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Changes We Made to the 2019 Backcountry Ski Cycle, and Why

By Rob Shaul

 

MTI’s Fall Backcountry Ski Training Cycle is one of the few coached training cycles we open up to the public for training. It’s still a “Lab Rat” cycle where we test programming, however, the extra number of athletes provides more data points for our testing and overall evaluation.

Our process is direct and I do it every year. We take a look at the previous year’s programming, its results, make changes to the current year based on these results and other insights, design the programming and deploy it and then study the results.

The “results” we evaluate are not gym-based. Rather, we give the “lab rats” 4-6 weeks to actually ski, then ask for feedback on how well the were prepared.

If the results are good, in the January/February time frame, we’ll update the website with programming improvements based on our fall cycle.

Background

Our Fall Dryland Cycle is designed to prepare athletes for lift-assisted downhill, side country, and backcountry, skiing. These activities have 3 specific fitness demands:

(1) Eccentric Leg Strength and Strength Endurance – During downhill or alpine skiing, gravity “bounces” the skier down the hill, and eccentric leg strength is demanded to absorb every drop and prevent gravity from driving the skier into the ground.

(2) Leg Lactate Tolerance – This is an MTI-specific idea and term I developed to describe the quad burn skiers feel in the middle to the end of a long ski run, especially through bumps, variable terrain, or powder. The concept does not include the obvious muscle fatigue, but also the anaerobic cardio hit.

(3) Uphill hiking/skinning endurance and stamina – both side country and backcountry skiing have significant uphill components – bootpacking mostly for side country and skinning mostly for backcountry. Preparing athlete’s legs and lungs for this uphill movement is a key focus of our dryland ski training cycles.

These are four days/week, 7-week cycles with the individual training sessions traditionally designed to last 60 minutes. This year, however, we’ve cut the session time to 40-45 minutes as one of elements we’re testing.

Below is the basic weekly schedule for this year’s cycle:

  • Monday: Eccentric Leg Strength (leg blasters), Uphill Endurance (step ups)
  • Tuesday: Chassis Integrity + Upper Body Strength Circuit, Leg Lactate Tolerance (touch/jump/touch to a box)
  • Wednesday: Leg Lactate Tolerance (sled push intervals), Uphill Endurance (step ups)
  • Thursday: Chassis Integrity + Upper Body Strength Circuit, Leg Lactate Tolerance (touch/jump/touch to a box)
  • Friday – Sunday: Rest or light activity

Changes to the 2019 Cycle

1) Halved training devoted to eccentric leg strength – and limited it to an aggressive unloaded Leg Blaster progression.

In 2018 we trained eccentric leg strength via unloaded and loaded leg blaster progression, two times per week. This year, we’ve halved that, to one time per week, and dropped the loading. We feel the touch/jump/touch to box intervals train eccentric leg strength as well, and are interested to see if we can continue with an aggressive leg blaster progression by training these just once per week. Also – last year a few of my veteran lab rats completed the leg blaster progression loaded – wearing a weight vest – but not so this year. Everyone is completing the progression unloaded. We’re not sure the loading last year added enough to the strength gains to outweigh the impact to the joints.

2) Cut the session length to 45 minutes. 

We’re currently running an unrelated remote-lab rat mini study to test the effectiveness of reduced volume on fitness gains. We wanted to test that idea with this dryland ski cycle, also. In the past, these sessions have extended to 60 minutes. This year, we are finishing in 35-45 minutes. How? We’ve simplified the exercise menu significantly, and essentially dropped the warm ups. On Mondays athletes roll right into their leg blasters. On Tuesdays and Thursdays the session begins with a chassis integrity (core) and upper body strength circuit (Scotty Bobs for the first 3 weeks), and on Wednesdays, we go right to the sled pushes. Many of our warm ups included squats, push ups, lunges, sandbag work and short sprints anyway, so we were interested in skipping them altogether to simplify/shorten the session, and decrease the overall volume.

In terms of program design, we’ve learned over the years that improvements generally come from cutting stuff, rather than adding stuff. Most programs begin “bloated” with elements which after deployment prove to have limited value. The hard part in programming is not cutting these elements, but avoiding the natural temptation to replace them with some other element. I’ve learned it takes experience and confidence to cut the unnecessary stuff, and instead of replacing it with more extras, find ways to increase the time spent on the programming that we know works and transfers to directly to the mission, event or sport.

 

3) Dropped the multi-modal endurance work, and went back to loaded straight step ups.

With the decrease in session length comes a need to be more efficient. Last year our endurance work focused on extending lengths of a step up/shuttle/lunge circuit. But, with each exercise change, comes a break in training By simplifying, and going straight to step ups, we can still hammer uphill endurance, and be as efficient as possible.

4) Added 20 minutes of sled push intervals.

Two goals with these: (1) See if the leg lactate tolerance work from sled push intervals transfers to skiing, and; (2) Develop a sled push programming progression and theory.  Concerning (1), it could very well be there is no transfer, and the suffering myself and the other lab rats are doing every Wednesday is just making us better at pushing the sled…. we won’t know until we start skiing. Part (2), however, is a very interesting programming problem. Often I’ll get asked about using sled pushes as a conditioning tool, and how to do so. This is difficult to answer, because sled pushing difficulty depends on the sled’s friction with the sliding surface. This in part depends upon the sled material, sliding surface material, and weight of the sled – all of which, unlike a barbell and plates, are not standardized gym to gym.

So I’m working on developing a timed, work to rest, interval protocol. To be efficient, we’ll set up a “track” on our small turf area about 30-feet in length, and run multiple sleds concurrently, following each other around the track (see video). To change the work to rest interval, I’ll simply add another sled, or pull one from the rotation. Finally, I’m actually using our big plyo boxes for sleds – top maintain consistency. We only have two metal sleds, but I have 4 plyo boxes. We’re finding that with 3 athletes per sled, the work to rest ratio is about 20:40 (in seconds). Dropping to two athletes per sled pushed the work to rest ratio to 20:30ish – which is surprisingly difficult.

20 minutes of this isn’t fun …. as we’re finding out. So far, with my most fit lab rat group, we’ve only attempted 10 minutes of the 2 people per sled progression level, which will make your heart want to explode out of your chest …

 

What’s Stayed the Same

2) Touch/Jump/Touch To Box – Inside Hand Touch -Straight 20 minutes of Intervals

This worked very well last year, to great effect – almost to the point where we’re starting to wonder if we couldn’t design a very effective dryland ski cycle with just Touch/Jump/Touch to Box Intervals!

The first video below shows the 2018 (last year) lab rats completing 20-second intervals to a 17″ bench, with a 40 second rest between intervals. We’re doing 20 rounds of this in a row (20 minutes total), with an aggressive progression which both increases the work time, and decreases the rest time.

3) Committed to Multi-Modal Uphill Endurance Events

Last year for one of the uphill endurance days I programmed straight step ups based on reps. The second endurance day I programmed a time-based multi-modal loaded endurance effort of step ups, 25m shuttles and in-place lunges wearing a 25# weight vest.

The training effect and honestly, the variety, of the multi modal event I found to be superior to straight step ups, and as a result, for this year’s cycle, I’ve programmed multi-modal events for both uphill endurance events. Tuesday’s event combines step ups at 25# and sandbag getups. Thursday’s event combines step ups, prone to sprints, and sandbag clean and presses. The time-based progression for both events began at 30 minutes, and will progress to 40 minutes – which is as far as I can push it and still remain within the 60-minute session length.

 

4) Eliminated Total Body and Lower Body Concentric Strength Work to Focus on Upper Body Hypertrophy and Chassis Integrity

Last year’s cycle included heavy front squats and hinge lifts (our version of the dead lift). I cut these this year to focus all of the “extra” cycle time on upper body hypertrophy and chassis integrity.

Why upper body hypertrophy for skiing? This is a good question, and the direct answer is impact resistance. A half dozen of the professional freeskiers I’ve worked with over the years have suffered shoulder separations eventually requiring surgery caused by violent skiing crashes. My hope is by building upper body mass and strength, we can provide some “armor” for the coming season for impact resistance.

The remaining “extra” cycle time is spent training chassis integrity with TRE circuits, each of which trains one total core, rotational core, and extension exercise. Chassis Integrity is MTI’s proprietary functional core strength methodology and perhaps our most impactful programming development.

 

Lessons Learned So Far

We conclude the 3rd week of this 7-week cycle today and already I’ve made some programming changes from the initial design. Specifically, for the loaded leg blasters, my progression was too aggressive. In the past for Leg Blaster progression, I’ve programmed three training sessions at the same level, before progressing to the next level. I’m not sure this is possible for the loaded Leg Blasters … and may need to extend to four training sessions before progression.

Likewise, for the Touch/Jump/Touch to a Box – last year I progressed after three training sessions. This year, with the increased intensity of the 20 straight minutes of work – I’ve decided to not progress to the next level until the Lab Rats have four sessions under their belt.

See the chart below for the Leg Blaster and Touch/Jump/Touch to Box Progressions:

 

 

Questions, Comments, Feedback? Email coach@mtntactical.com

 

MTI’s Multi-User Subscription

 

By Mintra Mattison

 

The Multi-User Subscription gives groups of athletes e.g. platoons or departments access to the entire MTI library at the same time without being limited to just one training plan. This way, the athletes can either follow the programming on their own time schedule or simply do different training plans, as they might be on different fitness levels or are training for different goals/schools.

 

 

 

 

 

Included with the Multi-User Subscription is access to almost 300 Training plans for Mountain, Military, Law Enforcement, Fire/Rescue, and General Fitness. For a complete list, click on the links below.

 

In addition, the Multi-User Subscription includes access to our daily training session across 2x programs:

  • Military Athlete Operator Sessions: The daily Operator Sessions at Military Athlete are our day-to-day training answer for military special forces personnel, high-achieving regular soldiers, and others this level of tactical-focused fitness. These sessions train strength, work capacity, Chassis Integrity, TAC SEPA (Tactical Speed, Explosive Power, and Agility), military-specific endurance (running, rucking, ruck running) and stamina. The Operator Sessions are the most intense day-to-day training we offer and achieve to address the “burden of constant fitness” through athlete engagement and training variety. Most sessions are 60 minutes long. Click here for a sample session
  • LE Athlete Officer Sessions:  Is our day-to-day training answer for patrol officers, detectives, and other law enforcement personnel. Fitness attributes trained include strength, upper body hypertrophy (mass), TAC SEPA, and work capacity. Most sessions are 45-50 minutes long.   Click here for a sample session

 

Multi-User Price:

  • 2-15 Athletes  = $299/month ($20/athete)
  • 16-40 Athletes = $599/Month ($15/athlete)
  • 41-100 Athletes = $999/Month ($10/Athlete)
  • 101-300 Athletes = $1499/month ($5/Athlete)

 

Learn more

Q&A 10.17.19

QUESTION

I am a Family Practice Army Physician very interested in exercise physiology and Sports Medicine. I currently do a lot of HIT/Crossfit training and am excited to start taking the ACFT. However, my patients/soldiers are not so excited.

