are on their 4th or 5th version.


4) Mission-Direct Research

MTI exists to "Improve Mountain and Tactical Athletes mission performance and keep them safe." To that end, we have developed a unique research methodology aimed at identifying real world areas of improvement and identifying immediately deployable mission-direct solutions. Click HERE to learn more about MTI's Mission-Direct Research methodology, and Here to read about just few of our research efforts.

5) Field Proven

Our stuff works. Weekly we receive unsolicited reviews of our programming and testimonials to its effectiveness.


6) Programming Breadth

MTI's library of 200+ sport-specific fitness plans for mountain and tactical athletes is unmatched. Resources range from specific programming for tactical special forces selections, to specific plans for climbing Rainier and Denali, to general fitness solutions such as running improvement, to post-rehab from injury.

Over the past decade, MTI has partnered with hundreds of athletes throughout their individual mountain and tactical careers, and provided fitness solutions as they face new mountain objectives, tactical schools, selections, PFTs and deployments, and came back from injury.


7) Worldwide Influence

Our work is not limited to US Athletes.

We've developed selection-specific training plans for Canadian, UK, Australian and German Special Forces Selections and worked with individual military personnel from Scandinavia, South, and Central America.

Canadian, Australian, UK and western European law enforcement and fire/rescue athletes have used MTI programming for mission-direct fitness.

On the mountain side, Alpinists from Japan to Slovakia have consulted with MTI and used MTI's programming to prepare for mountain objectives.


8) Mission Performance beyond Fitness

MTI’s exists is to improve Mission Performance for mountain and tactical athletes and keep them safe. 

This focus on “mission direct” solutions, enhancements and improvements drives our work and research and extends beyond fitness solutions to include training, leadership, gear, team culture, and safety. 

Fitness is just one area of our work.

Our non-fitness research has included tactical cultures, combat uniforms, and gore-tex performance, and effect of stress on marksmanship.

Our work on defining what it means to be a Quiet Professional has had penetrating influence and driven healthy conversations with both mountain and tactical professionals.


9) Direct, Honest, Clear Answers

Since 2007 we've taken and answered dozens of questions weekly from mountain and tactical athletes. We've saved these individual Q&A's and now thousands are archived on our site.

We're not salesmen, and our answers are noted for their directness, honesty, and clarity. Our stuff isn't for everyone. If we can help, we'll let you know. If we can't, we'll let you know that, too.

- Rob Shaul, Founder


All of the Above is Backed Up By Our Promise: Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.


Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.

By Rob Shaul

I received notes frequently from athletes hesitant to purchase a subscription or training plans asking me to sell them on why they should make the purchase.

While I understand the question, I’m not a salesman - so I can't put a hard sale on anyone for our programming.

I can tell them the process we go through to design our programming.

We begin with extensive research on the fitness demands of the event, identify the exercises and progressions which sport specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the plan.

Then we test the cycle on ourselves and our lab rats here in Wyoming. We document, note what works and doesn’t work, re-assess, and make changes and modifications.

Then we publish the programming in the form of one of our plans or as part of our subscription daily training sessions for tactical and mountain athletes.
We don’t stop there - our daily programming is the “tip of the spear” for our programming evolution. We use these sessions to learn and make continuous improvement.

As we learn more and improve, we go back, and update the sport-specific training plans on the website. For example, we’re currently on Version 5 of our Ruck Based Selection Training Plan and Version 3 of our Dryland Ski Training Plan and Version 4 of our Big Game Back Country Hunting Training Plan.

We understand our programing isn’t cheap, but we believe it’s a great value. The $79 for the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan, and $39 for the Dryland Ski Training Plan reflect the, research, work, innovative theory, iteration, testing and feedback we've put in and received to make these plans effective.

All that matters for us is outside performance, and we feel strongly that Our Stuff Works in the real world.

Here’s our guarantee:

1) Individual Training Plan Purchase:
If you purchase an individual training plan, follow it as prescribed before your season/event/pft/selection, and if you don’t feel you were physically ready for your season/event/pft/selection, and/or didn’t see dramatic improvements in your early season performance, we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

2) Athlete’s Subscription
If you purchase an Athletes’ Subscription, follow the training sessions as prescribed, and are not satisfied with the quality of the programming, notify us within 30 days of purchase, and we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.



Love your training plans. I used to the PreSeason backpacker and Big Mtn V2 for training for this years hiking season in the PNW (I live in Vancouver, BC). I was in great shape for hiking in our area - day hikes and multi-night trips. I also cruised through a 7 day hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies. At 43, and with sedentary work, I was in the best shape I have ever been for carrying heavy weights in my pack overs trails with elevation gain and long distances. Many thanks to you and your team. - M


Excellent work putting together the backpacking pre-season plan. I was more than well prepared for my trek of the Inca Trail and as a result was able to thoroughly and safely enjoy the entire experience. During the challenging portions of the trek, I never once questioned my capability because there were certain workouts in your plan that pushed my limits physically and mentally and I got through them. It was such a great feeling to have that confidence. I can't thank you enough.  - A
Show More

Athlete’s Subscription Package

Sign Up

This Plan is one of 200+ plans included in the Athlete's Subscription.