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Tactical Agility Program Design, V2.0

Tactical Athletes Chris (military) and John (LE) finish theTAC SEPA Tactical Pro Agility to Stacked Box Drill last week during the MTI Advanced Programing Seminar.

By Rob Shaul

MTI began thinking about, and programming for Tactical Agility 3 years ago. I’d been exposed to the agility drills being promoted/recommended from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, and realized immediately they were simply re-tread agility drills and methodologies developed for stick and ball athletes. 

We could do better.


MTI’s Tactical Agility Evolution

MTI’s Tactical Agility programming is still evolving. Ultimately we hope to develop tactical-specific agility standards, exercise methodologies and programming.

MTI’s Tactical Agility drills and programming has always been aimed at improving tactical athlete’s speed and coordination for jumping over obstacles, crawling under obstacles, and movement under fire. By incorporating these drills and movement into our Base Fitness programming for Military, Law Enforcement and Fire/Rescue athletes, we ensure that the first time our athletes have to move like this in a dangerous, real-world situation, won’t be the real thing.  

We called our first approach, “TAC SEPA” – which was an acronym for Tactical Speed, Explosive Power and Agility, and many of our tactical agility drills still begin with that acronym. Last year I simplified this to simply “Tactical Agility.”

The drills we’ve developed still apply, but our drill categorization and programming application has evolved.


Drill Categories and Programming

When designing Tactical Agility drills, we aim to train and improve the following agility attributes:

(1) Basic Short Distance speed – both lateral and linear. Drills in this category are aimed at improving the tactical athlete’s ability either to quickly close the distance to a threat, or quickly escape a threat. Video below of the 50m Down/Back/Down Shuttle is an example:


(2) Explosive Power and Speed – both lateral and linear. Goal is to prepare train the tactical athlete for quick movement under fire. Video below of the Tactical Pro Agility Drill is an example:



(3) Agility focused on developing faster, more fluid movement with direction and level changes. Both lateral and linear movement. All-encompassing drill aimed at training movement under fire, movement over/under obstacles, etc. Video below of the Stacked Box Agility Drill is an example: 


(4) Unloaded and loaded drill execution. Unloaded to introduce athletes to the drills/movements/skills and loaded (body armor, duty belt, bunker gear) to practice the movements in a mission-direct manner for better transfer to the field.


When comparing MTI’s Tactical Agility drills to typical stick-and-ball sport agility drills two differences stand out: (1) Level Change, and (2) Loading.

Most, if not all, of MTI’s Tactical Agility Drills involve some type of level change – from prone on the ground to standing, from standing to prone, from standing up and over and obstacle, and from prone to standing to up and over an obstacle.

The chart below breaks down MTI’s Tactical Agility Drill Categories, and examples of corresponding drills:




Short Distance Speed Development

TAC SEPA – 10 Yard Sprint from Perpendicular Prone
TAC SEPA – 50m Down/Back Shuttle
TAC SEPA 5/10/15 Sprint Complex

Explosive Power + Speed

TAC SEPA – Half Box Agility Drill
TAC SEPA – Lateral Hop to Sprint Drill
TAC SEPA – Tactical Pro Agility Drill
TAC SEPA 4-Corner Plus Drill

Overall Agility with Level Changes

TAC SEPA – Crawl/Sprint/Crawl/Sprint Drill
TAC SEPA – Stacked Box Agility Drill
TAC SEPA – Under/Over/Under Drill
TAC SEPA Tactical Burpee Box Jump Drill


Tactical Agility Programming In Base Fitness Cycles

We currently deploy two general programming methodologies for Tactical Agility:

(1) Alternate Tactical Agility Drill Category by day, based on Tactical Agility days in the cycle:

Day 1 – Short Distance Speed Development

Day 2 – Explosive Power + Speed

Day 3 – Overall Agility with Level Changes

See the example below of the first 3 weeks of a 7-week Base Fitness cycle – where we train Tactical Agility as a 1/2 session on Tuesdays and Thursdays:


2) Focus on one Tactical Agility Drill Category for the entire cycle. Every drill in the cycle will fit into the appropriate drill category: 

7 Week Cycle 1 – Short Distance Speed Development (all drills)

7 Week Cycle 2 – Explosive Power + Speed (all drills)

7 Week Cycle 3 – Overall Agility with Level Changes (all drills)


Tactical Agility Drill Deployment In the Training Session

Our current approach is to deploy Tactical Agility drills as the first approximately 30-minutes of a 60-minute training session, including the warm up. 

The warm up is designed to prepare the athletes for the Tactical Agility drill which follows. After the warm up, we use Parts (1) and (2) of the session for the individual drill.  We only complete one Tactical Agility Drill per training session, but complete it first unloaded, then loaded:

  • The Tactical Agility Drill is completed first unloaded (Part 1), for 5 rounds, with the first round completed at half-speed.
  • The same Tactical Agility Drill is then completed loaded (Part 2), for 5 rounds, with the first round completed at half-speed.
  • Athletes are given plenty of rest (45-60 seconds) between rounds. Tactical Agility programming isn’t conditioning – we want the athletes as fresh as possible between individual efforts so they can focus on speed, coordination and agility.

Finally, we complete the Tactical Agility portion of the training session first.

See the Training Session below for an example of a combined Tactical Agility / Strength training session:


Obj: Tactical Agility, Strength

Warm Up: 

3 Rounds

    • 10x Goblet Squat @ 12kg
    • 5x Box Jumps @ 20″
    • 5x Hand Release Push Ups
    • 4x Prone to Sprint
    • Instep Stretch


(1) 5 Rounds

    • TAC SEPA – Tactical Pro Agility to Stacked Box Drill
    • Rest 45 Seconds

** Complete Round 1 at half-speed, and Rounds 2-5 at full speed

(2) 5 Rounds

    • TAC SEPA – Tactical Pro Agility to Stacked Box Drill wearing 25# Weight Vest
    • Rest 45 Seconds

** Complete Round 1 at half-speed, and Rounds 2-5 at full speed

(3) Work up to 1RM Front Squat

(4) 5 Rounds, Every 90 Seconds ….

    • 4x Front Squat @ 80% 1RM

(5) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back

Final Thoughts

Tactical agility, though 3 years old now, is still the “youngest” fitness attribute in MTI’s Base Fitness programming for tactical athletes, and the theory is still evolving.

Response from athletes we work with in the gym and remotely has been positive. If not made to train Tactical Agility in a MTI training session, few would move like this in training on their own. From MTI’s perspective, with our primary goal to improved Mission-Direct performance, the last thing we want to have happen is to have the first time one of our athletes have to move from prone, to a short sprint, to over an obstacle to prone again, in kit, be during the real thing.

We want them to know what this feels like, and have some experience/agility on how to execute this type of movement during their day-to-day, Base Fitness training.





Q&A 4.18.19


I am a Federal Probation Officer in Texas, and I noticed that you have worked with other federal LE agencies. I was wondering if you have any plan recommendations. I am particularly interested in strength and endurance training. I am a member if our agencies health and wellness team and would like to pass along some recommendations at our next meeting.


For Patrol/Detective Officers I recommend the plans/order in the Spirits Packet. These plans concurrently train strength, work capacity, upper body hypertrophy, tactical agility and chassis integrity (core).
For full time SWAT/SRT, I recommend the plans/order in the Gun Maker Packet. These plans concurrently train strength, work capacity, endurance including rucking, and chassis integrity.
If your specific job description includes making arrests, I’d recommend the Spirits Packet. If not, and you’re mostly interested in a solid plan which trains both strength and endurance specifically, I’d recommend Patsy.
– Rob


I am training for SWAT school coming up in November. Part of the process is a high volume stress or hell day. I have completed the day before but need to improve on my performance.

I have been browsing through the programs on your site including the LE SWAT type stuff, Rangers, and PJs. All of them have movements similar to our process but I am unsure about how best to train for the volume required during the day. It doesn’t seem like I’m doing enough. I’m familiar with the idea that short burst of high intensity work can improve your ability to do endurance work.

How can I best prepare myself for a day of high volume training with push ups (400+?,) running, air squats, flutter kicks, pool work, and a few hours of obstacle course work…..without overtraining? (I have access to an obstacle course and I’m thinking of training on it twice a week.)

I believe it was one of the BORTAC programs that had mini events built in every two weeks. That seemed to be a good idea and I am going to do one tomorrow.

I am unfamiliar with how to train for high volume endurance work without just doing high volume all the time and without injury. I’m 36. Any help or direction you can offer would be appreciated.


1) We’ve had success with the mini-event days for those events. Others have used our SWAT Selection Training Plan as well, successfully. It doesn’t include mini-events, but does include lots of volume.
However, most SWAT selections don’t include pool work. You may want to look at the BORSTAR STC Course Training Plan – which does include swimming, and mini-events with pool work.
– Rob


Been awhile since I’ve sent you anything, but reading your “Failure Resume” was eye-opening to say the least.