I was looking at your recent study that compared hinge lifting versus KB swings to increase deadlift and think this will be very helpful when talking to soldiers on how to improve their deadlift score. Is there anyway you could tell me a little more about the hinge lift progression exercises that were used?

ANSWER

We used a 1RM Hinge Lift, and then a percentage based progression based on the 1RM for the lab rats who did the hinge progression.
For the Swing group, we did a 90 Second Max Rep Swings @  35/55# Dumbbell or 16/24kg Kettlebell. (lower load for women).
The follow on progression was weekly ….
Week 1: 5 Rounds, 40% Max Swing Reps every 90 seconds
Week 2: 5 Rounds, 50% Max Swing Reps every 90 seconds
Week 3: 5 Rounds, 60% Max Swing Reps every 90 seconds
Know that our study found only a 5% increase in 1RM Hinge for the swing group …. so I’m not sure swings work – and they definitely don’t work as well as doing hinge lifts.
– Rob

QUESTION

I may have missed it but do you have a list of competitive target times/reps for LE Athletes somewhere? Specifically, I’m using the HRT program and looking for competitive times for the ruck and timed runs as well as the PT portion.

ANSWER

I’m not privy to the FBI’s numbers – so take the below with that in mind:
80+ Push Ups (strict)
90+ Sit Ups
16+ Pull Ups (strict)
13:30 min 2-mile
80 min 10-mile
50 min ruck @ 45#
– Rob

QUESTION

Can you share your dimensions or equipment list for the benches you have made for your step ups?

ANSWER

17″ high, 8-feet long, 16″ wide.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m having trouble understanding the difference between the “Spirits” and “Cop Movie” plan packets. Would focusing on one be better, or would doing one and moving onto the other be better?

ANSWER

No significant difference as both deploy day-to-day programming for LE Patrol/Detectives.
We designed the Spirits Packet first, then added the Cop Movie Packet, but I just updated the Spirits packet this Spring …. so for the most recent – do the Spirits Plans …
Sorry for the confusion!
– Rob

QUESTION

What would you recommend for a Basic Training Company?

I am gathering products, plans, and tips from multiple sources with the goal to create a 9 and 16 week program with the focus of taking non to zero athletic individuals with minimal equipment to a passing score in the black category after 9 weeks. 6 days a week with the 7th built for active recovery.
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER

From our stuff, I’d recommend beginning with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan (7 Weeks) and following it up with the Military OnRamp Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am trying to decide where to take my programming and I am a little stuck for what to do. I am not training for anything in particular which is making it difficult to choose what program to go to for now. I have done one of the Big Cat plans and one of the run plans and seen great improvements (hence I want to stay with you guys as your programs work).
What I need
  • Strong core and back (previous parachute injury to lower back, have come a long way deadlifting 215kg). 
  • Work capacity (I tend to fatigue during AMRAP type sessions rapidly at the 15min mark). 
  • Strong legs for rucking in mountainous terrain 
  • Better 1.5mil run (aiming for sub 10min, currently at around 12).
  • Nothing to injury my shoulder (dislocated and fractured only a few months back).
I am not training for any selections at the moment as I am already exactly where I want to be, but I have since had injuries and don’t want to fall off the perch. My method of training to get where I got to was poorly planned and left my body with injuries and constantly in pain. After 9 years of this I cannot keep up and must follow a program to prevent going in a negative direction.
 
Any help would be greatly appreciated. 

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans from Country Singer Packet I… start with Waylon as it has focused programming for the 1.5-mile run.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have been reviewing some of the LE plans you offer, and I noticed that most of the weighted exercises are free-weight based. I have not had an extensive amount of training with free-weights, so I was curious to know if the exercises you list in those programs can be completed on machines (plate loaded or pin) with the same results. I realize some exercises are exclusively free weight, however I am referring to the exercises that have machine-based equivalents. Thanks for any feedback, I look forward to hearing from you.

ANSWER

I imagine you could do machine equivalents of some of the exercises, but better would be to teach yourself the free-weight exercises. Believe me – they are not that complicated if I can do them! Be smart/conservative with loading at first and dive in.
– Rob

QUESTION

Perusing your website today and saw a lot of SWART/HRT plans but I was wondering if you have any specific plans for the Riot Control Officer?
The needs of Riot officers are different than that of a SWAT officer.
Thank you in advance for your help.

ANSWER

Quick answer is no …. first time I’ve been asked this.
Our SWAT/SRT found in the Gun Maker Packet is designed for full time SWAT/SRT officers …. are there full time Riot Control officers? If not, I’d recommend training for your primary job. This is what I recommend for Patrol Officers who are part time SWAT … that they train for their primary job (Patrol) using our LE Patrol/Detective programming.
If there are full time Riot Control Officers – can you give me an idea of their fitness demands? They may be similar to that of Correctional Officers and we’ve designed a packet of plans for Correctional Officers – here: https://mtntactical.com/shop/notorious-prison-packet/
– Rob

QUESTION

Thank you for your attention to this message, as I’m sure you receive many of these such emails asking for help choosing the right plan. As a bit of background, I’m a former trail runner, climber, cyclist that now finds himself 40lbs above my ideal weight and with a goal of joining our local volunteer search and rescue team. the mission of this team is to help find and rescue individuals who go missing in the Maryland, D.C., Virginia area. We obviously don’t have as many big mountains as out West, but the areas out towards West Virginia can get a bit hilly. This team will generally work to local folks in the woods and may have a couple multi-day assignments which required spending a couple nights camping, and there may be some (but not much) work on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.
I’d like to start by losing some of the excess poundage quickly through some intensive cardio work, but I also really enjoying lifting and calisthenics. Thank you again for your assistance with this, and I look forward to your response.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans/order in our Wilderness Packet of plans for wilderness professionals (game wardens, rangers, field biologists, Mountain SAR). These concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity (functional core) and mountain endurance (running, trail running, uphill hiking under load).
– Rob

QUESTION

I am looking for help in selecting the most appropriate training programme for me in the build up to attempting the British Army “All Arms Pre Parachute Selection Course” AAPPS early next year. The test week comprises a diverse mix of “events” from a 20 mile tab (ruck) carrying 45lb, 10 mile speed march in 1:45 carrying 35lb, 2 mile best effort wearing belt kit and rifle, stretcher race, assault course amongst others. With this diverse testing, what series of programmes would you recommend to cover the 4-5 month build up to testing?

ANSWER

5 months = 22 weeks. Here’s what I recommend:
Weeks    Plan
1-7          Valor
8-14        Fortitude
– Rob

QUESTION

So I want to start the Operator Ugly train up, and the first step is to take the Ugly test. However, I know that currently I’m not strong enough to use the listed weights. What’s the best way to scale this to my strength level?

ANSWER

Use 135# for the front squat and bench press, 185# for the dead lift / hinge lift, 60# for the sandbag.
– Rob

QUESTION

Do you already or would you guys be interested programming for CrossFit Athletes. Preferably competition programming. Possibly for experimental reason? If it does not work with the programming that you guys have there or you do not have any interest in it than that is ok. I know myself and a co-worker would be willing to do it.

ANSWER

I did some programming for a local athlete here years ago for the CrossFit comps, but moved away from it to focus on mountain/tactical athletes. I understand there are many other resources out there who program specifically for these.
I’m sorry.
Respectfully,
– Rob

QUESTION

Do you have / recommend any programming for recovery after a major event? Specifically a 100-mile ultra, completed this past Saturday.

ANSWER

Congrats on the ultra finish!
Recovery? I’d need to know more about what you’re looking for moving forward before I know if we have any programming for you. More ultras? Back to general fitness?
– Rob

QUESTION

I have a couple of questions regarding picking the perfect training plan for me at this point in my life. I am about to get  back into the Army after having nearly a 2-year hiatus where I lost a lot of my cardiovascular conditioning in this time. I have focuses a lot on strongman and powerlifting events in my time off, and I do not want to sacrifice too much of my muscle mass or strength that I have gained. I understand that any plan I choose, especially if I want to lose 40-60 pounds by March for a deployment I am hoping to go on. I am currently doing BJJ 4 days a week and still strength training almost daily, but I am wondering if you can suggest a plan or plan that I can follow or mix to get the most optimal and quickest results. In the past, I have done the APFT program and I plan on following parts of that to get my running up, but I was not sure if I should pick the Fat Loss plan under the military athlete page or if you could guide to me to a better choice.

ANSWER

You’ve got a lot going on, BJJ, powerlifting, and the need to lose 40-60 pounds …. perhaps too much!
If you want to continue to do BJJ, and lift, what I’d recommend from our stuff is the Big 3 + Running Training Plan. Replace your current lifting with the lifting in this plan, and the running will help cut mass and add endurance.
You can continue to do your BJJ, but you’ll have to double up – do both the prescribed training session and your BJJ session… this will add to the burn.
I’m not sure if you need to lose 40-60 pounds of muscle, fat or a mix, but regardless, tighten up your diet – here are our recommendations … the only change to these for you is to cut out the cheat day.
– Rob

QUESTION

I recently signed up to Mountain Tactical and im chasing some advice re what plan to do.

I need a plan for a K9 Squad (police) down here in Australia.

Priority being running, push ups, weight carrying, obstacle climbing.

Would you recommend a particular program?

ANSWER

I’d recommend starting with Whiskey – the first plan in our Spirits Packet of plans for full-time LE Patrol/Detectives. Follow it up by moving to the Daily LE Sessions. Our programming for LE Patrol/Detectives concurrently trains strength, work capacity (sprint-based), Chassis Integrity (functional mid-section), short endurance (running) and tactical agility.
I don’t have a set of day to day plans specifically for K9 officers, but I have created a K9 Officer Fitness Assessment you may be interested in. It does include work with your dog.
– Rob

QUESTION

I did have a question. I purchased the training plan for SF selection. I noticed you now have a SFRE training program and its 7weeks opposed to the longer one I have. I am planning on going to an SFRE event. I just wanted yo ask if there is a big difference to these 2 programs or is the SFRE just a consolidated version of the longer one. 
 
Probably a dumb question I was just curious. in the long run they both get you where you need to be for the same job.

