All posts by Rob Shaul

Arete 4.21.22


‘Wolverines’ graffiti straight out of ‘Red Dawn’ showing up all over battlefields in Ukraine, Task & Purpose
Pentagon to build nuclear microreactors to power far-flung bases, Marine Corps Times
Air Force Academy expels 22 cadets for 2020 cheating scandal, Air Force times
Texas Guard replaces commander of troubled Operation Lone Star, Air Force times
The weapons being sent to Ukraine and why they may not be enough, Al Jazerra
Bipartisan trio in Congress wants more action on Army Alaska’s suicide problem, Army Times
‘Lightning Carrier’ Concept Shows How Navy, Marine Corps Can Fly More F-35Bs from Amphibs, Defense One
The Pentagon Must ‘Campaign’ Against China, Not Hope for a Goal-Line Stand, Hudson Institute
Navy ousts commander of Fleet Readiness Center East, Marine Corps Times
Russia shoots down Ukrainian aircraft with Western arms aboard, Pravda Report
US mercenary killed in Donbass, Pravda Report
Why Russia’s Navy in Ukraine War is Doomed (or Irrelevant), Small Wars Journal
This Army ‘Best Ranger’ competitor showed soldier ingenuity that had instructors face-palming, Task & Purpose
The Marine Corps’ culture has to change, Task & Purpose
These 2 soldiers hung through a 3-day sufferfest to become the ‘Best Rangers’ of 2022Task & Purpose
Britain warns Russia may use white phosphorus munitions in Ukraine, War is Boring
Another Russian army general has been killed in action in Ukraine, governor says, Business Insider
A Ukrainian State of Mind, War is Boring

National Security / Foreign Policy

Israeli forces raid Al-Aqsa Mosque, over 100 Palestinians injured, Al Jazerra
Finland and Sweden pursue unlinked NATO membership, Navy Times
DIA Warns China’s Space Tech Seeks to Block U.S. Radars, Jam Munitions Defense One
China Is Reassessing Western Financial Power After Ukraine, Foreign Policy
What Finland Can Offer NATO, Foreign Policy
The Dangers of China’s Decline, Foreign Policy
Leaked plan for China-Solomon Islands security alliance raises concerns in the Pacific,
A 5-step NATO proposal for Biden, Morning Defense
Competition in the Gray Zone, RAND
How Much Are South Koreans Willing to Pay Toward the US Alliance?, The Diplomat
Why India Has Been Soft on Russia Over Ukraine, The Diplomat
Russia’s War in Ukraine: China’s Lessons, Homeland Security Newswire
Under unprecedented sanctions, how is the Russian economy faring?, economistRussia Does Not Seem to Be After Ukraine’s Gas Reserves, RAND

First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

How Extremism Operates Online, Homeland Security Newswire
Tulsa (OK) Firefighters Protect Boy in Hostage Situation, Firefighter Nation
Black Firefighters Make Up Only 15% of Chicago (IL) Fire Department; 30% of City is Black, Firefighter Nation
Fire Rips Through Five Triple-Deckers in Lawrence (MA), 16 Families Displaced, Firefighters Nation
Autopsy: LACoFD FF who died after house fire ran out of oxygen, had heart attack, had meth in him, FireRescue1
Ill. bill to classify dispatchers as first responders heads to governor, FireRescue1
Ore. FF union members ask chief to resign in ignored letter, FireRescue1
Man accused in deaths of 3 Pa. FFs in 1995 arson to skip trial and plead, FireRescue1
Campus police departments rebrand with a ‘softer look’, Police1
Atlanta mayor aims to hire 250 officers per year for three years, Police1
LAPD to ask landlords to subsidize rent for police recruits, Police1
Baltimore Police to hire civilian investigators to ease staffing strain, Police1
Forest Service Chief’s letter covers fire use and work-rest guidelines for firefighters, Wildfire Today
Experienced wildland firefighter explains why he resigned, Wildfire Today
Officials say 207 homes destroyed in McBride Fire in New Mexico, Wildfire Today
Grantville GA Gun Store Triple Murder and Robbery, Tactical Gun Life

Mountain / Outside

The Coolest Bike Builds from the 2022 Sea Otter Classic, Outside
REI Releases Financials; Soaring Revenue Reflects Industry Growth, Gearjunkie
Climbing Big Cracks, Like Life, Is Suffering: Watch This Brutal Climb, Gearjunkie
New Climbing Film Chronicles the First Ascent Across Denali, Outside
More Mystery Surrounding Mallory and Irvine and Everest’s First Ascent, Adventure Journal
First Ever Mountain Bike Descent of Corbet’s Couloir Is Still Puckering, Adventure Journal
The Best Bike Storage Ideas, Wirecutter
Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad – 4/14/22, AAI
[WATCH] McKenna Peterson proves just how tough she really is, Freeskier
2022 Grit and Rock Award recipients announced, Alpinist
Best Beds for Spring Car Campers, Gear Inst.
This Climbing Gym Just Became the First in the Country to Unionize, Outside
Greg Boswell adds great late winter climbs to Scotland, Planet Mountain
How to Catch Big Trout in Small Streams, Meateater

Health / Fitness / Nutrition

The Unnecessary Fallout from Shelby Houlihan’s Doping Ban, Outside
Capacity Training vs Utilization Training, Uphill Athlete
How to Do the Deadlift for Strength and Muscle, Breaking Muscle
Bodybuilder Hunter Labrada Powers Through a 495-Pound Banded Squat for 17 Reps, Breaking Muscle
New approach enhances muscle recovery in aged mice, Science Daily
6 Guys Over 60 Who are Crushing It in Fitness, Men’s Health
Bodybuilder Derek Lunsford Shows off Endurance by Squatting 315 Pounds for 100 Total Reps, Breaking Muscle
Fitness For Life, Men’s Fitness
Is Covid More Dangerous Than Driving? How Scientists Are Parsing Covid Risks., NY Times
Breaking Up With Peloton, NY Times
How to Give Constructive Feedback, NY Times
Workout Challenge: 1 to 10 Pull-Ups, T-Nation
Lift Lighter Weights to Grow Muscle, T-Nation
Why It’s So Hard to Just Rest and Why We Need to Do It, Tiny Buddha
Mobility Exercises for Athletes Suffering From Chronic Pain, training Peaks
All the Unspoken Rules of Swim-Bike-Run Etiquette, Triathlete
6 Reasons to Drink Water, WebMD
Herd immunity now seems impossible. Welcome to the age of Covid reinfection | Devi Sridhar, The Guardian


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: What If We’re Doing It Wrong?, AEI
First Drive Review: Toyota Finally Goes All-Electric With 2023 bZ4X, Gearjunkie
The 14 Best Mother’s Day Gifts, Wirecutter
The Best Time to Book a Flight Including Tips and Tricks, The Manual
How to Organize Your Junk Drawer So It’s Not a Disaster, The Manual
What Shanghai lockdowns mean for China Inc, Economist
More and more women just want to be ‘the cool aunt’ instead of having their own kids, Business Insider
Key facts about housing affordability in the U.S., Fact Tank
Mercedes-Benz Drove An Electric Car Over 620 Miles Without Stopping To Charge, Jalopnik
A Newly Measured Particle Could Break Known Physics, Wired

Mini Study: Run Time Correlates to Ruck Speed Much Better than Relative Strength

By Rob Shaul


This Mini Study tested the correlation between (1) relative strength and ruck speed, and; (2) 6-mile run time and ruck speed with the aim of identifying which (relative strength or running performance) had the highest correlation.

The results found that both 6-mile run time had a high correlation to rucking speed and relative strength, a small correlation.

These results suggest a greater emphasis on running over strength programming for ruck-focused training programs.



Rucking, or extended movement under load, is a physical activity mode which extends across all of the athletes MTI works with: Military, Mountain, Law Enforcement and Fire Rescue. Correspondingly, we have conducted multiple ruck-focused research. Below are examples of previous studies:

A 2015 Mini Study found that for men, bodyweight and 2-mile run time were the best predictors of a 10K ruck effort carrying 60+ pounds.