So on to the technical stuff, one of the links at the bottom was the FMS and prehab, rehab, etc.  So, being a lifelong athlete, wrestling in junior high, Cross Country, Swimming and Triathlon in High School, and then Triathlon in college, I’m tighter than an old iron dog.  I work on my flexibility but I get to a certain point and it just doesn’t get better.  I rarely get injured to the point that I can’t continue.  That being said, I’ve often wondered how much power I’m losing by not being able to move through or in a full range of motion.  Maybe it’s negligible, but I don’t know.  Seems to me that would be a good reason to focus on that stuff.  But I do tend to agree with you, and even pavel said that you should be flexible enough to do your sport or activity and no more.

On the programming side, I’ve been following your programming for (gosh, I don’t know, seems like 2 years but probably more, I keep thinking I’ve been doing jiujitsu for 12, but it’s really 18!) and recently developed bicep insertion pain and pain in my right neck (Levator Scapulae) and the PT said more pulling was the fix, rows, pull ups, all the variations, to get things back in balance.  My arms are so internally rotated from swimming that’s what’s causing the bicep pain and contributing to the levator pain.  I know you’ve said that it’s less of a requirement for tactical athletes than pushing, but any suggestions for getting more pulling in?  I’ve been subbing rows for push-ups, mostly in the warm up, (I don’t worry too much about my push ups, since I did a lot from swimming, and I can do a lot now) is that the best way to handle it?  We’re finishing up Law Enforcement Seiko, huh, looking at Rolex now, I guess that’s gonna be a moot point with the pull up variations.  Ha. Okay then.  Hope this finds you well!!

By the way, I want to bring my family out to Wyoming in the next few years and do a dude ranch vacay for a week or so.  I was reading about the 7D ranch, do you have a favorite or a place you’d recommend?


Thanks for the note and kind words.
Flexibility – difficult to find any links between flexility and durability.
Mobility – better mobility can lead to stronger athletes. Think about the front squat …. the legs are always stronger than the core. The core fails first on this lift and most lower body strength exercises. This means the more vertical the back can be in the bottom of the squat, the more load is on the skeleton, and the less is on the midsection musculature. This, athletes with better mobility, who will have a more vertical back in the bottom of the squat, can in theory, lift more weight, and so I can get their legs stronger than athletes with less mobility. You won’t find an Oly weightlifter who doesn’t have a nearly vertical back in the bottom of the squat, or hang squat clean. However, mobility seems to be as much about patterning – and movement in space – as flexibility. I’ve found in my work that hours spent stretching and practicing patterning leads to minimal gains mobility for most athletes. If I were training Oly lifters it would be more important …. but I’m not.
More pulling? Seems to me every freestyle swim stroke is a 1-arm vertical row at least for the first 1/2 of the motion. I think your PT is wrong and you should see another PT.
Dude Ranch? Can’t help much here other than to say you should skip the dude ranch and go on a pack trip in the Bridger Wilderness. Search for outfitters and guides in the Pinedale area. Schedule the trip as late in the summer as possible before school.
– Rob


I purchased the Low Back program and I plan on start it on Monday. I have a couple questions. 1.) I’m terrible at pull ups, what if I can’t do all of them? 2.) When it says ruck, am I running, walking, or combo of both? and 3.) Are the squats weighted or just body weight squats?
I know you’re probably swamped with questions, just wanted to say thank you and I’m looking forward to knocking this out and doing more programs.


1) Do negative pull ups. Set up a box/bench below the pull up bar – jump up until your chin is above the bar, and lower yourself down slowly to full elbow extension on a 5 second count.
2) Rucking in this plan = walking.
3) “Squats” = unloaded.
– Rob


I’m just getting back into the swing of things and doing the on ramp. After on ramp I will have 6 or 7 weeks before robin sage. What plan do you recommend?

Also, after sage, do you recommend I on ramp again?


Pre Sage: Fortitude.
After Sage? Hector.
– Rob


I’m emailing to ask about plan recommendations and customization.

My situation:

*Active duty Army

*I have four months before I report to Airborne Division, and I need to be AASLT School-ready by then

*I can do pretty much any plan I want before then. I’m in grad school right now so my PRT is my own

*I’m also in physical therapy for Achilles tendonitis, left foot – I have some training restrictions, and the plans I saw would violate them

*I need to get a plan/recommendation that will fit within my restrictions and get me ready for AASLT school

*I would also like to improve two things in these four months: my short-to-mid run times (2-8 miles, priority #1) and bodyweight/gymnastic performance (priority #2)

*I have access to a functional fitness gym, including ropes.

*I’m already following the diet y’all recommend

My physical therapy restrictions:

*No rucking until I recover. My PT defines “recovered” as noticing no difference between left and right legs after a run

*No running two days in a row. At least one day off between run days. I can do any other kind of aerobic training on those days

*On run days, I can do sprints/HIIT/endurance – no restrictions on type of running

I hope to hear from you soon – I’m a fan of what y’all do and I’d like to give you some business.


Weeks    Plan
– Rob


Would you recommend executing the FBI SA PFT  program by itself or in conjunction with another plan?


By itself is you’re really interested in maximizing your score.
– Rob


I only made it through the first three weeks of this plan before I was laid out with salmonella (it’s far worse than I could’ve imagined) but I’ve since started from zero and I’m into week 4 today. I’ve dropped 13 pounds and 2:50 off my 1.5 mile run. I’m feeling really good about it.

It’s been going so well, I’ve been thinking I might repeat this plan in an effort to drop even more fat before moving into something more advanced. Do you find that beneficial, or do people tend to plateau if they repeat a plan?

Notably, I see a lot of the other plans include pull-ups, which I’d like to be able to do, but I can’t yet, so I feel those plans would be wasted on me. Also, I generally exercise alone (I’d rather that was different but it’s not), which is to say I can’t plan on having a spotter at the gym. Those factors accounted, I’m very open to recommendations.

Thanks very much for your time. I appreciate any feedback you might be able to provide in the next couple weeks.


Repeat & Plateau? Eventually, but it all begins where you start. You should be fine to repeat.
Spotter/Lift alone? This shouldn’t be much of an issue if you know your way around the weightroom. Two exercises can be troublesome – the bench press and back squat. When I bench alone I don’t put collars on the barbell so I can dump the weight if I can’t lift the bar. This has happened several times.
Back Squats – when I lift alone I’m really cautious for loading. Use common sense and you should be okay.
Pull ups? Do negatives – jump up, let your self down slowly to a 5 second count.
After Fat Loss, I’d recommend Johnny.
– Rob


I intended to start down the Backcountry Hunter Packet path, but I’m already a couple of months behind. In a past life I was an army infantryman, but I got out in 20147 and have let myself get out of shape. My hunt is in late September chasing elk with a muzzleloader.
I need to do the body-weight foundation twice, which puts me a couple of months behind schedule. Does it make sense to just get as far through the program as possible leading up to the hunt, or should I consider an alternative such as the Afghanistan pre-deployment? I’ve made the necessary tweaks to my diet and have lost 15 lbs since late January, but now need to start on the physical portion.


You can make modifications until your 8 weeks out from departing for your hunt, then you have to start and complete the last plan in the packet – the Backcountry Big Game Training Plan, directly before your hunt.
This plan is no joke, and the lead-up plans prepare you for this plan.
– Rob


I’m coming off a knee injury (both knees) and was going to start with the Post Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan.
Do you have a recommendation for incorporating running and weight loss into the routine (gain about 10lbs and lost a lot of cardio-strenght)
FYI I’m a federal LEO


90-95% of weight loss is diet related. Here are our recommendations.
Running: The Post Re-Hab Leg Injury Training Plan does include a 1 mile run, plus step ups on Wednesdays. You could add in another run on Saturday. The plan is strength and proprioception-focused.
– Rob


So I’m looking to improve my overall strength, primarily my core lifts. I get plenty of cardio and running with unit pt, I’ve been consistently in the gym but had no luck improving my strength over the last couple of weeks.


– Rob


I’m a fairly recent college graduate and my goal is to become an FBI agent. My approximate timeline before attending the academy is 2-3 years to obtain my CPA license and get through the application process.
My prior fitness experience has mostly been bodybuilding-style workouts, with a major in hypertrophy and a minor in strength, with little cardio. Given that I have so much time before I would be able to attend the academy, I want to build up a strong base level of fitness so I can ace the PFTs and be as fit as possible going in. I’m looking at the Spirits pack of programs to start with, and I know I would need to do the FBI selection plan right before going in, but I’m wondering what you would recommend in between those plans? Would I repeat the Spirits pack until time to train for the PFT or is there a different program you would recommend?


Yes on starting with the Spirits Plans. You can repeat them, or move to some of our other LE programming – such as the Gun Maker Packet for SWAT/SRT.
– Rob


I ordered your USMC PFT plan and I am very pleased with. One question: would it would be counterproductive if I prepared for both the pullup and pushup element simultaneously? Would I also be able to do some ab circuits and some light weight training at the end of a few of the workouts each week, or would that also potentially be counterproductive to achieving my desired score on the PFT?