ANSWER

SFRE is not as intense as SFAS, and the Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan is longer and more intense than the SFRE Plan …. that being said, you can use the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan for SFRE, and then again for SFAS.
– Rob

QUESTION

I just attended SFAS, and unfortunately I was not picked up to attend the Q Course. I found that I was one of the best there at running and ruck running with medium weight (60-80 lbs), but when it came to moving heavy weight during team week (100+ lbs), I was out of my depth to some of bigger guys, seeing as I’m only about 150 lbs. I’ve also lost some strength and weight throughout the selection course.
I received a 2-year return date which I plan to accept, but in the mean time I have the opportunity to pick up a RASP contract. As with all things Army, my timeline is tenuous at best, and I won’t have an exact date until further down the line. I understand that I should start the Rasp I & II Training Program six weeks out from when I get my class date, but before then, what plans do you recommend I follow as much as I can before that six-week mark? Should I follow the plans of the Ruck Based Selection Packet or Ranger School Packet? Also, should I look to do more strength or hypertrophy work to make up for my strength/size deficit?
Thank you for all the help in advance!

ANSWER

I’d recommend starting back with strength – specifically the MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan.
Follow it up with the plans/order in the Greek Hero Series – until you’re 6 weeks out from RASP – then complete the RASP I&II Training Plan.
The Greek Hero Plans concurrently train strength, work capacity, endurance (run, ruck), chassis integrity and tactical agility.
Size? I wouldn’t advise bulking up … to do so you’d sacrifice a lot of endurance (run/ruck). We’ve found relative strength (strength per bodyweight) is the most mission-direct measure of strength for tactical athletes.
– Rob

QUESTION

I will be attending SFAS one of three dates next year. The first is in late March. The second is in late April. And the third is in late May. I won’t know my actual date for sure until just after the new year in January. Obviously I plan to complete the ruck based selection plan immediately prior to reporting for SFAS. Which other programs should I use in which order to fill the time between now and starting the final ruck based selection phase?

ANSWER

Our Ruck Based Selection Training Packet outlines a 52 week build up to SFAS.
In your case, with the unknown start date, it’s best to plan for the first date – late March. By my count, you’ve got 27 weeks. Here’s what I recommend ….
Weeks    Plan
1-7          Fortitude
8-14        Valor
15-18      Resilience (first 4 weeks)
19           Total Rest
Good luck!
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m browsing through the programs right now and I’m wondering which one would be most beneficial for obtaining a 3/4/5 lift with a sub 40min 5mile.

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

My wife isn’t very active, but she’d like to be.  Both for weight loss and general health.

She’s in a bind though because she’s had several knee issues/surgery, plus 2 kids, and a demanding job.  Plus we’re pushing 40 and staying fit takes a bit more effort.

She’s frustrated because she’s starting at square one, with a few years of inactivity to overcome, plus has an injury history that rules out running and makes cardio difficult. I think she’s reluctant to start because the road to where she’d like to be looks so daunting.

Any plan suggestions?  Most of the MTI plans seem to cater to people that already have a decent baseline fitness, but this would have to be a very beginner plan accommodating to a busy schedule.

We have a decent home gym setup.  Free weights, squat rack, sand bag, and treadmill available.

ANSWER

I don’t have a plan for deconditioned people. I simply don’t have any coaching experience with this population.
Our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan is where I send most who come unfit … not because it’s easy, but because it deploys an initial assessment, and then scales the following progressions based on the assessment results. In this way, the bodyweight strength work in the plan automatically “scales” to the incoming strength/fitness of the athletes.
This plan does include running … if your wife wanted to attempt it, I’d have her walk the prescribed running distance at first.
– Rob

10 Tactical Athlete Programming Fundamentals

Above: Marines completing the MTI Soldier Athlete Fitness Test (SAFT).

 

By Rob Shaul, Founder

1. Train in the “gym” to perform outside it.

Don’t treat fitness as a “sport.” Don’t get caught up in loads lifted or workout completion times. Gym training should improve your athlete’s mission performance, durability, and survivability. Fitness training must have a positive, “Mission-Direct” impact. If it doesn’t, change it.

Tactical athletes are not “fitness athletes” – and gym numbers and/or performance in isolation of transfer to mission performance, mean nothing. Don’t get caught up in workout completion times, strength numbers, or appearance. Train inside to perform outside.

 

2. Start programming with the fitness demands of the work or mission.

Identify the Fitness Demands of the work/mission and design programming which addresses, develops and improves those demands in your athletes. Your only concern is improving mission performance. All fitness training is focused on improving mission performance. Nothing else.

It’s important to be ruthless in identifying the key fitness attributes of tactical athlete mission performance and being deaf to the most recent fitness trends. While different exercises and progressions can be used to improve mission-direct fitness attributes, don’t let the tail wag the dog. Improving the mission-direct fitness attributes comes first – the exercises/methodology to improve them, second.

 

3. The needs, wants, weaknesses, strengths, and opinions of the individual athlete are not a concern.

Program to the event or mission, not the individual athlete. You best serve the athlete by training to the mission-direct fitness demands. Your programming should not alter to keep them entertained, improve their appearance, prepare them for a recreational event, or improve their non-mission performance for a specific fitness goal. Eventually, all athletes want “special” treatment, to try something different or new, or have you coach someone else’s programming. Don’t reward their inattention to what is important. Stick to your programming.

 

4. Periodize, Program, and Progress.

Know where you are taking your athletes, always. Know the purpose for each training session, every set, every rep and every exercise. Don’t design “workouts” – design “training sessions.” Semantics is important.

“Random” programming is lazy and not professionally appropriate for tactical athletes. Training sessions within meso-cycles, and meso-cycles within the larger macro-cycle should be planned, periodized and progressed.

The difference between “training” and “working out” is planning. Soldiers, Marines, LE Officers, and Firefighters are professional athletes. Professional athletes “train” – every training session has a focused intent and is part of larger cycle fitness goal.

 

5. Keep it simple.

Sophisticated design is immature. Stick to the fundamentals. Toss out programming that bounces all over the place or that you don’t understand. Toss out exercises that are too complicated or don’t make your athletes work and breath hard. Discard exercise equipment which is complicated, difficult to use or not readily available. Eliminate exercises which you are not sure to improve mission performance.

Respect your athletes’ time and deploy proven exercises and training modes in efficient, mission-direct training cycles and training sessions.

It takes experience, confidence, and hard work to get to “simple.” Fitness programming is judged on its effectiveness, not fancy exercises, equipment, trendiness or number of exercises deployed. No single exercise is a “sacred cow” – identify the training attribute you want to improve and find the most simple, effective, easy to teach exercise to train it. Beware the latest piece of exercise equipment and latest fitness trends. If something new shows merit – test it first. Program design is like all other design, it’s always improved by cutting stuff away.

 

6.  Train Sport/Work Specifically in the Gym.

Work hard to develop mission-specific programming in the “artificial environment” of the gym. This takes creativity, courage, assessment, and analysis. All fitness training must transfer … continually work to make this more simple and efficient.

This can include creating new exercises and progression methodologies to train tactically-specific fitness attributes, and focussing on deploying exercises and modes which have the best mission-direct transfer. An instructive tactical example is rucking for military athletes. Can you improve rucking performance by lifting weights and running? Yes – but soon, the programming reaches a point of diminishing returns and only improves lifting strength and running. The best way to improve rucking performance is to ruck. The transfer is direct. If you are training military athletes, rucking should be a key component of your program design.

 

7. All Training is cumulative.

Don’t worry about moving from gym-based fitness to sport-specific work and therefore “losing” all the progress made in the gym. All training is cumulative – it will come back fast.

Often, event-specific programming can work against base-fitness training attributes. For example, most military fitness assessments involve bodyweight strength exercises (strength endurance) and unloaded running (unloaded running endurance). Training event-specifically to improve fitness assessment performance (lots of bodyweight exercises and running) will negatively affect relative strength and rucking performance, however, we recommend military athletes spend the 3-6 weeks prior to a scheduled fitness assessment to train sport-specifically for that assessment. Some express concern about how doing so will negatively impact their gym-based strength. Don’t worry about it. All training is cumulative, and after the fitness assessment, your gym-based strength will return quickly.

 

8. Frequently Design and Deploy Assessments

Few Strength and Conditioning Coaches design and deploy their own fitness assessments. Instead, they rely on what’s been done before. This is a mistake and a lost opportunity for improvement. Designing an assessment for mission set drives programming improvement in many ways. First – it forces the coach to decide what is important, and then design a way to test it. Second, it provides a measuring stick for your own programming. Third, designing assessments is a designing skill on its own, and with experience and practice, assessments can become a significant driver of not only overall programming, but also meso-cycle focus.
 

9. Don’t let physical training get in the way of technical practice.

Physical training can be “easy” compared to technical practice, but often technical proficiency has a much greater role on mission accomplishment then fitness.

Mission-direct fitness is just one element of tactical mission performance. Fitness improvement will not improve technical deficiency in other areas such as small unit tactics, marksmanship, tactical communication, etc. Often, non-fitness technical practice can be harder than fitness training, but it cannot be avoided. All that matters is mission performance. A super-fit tactical athlete who fails the mission because of marksmanship or poor communication still fails the mission.

 

10. Continuous Improvement.

Question everything and don’t be afraid to change. Little improvements add up. Don’t be “wiz banged” by exotic programming or exercises or become so wedded to your own programming you become blind to deficiencies. Beware becoming righteous about an exercise, program or approach. Each time I’ve become righteous about a programming element I’ve been proven wrong.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Experiment. All that matters is outside performance.

This is liberating.

The “liberating” effect of continuous improvement cannot be overemphasized. Not only does this liberate the coach from conventional wisdom and the latest fitness trend, it can also “liberate” him or her from their own programming dogma. In our experience, this has taken the form of continuous research and assessment of our own programming. Every “mini-study” yields not the “perfect” solution, but rather a small step towards a better solution than we have now. These small steps add up.