This study piggy backed and updated that previous effort by testing the predictive value (correlation) of relative strength (strength per bodyweight) and 6-mile run time, to a 3-Mile ruck effort carrying 45#.

Twelve veteran MTI lab rats and athletes, over a course of 5 days, completed three assessments: (1) MTI Relative Strength Assessment;  (2) 3-Mile Ruck for Time @ 45#; (3) 6-Mile Ruck for Time.

The MTI Relative Strength Assessment is a 4-event strength assessment of strength per bodyweight. The events are 1RM (1 repetition maximum) Front Squat, 1RM Bench Press, 1RM Hinge Lift and max rep bodyweight pull ups.

Below was the testing schedule:

Post assessments, a simple correlation was performed.

MTI research is primarily focused on improving MTI programming. This study pitted Relative Strength vs. 6-Mile Run time as a predictor of rucking performance. If one stood out over the other, the results could influence the training time allocated to each in our many programs designed to prepare athletes for ruck-focused selections, events, courses and fitness assessments.



Below are the mini-study results:

The 6-Mile Run Time (.896) was found to have high positive correlations to 3-mile rucking speed. Fast runners are also fast ruckers.

Relative Strength (.231) was found to have a small correlation with rucking speed.

Below are the Lab Rat’s raw scores.

In terms of the relative strength assessment, here is how the overall scoring ranks:

Statistics aside, of the twelve Lab Rats, seven had a sub 10-min/mile ruck time, and a sub 8 min/mile, 6-mile run time: Rob L, Chris K, Charles, Amy, Derek, Anna and Ellie. This seems to back up the statistical results linking run performance with ruck performance:

However, five of the 12 lab rats scored “excellent” on the MTI Relative Strength Assessment, and also completed the ruck under 30 minutes … so I’m somewhat puzzled by the big discrepancy in correlation results.

One element of this study which perhaps skewed the results are the high levels of fitness of the lab rats. Scoring “excellent” on MTI’s relative strength assessment, while also being able to run a sub 8 min/mile, 6 mile effort is no joke. I suspect conducting this study with less fit lab rats might yield different results.

However, the study does seem to indicate that in terms of programming, unloaded running speed and endurance has a greater “bang for your buck” transfer to rucking performance than strength training.


MTI’s current military selection and base fitness programming has been proven to be successful for many athletes facing ruck-based selection events and I’m hesitant to make significant changes without some more study.

One benefit of high relative strength not tested in this study is it’s impact on durability. We’ve found that stronger athletes are harder to injure, when they do get injured, don’t get injured as bad, and overall, recover faster.

Given that, our next step is to re-do this mini-study with regular, line-unit, military athletes.


Questions? Email
Comments? Please enter your comment below.


ARETE 4.14.22


‘Red Dawn’ hits Ukraine after destroyed Russian armor gets tagged with ‘Wolverines’, Task & Purpose
How technology, both old and new, has shaped the war in Ukraine so far, Task & Purpose
How the Marine Corps tracks — and hides — the crimes of its officers, Task & Purpose
Airmen are pissed that an entire C-17 crew except for the maintainer received a Distinguished Flying Cross, Task & Purpose
Air Forces Need, You Know, Airplanes, AAI
US Army initiates plan to replace Stingers with next-gen interceptor, Army Times
Argument over ‘woke-ism’ in the military erupts in House hearing, Military Times
Biden to nominate first uniformed woman to lead a military service, Military Times
Four US troops injured in rocket attack on base in Syria, Military Times
Navy captain fired after another Hawaii fuel leak, Navy Times
Pentagon says Russia sends 1,000 fighters from military contractor to Donbas region, The Hill
Of Roadside Bombs and Drones: Putin’s Looming Insurgency Problem, War is Boring
How tanks can survive against cheap, shoulder-fired missiles, The Economist


National Security / Foreign Policy

For a Lasting Peace, Europe Must Embrace Russia, Defense One
The Pentagon Must ‘Campaign’ Against China, Not Hope for a Goal-Line Stand, Defense One
The Month That Changed a Century, Foreign Policy
Russia launches investigation into execution of Russian soldiers near Kiev, Pravda Report
The Ukraine War’s Three Clocks, RAND
How Competing Schools of Grand Strategy Shape America’s Nonproliferation Policy Toward Iran, Texas National Security Review
The war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s imperial project, VoxEurope
‘Ukraine Biolabs’: How Attempts to Debunk a Conspiracy Theory Only Helped It Spread, HSN
Can Nuclear Generation Help Reduce European Reliance on Russian Gas?, HSN

First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

Los Angeles (CA) Tree Trimmer Found Hanging 50-Feet Off Ground, Firefighter Nation
Benicia (CA) Port Fire Sends Ships Scrambling; Fire Under Pier Difficult to Reach, Firefighter Nation
Man Convicted of Setting Dolan Fire that Entrapped 15 Firefighters, Scorched Thousands of Acres, Firefighter Nation
OSHA: 2 Ill. FDs at fault in FF’s death, FireRescue1
LODD: Ala. acting chief dies from burns suffered in grass fire, FireRescue1
An analysis of fatalities from forest fires in China, 1951–2018, International Journal of Wildland Fire
Predicting daily initial attack aircraft targets in British Columbia, International Journal of Wildland Fire
San Diego Sheriff’s Department can keep using military equipment, county says, Police1
Maine LEO returns to full duty after amputation, shares his journey, Police1
Two prescribed fires in New Mexico escape and become wildfires, Wildfire Today
Department of Interior releases 5-year plan to prepare for wildfire, Wildfire Today
Forest Service expects to substantially increase the number of firefighters this year, Wildfire Today

Mountain / Outside

Bode Miller Launches Peak Ski Company With 6 New Ski Designs, Outside
Fastpacking 101: What You Need for This Running-Backpacking Hybrid, Outside
Haaland Announces $9.5 Million in Grants for Migratory Wildlife Protection, GearJunkie
5 Cheap(ish) Things for a Lovely Front Porch, Wirecutter
Willie Benegas on Being Buried in an Avalanche: ‘So This Is How I Will Die‘, Outside
It’s Not a Real Baja Trip Until You Mess Something Up, Adventure Journal
Pandemic Impacts of 2020 and 2021 Raise Questions for Adventure Tourism, Alpinist
How To Survive a Bear Attack!, Eastmans
Can Blockchain Help Save the Wilderness? These Groups Think So., Outside Business
Watch Márek Holeček, Radoslav Groh establish Heavenly Trap on Baruntse, Planet Mountain
VIDEO: How Not To Ride Corbet’s Couloir, Unofficial Networks
VIDEO: Surfing Alaskan Steeps On 180cm Snowboard, Unofficial Networks
The Endurance Shipwreck: How 28 Men Survived Nearly Two Years in Antarctica, Wide Open Spaces

Health / Fitness / Nutrition

6 Foods That Are Secretly Aging You, Better Nutrition
7 Reasons Why You’re Feeling Tired During the Day, Better Nutrition
Powerlifter Jessica Buettner Deadlifts 507 Pounds for 6; Crushes 405-Pound Paused Squat for 4 Reps, Breaking Muscle
Tart Cherry Juice: Recovery Drink or Snake Oil?, Outside
I Tested Givego, the App That Wants to Replace Your Coach, Outside
Having a near-death experience taught me how to live better, The Guardian
The 5 Best Ways to Burn Fat Fast | Healthline, Healthline
How This Simple Breathing Exercise May Improve Your Endurance, Healthline
Learning the Right Way to Struggle, NY Times
Building Muscle After 40 – The Five Best Tips, T-Nation
Pull-Ups: 3 Mistakes You’re Still Making, T-Nation
The One Thing You Need to Make the Best Decisions for You, Tiny Buddha
Measure What Matters: Fitness Tracking in the Build Phase, TrainingPeaks
The Benefits of Yogurt, WebMD
Brain charts for the human lifespan, Nature
Do Narcissists Feel Guilty About Abusing Loved Ones?, Psychology Today


Ukraine’s Draft Dodgers Face Guilt, Shame and Reproach, NY Times
Poor Neighborhoods Don’t Need Pot Shops, NY Daily News
If College Isn’t the Pathway to the Middle Class It Once Was—What Is?, RAND
The Best Strollers, WireCutter
The Best Booster Car Seats, Wirecutter
More than half of Americans in their 40s are ‘sandwiched’ between an aging parent and their own children, Fact Tank
This Guy Read All 50 Books on Our List!, Huckberry
Sun, sea or salary: Citi recruits’ future of work trade-off, Financial Times
Developers of small modular reactors hope their time has come, The Economist
The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages, Washington Post

Thoughts on Organizational Ethos, Incentives and Structure Required to Promote Quiet Professionalism 

By Rob Shaul

Years of organizational observation, and several months of work with MTI’s Quiet Professional Discussion Groups, have reinforced for me that most Quiet Professionals are so in spite of their unit or company culture, not because of it. 