You can certainly do both pull and push ups. Do a max rep push up test and follow the same programming as the pull ups.
You can add extra training – as long as you’re making the progressions in the plan. Once you stop making the progressions, pull back on the extra training.
Understand that if you are focused on improving your PFT score, follow the programming as prescribed and don’t add stuff.
– Rob


What is the proper order for conducting the Greek Hero Series?


This order:


I recently completed one of you plans, thanks.  I’m looking at the short duration obstacle course plan and the back county big game plan.  If I do the short course obstacle will I be able to jump into the backcounty plan without starting from the beginning?  The reason being is once I finish the obstacle course plan (for a set event date)  I will not have 8 weeks  to finish the big game plan before I take my hunt trip.


No. You’ll want to start at the beginning of the Backcountry Hunting Plan and proceed as far as you can prior to your hunt. The programming in the plan is progressive – and you need to start at the beginning.
– Rob


I am about to start Big 24 but have a couple questions.
1.) I’m a little confused on how you record the 3RM. As the training is concerned, there’s 8 rounds to work into your 3RM and it says record final load. Does this mean record the last set of 3 after taking 7 other sets build into it or does it mean take the average of 5 working sets after taking 3 sets to warm-up?
2.) Is there a reason why hang squat cleans are programmed in instead of full squat cleans? I go to a gym that has oly lifting platforms and a decent training background with full cleans so normally I do full cleans for working sets in programming.


1. Record the load of the 8th round of 3 Reps.
2. Less technically difficult than full squat cleans.
– Rob


I see for the Greek Hero plans there is a certain order recommended.  Is this the case for the Busy Operator plans as well?

When there are specific focuses or interest areas, is it better to purchase packages or utilize the subscription?


No order for the Busy Operator Plans … you can complete them in any order you chose.
Below is the difference between purchasing options. It’s really up to you.
– Rob

What is the difference between purchasing an individual training plan, packet of plans or an Athlete’s Subscription?

  • Plan – Like purchasing the DVD of the first Star Wars movie. You own it forever, including any updates we make to the plan.
  • Packet – Like purchasing the DVD’s of all the Star Wars movies. You own them forever, including any updates we make to the plans.
  • Athlete’s Subscription – Like subscribing to Netflix. You get access to all 200+ plans in our library, but lose access if you unsubscribe.


Firstly, would like to express my continued appreciation for all you do! I have been using MTI for 18 months now and I have found the overall approach to be by far the best I have used.  Three key factors here – I haven’t injured myself once (I train alone), I have seen great results and have not been bored at all.  Thumbs up!

I am just finishing up the Super Squat Strength plan. While I haven’t been as consistent as I would have liked (have been training 3-4 days a week rather than 5), I have seen good improvements in my numbers.  Holding the bar for those 3 breaths for 20 reps is brutal at those percentages!

I have a couple of questions I hope you can help with. I am a 41 yr old general purpose athlete (not mil or LE etc although have been in military) and want to maintain a high standard of overall fitness. I really enjoy mountain biking and rucking as well as time with the bar. I struggle to keep weight on – especially when doing a lot of work capacity type training.  I enjoy work cap training though but have found, unsurprisingly, that I keep my weight near where I want it to be when I focus on strength training (my diet is pretty good). My goal is to keep an overall focus on strength throughout all of my training but find the right balance and diversity between strength training and work capacity and endurance type training (which I find good for my soul).

I have bought the Country Singers Packet 1 and the Strength Packet and want to maximise my value for money with these plans in line with the above goal. I have a couple of questions after reading your article on MTI’s Eight different Strength Progressions – most of the plans covered are in the Strength packet. The table in the article highlights pros and cons for each approach – some related to plans being easily implemented into a non-strength cycle or Generally only used during a strength focused cycle.  

  1. I recognise that I am not a coach so pardon my ignorance but how long should a strength cycle be? Is there a standard approach or is it dependant on the individual and their goals?
  2. To add a strength emphasis to my overall training (while still providing variety), I am thinking that I could intermix the plans from both the Country Singer Packet 1 and the Strength Packet. To avoid too much focus on one strength training methodology, I have avoided coupling plans which use the same one (TLU and Johnny for example). I have already completed Bodyweight Foundation and Johnny from the Singers packet. My idea would be:
      • Johnny
      • Super Squat
      • Hank
      • Rat 6
      • MTI Relative Strength
      • Willie
      • TLU
      • 357
      • Big 24
      • Waylon
      • Eccentric
      • BW Foundation

Completing these plans in this way would keep me occupied for a while!!!  I’d be grateful for your views.


1. 6-8 weeks is my approach – but other coaches may feel different. Understand that coaches who train power lifters and oly lifters train strength constantly. However, when it comes to fitness programming, “everything works, but nothing works forever,” – eventually the body accommodates to the stimulus and progress stops.
2. I haven’t coached or done something similar, so I’m not sure the effect … but it’s worth a try. Our strength plans do include work capacity efforts, but little to know endurance. So your endurance will suffer (MTB, rucking).
– Rob


I’m 45. I’m a doctor and have no prior military experience.
It looks like I’ll get to work with a range of NATO special forces. While I won’t have to pass any serious type of selection I don’t want to embarass myself too much.
I ruck twice a week, I run once or twice a week, I do kettlebells and sandbags and barbells 3 times a week. But nothing major. I’ve never been much the endurance star so I feel like I should be out on the hills everyday, but in my heart of hearts I know I need to get a lot stronger before I push the endurance side of things.
Where do I start? I’ve been looking at the on ramp plan. Is that a good beginning assess where I stand?
Your help would be much appreciated.


Yes – start with the Military OnRamp Training Plan.
– Rob


I’m not sure you can help, but if anyone can it’s you.
I’m an LT in the Guard and have a number if schools and events on the horizon.
On the civilian side, I’ve signed up for competitions in a couple different sports. Mostly for fun, but I want to make a serious showing.
However, I’m overwhelmed on how to train for them all efficiently and without an unacceptable level of risk of injury.
The schedule is;
Winston P Wilson marksmanship competition – April 6-12 (not much can be done here, but if I get top marks there is a follow on competition early May)
Kayak race – June 1
APFT – June 8/9 (currently at 248, want 300)
Sprint triathlon – June 29 (750m, 12mi , 5k)

German proficiency badge – late Aug/ early Sept
New Army APFT
Military Police SRT school – likely OCT or NOV.
As you can see, I’m a little over committed. Many of these events have overlapping areas to train on, but I don’t feel capable enough to put together a comprehensive plan.
Do you have any thoughts?
Thanks in advance for your guidance.


I’d focus on the APFT and the SRT School.
Use the APFT Training Plan the 6 weeks directly before your test, and the SWAT Selection Training Plan prior to SRT School.
Prior to starting these event-specific plans, and between them, I’d recommend the plans/order in the Gun Maker Packet for full time SWAT/SRT.
– Rob


Arete 4.18.19

Military / National Security / International Relations

Generals can’t fix what ails North Africa, Stars & Stripes
Florida senator calls for military involvement in Venezuela, Stars & Stripes
A former top Navy official took personal trips — including 2 vacations to Hawaii — on the taxpayers’ dime, Task & Purpose
‘We were treated like second-class citizens’: Female Marine reflects on her 20 years in the Corps, Stars & Stripes
The Revolutionary Guards Are Ready to Strike Back, Real Clear Defense
5 Reasons U.S. Pacific Maritime Supremacy Might Be Doomed, Forbes
The Limits of ‘Embracing the Suck’, War Room
Rebuilding America’s Military: The US Marine Corps, Heritage Foundation
Next Marine Commandant Defends MARSOC After Call to Disband It,
Cuban Doctors Abducted in Kenya, and Officials Point to the Shabab, NY Times
France reports major security operation in central Mali, Long War Journal
Steve Bannon Declares War On China, Hoover Institution
China Enlarges Its Circle in Europe, and Tries to Convince Europeans It Comes in Peace, NY Times
New Pentagon policy aims to ensure heroic US service members get the valor awards they deserve, Task & Purpose
USSOCOM Selects Ops-Core FAST SF Helmet for Family of Tactical Headborne Systems, Awards $95 Mil Contract, Soldier Systems
USMC preparing for series of urban combat technology experiments, Jane’s 360
The United States Will Be Shocked by Its Future, Foreign Policy
Hard Truths in Syria: America Can’t Do More With Less, and It Shouldn’t Try, Small Wars Journal