 

Questions, Comments,Feedback? Email rob@mtntactical.com

Arete 10.17.19

Military / Foreign Affairs / National Security

Mexican policemen killed in ‘cartel’ ambush, Al Jazerra
U.S. troops abandoned their Syrian base. Video appears to show Russians have moved in., Washington Post
Putin visits Saudi Arabia in sign of growing ties, Al Jazerra
Notre-Dame plot: Five women jailed over foiled car bomb attack, BBC
US troops believe Turkey deliberately fired artillery at an American commando outpost in Syria, Military Times
Paris police killings: Five arrested over knife attack, BBC
With Turkey’s invasion of Syria, concerns mount over nukes at Incirlik, Defense News
US Army nears competition that could lead to robots directly engaging the enemy, Defense News
On the borders of Putin’s Baltic fortress, Lithuania cheers local buildup of US forces, Defense News
Israel’s Elbit sells over 1,000 mini-drones to Southeast Asian country, Defense News
The Soft Power of an American Cartoon: South Park and the Information War with China, Modern War Institjute
Why Is Turkey in NATO Anyway?, Defense One
Scotland Could Leave the United Kingdom Over Brexit—and Green Energy, Foreign Policy
Can American Values Survive in a Chinese World?, Foreign Policy
Mossad chief comments on policy of assassinations in rare interview, Intelnews.org
AUSA 2019: Lockheed Martin weighs options for achieving a 250-300 kW air-defence laser, Janes 360
Islamic State trains in Somalia’s Puntland, Long War Journal
The United States Is Done Caring About Syria, Council of Foreign Relations
The EU’s serious inability to deal with crime and terror threats, Pravda Report
Army Overhauls Battalion Commander Selections, Real Clear Defense
The U.S. Marine Corps Uses the ‘Rule of 3’ to Organize Almost Everything, Inc. Magazine
Crushing Kim: Can the U.S. Halt North Korea’s Nuclear Proliferation?, Small Wars Journal
ABC News thought this Kentucky gun range video was from Turkey’s invasion of Syria, Business Insider
When Are Exit Strategies Viable?, War on the Rocks
A Better Idea Can Win the Next Big War for the Ground Services, War on the Rocks

 

First Responder / Wildland Fire / Homeland Security

California’s plan to reduce gang violence statistics: stop arresting gang members, LE Today
OK FIREFIGHTER SHOT BY AMMO IN DWELLING FIRE, Firefighter Close Calls
We just lost two more officers. Where’s all of the media coverage?, LE Today
Accuracy and Critique, Wildfire Today
Why the media shouldn’t name mass killers, Police One
Number of Canadian Police Officers Falls to 10-Year Low, Police Magazine
Convoy of 14 officers gunned down in ambush. Police say a deadly Mexican cartel is to blame., LE Today
Ex-assistant Idaho fire chief claims he was fired after opposing tax levy, Fire Rescue 1
A 3-pronged approach to making pursuits safer, Police One
Antifa activist killed. Group refuses to cooperate with investigators. “Don’t help pigs build cases.”, LE Today
Georgia Police Begin New Program to Extend the Life and Health of Officers, Officer
California Police Getting Closer to Deploying Marijuana Breathalyzers, Police Mag
Prescribed fire escapes on Eldorado National Forest, Wildfire Today

 

Mountain

Tips to Prepare for The Casual Route on the Diamond, AAI
An Inside Look at USA Climbing’s National Team Training Center, Climbing Mag
Characteristics Of the World’s Best Belayer, Climbing Mag
The Nose Speed Record, La Sportiva
Why Climbing Is Such a Mental Sport, Outside
5 Experts on the Future of Climbing, REI Co-op Journal
Ibex Outdoor Clothing is relaunching, SNEWS
Paddle, Suffer, Ski, Patagonia
The 10 Largest Vertical Drops in North America, Unofficial Networks
How Athletes Are Using Their Power to Protect Winter, Outside
Age of Adam Ondra – the current limit of sport climbing, Planet Mountain
New ‘Return of the Turn’ Reminds Us Who the Real Skiers Are, Powder

 

Fitness / Nutrition / Health

What the Critics Miss: The Army Combat Fitness Test is Going to Make Us a More Combat-Ready Force, Modern War Institute
AUSA 19 – Close Combat Assault Ration, Soldier Systems
Freerunning In The Swiss Alps | with Dom di Tommaso, Red Bull
6 Cues to Make Your Deadlift Stronger, Breaking Muscle
10 Science-Backed Strategies to PR Your Next Marathon, Runners World
How to prevent middle-age weight gain: the science of staying slim, The Times
Why Eliud Kipchoge’s Remarkable 1:59 Marathon Won’t Be An Official World Record, Men’s Health
These Exercises Will Fix Your Tight, Aching Shoulders, Men’s Journal
Is Drinking Freshly Squeezed Juice Actually Good for You?, Men’s Journal
How Women Are Breaking Ultra-Marathon Barriers, OZY
Care for knee osteoarthritis in the United States, Science Daily
Whey Protein vs. Pea Protein, Mark’s Daily Apple
The 7 Best Carbs to Build Muscle, Muscle & Fitness
How Not to Die from Kidney Disease, Nutritionfacts.org
An Oncologist Asks When It’s Time to Say ‘Enough’, NY Times
Five Reasons the Diet Soda Myth Won’t Die, NY Times
The Best Adjustable Dumbbells, NY Times

 

Interesting

Housing Market Points to Recession By Election Day, Council of Foreign Relations

Q&A 10.10.19

QUESTION

I’ve been training with the goal of becoming a PJ for several years now, and for as many steps forward, I take just as many back. It has been a frustrating process for sure, but I am far too stubborn to give up. Finding the balance between over training and under training has been very difficult.
My biggest weakness by far is distance running (22:30 3-miler), and I lose running fitness very quickly if I’m not focusing on it. I also quickly lose strength (always takes months to rebuild) and start incurring injuries if I’m not doing at least a maintenance amount of lifting.
I’m pretty good at cals and usually hit around 17 pull-ups and 75-80 push-ups. I can maintain a 9:00-9:20 500m freestyle swim on a minimal amount of training, and acclimating to finning is currently my main swimming priority. My ruck is at 5 miles with 40lbs at 14-14:30-mile walking pace (figuring out some hot spots has kept me from pushing up the distance).
My goal is to try out for a Guard unit, which includes a mini-selection starting with the AFSOC PT test of 3-mile run, pull-ups, sit-ups, push-ups, 1500m fin. Then rucking and whatever else they want to throw at you that day. I don’t have a go date yet, as I want to make sure that I can make the best first impression I can and put up a good score on the AFSOC test (20:00-20:30 run, 18 pull-ups, 85+ sit-ups, 85+ push-ups, 27:00-28:00 fin).
I was hoping that you could suggest some plans that might be more fitting for me than the standard PJ prep packet.

ANSWER

I’d recommend you begin with the AFSOC PT Test Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

I used to do a lot of kettlebell complex work but have put in place strength work (bells, sandbags & body weight), cycling and running.
I am looking for something to really shake this up but be a bit more multi modal than just KB’s as I am getting back into playing sport so want the body ready.
I unfortunately don’t have barbells but have a pretty much a full set of KB’s, sandbags and resistance bands from tiny to 150 – 200lb.
With a little bit of thinking would see this a non-starter for “Ultimate Work Capacity”?
You plans look so good it is a crazy time trying to pick one that looks right…I suspect I am going to have to play with a few over the next year or so 🙂

ANSWER

You can do the kettlebell equivalents of the barbell exercises … but loading will be a little tricky as two 45# kettlebells are simply heavier for the athlete than a single 90# barbell. Use your experience for loading.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am interested in trying a few of your programs, looking at increasing mainly strength, size, and continuously improving/maintaining work capacity, endurance, and core strength. I am a career firefighter for a department that does structure, wildland, and rescue. I know you have fire programs but I was looking at some of the strength programs like hypertrophy for skinny guys (me), Gladiator, and big 24. I work a 48/96 schedule. I can and do work out on shift, however sometimes it is not practical and some of the programming would not be possible at work. Any suggestions for modifying the 5 days on 2 days of rest you typically program?

ANSWER

The Big Cat Series of plans for full time Fire/Rescue are what I recommend – these train strength, work capacity, core, endurance and tactical agility. Definitely not Hypertrophy for Skinny Guys … but you could do Gladiator.
Schedule? Aim to train 5 days/week, and take 2 total rest. Just follow the sessions in order … don’t skip ahead. Ideally you’ll be able to train on your duty days – depending upon that day and your station’s ops. If not … just continue to the next session when you do get to train.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a college athlete in preseason and I have a arm injury that only restricts me from doing push ups and heavy bench;  I am already running 3 miles 3 times a week and sprint conditioning weekdays, what workout plan would suggest for strength?

ANSWER

Big 3 + Run Training Plan. Skip the bench pressing in the plan, but complete the pull ups, back squat and hinge/dead lifts. The running in the plan will add some structure to your endurance training.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m a new subscriber and I’m trying to find and or mix and match plans that will work the best so that I can achieve my goals. I am attending Sapper School in 19 weeks.  I intend to do the Sapper Train Up program the 8 weeks prior to going.  What I need help with is the 11 week period before starting the Sapper Train Up.  I know I need to focus and build endurance in both my run and ruck, but I don’t want to forget about strength either.  I am intrigued by the Military On-Ramp program with regards to the strength component and that it has running and rucking within it, but I’m concerned it doesn’t give me the distance/endurance training that is necessary as it only goes up to 4-5 miles for both the run and the ruck.
What programs or combinations of programs would you suggest?  If you need more info I will happily provide it.

ANSWER

Here’s what I’d recommend:
Weeks    Plan
1-4          Military OnRamp – First 4 Weeks
5-11        Fortitude
– Rob

QUESTION

I have a little over 6 months to prepare to go back to SFAS (I’ll be attending May of 2020). Unfortunately I got cut this past time for my run time. On the long run (consensus was that it felt about 8 miles) my pace dropped off towards the end. Ive always struggled with running. My 2mi is about 13:58 and my 5 miles are usually pretty close to 40 +/-. I was close to middle of the pack for the rucks but as always there’s room for improvement.

Ideally I’d like to get my 5mile time down closer to 35 or under and be around 42 for a 6mile.

What glide path do you recommend I take to get myself ready for success in May? I’m an active Army Officer so this next time is my last chance. I’ll definitely be working my butt off for it.

ANSWER

Okay – here’s what I recommend:
Weeks  Plan
1-8         Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan
9            Total Rest
10-17     Fortitude – Do Week 6 Twice
18          Total Rest
19-26     Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan
Doing the RBSTP out of the gate will test your mettle – and repeating it directly before selection, seeing how better you perform both mentally and physically – will lead you into SFAS confident.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m an Armor LT. The follow-on courses I’ve been in have really messed up my fitness and I’m coming off about a month field time. I need to get back in shape before I report to my new unit (a Basic Training unit) in October. I want to do On Ramp for the overall fitness aspect, but I don’t want to be unprepared for the ACFT at my new unit. How would you tackle this? Should I go all out on the ACFT Plan or do the On Ramp and substitute some things from the ACFT (i.e. deadlift, leg tucks, and the power throw)?

ANSWER

Go Military OnRamp unless you know you have an ACFT when you report to your new unit. You’ll want to do the ACFT Plan directly before the ACFT.
– Rob

QUESTION

As always, thanks for the great workouts and awesome research articles.