This is disappointing but understandable. Self-promotion and individual advancement dominate the cultures of most tactical units, private companies, and government organizations. The up-and-out promotional pressure of the military, and financial compensation for advancement and increased responsibility at private companies, by their nature, don’t readily reward “quiet” team members who consistently put mission ahead of self, i.e. Quiet Professionals. 

Indeed, the idea of “rewarding” Quiet Professionalism seems an oxymoron. True Quiet Professionals would not welcome or appreciate the attention. 

This is a problem. How can an organization which values Quiet Professionalism, incentivize or promote it, without betraying its ethic? 

This was the question the three participants in an MTI Quiet Professional discussion group and myself tackled over the past 5-6 weeks. What follows is an initial answer to the question, “How can an organization identify, honor, and promote Quiet Professionalism?”

Step 1: Identify a Clear and Common Definition of a Quiet Professional and Craftsmanship.

This was ours. A Quiet Professional is …

  • Quiet. Not a self-promoter. 
  • Puts Mission above Self.
  • Is Humble, but Confident.
  • Hard Working.
  • Technically skilled.
  • Embraces Craftsmanship, and aspires to be a Master Craftsman.

We dug deeper into our definition of “Craftsmanship.” Craftsmanship = 

  • Understanding/knowledge of what is essential/important, and having the “maturity” to focus only on that
  • Uncommon attention to detail
  • Quality Work – identifying what is essential/important, and giving it the attention to detail to take it to a higher level. 
  • Deep, intentional investment in the process of the task.
  • Commitment to learn and improve. The work is never finished.
  • Doing the right thing when nobody is looking. 
  • Driven by an internal standard and commitment to continuous improvement
  • Craftsmanship is an important ideal all quiet professionals aspire, but having a “master craftsman” level of technical skill is not required to be a Quiet Professional. For example, an Apprentice Electrician can’t be a Quiet Professional because he or she doesn’t have a high enough level of technical expertise, however, a Journeyman Electrician can be. One doesn’t need to be a Master Electrician to be a Quiet Professional in that field. So, a high level of technical expertise is required to be a Quiet Professional, but not a “master” level. What this means practically is it takes a significant time investment in the trade or profession to gain this technical expertise, and thus, be a Quiet Professional. 

Step 2: Clearly define and communicate the Unit’s Mission, including demonstrated actionable priorities.

It’s very difficult for the aspiring Quiet Professionals in the organization to put “Mission” first, if the mission is fuzzy, and/or work priorities don’t align with the state mission.

Examples of organizations who get it wrong:

  • A restaurant who’s stated mission is “high-quality food” but takes shortcuts on ingredients and chefs.
  • A tactical unit that supposedly prioritizes fitness, but doesn’t provide members with time, equipment or programming.
  • An online store whose stated mission is “customer first” but who’s marketing staff is twice the size of its customer service staff. 

The one clear example of a company that got this right was an element of Toyota’s “Kaizen” continuous improvement approach to manufacturing implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Toyota’s mission was a continuous improvement, with the goal of continuously improving quality. As part of its commitment to this mission, Toyota’s management empowered any employee in any job or at any level, who saw a quality control issue, to stop the production line and bring attention to the problem. When attention was subsequently brought to bear on the problem, the focus was on fixing the problem and the process flaw that led to it, not fixing blame on an individual or team. 

This clearly communicated and prioritized mission, backed up by action, led to car manufacturing prowess, vehicle reliability, and durability, and has resulted in Toyota today having the most vehicle sales in North America. 

Employees were empowered to have direct impact on quality. They didn’t have to ask or seek permission. 

Step 3: Translate the “soft” Quiet Professional ideals into “hard” organizational expected standards: 


Step 4: Establish a Quiet Professional company “Ethos” by clearly communicating these “hard” standards and enforce them completely and consistently.

These “hard” standards are a significant break the typical mold of touchy-feely, wellness-centered employee messaging favored by tactical units, private companies and most organizations today. 

Publishing and identifying these as a unit “standard” for individual behavior will immediately communicate how your unit is different. 

Publishing and enforcing these standards will simultaneously turn some employees off, and inspire others. We’d expect significant employee turnover when these standards are initially published and enforced. But the standards will also attract desirable employees and dissuade undesirable ones from applying. Ultimately we’d expect the unit to be stronger for it. 

Enforcing these standards “completely” means they apply to everyone, up and down the chain. Everyone meets the standards. Rank, relationship, nor talent is never an excuse not to meet the standard. No one is “special.” No exceptions.

Consistent enforcement of these standards is the hard part, but as Toyota proved above, it needn’t always be negative. It can also be empowering to employees who aspire to the Quiet Professional ethic. 

Step 5: Promote Quiet Professionalism by empowering employees who act on the hard standards.

Quiet Professionals want to impact mission success. They naturally have an ownership mentality and with this ownership comes effort and pride. 

The best way to promote Quiet Professionalism is to empower this impact. 

An employee identifies a quality issue? Empower him or her by acting on it. 

Seek advice. Ask for ideas. Solicit feedback. Expect employees to be confident and candid in their responses and listen, then act. 

Empower their ownership by giving them real impact. 

Further, we’d expect organizations who don’t enforce stated standards, enforce them selectively, and/or don’t allow aspiring Quiet Professionals to have impact, to eventually lose these individuals to organizations that do. 

We’ve heard of this at first responder units where poor fitness and professional cultures turn off young hard charging officers and firemen. These young professionals eventually quit, and move to other first responder units whose unit culture isn’t professionally bankrupt. 

Bonus #1  Should you promote Quiet Professionals to leadership positions? If not, how should you compensate Quiet Professionals financially?

Should you promote the Quiet Professionals in your organization? We’re not sure. 

Understand that one key requirement of quiet professionalism is technical expertise, and if you promote a Quiet Professional away from his or her area of expertise, they are no longer a Quiet Professional until they get up to speed in their new role. 

Also, many Quiet Professionals won’t want to be promoted. They are good at what they do, have more to learn, and are happy where they are at. 

However, this goes against typical organizational advancement. Most organizations naturally aim to promote high performers into managerial positions.

Interesting is the way the corporate world and military approach “technical” and “managerial” career track. 

Both have two “tracks” of employees – a managerial track and a technical track. 

The separation between the officer corps and non-commissioned officer corps in the military is the most obvious. Officers require a bachelors degree, have strong “up or out” pressure (and with that the strong self-promotional pressure as you’re competing directly with your peers for a future job), and clearly laid out career steps or “boxes to check.”

NCOs also have “up and out” pressure, but less, and it’s possible, as a satisfied Quiet Professional, to sit and hold for longer at a unit, rank and position. Examples are most clear in Special Forces where enlisted personnel can remain on SEAL, Pj/CCT, Green Beret,  or SFOD-D teams for the bulk of their careers. Officers, however, are forced by the requisite up and out career check marks to move in and out of these units. 

The corporate managerial world is similar. Entry-level managers often require a bachelors degree, there is  strong “up or out” pressure and requisite career steps positions in marketing, operations, manufacturing, finance, etc. 