First Responder / Homeland Security

It is safer to be a cop today than 50 years ago, Homeland Security Newswire
Profiles In Courage – Dispatcher Diana Register – The Most Dreaded 911 Calls., LE Today
We Can No Longer Rely On Others To Tell Our Stories., LE Today
British Columbia may expand firefighter occupational disease coverage to wildland firefighters, Wildfire Today
Border Patrol to Carry 5th Generation Glocks, Police Mag
South Carolina DNR Selects FN 15 Patrol Carbine, Tactical Life
The Coast Guard officer who stockpiled arms and compiled a hit list of politicians isn’t facing domestic terrorism charges, Task & Purpose
American Flag Design on California Patrol Vehicles Sparks Backlash, Police Mag



What is Overtourism?, REI Co-op
A Ski Area with No Chairlifts Is the Next Big Thing, Outside
Are Mountain Lion Attacks on the Rise?, Outside
Quiz: Can You Tell Black Bears and Grizzlies Apart?, Backpacker
Grizzly Attack: That Didn’t Take Long…, Eastman’s Hunting
Avalanche Safety Device Attached To Ski Uses Radar To Detect Weak Snow Layers, Unofficial Networks
Marco Pedrini, Cumbre and the first solo ascent of Cerro Torre in 1985, Planet Mountain
Heliskiers Die In Couloir Fall, Unofficial Networks
Skier spots ‘Snow Devil’ in Idaho Springs, Colorado, KLEW
Tension Training Center: The Spartan 24-Hour Gym That’s Churning Out Top Climbers, Climbing Magazine
Want To Climb In Patagonia, But Feel Intimidated?, REI – Co-Op Journal
The Best Hike in Every State, Outside
Trading a Large Salary for Bigger Mountains, Outside


Fitness / Health / Nutrition

The Running Boom Isn’t Going Anywhere, Outside
How to Get a Bigger Boost from Caffeine, Outside
Kind Calls Out Clif Bar and RxBar for High Sugar, Outside
The disturbing links between too much weight and several types of cancer, Washington Post
Is Mushroom Coffee Good for You?, Outside
The 9 Best Fitness Supplements and How to Take Them, Muscle & Fitness
People with a sense of oneness experience greater life satisfaction, Science Daily
Jack Dorsey and the Cult of Bro Science, Outside
Marijuana may improve women’s enjoyment of sex, Reuters
How to Cancel Your Gym Membership: 11 Things to Know About Contracts, Men’s Health
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Employee Wellness Programs Yield Little Benefit, Study Shows, NY Times
The 6 Worst Exercises for Heavy Lifting, Muscle & Fitness
Abnormal Levels of a Protein Linked to C.T.E. Found in N.F.L Players’ Brains, Study Shows, NY Times
The Truth About 6 Common Workout Myths, Muscle & Fitness
Phys Ed: Sitting for More Than 13 Hours a Day May Sabotage the Benefits of Exercise – NY Times Health, Science News
5 Gorp Recipes That Are Unbelievably Good, Outside
Don’t Count on 23andMe to Detect Most Breast Cancer Risks, Study Warns, NY Times



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6 online companies that make custom and made-to-measure men’s clothing for cheaper than you’d expect, Business Insider
Baby T rex goes on sale on eBay, sparking paleontologists’ outcry, The Guardian


6 Significant Ways MTI Programming Differs from Conventional Wisdom

By Rob Shaul, Founder


(1) CW: Multi-Modal Training Cannot be Done Concurrently, Well

      MTI: Yes it can, using Fluid Periodization

Importantly, unlike team sport, or competing individual athletes, many tactical athletes can’t program their training calendar around pre-determined off-season, pre-season and in-season periods. Because of the unpredictable nature of tactical mission-sets, many tactical athletes have to be fit across a wide spectrum of fitness attributes at all times. 

The programming challenge presented by Tactical Athlete programming is how to concurrently train multiple fitness attributes in the same cycle and steadily improve or maintain fitness across all the attributes.

Conventional wisdom in the strength and conditioning world is this cannot be done, well. Conventional strength and conditioning programming sees only the two extremes of programming, “linear” or “random”.

At one end is linear periodization, where we could train just one fitness attribute at a time including detailed progression. For example, typical football-based strength and conditioning starts with a Hypertrophy Cycle, followed by a Strength Cycle, followed by a Power Cycle. During these cycles, the set/rep and loading/volume schemes are manipulated specifically to increase that cycle’s focus. So moderate loading, high volume for Hypertrophy, low volume, high weight for Strength, and lightweight, low volume and high speed for Power. 

Similar approaches are seen in endurance programming – where a “base” cycle of long, slow work is followed by a “build” cycle combining moderate distances and slow paces with short distances and faster paces, which is then followed by a “speed” cycle of short, fast work.

It’s true that linear progression concentration is the best way to improve fitness in that one attribute, but while training was focused on it, the other fitness attributes would decline. So, while the football players are training Strength, they are losing some of the mass they built during the Hypertrophy cycle.

At the other end of this balance is random programming, where all the fitness attributes are trained, but without a systematic approach or any type of progression. Random programming leads to all the fitness attributes being trained, but without any system or progression, gains within each are suspect, and overall improvement in Base Fitness is limited.

This has been one of the key criticisms of CrossFit by academics …. that because of random programming and without attribute focus, CrossFitters never get really good at anything – strength, work capacity or endurance.

MTI developed and practices “Fluid Periodization” – which sits in the middle of these two extremes.  Through MTI’s Fluid Periodization methodology, all the fitness attributes which make up Base Fitness are trained, but the approach is methodological and includes deliberate progressions both within each cycle and overall throughout the macrocycle.

See the diagram below:


Years ago I developed Fluid Periodization to tackle the tactical athletes’ Base Fitness programming challenge and while the details of its application have evolved, the principle is still the same. 

Using Fluid Periodization we are able to concurrently train the multiple tactical athlete Base Fitness training attributes. The detailed application of Fluid Periodization is the subject of a 4-5 hour lecture at our Advanced Programming Course – and too much for an in-depth analysis, here. In general, Fluid Periodization concurrently trains multiple fitness attributes during the same Base fitness cycle, with either a balanced emphasis across all the attributes or a cyclic emphasis on one or two attributes. 

Fluid Periodization has two goals: (1) build and maintain the athletes “base” fitness across multiple fitness attributes, and; (2) lay the fitness foundation for more intense event or sport-specific training which builds upon this “base”.


(2) CW: Movement and Mobility Comes First

       MTI: Fitness Comes First

Conventional Strength and Conditioning Wisdom, practiced daily in the sports performance world, and more and more in the tactical fitness world, is that proper movement and unrestricted mobility must be achieved before intense strength or any other fitness training because of risk to the athlete.

So … no back squats if your squat form isn’t perfect; no push presses if your overhead shoulder mobility isn’t perfect, etc., no heavy rucking unless you have perfect mobility, etc. …

I’ve described this approach before as The Tyranny of the FMS, and how especially in the military strength and conditioning arena, the emphasis on movement and mobility not only has had limited to no affect durability but because it comes at the cost of fitness training, can actually be dangerous.

There’s a disconnect amongst the Conventional Wisdom practitioners who seem to confuse the realities of tactical occupations with middle school football and volleyball players. Coaches and PTs can hold back kids from the field of play if their movement isn’t perfect. But tactical athletes are thrown into the fray mobility or not.

I can’t tell you how many times a tactical strength coach and/or a military physical therapist has criticized MTI programming, or asked for programming advice by wondering how we could have athlete’s out rucking if they had trouble completing a simple bodyweight squat with proper form.

My answer is that I’ve yet to find a single, repeated study which showed a definitive link between proper movement/mobility and durability, but I’ve seen several, and anecdotally have seen in my own work, that mission-direct fitness leads to mission-direct durability.

So … for that young military athlete who can’t do a proper bodyweight squat – the best thing we can do to prepare him for heavy rucking in training or deployment is to get him rucking heavy. We can do this smart – keep the distance the same and progress the load, or keep the load the same and progress the distance – but the best way to prepare him for the fitness demands of rucking is to have him ruck. Simple as that.

Would it be best to have both perfect movement/mobility and great mission-direct fitness? Absolutely. The problem is, developing perfect movement/mobility is very individualized, and MTI’s experience with the current methodologies has been disappointing. We’ve conducted multiple mini-studies on patterning, stretching, combining the two, and results have been spotty at best.

The bigger idea here is a strength and conditioning coach can spend a lot of time on movement/mobility, for little actual improvement. And, in the big picture,  that time would have been better spent from a mission-direct performance and durability standpoint, training mission-direct fitness.

We still deploy mobility/flexibility drills and exercises, and foam roll in MTI training sessions. We see some utility in them, especially when deployed as “working rest” for athletes between rounds of a strength circuit, or as a simple “cool down” at the end of the session.

But we believe strongly that the best way to make an athlete durable for his mission is to build his mission-direct fitness. Further, strength coaches and tactical leaders who don’t do this are sending their athletes or subordinates into harm’s way, recklessly unprepared.


(3) CW: Diet is Most Important.  Supplements can Help.

      MTI: Diet is important but not nearly as much as Fitness. Supplements are largely a waste of money.