I’d like to take selection in the spring of 2021. From some of the dudes who have gone and been successful using your prep program, they suggest starting selection prep with an allotted two weeks or so between finishing the program and starting selection for recovery. That means I should start the HUMILITY portion around the end of February 2020. I’m about to finish Military On-Ramp and was hoping y’all had some programming recommendations for between when I finish On-Ramp and start the HUMILITY cycle of selection prep.

Thanks for the help and I look forward to hearing from y’all.

ANSWER

There are 24 weeks until March 1, 2020. Here’s what I recommend:
Weeks    Plan
1-7          Hector
8-14        Apollo
15-21      Achilles
22-23      Ulysses (first 2 weeks)
24           Total Rest
– Rob

QUESTION

I live in Salt Lake City and have been looking at a couple of your sample work out plans for your different ski related programs. For some of the workouts it seems that the step ups make up a large portion of some of the workouts. Could trail running up say 1200-1500 ft in elevation replace step ups? or is the step up and step down motion essential to what the work is trying to achieve? And is there any negative effects or potential setbacks for running these same trails during the run conditioning days? It seems like your workouts would do a great job for prepping for all of the ski related activities I’ll be doing this winter!

ANSWER

Step ups are designed to train uphill movement under load … and are a replacement for simply hiking uphill with a backpack. Many people training don’t have a steep hill nearby to hike up – which is why we use step ups. Everyone can find a box or step to do these, no matter where they live. We have found they transfer well to the real thing.
Hiking uphill under load is not the same as unloaded trail running.
You could replace step ups with hiking uphill carrying a backpack. If the plan calls for 1,000x step ups at 25#, assume a 17″ step. 1000 x 17″ = 17,000 inches / 12 = 1,416 feet. So hike uphill 1,400 feet or so with a 25# pack.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m a senior at the Naval Academy. I am currently a member of the Judo team and I am looking for a program with my team for our morning workouts – we are currently waiting on approval for either a 3 day lift or 4 day lift schedule.
My question is, what programs would you recommend for us to gain strength and power? Conditioning is not too high on the table of priorities – we do a ton of bodyweight exercises/conditioning drills at practice. Our main focus are lifts that will allow us to get stronger/more powerful and stay physically dominant compared to our opponents.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the Monday/Wednesday/Friday sessions from the MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan. 
Front Squat, Bench Press, Power Clean and Pull Ups – in super-efficient programming. Skip the Tues/Thurs sessions.
– Rob

QUESTION

I was on your website trying to figure out which plan would be best…

My backcountry Hunt got canceled this year so my training lost its focus

I haven’t worked out consistently for about 4 months and managed to add 10 unwanted pounds to the already 10 from winter

I would like to just get my foundation back, prepare for hunting (pheasant & whitetail) and get rid of these unwanted pounds.

Is the fat loss program what I need to get going again or do you recommend something else?

ANSWER

Start back with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan, then move into the plans/order in the Wilderness Packet, starting with Jedediah Smith.  These plans are designed as year round, day-to-day programming for forest rangers, game wardens, field biologists, etc and concurrently train strength, work capacity, mountain endurance (running, uphill hiking under load), and chassis integrity (core).
I’m working to build a 5-6 plan packet for bc hunters, but likely won’t have it completed until later this fall (Nov).
– Rob

QUESTION

I am currently working through your Busy Operator I sessions, and I love the program.
I am struggling, however, to meet the specified reps on the Strength days when I get up to 85%-90% of my max. (The reps/rest scheme is 5 rounds of 4 reps every 1:30). I usually can get the first three sets no problem. But then sets 4 and 5 I struggle and/or fail to get 4 reps, especially on Bench Press.
Do you have any suggestions about what I should do in this case? Should I lower the weight? Increase the time intervals? Or should I just do as many reps as I can manage in the specified 1:30?
Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
Keep up the great work!

ANSWER

Some with a high training age (years training) have trouble at the higher percentages. First option would be to extend the interval to 2 minutes – see if that helps. Next, keep the load, but drop to 3 reps – I had to do this recently for the bench press.
– Rob

QUESTION

1. A weakness of mine is SB Get-Ups. To develop strength in this regard, do you recommend following programming using a reduced weight at the same reps/time interval, using the recommended weight at reduced reps/increased time interval, or just toughing it out?
2. For LE Agencies/departments that have longer application process (i.e. FBI) and require multiple PFT’s over a year long period, do you recommend cycling in and out of the PFT training programs or staying in the PFT programs? Assuming the athlete is on the tactical side and still has a job demand.

ANSWER

1. Tough it out … you’ll improve. Keep the load the same.
2. Not sure I understand this question, but in general, it’s inefficient to train for the PFT all the time. Better is to train specifically for the PFT in the 6 weeks directly before the assessment, then drop back into the LE base fitness programming.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have been reading your Q&A section for some time now and have come up with a plan based on your input to others in my demographic.
I’m 41 220 and severely deconditioned.  What Strength I had in the past feels to be have gone away.  I am following your Nutrition advice to a T and will maintain that through my journey.  So I was looking at doing these programs in this order.  My goals are 1. Fat loss 2. General Health and conditioning 3. quality of life as I enter my later years.
1. Bodyweight Foundation
2. Military On ramp
3. Greek Hero packet
4. Rinse and repeat as needed to attain my goals.
How does this look to you Coach?  Also I am in the Military but my job is an Aircraft Mechanic.
So no tip of the Spear here.

ANSWER

You’re plan is solid.
– Rob

QUESTION

Im in Week 5 of the TACP program and I can see the results starting to come out. Below are my latest mid program PAST results:

1.5 Mile run – 8:40/5:40 pace

Strict form

Pull ups in 1 min: 13

Sit ups in 2 min: 80

Push ups in 1 min: 42

4 mile ruck @ 50 lbs with 10 lbs dumbbell – 51:24/12:49 pace

Im currently training for the TAAP 4 day selection camp for the 116th ASOS TACP unit prior to the start of pipeline. Im scheduled for the Nov TAAP camp. 

My only feedback I need help with is for example, based on my latest PAST results, I need help with my push ups and pull ups. How could I implement extra work focused on push ups and pull ups? Should I simply do push ups and pulls ups throughout the day including my scheduled workouts? 

Thank you for the program, I out-rucked a current TACP on a 4 round 2 mile ruck evolution and boosted my confidence on the program.

ANSWER

I’d be hesitant to add any extra work to the plan – it’s already intense. You could repeat Monday’s  push up/pull up progression on Fridays – just that portion.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m an active duty Marine looking to LAT move to EOD sometime around next
May-June time frame. I’m 5’7 and currently about 150lbs and pretty regular at the gym. I was hoping to gain some insight on which workout plan would be best for me to get ready. My goal is to be as physically well-rounded and conditioned as possible for any challenge that comes my way and be at the top of the game. My friend turned me onto your website and recommended emailing you to find out more.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans and order in the Ruck-Based Selection Training Placket.
I’m assuming your relatively fit going in, so skip the Military OnRamp Training Plan, and start the plans with Humility.
These plans are focused on infantry fitness – relative strength (strength per bodyweight), chassis integrity (functional mid-section strength), military endurance (running, rucking) and work capacity (short, hard, for team events, etc.).
Email back as your schedule firms up. You’ll want to schedule it so you complete the last plan in the packet – the Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan, the 8 weeks directly before your EOD course.
– Rob

QUESTION

My girlfriend is getting ready to start at federal penitentiary so has to pass corrections officer physical fitness test. Was looking at plans. I see day to day fitness plans but nothing for physical fitness test and training academy. Love stuff by the way.

ANSWER

Without knowing more about the fitness test specifics, I’d recommend the LE Academy Training Plan.
Can you pls share the specifics of the test?
– Rob

QUESTION

Looking through the sample training for the Jedediah Smith plan, i noticed on strength days that 30% of max rep lunges has been included in element (1) and (2) and i suspect this might be a typo.
I currently work as a land surveyor and intend to join the army reserves (uk). I gather the entry point to MTI programming is through the bodyweight foundation plan. What plan should I move into after that ?
If it helps, im 6’3″ 225lb, relatively active through my work, have lifted weights for 1.5 years. Running and pullups are my weakest areas.
Might I also add that your work regarding task specific exercise and programming has been a huge influence for me and many a weighted step up has been had in its honour.

ANSWER

Plan? I’d recommend the Military OnRamp Training Plan instead of Bodyweight Foundation to start.
After? The Plans/order in the Greek Hero Packet of plans. These are designed as “base” fitness for military athletes (infantry) and concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity (core), endurance (run, ruck) and tactical agility.
Thanks for the not one Jedediah Smith – I’ll take a look!
– Rob

QUESTION

I have a membership with you guys and I’m wondering where to get started. I’m currently active duty army, and meet APFT standards. I have over my years lost a lot of drive to stay fit and am trying to get back into it. I guess you could say I’m trying to go from beginner back to being physically fit and eventually I would like to be q course fit. What training program would you recommend starting with first so I can start my journey. I have already been crushing pt on my own for the past few weeks and have dropped back down under 200 pounds which is awesome, so I’m really eager to get this going. Thank you so much for your time!

ANSWER

Start with Hector, which is the first plan in our Greek Hero Series of plans designed as day-to-day programming military infantry and land-based SOF. These plans concurrently trains strength, work capacity, endurance (run, ruck), chassis integrity (functional core) and tactical agility. Hector and the Greek Hero plans represent the pinnacle of MTI program design.
Email questions.
– Rob

QUESTION

I just finished The Rut – a 50k mountain race in Montana.  About 3 months prior to race I got out of the gym and my typical strength training routine (crossfit style) and focused on leg blasters and slowing down my running to build my aerobic capacity to help me at altitude (I am from the east coast).  Now that I am back in the gym I feel like I have lost a lot of strength and my running feels super slow.  I would love to take the next few months to build both of these back up.  Any suggestions on one of your plans to follow?

ANSWER

Congrats on the Rut!
Out of the gate I’d recommend the Big 3 + Running Plan – should be exactly what you’re looking for.
– Rob

How MTI Would Design 3 Training Sessions for 130 Soldiers With Limited Equipment In an Austere Environment

By Rob Shaul

I received the following email question this week ….