One partial exception in the military is aviation. For most service branches, a pilots are commissioned officers and technical experts. While there is up and out pressure and increasing managerial responsibility, it is possible for senior aviators to continue flying and being technical experts well into the latter stages of their careers.  

However, aviators must continue to advance in rank. An Air Force Captain fighter pilot and aspiring Quiet Professional can’t “sit” in that role continuing to learn and develop his or her craft. He is pushed to increase rank, leadership responsibility, and into new airframes. 

Organizationally, the question is why? Should technically skilled high performers be allowed, or even made, to stay in their craftmanship-focused roles?

Some in the military decide this for themselves. One of the participants in our Quiet Professional discussion groups related a story of a friend who was a Navy SEAL officer facing rotation away from the teams. Not wanting this, the individual resigned his commission, and enlisted so he could remain. I’ve heard of similar stories of Green Berets who’ve done similar to remain on ODAs.

The organizational structure of first responder units will allow aspiring Quiet Professionals to stay in their roles. No officer and NCO dichotomy exists at origin in first responder units. All new hires enter at the lowest rank – regardless of educational background, and the “up and out” pressure is less. Employees who want to move into leadership self-select and chose to apply for leadership positions, take requisite exams, etc. 

In the software world, we’ve heard of “10x engineers” – software engineers so technically skilled that they produce 10x the value of regular engineers. Often they are compensated accordingly, and not pushed into leadership positions unless they choose. 

Bonus #2  How should you compensate Quiet Professionals financially?

Quiet Professionals by definition have a high level of technical expertise and competency, and put mission first. They provide significant value to any organization. 

However, typical compensation models link salary primarily to rank/managerial responsibility. 

A 2nd LT platoon leader gets paid more than the Platoon 1st Sgt. The software company CEO makes more money than the “10x engineer” driving product development and improvement. 

But, is “managerial responsibility” and competency where the most value to the organization is wielded? Certainly on the battlefield a Quiet Professional Platoon 1st Sgt brings more value than the new Platoon Leader who simply doesn’t have enough experience yet to have tactical mastery. 

On the software side, there are examples where an exceptional product has survived an incompetent CEO or questionable corporate strategy. 

We did find a couple of exceptions to the typical managerial compensation standard. 

In the trades, a master electrician makes more than a journeyman electrician who makes more than an apprentice electrician. Salary is tied to technical expertise, not managerial responsibility. But still, even if this example, the company operations manager likely makes more than the master electrician. 

The only complete exception we could find to this model is professional sports teams. On professional sports teams, the technical experts – the players – make significantly more money than the coaches. 

Why? The selection process. According to the NCAA, Roughly speaking, there were 1,083,308 high school football players competing, and eventually, 251 made it to pro. The chance of going pro is approximately 0.023% – only the best athletes make the cut. 

Though there isn’t data available on the coaching side, we’d wager that the odds of becoming an NFL coach are exponentially higher. 

Some food for thought. 

We know that a high level of technical expertise is required to be a Quiet Professional. And, we know that technical expertise is a huge contributor to product or service quality and performance. Product/service performance often determines mission success – even on the battlefield. 

Compensation is one way to assign value. But, for most organizations, technical expertise is second to managerial responsibility in determining financial compensation. 

Should the Company Commander make more money than the Company 1st Sgt? Should the software CEO make more money than the 10x engineers on staff? 


Quiet Professionals are rare. And in most organizations, they happen by accident, not design. 

Quiet Professionals are not hard-charging, self-promoting, high performers. They are not highly skilled, but arrogant, prima-donna technical, wizards. 

They stand out, but only if you are looking for the right signals: competence, skill, quality, humility, hard work, mission-first. They don’t want recognition. They do want impact. 

Creating an organization that fosters Quiet Professionalism takes a paradigm shift in promotions, compensation, standards, enforcement, recognition, and team member empowerment. 

Your thoughts? Your ideas? Please comment below or email

Arete 4.7.22


US Air Force’s new Jolly Green II combat rescue helicopter begins operational testing, AF Times
Air Force proposes to cut military jobs, aircraft in 2023, AF Times
3 Army soldiers, 9 others accused in gun trafficking ring, Army Times
Why 40 African armies met at a Fort Benning summit — and why some didn’t, Army Times
Soldier performance study delivering data for future commanders, Army Times
Eight Green Berets quietly disciplined after Afghan prisoner’s beating death, Army Times
Navy, Marines push ‘campaigning forward’ strategy as vital to deterring China, Defense News
Top Marine Defends Corps’ Lighter Direction, Defense One
Russia’s Urban Warfare Predictably Struggles, Foreign Policy
Marine Corps body composition standards may be leading to eating disorders, MC Times
An Alternative to a “No Fly Zone” Over Ukraine: A Fluid, Airborne Minefield, Small Wars Journal
The Failed Promise: Reflections on America’s Afghanistan Experience, Small Wars Journal
Hell at Abbey Gate: Untold stories from the Afghanistan War’s final days, Task & Purpose
Former US Marine accused of rape in Ukraine, Task & Purpose
Why the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program is a job from hell, Task & Purpose
US soldiers are not training Ukrainians in Poland, Army chief says, Task & Purpose
Commission to review 750 Confederacy-linked military items for renaming, The Hill
Ukrainian soldiers arrested for shooting Russian prisoners of war, War is Boring
Ukraine claims Russia has lost 17,300 troops, 605 tanks during invasion, War is Boring
US general confirms Russia ‘repeatedly’ fired hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, War is Boring
Carinthia Introduces Combat Clothing, Soldier Systems
A Russian Attack On Odessa Could Be Naval Suicide, Forbes


National Security / Foreign Policy

Forbidden love: Vladimir Putin and the French far right, Al Jazerra
EU to hit Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine after killings in Kyiv region town, Axios
Germany and France expel Russian diplomats after Bucha, Axios
What Lessons is China Taking from the Ukraine War?, Defense One
Ukrainian Hackers Take Aim at Russian Artillery, Navigation Signals, Defense One
Germany Has Never Been a Pacifist Power, Foreign Policy
NATO Intervention in Ukraine Won’t Spark World War III, Foreign Policy
France’s military intelligence chief fired ‘for failing to warn about Ukraine war’,
What happened in Bucha and who is going to be punished for it?, PravdaReport
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on the way to terminate their ties with Russia, PravdaReport
UN: Afghans sell children and their body parts to provide for families, PravdaReport
How and Why China Uses Gray Zone Tactics, RAND
What Would a Strategy of Restraint Mean for U.S. Security Policy?, RAND
Policy Memo: A US Take on the Napoleonic Policing Model, Small Wars Journal
The Blind Spots of Diplomatic History, War on the Rocks
Is India “Shaky” on Ukraine? It’s Complicated, War on the Rocks
The Will to Fight, Lessons from Ukraine, RAND
Russia’s economy is beginning to crack as economists forecast sharp contractions, CNBC

First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

Dealing with Disasters | The New ‘Kremlinology’ | Keeping Highly Enriched Uranium Safe, and more, HSN
The Military Is Making Progress in Its Counter-Extremism Efforts, but Gaps Remain, HSN
St. Louis (MO) Firefighters Start Inspecting Vacant Homes to Limit Risks of Abandoned Buildings, FFN
Former Texas firefighter sentenced to 6 years in prison for killing fellow firefighter, FireRescue1
Video: Large crowd swarms, kicks and vandalizes Md. police cruiser, Police 1
A guide to law enforcement leadership training and graduate degree programs, Police1
California agencies intend to ramp up prescribed burning, Wildfire Today
Precipitation January through March was record lowest in some Western areas, Wildfire Today
The Incredible Life & Work Of Search And Rescue Responders, Unofficial Networks
Hilary Franz, Washington DNR, discusses initial attack and aerial firefighting, Wildfire Today