I developed MTI’s Nutritional Guidelines over a decade ago, and nothing I’ve seen or read on nutrition or supplements since has caused me to change them.

I’ve also seen fit athletes with shitty diets crush unfit athletes with squeaky clean diets.

I’ve come to believe the focus on diet and supplements is largely driven by the human tendency to look for shortcuts. It’s much easier to spend for organic food, cut out ice cream, drink protein shakes and take BCAAs than it is to suck it up and train hard in the gym or in the field once a day.

This is the reason the nutrition and supplement industries are so huge, and fad-driven. When the organic food item of the month – beets, for example, doesn’t result in magically improved fitness, it’s quickly onto the next nutrition/food fad.

Will a clean diet help fitness performance and gains? Absolutely! But it doesn’t replace the work.

Often new athletes will ask me for a training program recommendation, and then after I send it, ask further for a personalized nutrition plan. When I refer them to our Nutritional Guidelines, they seem disappointed. I can understand why – it’s in the interest of the nutrition industry marketers to make this stuff as complicated as possible, as a way of making their knowledge or products seem more valuable or needed.

But the fact is eating clean isn’t complicated, it’s just hard. I know … I love sweet grains … toast & jelly, chocolate croissants, granola … I could eat this stuff every meal, every day, and have demonstrated discipline not to.

But, eating clean, and taking every fad supplement available isn’t as hard as dedicating yourself to a programmed and periodized, long-term fitness training regimen.


(4) CW: Gentle “Prehab” Warm Ups are essential to prepare the Athlete for Training and Avoid Training Injury.

      MTI: Gentle “Prehab” Warm Ups, in fact, don’t do a good job at preparing athletes for training, and can create a “training scar” which can lead to injury during the real thing.

Years ago I visited Fort Bragg and met with a Green Beret stationed there. He shared his THOR training plan with me and took me over to visit the THOR3 facility and visit with the coaches. His warm up for every session came right out of the “prehab” theories popular with the sports performance world – including time on the bike gently spinning, lots of mobility and stretching work, etc. Looking at the warm up, it alone would take 30 minutes to complete.

MTI warm ups are more intense and direct. Often, before a strength session, we’ll program the session’s exercises in the warm up … so if the athletes is doing back squats, power cleans and a bench press in the training session, the warm up will have him doing light back squats, push ups, and box jumps to prepare.

I’m not a very smart strength coach, but it seems to me the best way to prepare an athlete for intense training exercises in a training session is to have him complete the same or similar exercises at a lighter intensity in the warm up. It’s not rocket science.

As well, sometimes on both our Mountain and Tactical sides, I’ll have athletes go right into the session, without a warm up. Why? Because that’s the way it works in the real thing. The pro freeskiers we work with don’t get 15 minutes to warm their legs up after the helicopter drops them on the top of the knife’s edge to ski down for a ski film. They have to step in and perform.

Likewise, SWAT/SRT team members can spend hours sitting in an SUV or armored vehicle then be called to action at moment’s notice. No time for a gentle warm up. It’s go time.


(5) CW: Program for the Athlete

     MTI: Program for the Event

Several times a week I’ll receive an email from an athlete wanting an individualized program to prepare for a regular PFT, mountain sport season, or common military selection or course.

Less often, but also common, I’ll receive a question from an older athlete asking how to modify one of our training plans for age.

I disappoint these athletes when I reply that MTI doesn’t do any individualized programming. But rather, our fitness programming is designed around the fitness demands of the specific event, not the incoming fitness or other issues with the individual athlete preparing for the event.

Conventional Wisdom in the fitness industry is to start with the individual athlete, often with some gentle initial testing, then program based on the results.

At MTI, we generally don’t care much about the individual athlete – not because we’re cold-hearted strength coaches, but rather because the event or mission doesn’t care. There is no “special” summit of the Grand Teton for 65-year-old climbers. It’s 8,000 feet and about 5 miles from the parking lot to the summit regardless of the athlete. The mountain doesn’t care, and our Peak Bagger Training Plan prepares athletes specifically for this type of event.

When asked how to modify our Peak Bagger Training Plan for elderly athletes, my answer is simple – spread it out and take more time completing the sessions – as you’ll recover much slower …. but still do the prescribed work. The work in the plan was determined by the climb, and as the mountain, is uncompromising.

Likewise, there’s no special Ranger School for 120-pound female candidates. The Fitness Demands of Ranger School and other military/LE selections and courses are the same for everyone. And there are no “slow fires” or “slow bullets” for “legacy” first responders well into their 50s or 60s. The dangerous fitness demands of LE and fire/rescue work are unrelenting. Same demands for everyone.

Personal trainers, especially, are in the game of designing individualized training plans and are perhaps responsible for developing the sense amongst individuals that they are indeed special, and therefore need a special plan.

Not true.


(6) CW: Mass Effort Strength is Most Important

      MTI: Relative Strength is Most Important

Mass Effort Strength = The most an athlete can lift for a particular exercise or exercises.

Relative Strength = Strength per Bodyweight.

Conventional Strength and Conditioning prioritizes mass effort strength, and it’s strength progressions, linear periodization, and overall time given over to strength training reflects this.

MTI’s strength programming is focused on relative strength. Simply put, a tactical and/or mountain athlete can be too strong – to the detriment of other fitness attributes.

One way this can happen is excess muscle mass. While not always true, for many athletes, increasing strength levels comes with some level of increasing muscle mass, which for most tactical and mountain athletes, simply means they have more unnecessary weight to move around. Our goal is to get athletes strong but without significant weight gain.

This isn’t true for all the athletes we work with. Our base fitness programming for LE Patrol/Detectives and Correctional Officers actually includes upper body hypertrophy training. Big biceps and chest can act as a deterrent for these athletes. As well, in the past, we’ve deployed upper body hypertrophy work for our pro freeskiers to help make more durable for hard crashes on steep slopes. Many pro freeskiers, especially women, suffer shoulder injuries from crashing.

Second, the time it takes to get an athlete super strong takes away from time which needs to be spent training other fitness attributes, which means those attributes are undertrained. I see this often with tactical athletes returning from deployment where all there was to do was lift weights and play violent video games. They’ll write, “I weigh 180 pounds, and can deadlift 600#, bench press 400#, and Snatch 225# but my cardio sucks. I need a plan which will maintain or increase my strength, and get me down to a 30-minute 5-mile run time. What do you have for me?”

My answer … unless you are a genetic freak, “nothing.” First, to train work capacity and endurance, the athlete will have to cut back greatly on strength training simply due to time available. And, even if he did have time to train all day, work capacity and endurance training negatively impact strength gains.

More importantly, tactical and mountain athletes simply don’t need to be super strong, but they do need work capacity and mode-specific endurance. These other fitness attributes can be as important as strength for mission performance and survivability.

It took me a while to realize this. When I first started programming, conventional wisdom influenced me more than it does now, and too much of the focus was on strength programming – to the detriment of these other attributes. I realized my mistake and the programming evolved and along the way the MTI strength standards for tactical and mountain athletes have decreased.  Today, it’s fair to say that in the pure strength world, our strength standards are not impressive ….



LIFT                                 MEN              WOMEN
Front Squat                 1.25x BW           1.0x BW
Hinge Lift                     1.75x BW          1.25xBW
Bench Press                1.25xBW             .8xBW
Push Press                  1.0x BW              .6xBW
Hang Squat Clean      1.1x BW               .9xBW
Pull Ups                            15                          5



LIFT                                                 MEN               WOMEN
Front Squat                                   1.5x BW            1.0x BW
Dead Lift                                        2.0x BW            1.5x BW
Bench Press                                  1.5x BW            1.0x BW
Push Press                                    1.1x BW              .7x BW
Hang Squat Clean                        1.25x BW         1.0x BW
Squat Clean+ Push Press            1.1x BW             .7xBW
Pull Ups                                             16                      8


…. But professional tactical athletes and mountain professionals are not strength athletes. The fitness demands of their occupations and mission sets are multi-modal and over the years I’ve found these strength standards high enough for mission-specific performance and durability, but still manageable for most athletes who must concurrently train a wide array of other fitness demands.


Questions, Comments, Feedback: Email



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Q&A 4.11.19


Can you tell me what the difference is between the sfas program and the cag program? I’m either going to sfas this summer/fall or the long walk next year so I may just hedge it by doing the cag program if it’s not vastly different.


The programming difference reflects the primary fitness demands of the events. As I understand it, there are few, if any, team events at CAG. The focus is on rucking. SFAS has plenty of team events, work capacity smokers, etc.
– Rob


I just bought the Bodyweight Foundation workout and was hoping to integrate a solid diet with it.
Do you have an example of what a typical day should look like as far as breakfast/lunch/dinner? Always struggle with good breakfast ideas.
I am former military and an active LEO and my days are anything but normal so was looking to see if you had any good ideas.
Also, what are your thoughts on taking a whole food multi and fish oil. (I just hit 40 and heard they could have some benefits). Could they? If so, any recommendations of which brand?
Really appreciate the help and look forward to getting started with this workout.


