5 Killer MTI Fitness Challenges

Pro Freeskier Forest Jillson fights for sandbag get up reps @ 80# during a 10 minute assessment. Forest is a sandbag getup “monster” and one of the few athletes I’ve seen get 80+ reps in 10 minutes.

By Rob Shaul

Over the years, with thousands of hours coaching lab rats in the gym, programming hundreds of training plans, we’ve developed several, unique fitness challenges. Here are a few of my favorites.


1) 70+ Sandbag Getups in 10 Minutes @ 60/80# Sandbag

Not only is the exercises highly metabolic, but the bag sits on your shoulder, crushing your chest, restricting air flow, making it all worse. My first attempt, I barely managed 50 reps, and was crushed mentally, after.

Over the years we’ve done lot’s of work with this exercise, and have deployed a 10-minute Sandbag Getup for Reps assessment in several individual training plans.

Regardless of body weight, 70+ reps at 60# for women and 80# for men is no joke. My best ever is 76 reps. The best I’ve seen in all these years is 80 reps.

For this assessment, each get up counts as one rep, and you can switch shoulders as needed. We’ve found it takes some strategy to get to 70+ reps – especially few shoulder swaps. The last time I tried I started with 20 reps on my right shoulder, then went 20 on my left shoulder, then 10x each shoulder, plus a few extra on my right side to get to 76.

There is no rule that the number of get ups on each side has to be equal. You can do all 70+ on your stronger side if you want … though no one has been able to do this.



2) 4 Rounds Stepped Barbell Complex Progressions Finishing at Bodyweight

Professional Adventure Photographer Andy Barton warming up with the barbell complex.

I’ve only seen one athlete actually do this, and have been too fearful to try myself. Here’s how it works. First weigh yourself, then round up to the nearest 5 pounds. Then, subtract 30 pounds, and begin your barbell complexes there. Add 10 pounds each round, finishing at your bodyweight on round 4. Rest as needed between rounds.

For example, an athlete’s bodyweight is 155 pounds, here would be the progression.

Round   Barbell Complex Load

1            125#

2            135#

3            145#

4            155# (bodyweight)

Again, rest as needed between rounds.


3) 10 Rounds, Rope Climb Every Minute on the Minute, 15-18’ Rope

Yes, you can use your feet, but expect pumped forearms and biceps. I’ve never been able to do this … my closest was 10 climbs in 12 minutes. Much more intense than you might expect.


4) Bodyweight or Higher Score on Operator Ugly

Operator Ugly is MTI’s comprehensive military fitness test, and our oldest-standing assessment. Over the years, I’ve seen just a handful of athletes score their bodyweight or better on this assessment. My best score ever was 152 …. three points short of my 155# bodyweight at the time.



5) 90 Plus Burpees on the Burpee Beep Ladder Assessment

This is pretty terrible and in our work with lab rats, only a couple have managed to make it past level 6 on this test. Real quick, this is an every minute on the minute assessment. The first minute you do 10x burpees, 12x the second minute, 14x the third minute, etc. until you can’t get the prescribed reps within the minute time frame. If you are able to get through level 6, you’ve completed 90+ burpees in 6 minutes….

Lab Rats love burpees!

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



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