Mountain / Outside

Can Starlink Bring High-Speed Internet to Your Next Camping Trip? Outside
Camp in Comfort with the Lightweight Helinox Chair Zero High-back, Werd
AT Bindings Banned from Some Wilderness, Backcountry Ski Blog
The Best Lines—and Crashes—from This Year’s Freeride World Tour, Outside
Guy Busted For Planning 139-Person Hike in the Grand Canyon, Adventure Journal
Climbers rally against proposed tramway and expanded bus lanes in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alpinist
Cody Cirillo’s ‘FLUID – A Skier’s Connection to Water’ A pillow bashing trek through British Columbia, Freeskier
Proof of Concept, Outdoor Research
Can NFTs save the ski video star?, Outside
Goulotte Desperados climbed on Tour Ronde, Mont Blanc, by Niccolò Bruni, Gianluca Marra, Planet Mountain
Jakob Schubert vs Sleepwalker at Red Rocks, USA, Planet Mountain
​POV: Amaury Pierron’s Winning Run At the Lourdes World Cup Is Totally Bananas, Red Bull
Nch’Kay’s Hidden Gems, Arcteryx
Emergent Seas, Patagonia
Mountain Lion Follows Hunter To His Car (Video), Unofficial Networks
Grab Life in Belize, Outside

Health / Fitness / Nutrition

Alpen Basecamp Bike Capsule: The Safer Storage Solution, Werd
Best Calisthenics Exercises, Athlean x
The Best Leg Workouts With Bodyweight, With Dumbbells, for Size, and More, Breaking Muscle
2022 World’s Strongest Man Reveals 30-Person Lineup, Breaking Muscle
Here’s How 5-Time CrossFit Games Champion Tia-Clair Toomey is Eating to Cut Weight, Breaking Muscle
Sprint Workouts, Athlean x
Lack of sleep increases unhealthy abdominal fat, study finds, Science Daily
Comparison of a Sucrose-Based and Rice-Based Sports Beverage on Hydration Status During a 19.3-km Foot March in ROTC Cadets, JSCR
Determinants of Climbing Performance: When Finger Flexor Strength and Endurance Count, JSCR
Prevalence, Magnitude, and Methods of Weight Cutting Used by World Class Powerlifters, JSCR
Change of Direction Performance in Elite Players From Different Team Sports, JSCR
Heart Rate Response, Duration, Grip Strength, and Anthropometric Characteristics in Recreational Indoor Rock Climbers, JSCR
Effects of Resistance Training Cessation on Cycling Performance in Well-Trained Cyclists: An Exploratory Study, JSCR
Ready for Combat, Psychophysiological Modifications in a Close-Quarter Combat Intervention After an Experimental Operative High-Intensity Interval Training, JSCR
Relationship Between Strength, Athletic Performance, and Movement Skill in Adolescent Girls, JSCR
The Effects of 3 vs. 5 Days of Training Cessation on Maximal Strength, JSCR
This Cyclist Did 30 Days of Squats to See If It Would Improve His Performance on the Bike, Men’s Health
You’re Not Truly Fit Unless You Can Pass These 4 Simple Tests, Men’s Health
The Trick to Access Research Articles for Free,
Sci-Hub Offers the Quickest, Easiest, and Greatest Access to Science,
Goodbye to Love Handles and Belly Fat, T-Nation
Why Other People’s Comments Hurt Us and How to Let Them Go, Tiny Buddha
The False Comfort of Having More: Finding Peace in Living with Less, Tiny Buddha
Most Americans Just Lost Millions of Acres of Hunting Access, Meateater
Kayak Angler Uses Duck Lure to Trigger Awesome Northern Pike Topwater Strikes. Wide Open Spaces


Hertz plans to buy 65,000 EVs from Polestar over five years, Al Jazerra
March jobs report shows near return to pre-pandemic levels — except for workers on the sidelines of the economy, AEI
Washington State Signs Nation’s Earliest Gas Car Ban Into Law, GearJunkie
8 Best Home Defense Weapons to Harden Your Home For 2022, Tactical Gun Life
The Best Stud Finder for Home Use, Wirecutter
Employees Are Returning to the Office, Just to Sit on Zoom Calls, Bloomberg
Five Days a Week in the Office? It’s Better for Everyone., Bloomberg
Congress Found An Easy Way To Fix Child Poverty. Then It Walked Away., 538
12 Hard Things You Can Do TODAY, Huckberry

Mini Study: Loaded Step Ups have Little Transfer to Rucking Speed

By Rob Shaul



This 3.5-week Mini-Study investigated the transfer of loaded step ups to rucking.

Six remote, lab rats completed the 3.5 Week study which began with a 3-Mile Ruck for Time carrying a 40-pound ruck. After a days’ rest, the lab rats completed a 30-minute Step Up for Reps Assessment wearing a 40-pound ruck and using a 12-16″ box or bench.

Over the next three weeks, the lab rats completed the same training plan, which was focused on an internal-based step up progression based on their initial step up assessment results.

At the end of 3 weeks, the lab rats re-assessed the 3-mile ruck at 40-pounds and a 30-minute step up for time assessment wearing a 40-pound ruck and using a 12-16″ box or step.

Post cycle, the lab rats averaged a 6% decrease in 3-Mile ruck time, but a 15.9% increase in step ups for the 30-minute assessment.

The results question the effectiveness of step ups to improve rucking speed. Clearly, doing step ups make you better at step ups, but the transfer to rucking is questionable.



In a previous effort we studied the transfer of biking to improving uphill movement under load and found little transfer. In another previous mini study, we found that rowing transfers slightly better to running than running transfers to rowing.

Common sense reasons that if you want to improve rucking speed, best would be to ruck, so why then test if step ups can improve rucking speed? Two reasons: (1) Sometimes weather and or location may impact the ability of an athlete to ruck. An example might include a US Marine on shipboard deployment.

Second, to address the “burden of constant fitness” and the corresponding training “staleness” for military athletes. Offering a variety in exercise modes which still transfer to mission direct demands (rucking in this case) helps keep training from becoming “stale” for tactical athletes.

The six lab rats for this study began the work with a ruck and step up assessment, then followed an interval step up progressed based on their assessment results. After 3 weeks of training, they repeated the ruck and step up assessment.

Below was the non-assessment weekly schedule:

  • Mon: Step Up Intervals
  • Tue: Upper Body Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Wed: Step Up Intervals
  • Thur: Upper Body Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Fri: Step Up Intervals
  • Sat: Rest or outdoor recreation
  • Sun: Rest or outdoor recreation



Below are the mini-study results:

While the lab rats did improve on their ruck run performance, the bulk of the 6% overall average faster time could simply be attributed to familiarity with the 3-mile ruck assessment, and not necessary any transferable fitness gain from doing 3 weeks of step up intervals.

However, the near 16% average increase in step up assessment results mirrors what we’ve seen many times from MTI lab rats completing focused, mode-specific programming.

As with all studies, there are some concerns with this study design. In our previous study assessing the transferability of rowing to running, we split the lab rats into two groups, where one group completed a running progression and the second group completed a rowing progression. That study design allowed us to not only study the transferability of rowing to running, but also clearly demonstrate how much better running improves running, in comparison to rowing. We didn’t split the lab rats for this study, so we can’t make that direct comparison.



While this may seem like an obvious study result, the search for mode transfer is justified and we’ll continue to test the transfer of one endurance mode to performance in another.


Questions? Email
Comments? Please enter your comment below.




You Might Also Like Geek Cycle: Leg Blasters Match Front Squat in Building Lower Body Strength

Mini Study: Dumbbell Strength Training Maintains to Slightly Increases, 1RM Barbell Strength


By Rob Shaul


Five experienced, veteran MTI Lab Rats tested the ability of Dumbbell Strength Training to increase 1RM (1 repetition max), max effort barbell strength.

Results found that dumbbell strength training maintained to slightly increasing max effort barbell strength, but did a much better job at increasing dumbbell-based strength.

  • Average Overall Barbel 1RM % Change: 6.24%
  • Average Overall Dumbbell 8RM % Change: 15.67%


During the training cycle, the lab rats performed dumbell-only strength training with the exception of the pre and post cycle 1RM Barbell Strength.