Our nutritional guidelines are simple, and direct.
We don’t offer individualized nutritional plans, and don’t endorse any supplements. In general, I feel supplements are waste of money and good nutrition simply isn’t that complicated. The hard part is sticking to eating clean.
– Rob


I have a question about choosing a program. My fitness is already high and I am not injured.
I am going to be deploying and then immediately going to Ranger School when I return. I am wondering if you have a recommendation for which programs I should run leading up to deployment and then on deployment to be ready for Ranger once I am home.


– Rob


I am looking for the next training phase for me. I came back last week from a week of ski touring in the Selkirks and took a week to offload. I had done the Backcountry prep and then Artemis.
Spring is coming soon here in the Northwest, so that means I need to prep for mountain biking and surf ski paddling.
I am open to suggestions for the next program.


I don’t have a plan which trains for both surf paddling and mountain biking.
Or… you could do one of our training plans designed for tactical athletes with water-based mission sets (SEALs, Dive Teams, etc.) and complete Captain Morgan. If so – one change would be to change the 6-mile run assessment to a 12-mile bike assessment and do 4-mile threshold intervals.
– Rob


I am starting week 5 of your off season strength for endurance athletes plan.  I am feeling stronger each week, thanks for the program.  Over the past two weeks my joints have been popping and at week 2 strained my abductor muscles in my right groin area.  This has hindered lifting heavy weights especially squats.  I am now having less severe pain but with similar motion in my left abductor muscle group in left groin as well.  I understand that you are not a medical professional, but wondered if you had any insight on how to adjust the programming.  It’s been a few years since I have been very active and several years since I spent much time in a gym consistently.  I think it is just my joints, tendons and ligaments adjusting to the increased workload.

I thought about doing the remainder of the 10 workouts (weeks 5 and 6) over 3 weeks and adding in a resting with some low intensity aerobic work and stretching 2-3 times a week.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as I’m sure I’m not the only guy going through this and writing you about it!


Options are (1) skip all squatting, (2) decreasing the loading significantly to avoid pain, (3) Both decreasing loading and decreasing the squat depth to avoid pain.
– Rob


I just completed my first Monday morning workout with the DEA PTT program. My initial score was a -4. I expect to take the physical test assessment at the MAC on April 7th, 2019. Do you feel by following this program religiously I will be able to improve my score enough to pass? Or is there something more I could be doing? Thank you for your time.


1) No idea. In general, we’ll see a 10-25% overall score improvement with our PFT programming. As well, the worst shape athletes are in at the beginning of the cycle, the more they improve.
2) Cut weight. Losing weight will increase everything.
– Rob


I’m trying to find a workout plan that will help me build strength but also build stamina and endurance.  Any plans you recommend?


– Rob


First some back ground on me and my fitness goals. My age is 51, height 5’-11”, weight 175 pounds. I currently train 6 days per week at my home gym. My goals are to maintain my current weight and increase my mobility and core strength. No major injuries to speak of except the occasional low back pain when my back squat form is bad. I am committed to a healthy lifestyle of outdoor activities and flexible dieting and have been the past 3 years.  So knowing this, what program of yours would you recommend? My thoughts were the ones for the “older crowd”.


Look at the plans/progression in our SF45 Packet I. These plans are designed for tactical athletes ages 45-55 – and have modifications accordingly. However, they are still intense.
Start with SF45 Alpha.
I’m 50 and this is the programming I generally do.
– Rob


I am still highly interested in the Spirit Series for LE.
I started with the first week of Whiskey. After the first training days I ask myself if there is enough volume for strength-gains and upper body hypertrophy. Coming from ‚Tactical Barbell‘ I used to squat and bench several times per week and had a pretty high volume and high frequency in those big compound exercises. This week, there are only one time heavy squats and once bench. Is there a reason for this low volume and low frequency approach? I am a little bit afraid to lose some muscle mass and some max strength, following this template.
By the way: I love those TAC SEPA sprint protocols. I had so much fun in training yesterday (until burpees were thrown in!!).


You’re one week in. Complete the plan then judge. I just updated Whiskey.

– Rob


Your passion for theory and approach for fitness has been something I’ve identified with since I’ve found you guys. You’ve never let me down and I’ve always known which direction to go under your guidance. So props.

My question is this. I’m a light infantryman in the Colorado National Guard. We are just about 7 weeks our from a JRTC rotation lasting about a month. My squad, weapons squad more specifically are some pretty fit dudes all having a solid base built up. That being said, even though JRTC is flat, we still decided to start the Afghanistan pre deployment plan to over prepare for our rotation.

My dilemma stems from the fact that immediately returning from the 4 weeks at JRTC, myself and one other soldier will be starting our summer positions as wildland firefighters. Both of us as members on busy hand crews as well.  Obviously we have sport specific demands we need to account for there in order to perform such work all summer and into the fall fighting fires out west.

Do We need to drop/sub anything from the plan? Does the Afghanistan pre deployment plan have the carryover necessary that we’ll work ourselves into specific condition during fire season?
Or do we forgo that Afghanistan plan, and complete the wild land pre season plan and hope for enough carryover to perform our light infantry duties during a long month simulated combat at JRTC.

Being that the jobs are similar, I trust your ability to take what I perceive as a complex dilemma and help me work backwards to find a simple solution.

Thanks and keep up the solid work!


The Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Plan is likely the best, limited equipment training plan I’ve got to train for both of your mission sets. I would recommend you and the other soldier heading into the wildfire season add in a long trail (preferred) or road run on Saturdays Start at 7 miles and work up to 12.
– Rob


I’m working through Virtual Packet toward my goal of a Run N Gun event in Sept. I’m ½ way through Humility and am loving the improvements that I’m seeing in my endurance and work capacity.

I have a new goal in June where I’ll be climbing obstacles, running with a rucksack, and carrying heavy things. I worried that my strength is not be where it can be since I haven’t hit the barbell in a while.

Can you recommend a plan that continues the endurance program of Humility and focuses on rapid strength improvement?


– Rob


I’m interested in your hypertrophy routine but I’m not a skinny guy. I’m actually a little bulky. Will this routine work well for me as well as a skinny person or should intry something else?


The plan is designed to add muscle mass, no matter the athlete. So, Yes.
– Rob


I’ve been reading about hybrid training between hypertrophy, strength, and endurance.
If you had to narrow down your programming to one program that will benefit Hypertrophy, Strength and endurance…what would It be?
I know a book could be written on each one a mile long, but if you wanted growth, strength, and endurance/agility without sacrificing “too much” of one individually.
Which program would you recommend?


None of the athletes we work with have both a fitness demand for both hypertrophy and endurance.
We program upper body hypertrophy for both Law Enforcement Patrol/Detective and Correctional Officers, but neither athlete population has a mission-direct fitness demand for endurance.
And the athlete populations we work with which do need endurance, (mountain, military, etc.) don’t have a need for hypertrophy.
So – I don’t have a plan for you. What you could do is Rikers, from our packet of plans for correctional officers, and add in some endurance – I’d recommend moderate distance runs (4-6 miles) as a PM session on Monday and Wednesday, and a long run (7-12 miles) on Saturday. Rikers already trains strength and upper body hypertrophy.
Understand, however, that endurance works against strength and hypertrophy gains.
– Rob


What’s the difference between the Officer Sessions and the other plans in the LE category like the spirits packet?
Also I noticed you retooled Whiskey, will you be retooling the others in the spirits packet?


When we began programming for LE athletes, we began with the daily officer sessions. Then we had officers who wanted to do the programming, but didn’t want to subscribe – so we built the Spirits Packet of plans – so now we have both.
From a programming perspective, there is no overall difference, but in general, the daily officer sessions are our most up to day LE patrol/detective programming.
Yes, we will be updating the rest of the Spirits plans in the coming weeks/months. I’m actually at work updating the military Greek Hero series, mountain Greek Heroine series and LE Spirits series concurrently.
– Rob


I traditionally have done triathlon exercises (swim, bike, run) in preparation for Ironman races…I’m not planning on racing an Ironman this year and would like to work on building some muscle, but also want to still be able to swim, bike, and run to maintain a base level of fitness in those disciplines.  Would the Hypertrophy Program for Skinny Guys still allow for some of that (basically doing a morning strength session and then swim, bike, or run after work) or will it completely wipe me out?


It will wipe you out. Look at the Pirate Series Plans – these are designed for tactical athletes with water-based mission sets – and include swimming, running and rucking. You could sub biking in for the rucking.
– Rob


Do you think it would be detrimental at all to repeat the APFT 6-week program back to back? Just finishing week 3 and my results are killer so far but I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to take my APFT in 2 weeks. Just want to make sure I won’t be overdoing it or risking injury by repeating the program.