**********************
QUESTION:
I am a senior NCO in Canadian Armed Forces. I am a medic by trade.
I have been using different programs that I have purchased or that friends have purchased from your website since 2013.
It has been great! It has helped me get into the special forces and it has helped me maintain a high level of fitness which has been an important factor of leading by example as I have climbed through the ranks. I would like to personally thank you!
Here’s my situation. I have recently been posted to field ambulance. Aprox 130 pers strong. I have been asked today to organize 3x 1 hour tactical pt sessions for the whole unit while on exercise in 10 days time. This means using only kit medical personnel would have on hand, ie: stretchers, jerry cans, weapons, vehicles, pers kit such as Full battle order. Terrain is outdoors in austere conditions.
I have never conducted pt for such a large group. I am used to 15-40 pers and usually in a gymnasium facility. Being new to the unit I will have all eyes on me from pte-Lieutant Colonel. I would Like to do this right.
Do you have any suggestions that could help me with this task.
Anything would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

Overall goal should be to keep stuff as simple as possible. Here are the guidelines I’d recommend:

(1) Use the same structure for each Training Session:

Warm Up, then …
(1) Strength
(2) Work Capacity
(3) Core/Chassis Integrity
(4) Cool Down Stretching

(2) Limit your equipment to an empty rifle, and body armor. This way you won’t have to gather litters, jerry cans, etc. every day and figure out how to divvy up the equipment. Everyathlete will have his/her own body armor and rifle. I’ve have them train in t-shirt, boots, and cammie pants. This will allow you to program strength circuits, have your athletes wear their body armor and hold their rifle, and perform bodyweight movements. The extra load of the armor and rifle will add intensity.

(3) Break each session into set blocks of time, and gave the entire group train through the training session together … this will keep things simple and allow you to monitor everything more efficiently. As well, everyone will move from one part of the training session to the next, together.

(4) Finally, I’d recommend using the same warm up and cool down each day …. as again, this will make things more simple.

Below are the three training sessions to consider. Good luck!

– Rob Shaul

*********************************

 

DAY 1

Warm up:

10 Minute Grind …

 

“Grind” = Work Steadily, not frantically through the circuit for 10 minutes. Complete the Instep Stretch each round.

Training:

(1) 20 Minute “Grind” wearing Body Armor and Holding Rifle

“Grind” = Work Steadily, not frantically through the circuit for 20 minutes. Complete the Hip Flexor Stretch each round.

(2) 20 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible) – No Body Armor

(3) 6 Rounds

(4) 2 Rounds

***********************************

DAY 2

Warm up:

10 Minute Grind …
“Grind” = Work Steadily, not frantically through the circuit for 10 minutes. Complete the Instep Stretch each round.

Training:

(1) 20 Minute “Grind” wearing Body Armor and Holding Rifle

“Grind” = Work Steadily, not frantically through the circuit for 20 minutes. Complete the Hip Flexor Stretch each round.

(2) 4 Rounds, every 3 Minutes wearing Body Armor and Carrying Rifle

(3) 6 Rounds – Take off Body Armor

(4) 2 Rounds
***********************************

DAY 3

Warm up:
10 Minute Grind …
“Grind” = Work Steadily, not frantically through the circuit for 10 minutes. Complete the Instep Stretch each round.

Training:

(1) 20 Minute Grind wearing body armor and holding rifle

“Grind” = Work Steadily, not frantically through the circuit for 20 minutes. Complete the Hip Flexor Stretch each round.

(2) MTI Tactical Athlete Work Capacity Assessment …. Record Final Reps

  • 3 Minute 25m Prone to Sprint wearing Body Armor
  • 1 Minute Rest
  • 3 Minute 25m Prone to Sprint wearing Body Armor
  • 1 Minute Rest
  • 3 Minute 25m Prone to Sprint wearing Body Armor

*** This assessment is no joke. For athletes struggling, have them pull their body armor during the first rest period.

(3) 10-Minute Grind

(4) 2 Rounds

Arete 10.10.19

Military / National Security / Foreign Affairs

Rescue by tuk tuk as snipers rain death onto Baghdad streets, Reuters
German lorry attack in Limburg seen as ‘act of terrorism’, BBC
Ecuador moves government out of capital as violent protests rage, The Guardian
Games to Grunts program offers free video game downloads to active-duty troops, veterans, Stars & Stripes
Backing the Corps: Ensuring the Future of the Amphibious Force, War on the Rocks
Deterrence: I Don’t Think It Means What You Think It Means, Modern War Institute
New Zealand wrestles with 250th anniversary of James Cook’s arrival, The Guardian
Air Force colonel pleads guilty to child pornography charges, Stars & Stripes
The war in Afghanistan is now old enough to buy cigarettes, get awful military tattoos, enlist, and fight itself, Task & Purpose
Australia says it won’t risk more lives trying to rescue citizens from northern Syria, The Guardian
Bolivians protest over lithium deal with German company, DW.com
What role does AI have in the American nuclear arsenal?, Defense News
Germany warns of repeat of 2015 migrant influx into EU, Reuters
Brazil to open its new Antarctic research station in January 2020, Janes 360
The plan to give soldiers a day’s worth of MREs in one ration. Seven days of food weighing less than 10 pounds, Marine Corps Times
Bell unveils the Invictus, Defense News
Here’s how many foreign military sales the US State Department OK’d in FY19, Defense News
For Mexico’s President, Forced Disappearances Could Make or Break the Justice System, Foreign Policy
Extending Russia, RAND Corp
The Breakaways: A Retrospective on the Baltic Road to NATO, War on the Rocks
A Striking New Vision for the Marines, and a Wakeup Call for the Other Services, War on the Rocks
Operation Mount Hope: How the CIA stole a Russian Hind-D gunship in the dead of night, War is Boring

First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

FBI confirms Samuel Little is US’s most prolific serial killer, Al Jazerra
Ohio city female FFs: ‘We’re not being harassed’, FireRescue1
New fire retardant gel developed that can remain effective for months, Wildfire Today
Wash. firefighter succumbs to burn injuries, FireRescue1
Students call for campus police to be disarmed: “We expect these demands to be met”LE Today
Texas DPS Sets Maximum Waistline Measurements for Officers, Police One
Chicago Officer Accidentally Shoots Self in Buttocks, Leg, Police One
8 tips for cops working the graveyard shift, Police One
“Let it Burn!”, Backstep Firefighter
Houston firefighters declare ‘no confidence’ in fire chief, FireRescue1
New Calif. laws to help responders with trauma, mental health issues, FireRescue1

Mountain

Here’s How to Make Your Outdoor Gear Last Forever, Gear Patrol
Underappreciated Badass Davo Karnicar Skied Everest’s Impossible Line, Adventure Journal
Your Hydration Bladder Is Probably Gross—Here’s How to Fix That, Adventure Journal
Keenan Takahashi | Moon Shadow V13, La Sportiva
Kimmy Fasani Is Changing the Rules of Snowboarding, Outside
Dave MacLeod quashes his Mind Riot, new E10 trad climb at Binnein Shuas in Scotland, Planet Mountain
Dani Arnold, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Comici – Dimai free solo speed interview, Planet Mountain
Finding Your True North with Emily Miller, REI Co-op Journal
Gone but not forgotten: Which defunct outdoor brand do you miss the most?, SNEWS
Who Owns the Wild: Grizzlies or Humans?, Outside
The Wrong Way to Fight Off a Bear, Outside
The Professional Lowdown on Mountain Weather Sources: Benefits/Limitations and Application of Each, AAI
Has Overtourism Killed Big Sur?, Outside
Grasping at Draws: Unprofessional—the Top 5 (Worst) Ways to Get Sponsored, Climbing Mag
The Most Versatile Bike Rack for Your Rig, Outside

Nutrition / Fitness / Health

California becomes first state to allow HIV prevention pills without prescription, Associated Press
Artificial womb: Dutch researchers given €2.9m to develop prototype, The Guardian
Comparison Between Back Squat, Romanian Deadlift, and Barbell Hip Thrust for Leg and Hip Muscle Activities During Hip Extension, JSCR
Army releases new fitness test requirements, will go in effect next year, War is Boring
The Keto Diet and Exercise: The Ultimate Guide for Training on a Low-Carb Diet, Nerd Fitness
The Keys to Upper Body Strength Training for Women, Breaking Muscle
Upper and Lower Body Power Are Strong Predictors for Selection of Male Junior National Volleyball Team Players, JSCR
We Tasted 4 of the Newest (and Most Photogenic) Instant Coffees, NY Times
The Relationship Between Injury and Back Pain: Neutral Spine Versus Flexion, Breaking Muscle
Uncovering how the body ages is leading to drugs to reverse it, the Economist
Combined Effects of Static Stretching and Electrical Stimulation on Joint Range of Motion and Muscle Strength, JSCR
The fast and the curious: Fitter adults have fitter brains, Science Daily
HIIT vs. HIRT: Reducing Workout Stress To Increase Fitness, Mark’s Daily Apple
8 Things to Look For in a Protein Bar, According to Nutritionists, Muscle & Fitness

Interesting

Drone spots five more dead elephants at Thailand waterfall, The guardian
‘South Park’ Is Pulled in China After Mocking Censors, NY Times
Extinction Rebellion activists glue themselves to Home Office and DfT, The Guardian
The top 10 best places to retire, CNBC
Here are the 22 books our Rising Stars of Wall Street think everyone should read, Business Insider
SpaceX’s Starship is a new kind of rocket, in every sense, The Economist
Subaru Moves One Step Closer to Dropping the Stick Shift, Gear Patrol
Bollinger’s Electric Pickup and SUV Are Made for the Mud, Wired

Q&A 10.3.19

QUESTION

Any advice for choosing a program that is 3 strength sessions per week? I’m trying to find something to combine with 2 days of running/bjj per week.

ANSWER

The MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan trains strength 3x/week. Just do the strength sessions.
If you’ve already done this plan, look at the Big 3 + Run Plan. Again, just do the strength work.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am planning on going skiing the week of February 22-29, 2020. I am hoping to be as well prepared as possible for the skiing as it is the only time of year I can go. Overall, I need to improve my general fitness. I only have access to very limited equipment. I would appreciate any advice on which of your plans you would recommend for the next 5-6 months.

ANSWER

In this order ….

Dryland Ski Preseason Training Plan (Complete the 7 weeks directly before your trip)
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m getting back into lifting for the first time in a long long while. But I am pretty damn determined to get in the best shape. I want to have a plan in place for several months to come so that I am not trying to figure out what’s next every 4 weeks.
Do you have a progression plan or recommendation to link a few programs together?
It looks like based on review and methodology, Rat 6 is a good place to start.

ANSWER

If you’re primarily concerned about strength, and not around fitness, I’d recommend the plans/order in the MTI Strength Packet – which is 7 strength-focused training plans beginning with TLU Strength. You can purchase these plans individually. Also – most include some short work capacity.
This also assumes you know your way around the weight room, and have been doing some type of training. If not, start our stuff with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan, then move to the plans in the Strength Packet.
– Rob

QUESTION

Ive been looking for a good JTF2 (Canada’s version of Delta) selection program. What do you reccomend? I dont know if the demands are any different than delta.