The results of this mini study reinforce the utility and easy loading and handling ability of the basic barbell and weight plates as the premier max effort strength increasing fitness tool available. However, it also shows that assess, thought out, and progressed dumbbell strength training can at a minimum maintain 1RM barbell max effort strength, and possibly slightly increase it.

This proves dumbbell-based strength training can be an effective tool for training and maintaining max effort strength for athletes who don’t have access to a barbell and plates, have space limitations, or simply want a break from the barbell.

However, a significant limitation of dumbbell strength training is very strong athletes can exhaust their gym’s collection of heavy dumbbells. Few gyms have dumbbells heavier than 70-80 pounds, and I’ve never seen one with dumbbells heavier than 100 pounds. Increasing resistance (load) is the only proven way to increase max effort strength, and thus for strong athletes who can completed 8+ reps of dumbbell front squats or 1-arm bench presses with a 100# dumbbell, their max effort strength gains will be limited.



A previous mini study found that Max Effort Strength Training improves Sandbag Strength Endurance more than Sandbag Strength Endurance improves max effort strength.

Going into this mini study, we hoped to learn ….

  1. The effectiveness of assessed and progressed dumbbell training to increase 1RM, max effort, barbell strength.
  2. A dumbbell strength progression design based on an 8RM assessment, and single-limb exercises to increase two-limb barbell exercises
  3. The ability of veteran athletes to follow an intense, relatively high repetition dumbbell strength progression, and identify those strong athletes who’s progress was limited by the heaviest dumbbells in their gym.

Mini-Study Design

We advertised for remote lab rats with full gym access and designed a 3-week training cycle bookended by both a barbell 1RM strength assessment and a dumbbell 8RM strength assessment. We then applied a version of MTI’s Big 24 programming methodology to the dumbbell assessment and the athletes completed 3 weeks of progressed dumbbell strength programming. At the end of the three weeks, the athletes re-assessed barbell 1RM and Dumbbell 8RM Strength.

Below are the three 1RM Barbell exercises tested and their corresponding 8RM dumbbell exercise used in the programming:

The major strength training issue with dumbbell strength training is loading. Few gyms have sets of dumbbells in excess of 100 pounds, and most only go up to pairs of 70-80 pound dumbbells.

To accommodated for this we manipulated the dumbbell strength testing and progression to 8RM efforts (8 Repetition Max). By forcing the athletes to do more reps for their assessment and follow on progressions we hoped to thread the needle between training strength with dumbbell size limitations, but not pushing the effort away from strength training and into hypertrophy.

The upper end of MTIs tradition set/rep scheme for max effort strength training is 8 reps, and most the time, we like to keep max effort work at 6 reps or below, per set. But for this study, we pushed the dumbbell work to 8 reps, again, to work within dumbbell size limitations. Many athletes may be able to do 1x dumbbell front squat with a pair of 100# dumbbells, but few could do 8.

As well, for the bench press and hinge lift, we mandated 1-limb dumbbell versions of these exercises. Again, this was to address dumbbell size limitations in most gym.

In terms of the dumbbell strength progression, we deployed a version of our Big 24 Strength Methodology. This progression is super simple, and uses a progression of 10 or 5 pounds, per dumbbell below the 8RM, vs. percentage-based loading. This again best fit the nature of dumbbell sets in the typical gym.

Here was the weekly schedule:

  • Monday: Dumbbell Strength Progression
  • Tuesday: 45 Minute moderate pace Run
  • Wednesday:Dumbbell Strength Progression
  • Thursday: 40-minute Work Capacity/Chassis Integrity Grind
  • Friday: Dumbbell Strength Progression
  • Saturday: Rest or Outdoor Recreation
  • Sunday: Rest or Outdoor Recreation

Results and Discussion

See the charts below.


Even thought the athletes saw average gains in 1RM barbell max effort strength after 3 weeks of dumbbell strength training, we’re hesitant to say definitively that dumbbell strength training increases 1RM, max effort, barbell strength. Given the small number of lab rats, and the single-digit percentage increases in strength, it’s more accurate to say that Dumbbell Strength training does a good job of maintaining 1RM, max effort, barbell strength, and/or may slightly increase it.

However, the strength increases in the Dumbell 8RM strength across the three exercises, which averaged over 15%, was fairly impressive. Most of the athlete, however, reported wrist and handling issues for the heavy dumbbell front squats – which may have limited what could have been gained there.

In addition to finding that dumbbell strength training can at a minimum, maintain 1RM, max effort, barbell strength, in the process we created a new, effective dumbbellsstrength training progression methodlody deploying 8RM efforts, a version of Big 24 progression, and single-limb efforts.


Next Steps

Often in our base fitness cycles we’ll switch from barbell strength to dumbbell and/or kettlebell strength training to give the athlete some strength training variety and hopefully prevent training from becoming stale. This study, at a board level, reinforces that we can do this without sacrificing too much max effort strength.

Next? Two directions:

  1. Experiment with other types of dumbbell strength training progressions.
  2. Test the ability of bodyweight strength training to maintain and/or increase 1RM Barbell, max effort strength.

Questions? Email
Comments? Please enter your comment below.


You Might Also Like High Rep Kettlebell Snatches Maintain General Strength, Increase Work Capacity


A Menu and Food Based Interpretation of MTI Base Fitness Programming

By Rob Shaul

MTI has two types of programming: (1) “Base” Fitness programming, and; (2) Event and/or Sport Specific Programming.

“Base” Fitness programming is our day-to-day programming. Examples include the Greek Hero Plans for Military Athletes, Spirits Plans for LE Patrol/Detective, Greek Heroine Plans for multi-sport mountain athletes and Tragic Wildfire Plans for wildland firefighters.

MTI’s Event and/or Sport Specific programming is narrow, focused programming specifically designed to prepare athletes for a specific event or sport such as a military PFT, selection or course, or a specific mountain event such as climbing Denali, completing a Rim to Rim Hike in the Grand Canyon, preparing for ski season or training for a Half Marathon.

It’s counter-intuitive, but MTI’s Base Fitness programming is more advanced and difficult to design than our event and/or sport specific programming. There are several reasons for this.




First, base fitness programming for the athletes we cater is multi-modal.

The intent of Base Fitness programming is to build a mission-direct level of fitness in the athlete for the day to day requirements of their job, and also as a “foundation” of fitness upon which to build event and/or sport specific fitness if needed.

Base Fitness programming is multi-modal because it reflects the multi-modal, mission-direct,  fitness demands of the athletes we work with. Mountain athletes, for example, require a solid level of mountain endurance (trail running, uphill movement under load), total body strength, chassis integrity, grip-specific climbing fitness, and work capacity.

Military athletes such as infantry need military endurance (run, ruck), high relative strength, chassis integrity, sprint-basked work capacity, and tactical agility.

So, each Base Fitness programming cycle must train each of these “modes” for the respective athlete type.


Second, Base Fitness cycles can be “balanced” across all fitness modes, or apply cyclic emphasis to one or more mode. 

We do this both ways, and often swap back and forth between “balanced” Base Fitness cycles and Base Fitness cycles which have “cyclic emphasis.”

Below is the training schedule example of a “balanced” military cycle which concurrently trains military endurance (run, ruck), work capacity, chassis integrity, strength, and tactical agility.

  • Mon: Strength, Work Capacity
  • Tue: Endurance (Run)
  • Wed: Tactical Agility, Chassis Integrity
  • Thurs: Strength, Work Capacity
  • Fri: Endurance (Ruck)

Below is the training schedule example of a “cyclic emphasis” military cycle which has a slight endurance emphasis:

  • Mon: Strength, Work Capacity
  • Tue: Endurance (Run)
  • Wed: Tactical Agility, Chassis Integrity
  • Thurs: Endurance (Run + Ruck)
  • Fri: Endurance (Ruck)


Third, Base Fitness programming must combat the “staleness” caused by the “Burden of Constant Fitness.”