Eventually, you’ll plateau and burn out – so I don’t recommend it.
– Rob


I am doing the Navy PST plan but would like to add to it. Could I add one day of a LSD run and/or ruck march on the weekends? How about If i added some dips, shoulder exercises and the 10 minute sand bag get ups to a few of the days throughout the week? Im also thinking of adding the air dyne. What is the best way to add some assistance exercises or corrective exercises without sacrificing the plan?


It’s okay to add extra stuff, but know that it may decrease your gains from the PST plan. As well, if you’re not making your progressions/intervals in the PST plan, cut back on the extra work.
– Rob


I am a combat engineer in the USMC and recently was selected at Assessment and Selection for MARSOC. I will be going to ITC in January of 2020.
Unfortunately I tore my pectoralis major in November of 2018, got surgery to fix it in February and just got my sling off a week ago. I am still going through ROM drills to loosen and assist with the recovery process.

I am hoping to get a personal workout plan from y’all to start in early May that would start me near the end of my rehab process and take me into the beginning of my ITC intensive training. Roughly a 2-4 month training regime would be preferred.

Until then I’m getting back in shape with running and some moderate workouts, staying away from chest strengthening exercises until I am allowed to start by my physical therapist.

Is this something that y’all can/would do? If not, due to medical reasons I understand, if so, what would the cost be? And specifically, how personal could a workout be if you’ve never seen me or know my caps/lims?


We don’t do individualized training, and you don’t need it.
Our Training Plan for Athletes Suffering Arm Injury has been used by dozens of athletes in your situation. This isn’t a rehab plan for your injured side, but rather trains the rest of your body around your injury.
– Rob


I just purchased your apft training plan to try to score a 300 on my next apft. I was wondering if I can run any other programs in conjunction with this one. I was thinking about also doing humility but wasn’t sure if it would take away from the goal and results of the apft program. Thank you.


If you’re focused on the APFT, don’t add extra training. Regardless, Humility is far too intense to double up with any plan.
– Rob


Could you direct me to the most basic plan that you have?


Not sure your incoming fitness level, but we don’t have programming for seriously deconditioned athletes. What I’d recommend is you try the first week of this plan (click the “Sample Training” tab at the link above) – and see how it goes before purchase.
– Rob


Arete 4.11.19

Military / National Security

Trump labels Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terror group, The Hill
AFRICOM evacuates US forces from Libya as fighting intensifies, War is Boring
Marines’ Next Commandant: ‘Unflappable’ Warrior-Scholar, Military Times
NATO’s Stoltenberg Paradox, The Strategist
Idaho residents file suit to stop Mountain Home from using their cities for close-air support training, Air Force Times
Commander out at California Air National Guard after boot urination scandal, Air Force Times
Navy’s former top enlisted leader bawled out staff, made sailors fetch coffee, investigation finds, Task & Purpose
Army New Pocket-sized Drones Can Fly for 90 Minutes, Roto Wing International
The Case for NATO, Modern War Institute
Colorado emerged as frontrunner for US Space Command headquarters. Do other states still have a chance?, Air Force Times
Contractor reported killed in Afghan blast found alive, The Hill
Is military aviation getting any safer? New mishap data shows mixed results., Military Times
After 18 years of conflict, Congress needs to rein in the forever wars, Task & Purpose
The Syrian Civil War Is Coming to an End, Rand Corp


Homeland Security / First Responder

Russian Group Offered Paramilitary Training to U.S. Neo-Nazis, Washington Free Beacon
Driver Who Killed Off-Duty Cop Had 70 Tickets, No License, LE Today
How Border Patrol Pursuits Have Spun Out of Control, Officer
Training for firefighter mental resilience, Firerescue1
Reporter Attacked For Wearing Bulletproof Vest At Border In Protection Against Cartel Violence, LE Today
68 Houston fire cadets issued layoff notices, Firerescue 1
Part of Lame Deer, Montana evacuated as wildfire burns into the town, Wildfire Today
Firefighting aircraft ‘increasingly ineffective’ amid worsening wildfires, Firerescue 1
Texas Border Politicians, Lawyer and Judge All Busted In Fraud Scheme, LE Today
Motel 6 agrees to pay $12 million for giving guest info to ICE, Stars & Stripes
Colorado Undersheriff Shot While Trying to Prevent a Woman’s Suicide, Police Mag
Police foil possible terror truck attack outside Washington, D.C., Homeland Security Newswire
The Brief, Controversial Tenure of Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security Department
(Grey’s) Anatomy of an Opioid Crisis, Rand Corp
Politician who hates police wants the Army to replace them in his city., LE Today
Soldier killed in Afghanistan was decorated NYC firefighter, Firerescue 1
Forest Service Battalion Chief resigns in open letter to the Secretary of Agriculture, Wildfire Today
International Firefighting Exercise Taking Place on Cres island, Total Croatia News



River Velocity Explained: How Fast Do Rivers Flow?, Globo Surf
10 Best Board Shorts In 2019, Globo Surf
NPR Dives Into The Ikon Pass Holders vs. Locals Conflict, Unofficial Networks
What’s Being Done to Save Wild Spaces from Instagram, Outside
The Sound Of Silence, M8, WI5, The Bird Blog
Why You Should Book Your Next Trip with Costco Travel, Outside
A Sustainable Cabin You Can Build Yourself for $20,000, Outside
Sheldon Kerr’s Constant Learning, Backcountry Magazine
Climbing in the 2020 Olympics, Explained, Outside
What is the Circular Economy?, REI Co-Op Journal


Fitness / Nutrition / Health

Air Force Explores New Gender Neutral Fitness Assessment, Air Force Times
Samsung Galaxy Active GPS Watch Sport & Fitness In-Depth Review, DC Rainmaker
Industrial cannabis is booming in China, Bloomberg
VIDEO: Why Skiing Is A Ridiculously Good Workout (Roughly Equates To Cycling or Rowing), Unofficial Network
The 5 Best Joint-Friendly Power Moves, Muscle & Fitness
High-Temperature Cooking & The World’s Healthiest Foods, The World’s Healthiest Foods
How to Lose Belly Fat Faster, Shape
Ankle Mobility Drills, Squat Technique, and Nutrition Myths, Mike Reinhold
Deadly germs, Lost cures: A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy, NY Times
Can These Trendy Temperature Therapies Actually Help You Recover Faster?, Dance Magazine
The 5 Best Nighttime Supplements, Muscle & Fitness
The 8 Greatest Strongman Exercises, Muscle & Fitness
Do Ice Baths Work?, Science Friday
You can’t blame the military for your fat ass, according to a new VA ruling, Task & Purpose
Exercise during pregnancy protects offspring from obesity: Mouse study suggests exercise by normal-weight pregnant mothers boosts brown fat, metabolic health of children, Exercise Daily
High-intensity interval training increases injuries, Rutgers study finds, EurekaAlert
NYC mayor orders mandatory measles vaccinations after Brooklyn outbreak, Reuters
Why sleeping in on the weekend won’t work, Science Daily
How to find your max heart rate for exercise, CNN
6 Worst Things You Can Do to Get Stronger, Muscle & Fitness
Exercise makes you happier than money, Yale and Oxford study finds, BigThink



Delta tops long-running study that ranks US airlines, Stars & Stripes
How Americans see automation and the workplace in 7 charts, Pew Research
5 facts about Buddhists around the world, Pew Research
Why Doesn’t Toyota, Which Spurred the Electrification Craze, Have any Pure EVs in the Works?, Gear Patrol
Air temperatures in the Arctic are driving system change, Science Daily
Check Out The ‘Consent Condom’ That Takes Four Hands To Open, Mashable India
Poverty leaves a mark on our genes, Science Daily
Race in America 2019, Pew Research
Google and the ethics of business in China, Business Insider
Some Boys Are Having Sex Before 13, WebMD



Rob’s Vacation Training Kit

Travel Training Kit: Rogue Sandbag, Brute Force sand kettlebell, gymnastic straps, and scale.

By Rob Shaul, Founder

I just returned from Spring Break down near Sarasota, Florida. Over the years I’ve developed a simple vacation training “kit” beyond a jump rope and bodyweight exercises.

The “kit” is built around a sandbag and a “sand” kettlebell. Other items include a handheld luggage scale and a pair of gymnastics hand grips.

The sandbag I use isn’t one of those we sell – they are too big to fill with just sand. Instead, I purchased one of the long/narrow sandbags made by Rogue Fitness (several other companies make similar). I bought Rogue’s  “medium” sized bag – up to 80 pounds filled with sand. Mine is several years old – without any liner.

The kettlebell I bought can hold up 45 pounds and is made by Brute Force.

When I get to the vacation spot, I find a beach and fill each with sand. This is where the scale comes in – I fill the sandbag to 60 pounds, and the kettlebell to 35-45 pounds.

No sand? I’ve used gravel, dirt, landscaping rocks – anything handy for load/filler.