ANSWER

JTF2 – I’ve been asked several times to develop a plan for this but in all these years have not been able to find out enough about the fitness demands of the selection to confidently design a selection-specific plan for it. Delta selection is super ruck intensive, and our plan reflects that – but I’m not sure JTF2 follows this model.
So …. I’ve recommended others complete our Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan for JTF2 – which has plenty of rucking, but also include training for a PFT, running, core strength, and work capacity work for multi-mode team events.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a CrossFit coach and rugby athlete at Stanford University. I enjoy challenging myself through physical training to see what I am capable of. I have learned a lot from your YouTube videos and I have looked through all your training plans as I begin to train specifically for PJ selection. With 2 years left in school, it seems like the best way I can prepare is to do the Rookie Training Packet followed by the USAF PJ Selection Packet.
I want to maximize my effort and time, would you agree with this plan or is there a different training program you would recommend for someone with average fitness to begin preparing for PJ selection?

ANSWER

PJ Selection is swimming/water-confidence intensive, and most the attrition is at the pool. Becoming confident in the water and dealing with that stress is key.
I’d recommend you follow the plans/order in the USAF CCT/PJ Training Packet – which begins with the Military OnRamp Training Plan, and concludes with the Selection Plan. It’s 53 weeks of training …. email back on the other side.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am not a LEO or in the military I’m just a dad who wants to get in shape again and improve my overall athleticism. There’s so many programs it can be overwhelming to try and pick one.

ANSWER

The plans/order in our Country Singer Packet apply MTI’s programming philosophy to programming for civilian athletes. These are what I’d recommend beginning with Johnny.
If you’re starting from scratch, begin with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan, then move to the Country Singer Packet.
– Rob

QUESTION

Is there a program to boost my push-ups and heaves?

ANSWER

The APFT Training Plan includes focused training for pushups and sit ups.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’ve been an online member for maybe 6 months now and whilst I haven’t done a program i do use quite a few aspects of your methodology in my own programming and I love your mini-studies especially the frankness.
I’m a 20 year UK Army Officer Vet and now a 4 year reserve officer – Airborne attached to a Royal Marine Commando unit. i picked up CrossFit in ‘12 with the USMC in AFG and then a box opened in my hometown. I’m still a member there but don’t do many classes, mostly open gym.  I picked up GJ in 15 and use some of their stuff as well as training at an affiliate near my work in UK.
I train 3-5 times a week, mostly strength and power in the week –  40-60 min sessions after work – and ideally a longer grinder at the weekend, rucking etc (more on this below).  i used to run mountain marathons but lost my mojo for running after years of Achilles issues. I’m the fittest officer in my reserve unit (but that ain’t hard!).
I’m 48 and 6ft/87kg, body fat about 14%. I use my fitness pal to keep to 2000cal at 40/30/30 and eat GF and DF and as healthy as i can (although lots of work travel makes this a challenge at times).  I do take some extra cals when the body tells me to.
Your article about training in the city for the mountains was very useful and I’d like some advice if you have time.
Back in the day I did a couple of Nordic Classic races (up to 15k) and last year i decided to do the Birkebeiner in Norway as a challenge. (55km and a couple of cheeky climbs). I have a basis of technique and so i trained for it, mostly on the gently rolling hills of Wiltshire, southern UK.  I came about 7500/10000 in the race at 6hrs 10 ish which was OK as there were very few Brits there – like handfuls and it’s the Norwegian national sport.  I’m going back next year and i want to do better.
I orientated my short sessions to use ski erg for warmups and some power work and I worked strict Pull-up (max 16 reps in my army FT), DL, lunges, BoBs, box jumps, airdyne (150 cal/9min) etc. Some GHD and TTB for core but not loads.
My “favourite” long sessions were:
– 30 rds 500m ski erg/500m run
– 2 hr tyre drag on hilly dirt tracks with poles
– half Mara ski erg
– 7.5km tyre drag to the box then 2 hrs of airdyne/ski erg intervals, then drag home (that one sucked but i hit the wall which i was hoping for)
– light fast rucks such as Highwalk from UKSF selection
– i did one of these endurance workouts most weekends for 3m up to the race
I had 4 days on snow with 3 on the route for recon and some nasty climbing sessions about 6 weeks out. My longest day was 30km and i had covered the second half of the route so I knew what was coming when I got to the mentally tougher stage.
How did the race feel?  I felt balaced between upper/core (polling) and lower and I didn’t get injured.  I got in the groove (no pun intended) and got on with it. I guess in the end it boiled down to 2 things. Time on the snowy hills. And just plain old cardio endurance.
Maybe I’m answering my own question but apart from “more and harder”, and noting that there are no free lunches, what would you reccommend for next time? Also i was pretty ad-hoc about the progression, i just did a hard workout and thought OK, what next?
I’d love to hear what you think about training for this kind of event and if you want to use me as a guinea pig, I’d be very happy.

ANSWER

You’re doing way too much variety – the vast majority of your training should be on skiing …. I’d recommend roller skis instead of an erg – but it regardless, tire drags, rucking, etc. are not contributing much to your race performance. You need to ski a lot more if you want to maximize your race performance.
I don’t have a 55k plan, but from our stuff, you could do the 50-Mile Ultra Training Plan and replace all the running in the plan with either roller skiing or erg work.
– Rob

QUESTION

First off, thanks for the great resource and training platform. As a former CF coach who did all the programming for our box and a yoga instructor I know how complex programming can be. So thanks for all the effort in building this resource.

I am just beginning my foray into endurance events and I’m interested in following a year long program much like the plan packets you’ve created for various military selection programs.

Is there a sequence of programs you recommend I follow for ultra running? I know you have the 100- and 50-mile programs, but those are too intense to start off with. Also, my target races are in May, 2020 (30 miles) and November 2020 (50 miles).

I’d like to have a solid year programming schedule and welcome any thoughts on which MTI plans I should combine.

ANSWER

One race at a time … with a focus on the 30 miler. By my count there are 33 weeks between no and May 1, 2020. Here’s what I recommend:
Weeks   Plan
1-15       Running Improvement Training Plan
16          Total Rest
17-23     Half Marathon Training Plan
24          Total Rest
25-33     Ultra Pre-Season Training Plan (Repeat week 7) – complete directly before your race.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have a couple questions concerning nutrition recommended by your video and Why We Get Fat.

A little but about myself, I am a 27 year old male currently serving in the military and have assignment for screening and selection.  I recently completed your humility program while on deployment and have experienced outstanding results toward my physical conditioning goals.  When I returned from deployment, I began diving into diet choices and was researching how to eat healthier to further my fitness goals when I stumbled upon your nutrition video and began reading the book you recommend.  I jumped on the diet and have noticed almost immediate results, leaning out, and not experiencing any bloating.

However, I have noticed an energy drop throughout the day.  I have been on this diet for a short period of time, do your athletes’ energy levels improve over time while on this diet?  Also, do you recommend eating rice, or some other carbohydrates besides gels prior to distance rucks or timed run events?

Thank you for the excellent plans and research your company is conducting, many of my colleges are on your training programs and also are experiencing great results.  I am starting one of your assessment and selection plans shortly, and look forward to the results from your diet and physical training plan.  I appreciate your time.

ANSWER

Energy Drop? Eat an apple or drink some black coffee.
Carbs prior to a ruck or run? Apple and almond butter or banana and almond butter.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have a question about finding the right program for me. I just graduated RASP and am waiting to PCS up to Washington. In the meantime I want to focus on getting stronger and running & rucking faster. My current pt test scores are:
Pushups: 75
Sit-ups: 85
Pull-ups: 18
5 mile: 35:14
12 mile ruck: 2:45
I don’t report to JBLM until February and I’d like to show up being able to run my 5 mile in 31-32 mins and ruck under 2:30. I also want to get overall stronger but not sure if following a traditional weightlifting program is good enough.
What program or combination of programs do you recommend for the goals I have?
Thanks again and I’m looking forward to hearing back!

ANSWER

I’d recommend Fortitude, which concurrently trains strength (barbell), work capacity, endurance (run, ruck) and chassis integrity.
– Rob

QUESTION

I work as a guide on Svalbard, with hiking, skiing, some glacier travel, and snowmobiling, and because of my work I need to keep fit.

I also go climbing and skiing on my free time.

I need a plan to build my endurance and mountain strength, preferably with two-maybe three of training a week. That training would be between climbing days, and weekends I prefer to go skiing.
What training plan would you recommend?

ANSWER

Mountain Base Helen … complete the plan’s sessions in order. It’s designed to be a 5/6 day/week plan, but you can do 2/3 days/week, just follow the sessions in order.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m looking for the best ski prep program for me for this coming season. I built and training wall at home and Ive used your ice climbing plan before (loved it, but it destroyed me).
I’m currently closing in on a 70.3 tri at the end of sept and my training has mainly been trail running and mountain biking (apart from open water swims). I feel decent about stamina at the moment but could always be better.
I usually ski around 60-80 days a season with most of it off piste. Mixed in there are about 20 days touring. I ski mainly in Austria, which means the access is good and tours are typically only 2-3 hours. Despite skiing a lot and usually doing a few triathlons in the summer to prep, I still feel weak a lot of times.

So my question is, would you recommend the dry land preseason, backcountry, or something else to get me ready for the season? I’ll be in Lofoten for a while in late April and really want to be in form for that.
Thanks so much for your help.

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

Greetings! I am member of the Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community as well as a big fan of your programming. The Air Force is in the process of implementing a job-specific test for my career field, and I wanted to pass along the test definitions and standards in the hopes that you will be able to provide programming specific to preparation for this test.
Two items are attached to this email. One is the formal test definitions, standards, and protocols. The other is acclimation guidance, which is essentially just a set of recommended exercises provided by the Air Force that can be used to prepare for the test; this guidance is not a comprehensive programming plan though.
The test described in the first attachment is designed to supplant both the Air Force’s standard Tier 1 fitness test, (which has been the test used up to this point for continuous fitness monitoring of EOD operators), as well as the old EOD PAST which has been used over just the past few years to begin pre-screening candidates wishing to join our career field. Once members graduate EOD school, they are no longer subject to EOD PAST standards.
This new Tier 2 test will replace both the old tests as a single standard used for both screening candidates, as well as continuously monitoring the fitness of EOD operators. Senior EOD leadership, those in staff positions, and others in non-operational positions/roles will not be required to test for the duration of their tenure in those positions. Only members occupying operational positions/roles will be required to take the Tier 2 test. The test is not scaled by gender, age, or any other factors like the Air Force’s Tier 1 test.
The career field is currently within a one year acclimation period (June 2019 – June 2020) to allow us to prepare for the test. Official testing and scoring will begin after this acclimation period ends. Recently, many EOD flights have begun conducting mock tests to gauge readiness of their units.
Unfortunately, some members, (especially members that entered the career field prior to the EOD PAST entry requirement), are less prepared than others, and since the acclimation guidance provided by the Air Force is largely incomplete, it would be extremely beneficial to have actual programming to use as opposed to just a list of exercises. Many of these members are those that fought at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are the developers and keepers of much of our modern techniques, tactics, and procedures. It would be a travesty for the Air Force and EOD community to lose them, and it is my hope that by providing them with the tools they need to use this acclimation period wisely, they will continue to be an asset to our career field and our country.
I am confident that any plan developed by Mountain Tactical would be of great benefit, and heavily used, considering the lack of comprehensive preparation guidance provided by the Air Force. I would see to it personally that as many EOD flights as possible were made aware of it, if your team chooses to develop one. Thank you for your time and consideration.