All tactical athletes, and professional mountain athletes share the “Burden of Constant Fitness.” This simply means because the nature of their occupations, they can never let their fitness go – they need to constantly be in mission-direct shape, and this means they must constantly be training. This need to be constantly training, especially over a long 20-40 year career – can be a “burden.”

This “staleness” comes at the athlete from two directions: (1) fitness, and; (2) mental.

From the fitness perspective, if an athlete trains for strength using the same exercises and the same progression methodology all the time, eventually he or she will “plateau” and even regress as his body accommodates to the programming impetus.

Something similar happens mentally, as well – without changing things up, the fitness training becomes “stale.” I hear this all the time from military squad team members, who reach out for programming alternatives because they are simply sick of doing push ups, pull ups, sit ups and running every day. Mentally, this type of fitness programming has become “stale” and they need a change.

The goal of MTI’s “Base Fitness” programming is not constant improvement across all training modes. Why? First, from a fitness programming perspective, at some time, to continue to improve in one mode of fitness, that mode of fitness must be given more and more training time – and this costs training time, and therefore fitness, in the other modes. For example, at some point following MTI Base Fitness programming, most athletes will quit getting stronger. Their strength increases will plateau, and the only way I can break through his plateau is to put more and more emphasis on strength in the programming, but this comes at the expends of other fitness modes like work capacity or endurance.

So, by putting more emphasis on strength, I can get the athlete stronger, but his work capacity and endurance will decline while I’m doing so … and he his mission demands work capacity and endurance in addition to strength.

Also – and this is important – military athletes are not strength athletes, and mountain athletes are not endurance athletes. Certainly strength is a mission-direct demand of military athletes, but an infantryman or green beret does not need power-lifting competition-level strength to do his/her job. Likewise, endurance is a major component of all mountain movement, but a mountain athlete is not a competing triathlete or professional distance runner. Mountain athletes need strength and chassis integrity for carrying packs and other equipment, and might need short, intense work capacity summit before the lightening storm starts, or make it quickly did a snow cave before the blizzard arrives.

Base Fitness programming can also become “stale” mentally. Base fitness programming for Law Enforcement Athletes must include strength training, but I don’t need to program strength training using the same exercises and same progression methodology every base fitness training cycle. In fact, one of the reasons I’ve developed nearly 10 different strength training methodologies over the years is to address the mental staieness of constantly having to train strength. The methodologies in this article doesn’t include the various ways I’ve developed to train strength using bodyweight only, or sandbags only, or complexes only, or our new Big 36 progression.

I’ll manipulate programming in other modes to combat fitness accommodation and mental staleness as well. For example using assessed and progressed running or rucking events, or step ups for time to train endurance. Switching up between bodyweight and loaded chassis integrity programming, and manipulating modes, and methods to train work capacity.

This “constant change” in programming specifics is layered on top of the fundamental basics of base fitness programming (multi-modal, mission-direct) in an attempt to ensure the athlete has a high level of base “mission-direct” fitness, isn’t regressing in fitness, and is mentally engaged.


So What Does This Have to Do With a Food Menu?

One way to conceptualize MTI’s base fitness programming approach, and how we address emphasis (balanced or cyclic) and the burden of constant fitness (accommodation and staleness)  is to think about the 5 major food groups and a plate of food.

The Base Fitness “modes” we train for military athletes are: Strength, Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity, Endurance and Tactical Agility.

The 5 Major Food Groups are: Protein, Vegetables, Fruit, Grains and Dairy.

The examples below are two “balanced” base fitness cycles  or “balanced” multi-week diets, where all fitness modes are trained and all food groups consumed, in fairly equal amounts during the multi-week cycle.

For each cycle, the athlete trains strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, endurance and tactical agility, and each menu, he eats protein, vegetables, fruit, dairy and grains. However, the training mode methodologies and actual foods deployed for each cycle/menu is different.

So … we’re training the “base fitness” of this military athlete, but addressing training “staleness” (fitness and mental). And we’re getting him fed, but adding in some variety.

Questions? Email

Comments? Please enter your comment below.


Mini Study: Backwards Sled Drags Match Forward Sled Drags in Strength and Work Capacity Improvement


By Rob Shaul



The strength and work capacity improvement difference between Forward Sled Pull Intervals and Backward Sled Pull Intervals is negligible.

In two separate mini studies, remote lab rats saw 1 Repetition Max (1RM) strength and sprint-based improvements after following a 3-week training program which featured forward or backward sled pull repeats three-days/week. See below:

Both Mini Study results indicate sled pull repeats (forward and/or backward) are a viable exercise modality to maintain and possibly improve, both max-effort leg strength and sprint-based work capacity.

Sled pull repeats can be used to train lower body strength for austere, limited equipment situations, or as an alternative to traditional free weight training.


Sled pulls and pushes are popular exercises in strongman training, football strength and conditioning, and sprint-speed training.

There is limited research available on the effects of sled pulls on sprinting speed, but none that we could find on the overall conditioning effects of high volume, interval-based sled pushes, and/or pulls. Many college weight rooms and strongman competitors swear by the strength and work capacity conditioning power of sled pushes/pulls, but to our knowledge, this has never been actually quantified.

We were especially interested in the potential for sled pushes/pulls to increase lower body strength. MTI’s evolving programming for older athletes (40+) is hesitant to prescribe the traditional heavy squatting and lunging to develop leg strength out of concern about prematurely causing knee arthritis. As well, for many older athletes, myself included, pain from knee, hip and ankle issues make loaded squats and lunges increasingly intolerable.

Without loaded squatting and lunging movements, the exercise prescription to increase lower body strength is limited, primarily to MTI’s bodyweight Leg Blaster complex, and similar bodyweight based training.

Sled drag/push intervals could offer another option to train lower body strength for not only older athletes, but all athletes.

In addition, sled drag/push intervals have a significant work capacity element – often bringing athletes to threshold, if not, panic breathing.

However, a significant programming issue with sled pulls/drags is the sled and the sliding surface greatly affect the friction and thus the difficulty of the effort. This makes it difficult for strength coaches to program load-based sled pushes/pulls for athletes.

We’re hoping an interval-based system, with a prescribed level of exertion, while not perfect, can lead to an effective way to program and progress sled pushes and drags.

We had previously conducted a Mini Study on forward sled drags.

This Mini Study repeated exactly, the programming of that previous study, but mandated the lab rats completed backwards sled drags.

Going into this mini study, we hoped to learn ….

  1. The effectiveness and computability of an exertion prescribed, and interval-based,  backward sled push/pull programming methodology.
  2. The fitness effects of backward sled pulls on, lower body strength, and overall work capacity.
  3. A comparison between the strength and work capacity improvement potential between forward sled pulls and backward sled pulls.

Mini-Study Design

We advertised for remote lab rats with access to a sled and space to backward pull, and designed a 3-week training cycle bookended by a lower body strength and work capacity assessment:

  • 1RM Front Squat
  • 1RM Hinge Lift
  • Max Rep 40-Foot Prone to Sprints in 3 Minutes

Between assessments, all the forward pull  lab rats and backward pull lab rats completed  the same 3-week training cycle. The only difference being the direction they were facing during the sled pull intervals.

The programming did not include any additional lower body strength or work capacity training beyond the sled pull intervals.

Here was the weekly schedule:

  • Monday: Sled Pul Intervals
  • Tuesday: Upper Body Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Wednesday: Sled Pul Intervals
  • Thursday: Upper Body Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Friday: Sled Pul Intervals
  • Saturday: Rest or Outdoor Recreation
  • Sunday: Rest or Outdoor Recreation

Significantly for this study:

  • Sled work was limited to Backward sled pulls only
  • Deployed  30 second work, 60 second rest, sled pull intervals. Athletes were instructed to adjust the sled pull weight as needed to aim for a hard, slow, jog, 30-second pull.
  • The interval format (30 sec work, 60 sec rest) was not changed during the duration of the cycle, but the number of intervals was progressed, from 8 rounds at the beginning to 14 rounds at the end. It total duration, the sled pull efforts progressed from 12 minutes to 21 minutes.