Surprisingly, on vacation – I’m generally excited to train. Not out of guilt, but rather, just to get outside! Spring Break especially, it’s so nice to be able to train outside, in shorts and a t-shirt after escaping the long, dark, cold, Wyoming winter.

I’m generally up long before my family, and after catching up on emails and swallowing down a couple cups of joe, I’ll train – usually just before dawn.

I don’t do a lot of programming, but in general look for 30-60 minute sessions. I like to keep it simple, and after a simple warm up generally, do the same circuit for 30-50 minutes. Below are the 4 sessions I rotated through this Spring Break. Note that I’m still on the mend from foot surgery in December, – so couldn’t run or do sandbag getups. This year I just trained in the back yard of our rental place.

Every Day Warm Up … 3 Rounds: 20x Squats, 20x Swings, 20x Push Ups, Instep Stretch, Lat + Pec Stretch

  1. 10 Rounds: 50x Kettlebell Snatch (25x each arm) @ 36#, 10x Back Squats @ 60# sandbag.
  2. 50 Minute Grind …. Sandbag Toss & Chase @ 60#
  3. 5 Rounds: 100x Kettlebell Snatch (50x each arm) @ 36#, 20x Back Squats @ 60# sandbag.
  4. 30-40 Minute Grind …. 5x Sandbag Burpee @ 60#, 30x Step Ups @ 16″

Last year’s spring break was near a beach – and every morning I’d walk the sandbag or kettlebell to the beach to train. I could run last year. Here are the 4 sessions I rotated through:

  1. 60 Minute Grind … 10x Sandbag Getup @ 60#, 4x Prone to Sprint (25m)
  2. 10 Rounds: 50x Kettlebell Snatch @ 45#, 2x Prone to Sprint (25m)
  3. 40 Minute Grind …. 5x Sandbag Clean + Press @ 60#, 75m Shuttle, walk back to start
  4. 60 Minute Grind …. 10x Sandbag Get Up, 5x Sandbag Burpee, 5 minute swim down the beach, Run back to start

I don’t train every morning on vacation. I’m certainly not manic about it. Somedays family plans will interfere, and others, I’ll just wake up sunburned and beat up, and simply won’t feel like it.

Sometimes in the middle of a cycle at home in Wyoming, I’ll have to gut through a session. I don’t do this on vacation. If I’m not enjoying training that day, I dial it back. In general, I find I train 3-4 days in a row, then skip a day.

One word on the sand kettlebell … for snatches it’s awesome. It’s soft, so doesn’t bank your forearm if your technique isn’t perfect. It’s also good for swings. But … at the least the one I bought – it will tear up your hands. I didn’t bring my gymnastics grips last year and my hands paid with several rips. The kettlebell nazis will criticize me for wearing hand protection – but I’m just a gym rat and don’t aspire to be a kettlebell nerd. Wear hand protection – leather gloves will work too. Other companies make these – and it’s possible theirs are easier on the hands.

At the end of the vacation, I dump the sand/gravel/dirt out of my sandbag and kettlebell, shake them out, and stuff them in my luggage. Simple!

Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email



You Might Also Like Rob’s Overnight Hunting Kit

Arete 4.4.19

Military / National Defense / International Relations

Overnight Defense: NATO chief urges US to support alliance on its 70th anniversary | Turkey rebuffs Pentagon pressure over Russia deal | Rand Paul, liberals team up to push Trump on Syria withdrawal, The Hill
The Pentagon says Iran killed 603 US troops during the Iraq War, Task & Purpose
First images of Saudi nuclear reactor show plant nearing finish, Stars & Stripes
Watch a Navy SEAL vet train Keanu Reeves to clear a room for ‘John Wick 3’, Task & Purpose
The patriarchy loses again: female sailors are finally allowed to wear flats, Task & Purpose
In Somalia, US Air Strikes Rise and Transparency Declines, Defense One
Officials: Sailor killed himself the day before his child porn trial kicked off, Navy Times
American woman kidnapped in Uganda; $500,000 ransom demanded, Stars & Stripes
NATO chief faces alliance’s fractures and foes in address to Congress, Military Times
A-10 Warthog squadron receives rare heroism award for bringing the pain to ISIS in Syria, Task & Purpose
Ammo for Corps’ .50 Caliber Getting a Whole Lot Lighter, Marine Times
Sen. Richard Shelby says Trump opposes early release of John Walker Lindh, Stars & Stripes
How the Army will sustain its tactical network of the future, Defense News
Soldier dies from gunshot during live-fire training in Alaska, Stars & Stripes
Two Air Force commanders fired after investigation finds they tolerated hazing in their squadrons, Task & Purpose
U.S.-Turkey Showdown Escalates as Pence Warns on Missiles, Bloomberg


Homeland Security / First Responder

Germany to strip citizenship from dual nationals joining terrorist groups, Homeland Security Newswire
Trump Considering Naming An ‘Immigration Czar’, In Homeland Security
Don’t Like Cops Calling Out Politicians and Celebrities? Buckle Up. We’re DONE Being Quiet., LE Today
Calif. battle over use of force legislation rages on, Police One
Governor signs PTSD measure for firefighters into law, Fire Rescue 1
Ballistic Vest Saves Life of Georgia Police Officer Shot Multiple Times, Officer
Why people love firefighters, Wildfire Today
CIA Agent: Border Patrol About To Be Overrun – “The System Is On Fire”, LE Today
Utah passes bill banning independent civilian police review boards, Police One
Conn. officer agrees to cover face tattoos to avoid termination, Police One
27 firefighters and 3 others confirmed killed in wildfire in China, Wildfire Today
Ga. police use confiscated funds to buy Tesla for $45K, Police One



Start Your Day With The World Speed Skiing Record | 158.4 MPH, Unofficial networks
Ski Boot Insert Stiffens Almost Any Two-Piece Boot By 15-30%, Unofficial Networks
The Incredible Success Story of Black Crows Skis, REI Co-op
Once Again No Finishers at the Barkley, the USA’s Oddest Trail “Race”, Adventure Journal
American Climber Free Solos Fitz Roy in Patagonia, Adventure Journal
Ice Climbing Proves It’s Worthy of the Olympics, Outside
Heather Hansman’s Solo Paddle Down the Green River, Outside
Snowboarders Who Triggered Telluride Avalanche That Killed Skier Were Riding Permanently Closed Terrain, Unofficial Networks
First Female Nepali Mountain Guide Joins North Face Team, Adventure Journal


Fitness / Nutrition / Wellness

The History of Army Physical Fitness, NY Times
How to Defend Your Body Against Injury,Outside
Why Even a Little Nature Is Good for Your Brain, Outside
Climbing Nutrition: The Benefits of Different Caffeine Sources, Climbing Mag
Get the Most Out of Your Foam Roller, Outside
Balancing Adventure, Strength, and Femininity, Adventure Journal
How Treadmill Running Differs from Running Outside, Outside
Drugmakers pay $123 million to resolve U.S. charity kickback probe, Reuters
5 Pro Tips for Better Protein Shakes, Muscle & Fitness
Are eggs bad for your health again?, The Australian
Can Reduce Groin Injuries by Half, if the Players are Willing, Science Nordic
The 10 Best Sources of Carbohydrates, Muscle & Fitness
People with obesity often ‘dehumanized,’ study finds, Science Daily
How Cannabis is Emerging as an Alternative to Anxiety Medications, Weedmaps
STAT Plus: 5 burning questions for the DNA testing industry after the launch of the latest new disease risk test, STAT
Guide For a Novice When the Bench Press Stalls, Breaking Muscle
A Complete Guide to the Keto Diet, Chris Kesser
Are You Overdosing on Caffeine?, Outside
Athletes Foot Treatment & Preventative Measures: We’ve Got Your Feet Covered, Muscle & Fitness



Sinn Fein Refuses to Vote in British Parliament, Even Against Brexit, NY Times
No, Your Instagram ‘Influence’ Is Not as Good as Cash, Club Owner Says, NY Times
British Army Investigates Video of Soldiers Firing at Image of Jeremy Corbyn, NY Times
Occupational Licensing Is A Bad Idea, Hoover Institute
Zuzana Caputova Is Elected Slovakia’s First Female President, NY Times
China Will Not Overtake the US Economy Anytime Soon: Here’s Why, In Homeland Security
In Defense of Fur, Outside
Patagonia Refusing to Sell Logoed ‘Power Vests’ to Big Financial Firms, Adventure Journal
Brazilian Surf Champion Luzimara Souza Dies From Lightning Strike While Surfing, Unofficial networks
NOAA’s 2018/19 Winter Outlook – How Did They Do?, Unofficial networks
An Israeli lander is now orbiting the Moon ahead of a lunar landing next week, The Verge
Two Out Of Three Americans Say They Won’t Buy A Self-Driving Car, Forbes
Here’s how much money you need to make to be in the top 5% in California, CNBC
Watch the Mesmerizing Routine of a World Champion Yo-Yoer, Wired