ANSWER

I’ve already built a plan for this assessment – the USAF Tier 2 EOD PFT Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

I recently subscribed to MTI after a couple years of interest. Currently, I am trying to find a good place to start;  I have been inactive for a little over a year, and had a hernia laparoscopic surgery done 2 months ago. I am 5’8 and 140lb. Currently, I would like to build more core strength as it is the weakest area of my body. I would like to avoid any heavy weights and prioritize self body weight strength. Do you have any suggestions as to where to start? Thank you.

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

I am an Army ROTC Cadet, a student at Montana State University, and a lover of MTI. What I’ve seen in the Military On-Ramp plan I purchased has been effective, efficient, and very fun. I fully intend to explore more of your plans as my career progresses.
I would very much like to incorporate MTI into the ROTC curriculum here at my school. Besides already recommending MTI at every turn, the cadet world is stricken with boring, repetitive exercises. Junior-year cadets, like myself, are in charge of creating PT plans for their squads. Since I was a freshman they have been traditionally mundane. In addition, ROTC PT is mandatory 3 days per week, which is not enough to improve beyond basic fitness.
If you could get back to me on 1. The potential of a Cadet Plan for the off-days from mandatory PT, and 2. The best existing plans or exercises with limited equipment to make PT itself more efficient.
I will talk to my cadre here and discuss the idea of using your plans in our curriculum regardless.
Thank you for all you contribute!

ANSWER

I’d recommend the Sandbag/Weight Vest/Dumbbell Training Plan. This is designed as a limited equipment, 5 day/week plan and would work for both your needs – both ROTC PT and training on your own.
The PT cadets could do only the Mon/Wed/Fri sessions. The motivated cadets could do the Tue/Thurs sessions on your own.
– Rob

QUESTION

I just wanted to see what would be my best option for what I’d like to train for. I ride motorcycle trials at an intermediate/advanced level. And being short in height and still advancing in skill level I often have to physically move my bike around (145lbs). Endurance is definitely a factor as well, lots of standing.
If you neer any more info from me let me know.

ANSWER

I don’t have a specific plan for motorcycle trials. From what I do have I’d recommend Johnny, which is a multi-modal training that concurrently trains strength, work capacity, endurance and chassis integrity (core). This is an intense plan which would transfer well to your sport.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m currently training up for Ranger school using your Ranger School program.  Backing off 8 weeks from my class days puts week 1 next week.  I’ve spent rh3 last 2 weeks doing moderately high efforts on the week1 workouts (i.e., 40# then 50# instead of 60# rucks).  I am feeling generally good going into week one but am starting to feel the mileage in some lower body aches and pains.   Should I execute session 5 and 6 of this pre-week 1 any differently? What about week 1 proper of the 8 week cycle?

ANSWER

Rest the rest of this week, and complete Week 1 of the Ranger School plan as prescribed.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am just starting my career in law enforcement as a reserve at 35. I am NOT in shape and am wanting to get information about a leo fitness program. My question is, will your programs work for a fitness beginner? The problem I have run into with some programs is they assume you already have a level of fitness higher than a beginner. Do your programs show ways to modify so of the exercises for a beginner? I look forward to hearing from you, thank you.

ANSWER

I’d recommend you start our programming with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan. This plan deploys an initial assessment and the follow on progressions are based on the athlete’s incoming fitness level. In this way it automatically “scales” to the incoming fitness of the individual.
Follow up Bodyweight Foundation with the LE OnRamp Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’ve been working on the BUDS Packet, and have done the On Ramp & Humility, and instead of going to Valor I felt I personally needed more time spent running since Im a bigger guy (6’3 220lbs) so I started  Run Improvement (Week 6-10)  to help me more in that area. Just finished week 7. Love it by the way. Once I’m done with this should I go straight into Valor? I just realized it has some similar assessments like what I’m already doing (3 mile run for time), wasn’t sure if you would recommend subbing Valor with something else or not. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER

Move to Valor.
– Rob

Arete 10.3.19

Military / National Security / Foreign Affairs

Russia watching closely after Turkish move on Syria safety zone: Kremlin, Reuters
North Korean Missile Delivers a Message: There’s Little Japan Can Do, NY Times
Brazil set to finalise MTC-300 cruise missile development, Janes 360
Researchers chronicle evolution of Russian wargaming, Janes 360
The Military Might Showed Off at China’s 70th Anniversary Parade, Real Clear Defense
Say Goodbye to the Hated Army UCP Uniform, Military.com
The U.S. Navy Isn’t Ready to Take On Iran, Foreign Policy
Air Force Arms B1-B With Hypersonic Weapons, War Maven
Taliban, U.S. negotiator both in Islamabad for talks with Pakistan, Reuters
Peru thrown into constitutional crisis amid power struggle, Al Jazerra
New Drones, Weapons Get Spotlight in China’s Military Parade, Defense One
Japan’s Getting Its First Aircraft Carriers In 75 Years, But U.S. Marines Will Fly From Them First, Foxtrot Alpha
Surprise: Most Americans Think We Shouldn’t Be Selling Weapons To Anyone, Foxtrot Alpha
Shabaab strikes American, Italian forces in Somalia, Long War Journal
Active duty suicides are on the rise, as the Pentagon works on new messaging and strategy, Marine Corps Times
Afghan forces still at the mercy of US air support despite huge investment into Afghan air force, Marine Corps times
How America got Dragged into the Saudi-Iranian Proxy Game, Modern War Institute
What Are the Implications of Deepening Security Cooperation in Asia?, Rand Corp
Officer Specialization in the United States Army: The Solution to the Junior Officer Brain Drain and Generals Who Over-Generalize is One and the Same, Small Wars Journal
One special ops deployment resulted in 21 Purple Hearts, 7 Bronze Stars, and 5 Silver Stars for combat heroism, Task & Purpose
CIA Releases Post-9/11 Images of Operation Jawbreaker on Twitter, Tactical Life

 

First Responder / Homeland Security / Wildland Fire

Sweden grapples with fatal police shooting of man with Down’s syndrome, The Guardian
Less Fuel, More People: Most California Wildfires in Wildland-Urban Interface Areas, Homeland Security Newswire
NYC Bans Calling Someone an “Illegal Alien” out of Hate, Homeland Security Newswire
FBI: More people killed with knives, hammers, clubs and even feet than rifles in 2018, LE Today
 10/1/1964 Boston’s Trumbull Street fire killed five firefighters and injured twelve when part of a vacant four-story ab…, Firefighter Close Calls
Fire truck design: Is black the new chrome?, Fire Rescue 1
Officer suspended after cooperating with ICE to take criminal off the streets, LE Today
Legal Experts: Guilty Verdict in Former Officer’s Murder Trial Signals Major Shift in How Juries View Police, Officer.com
Fla. city commissioner berates cop during public ceremony in cop’s honor, Police One
Border patrol officer wins 10th consecutive NRA championship award, Police One
Autopsy shows CAL FIRE firefighter died of heat exposure, Wildfire Today
NIOSH is studying the health effects of fighting wildfires, Wildfire Today
Video of extreme firefighting at the 2018 Ranch Fire, Wildfire Today

 

Mountain

PCT VS. AT: Which Hike Is For You?, Globosurf
How Much Food Should I Pack? (How to save weight on backpacking food based on the energy-mile theory), Backpacking Light
Winnebago Just Made the Perfect Affordable Camper Van, Gear Patrol
Alpinism’s Greatest Feat? Nims Purja Is on the Brink, Gearjunkie
Struggling With the Mundane After a Major Adventure Ends, Adventure Journal
Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad – 9/26/19, AAI
Skintrack Sketches: Artist and designer Joseph Toney takes an abstract view of the skintrack, Backcountry Magazine
An Ultralight Backpacker Learns the Real Value of Weight, Adventure Journal
Our 5 Favorite Fall Gear Deals Right Now, Backpacker Magazine
Are State Lands Really Public?, Outdoor Life
The Climbers Who Survived a Week Stuck on Mount Rainier, Outside
Tested: Bear Sprays, Backpacker Magazine
‘Cast and Carve’: Short Film Blends Fly Fishing and Snowboarding, Gearjunkie
60 Hours in Mexico, a ski adventure to the third-highest mountain in North America, Freeskier
The Climbers Who Survived a Week Stuck on Mount Rainier, Outside
The Roar of ATVs May Soon Echo Through Utah’s National Park Canyons, Adventure Journal
Do You Train for Your Adventures?, Adventure Journal

 

Fitness / Health / Nutrition

Corps Strength – When Standards get lowered, Performance is sure to follow, Soldier Systems
How to Make Incredibly Decadent Energy Bars, Adventure Journal
5 Ways That CrossFit May Never Get Fixed, Breaking Muscle
Arousal Management: The Science Behind Getting Mad at the Bar, Breaking Muscle
How Jessica Fithen Trains to Be the Strongest Woman in the World, Muscle & Fitness
For young athletes, sport specialization means increased risk of injury, Science Daily
Characterization of the Physical Fitness of Police Officers: A Systematic Review, JSCR
8 Life Lessons From a Primal Elder to Younger Groks, Mark’s Daily Apple
Thor Björnsson Talks Training, Farmer’s Walks, and Setting Records, Muscle & Fitness
The Safest Seafood Options on the Market, Muscle & Fitness

 

Interesting

Russian man accuses Apple of making him homosexual, Pravda Report
Are China and the West Headed for a Cold War in the Skies?, Foreign Policy
WeWork shows why some venture capitalists are in a world of make-believe, The Economist
Hurricane Recovery in the Bahamas: Turning Good Intentions into Good Decisions, Rand Blog
Bollinger Is Making a Better 4×4 That’s Electric, Too, Outside
Hey, Whatever Happened to Windsurfing?, Adventure Journal