TLU Strength Training Plan


• 6 Week, 5 Day/Week Strength Focused Training Plan which deploys MTI’s “TLU” Strength Progression Methodology.
• TLU Strength Progression is the best we’ve ever designed for “hybrid” athletes like mountain guide, soldiers, LE Officers and Fire/Rescue Personnel who have a broad range of fitness demands.
• TLU Methodology and has been deployed with SOF personnel, professional mountain athletes and high school athletes. It’s great all-around strength training.
– This plan is one of the 185+ plans which comes with an Athlete’s Subscription.


When I began coaching in 2005 I would take other coaches’ strength progression design and apply to myself and athletes. I’d do what was printed, and find things that worked, and others that didn’t.

Next, I began to combine what worked from one coach, with what worked from another coach, into  ‘hybrid’ designs.

Finally, after a few years of this and with a solid grasp of the theory behind strength session design, I began designing my own progressions from scratch.

“TLU” Strength Session Design is the my first “original” strength progression design, and is the best strength programming I’ve created for “hybrid” mountain and tactical athletes who must also train other fitness attributes … endurance, work capacity, chassis integrity, climbing, etc.

“TLU” stands for Total Body, Lower Body, and Upper Body. Within a TLU strength session, each component is trained (total, lower, upper)  but with a differing intensity (loading) and volume (reps to per set and total reps per exercise). 

While we call it TLU, the session’s alternate the order evenly throughout a cycle (UTL, LUT, etc). For the first exercise, you will find your 1RM, followed by 5-6 Rounds of 2x @ 85% of 1RM. This is a heavy load, and total volume is 10-12 reps total.

The second exercise uses 6 rounds and 3-5 repetitions (18-30 reps total) at a “hard but doable” weight. It’s paired with a explosive body weight movement similar to the movement pattern of the lift, completed immediately after finishing the lift. A mobility movement finishes up the round and doubles as the rest period.

The third exercise has the highest volume, with 6 Rounds and 4-10 repetitions  (24-60 reps total). Again, this is paired with a body weight movement and mobility for each round.

TLU progression is a way to train strength frequently, without overtraining. But best of all, TLU sessions are fun! There’s lots of variety, we add complex training to develop power and athleticism, and the entire body gets strength trained in one session.


This is a 6 week, 5 day/week strength-focused training program deploying our TLU strength methodology. You’ll train strength 3 days/week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

On Tuesdays, you’ll complete a short, intense gym-based, multi-modal work capacity effort, followed by a Chassis Integrity circuit.

On Thursdays you’ll complete a mid-distance 3-4 miles easy run, followed by a low-back focused chassis integrity circuit.

Here is the Weekly Schedule:

  • Monday: TLU Strength (TLU)
  • Tuesday: Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity
  • Wednesday: TLU Strength (LUT)
  • Thursday: Easy Run, Chassis Integrity (low back)
  • Friday: TLU Strength (UTL)


Who is this plan appropriate for?
Anyone who wants to dedicate 6 weeks to building strength. We’ve deployed TLU programming with Special Forces, professional mountain athletes, office workers and high school sports teams. It’s awesome strength programming!

How Long should the strength sessions (Mon, Wed, Fri) Take?
60-75 minutes. It will take a week or two to figure out the flow, and these sessions may extend to 75 minutes for the first couple weeks. But beginning week 3, you should have a good idea of the flow and move through them quicker. Aim to finish right around 60 minutes.

If after Week 2 your are taking much longer than 65 minutes, you are resting too long between rounds and/or lingering with the mobility/stretch exercise too long.

If these sessions are taking 50 minutes, you aren’t lifting heavy enough. Each circuit is not a mini-Crossfit WOD. You want the load to be as heavy as possible, but still make the prescribed reps. Work briskly, but not frantically.

What does “1RM” Stand For?
1RM = 1 Repetition Maximum … the most you can lift for 1 rep of that exercise

How do I work up to 1RM?
For Total Body Exercises, Do this:
Set of 3 Reps, …. add weight
Set of 2 Reps, …. add weight
1x Rep …. add weight and keep doing singles until you reach your 1RM. Aim to get there by your 4th or 5th Single.

For example, here’s how I would work up to my 1RM Power Clean + Push Press
Round   Reps   Load
1           3          95#
2           2          115#
3           1          135#
4           1          155#
5           1          160#
6           1          165# … 1RM

For Lower and Upper Body Exercises, Do this:
Set of 5 Reps, …. add weight
Set of 3 Reps, …. add weight
1x Rep …. add weight and keep doing singles until you reach your 1RM. Aim to get there by your 4th or 5th Single.

For example, here’s how I would work up to my 1RM Hinge Lift
Round   Reps   Load
1           5          135#
2           3          185#
3           1          225#
4           1          275#
5           1          295#
6           1          305#
7           1          315# …. 1RM

How long should it take to work up to my 1RM?
10-15 minutes. Work briskly, not frantically. Generally, by the time you add weight, chalk up, and rest for a second, you should be ready for the next round.