Results and Discussion

See the charts below.

The type of “sled” used to pull for both of these Mini Studies was not standardized – nor was the sled weight. Some lab rats were able to pull metal sleds on turf, inside. Others pulled sandbags on grass or sand, metal sleds outside on dirt or pavement, or an old wooden pallet weighted with rocks or sandbags, outside.

Dictating and prescribed sled specifics is difficult as not only does the type/weight of the sled determine its pulling resistance, but so does the sliding surface. For this reason, sled “loading” was prescribed using a “Rate of Perceived Exertion” – or RPE.

Specifically lab rats were instructed to manipulate their sled load and sliding surface and  aim for a hard, slow, jog, nearly max effort, 30-second pull.

As seen above, both the forward and backward pull lat rats saw improvement in all three metrics. The most significant difference in improvement occurred for the pre and post cycle Front Squat 1RM. Although the forward pull lab rats achieved an 8.7% Front Squat 1RM improvement vs. 3.8% improvement for the backwards pull lab rats, the relatively low number of lab rats for both Mini Studies means we’re not confident stating forward sled pulls do a better job at increasing front squat strength.


Next Steps

Both Mini-Study results are encouraging and offer sled pulls (forward and/or back) prescribed in a simple exertion based, interval progression as an alternative  way to train and maintain lower body strength for athletes.

Next? Two directions:

  1. Test sled pushes vs sled pulls.
  2. Experiment with different intervals … i.e. would 15/30 or 15/60 result in greater strength increases over the 30/60 intervals used in both these studies?
  3. Experiment with extended pull efforts … i.e 10+ minute intervals … up to 40-50 minutes.

Questions? Email
Comments? Please enter your comment below.



You Might Also Like MTI’s Big24 Strength Training Plan

Arete 3.31.22


Don’t Underestimate the Bear, MWI
Amry’s ACFT Becomes Official With Gender Based Scoring, Defense One
How Russia’s Warfare Doctrine Is Failing in Ukraine, Sandboxx
Nuclear Threats and Putin’s War Against Ukraine, RC Defense
2023 Defense Budget May Sink More Ships Than Pearl Harbor, Forbes
How Western Intelligence Mortally Wounded Russia’s War Effort in Ukraine, Small Wars Journal
Special Forces sergeant major gets 1 year, busted in rank for domestic violence, Army Times
Ukrainian Counterattacks Are Pushing Back Russian Troops, Foreign Policy
Why did Russia launch hypersonic missiles? Dwindling PGMs., Morning Defense
Conflict Escalation: How It Works, RAND
The Misdiagnosis of Vladimir Putin, Small Wars Journal
NCOs are the US military’s greatest strength — and one of Russia’s biggest weaknesses, Task & Purpose
After 5 years of study, the Army is still trying to get soldiers ready for its new fitness test, Task & Purpose
The leg tuck is officially dead and other changes coming to the Army Combat Fitness Test, Task & Purpose
Carrying the weight: The undue burdens that female troops endure every day, Task & Purpose
As many as 40K Russian troops killed, wounded, held prisoner or missing: NATO, The Hill
Military academies prepare to welcome parent-cadets for first time, The Hill
A Proxy War in Ukraine Is the Worst Possible Outcome — Except For All the Others, War on the Rocks
Inequitable Marine Corps Body Composition Policies and Their Impact on the Health of the Force, RAND


National Security / Foreign Policy

What is behind Russia’s interest in a warming Arctic?, Al Jazerra
Turkey finds second mine off its coast near Bulgaria, Al Jazerra
El Salvador declares state of emergency after gang killings, Al Jazerra
China Ignores Rule of Law to Dominate Global Telecommunications, Hudson Inst.
Islamic State kills hundreds of civilians in northern Mali, Long War Journal
Shabaab attacks international hub in Mogadishu where U.S. Embassy is located, Long War Journal
Russian defense minister not seen in public since March 11, prompting speculation,
If Europe refuses to pay with rubles, Russia will cut gas supplies, Pravda report
Regime change in Washington, Pravda Report
What Did China’s Flurry of African Engagements Have to Do With Ukraine?, The Diplomat

First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

Border mission should be a Homeland Security job, says head of Northern Command, Defense News
More Russian spies in Mexico than anywhere else in the world, US official claims,
Current and Future Challenges to National Biodefense, Homeland Security Newswire
Tornadoes, Climate Change Make Dixie the new Tornado Alley, Homeland Security Newswire
FDNY Firefighters Blast Mayor’s Double Standard: Different Rules for Firefighters vs. Entertainers, FireFighterNation
Firefighter Rappels From NBA Arena Ceiling to Stop Speaker Fire in Pacers/Raptors Game, Arena Evacuated, FirefighterNation
‘Hard to watch’: Recruits say instructors yelled at Morse while he lay unconscious, FireRescue1
After an ‘unusually high’ number of Ala. cops call in sick, mayor vows cost-of-living raise, Police1
Calif. city denies request to fly thin blue line flag at city hall, Police1
Researchers develop new modeling tools for prescribed fire, Wildfire Today
New Director of CAL FIRE said they may have up to 10 additional helicopters in 2022, Wildfire Today
FBI hopes ‘coffee with a cop’ leads to more tips, applicants, Police1
Bill goes to Governor for Idaho state firefighters to earn hazard pay, Wildfire Today

Mountain / Outside

An Avalanche Airbag data set: all about weight, BC Ski Touring Blog
This Finger Strength Training Plan Is Your Pathway to Improved Climbing, Outside
The Youngest Woman to Ski the Grand Teton Is Now the Peak’s Youngest Guide, Outside
We’re All Little Kids Again On Mountain Bikes, Adventure Journal
5 Reasons This Has Been the Winter We All Needed, Outside
Women Are Dominating Ski Films This Year, on Both Sides of the Camera, Outside
Laura Tiefenthaler climbs North Face of the Eiger solo, Planet Mountain
So Ya Wanna Be A River Guide? Here’s How, Adventure Journal
8 Hard-Earned Lessons on Backcountry Gear, Outside
Poll: Is Outdoor Retailer making the right decision moving back to Utah?, Outside
Sellaronda Skimarathon 2022 begins tomorrow in the Dolomites, Planet Mountain
The Skydiving and Skiing Combo You’ve Gotta See, Redbull
Coolest Downhill Mountain Bike Perspective?, RedBull
​VIDEO: Nick Clark’s Two-Wheeled Ode to the Tetons, TGR
​JHMR Announces Plans To Upgrade Legendary Thunder Quad Lift, TGR
R O V E R : A Splitboard Film Project, TGR
Emily Harrington Climbs El Cap’s Golden Gate Route in One Day, 4th Person to Do So,TGR
Carissa Moore Wins the First Gold Medal in Women’s Surfing TGR
One Fish to Feed Them All, Patagonia
Missing Hiker Near Yellowstone Killed In Suspected Grizzly Attack, UN
Rookie Maxime Chabloz’s Winning Run At Xtreme Verbier Was Mental, UN
The World’s First Stand-Up Snowmobile, UN

Health / Fitness / Nutrition

The Myth That Most Americans Hate Their Job, The Atlantic
I Love Hokas—the Kawana Might Be My New Favorite, Outside
Does Working Out Before Bed Help You Sleep?, The Manual
Study suggests association between consuming artificial sweeteners and increased cancer risk, Science Daily
To Win in the Mountains, It Helps to Be Born There, Outside
Does Eating Meat Make You Live LONGER?, T-Nation
Ice Hockey-Specific Repeated Shuttle Sprint Test Performed on Ice Should Not Be Replaced by Off-Ice Testing, JSCR
Relationships Between Punch Impact Force and Upper- and Lower-Body Muscular Strength and Power in Highly Trained Amateur Boxers, JSCR
Does Social Media Make Teens Unhappy? It May Depend on Their Age., NY Times
Bad Sleep Makes You Fat, Kills Testosterone, T-Nation


Rewriting the history books: Why the Vikings left Greenland, Science Daily