What does “Increase load rapidly each round until hard but doable” mean?
Exactly what it says. Don’t over complicate it. The aim is to use the first 3 rounds of the exercise as a rapid warm up, and complete the last three at the “hard but doable” load. For example, below is how I would work up to 5x Walking Lunge: 

6 Rounds
5x Walking Lunge – increase load rapidly each round until 5x is hard but doable.
Round   Load
1           16kg
2           20kg
3           24kg
4-6        28kg

What does “4/8x” mean? How about “15/25#”?
First number is for women, second is for men, both for reps, and loading. Examples:
4/8x Chin Ups = Women do 4x, Men do 8x
15/25# = Women us 15#, Men us 25#.

What Equipment is Required?
Fully-equipped functional fitness gym including racks, barbells, bumper plate, dummbells/kettlebells, plyo boxes, slam balls and sandbags.

What if I miss a training day?
Ideally, you will train 5 days in a row, and take 2 full days off for rest. If for some reason miss a session,  do not skip ahead. Start again where you left off and complete the sessions in order throughout the plan.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
On our “Exercises” page HERE

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

Can I see sample training?
Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.

What if I have more questions?

Required Equipment

What Equipment is Required?
Fully-equipped functional fitness gym including racks, barbells, bumper plate, dummbells/kettlebells, plyo boxes, slam balls and sandbags.

Sample Training

Below is Week 1 From the Training Plan:

Obj: Strength

Warm Up:

3 Rounds

  • 5x Power Clean + Push Press @ 45/65#

  • 5x Walking Lunge

  • 10x Hand Release Push Ups

  • Instep Stretch

  • 5x Shoulder Dislocate


(1) Work up to 1RM Power Clean + Push Press


(2) 5 Rounds

  • 2x Power Clean + Push Press @ 85% 1RM

  • Foam Roll Low Back

(3) 6 Rounds

  • 5x Walking Lunge - Increase load rapidly each round until 5x is Hard, but Doable, then immediately

  • 2x Jumping Lunge - Be Explosive!

  • Hip Flexor Stretch

(4) 6 Rounds

  • 4/8x Weighted Chin Up - Increase load rapidly each round until 4/8x his hard, but doable

  • 8x Kettlebell Floor Press - Increase load rapidly each round until 8x his hard, but doable

  • Lat +Pec Stretch


Obj: Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity

Warm up:

3 Rounds

  • 10x Squats

  • 10x Push Ups

  • 10x Sit Ups

  • 4x 40-Foot Shuttles

  • Instep Stretch


(1) 20 Rounds

Suicide Sprint every 30 Seconds

(1) 15 Minute Grind

  • 5x 1-Sided Hinge Lift @ 15/25#

  • 5x Slasher @ 16/20kg

  • 5x Sandbag Getup @ 40/60# - Alternate shoulders each round

(2) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back


Obj: Strength

Warm Up:

4 Rounds

  • 8x Back Squat @ 65/95#

  • 4x Scotty Bob @ 15/25#

  • Instep Stretch

  • 5x Shoulder Dislocate


(1) Work up to 1RM Back Squat


(2) 6 Rounds

  • 2x Back Squat @ 85% 1RM

  • Hip Flexor Stretch

(3) 6 Rounds

  • 5x Weighted Pull Up - Increase load rapidly each round until 5x is Hard, but Doable, then immediately

  • 3x Ball Slam @ 20#

Lat + Pec Stretch

(4) 6 Rounds

  • 4x Thruster - Increase load rapidly each round until 4x his hard, but doable, then immediately …

  • 2x Burpee - Be Explosive!

  • Foam Roll Low Back


Obj: Endurance, Chassis Integrity


(1) Run 3 Miles at an Easy Pace

Easy = you can speak in full sentences

(2) 10 Minute Grind

  • 15/15 Standing Founder

  • 10x Hinge Lift @ 55/75#

  • 15/15 Kneeling Founder

  • 10x Swings @ 16/20kg

(3) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back


Obj: Strength

Warm Up:

4 Rounds

  • 8x Bench Press @ 45/95#

  • 8x Box Jumps @ 20”

  • 4x Walking Lunge

  • Instep Stretch

  • 5x Shoulder Dislocate


(1) Work up to 1RM Bench Press


(2) 6 Rounds

  • 2x Bench Press @ 85% 1RM

  • Pigeon Stretch

(3) 6 Rounds

  • 3x Power Clean - Increase load rapidly each round until 3x is Hard, but Doable, then immediately

  • 2x Seated Box Jump @ 20/24”

  • Hip Flexor Stretch

(4) 6 Rounds

  • 8x Front Squat - Increase load rapidly each round until 8x his hard, but doable

  • Rope Climb or 3x Tarzan Pull Ups

  • Foam Roll Low Back

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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.




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.
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