New Plan! Big 3 + Running Training Plan

By Rob Shaul


I’ve received several requests recently by soldiers and other tactical athletes for a training plan which combines the big 3 power lifts, back squat, bench press, and deadlift, with running.

Often these athletes have taken to powerlifting competitions, or done a strength plan which focuses on the big 3 lifts, and noticed not surprisingly that focusing on strength solely comes at a cost to work capacity and endurance.

From a fitness perspective, training both strength and endurance concurrently work against each other. At the muscular level, strength training trains fast twitch muscle fibers, while endurance training hits slow twitch muscle fibers.

Research has shown that endurance training negatively affects strength, but not vice versa – strength training does not negatively affect endurance in a controlled manner. However, in reality, to be really good at endurance, an athlete has to put in loads and loads of volume, which means training time. And this increase in endurance training time can cut into training time for strength … which leads to less strength training, and subsequent decreases in strength.

At MTI, our multi-modal programming has evolved over the years to do the best we can at programming and training multiple fitness attributes concurrently. Will MTI multi-modal programming produce a national champion Olympic lifter or powerlifter? No.

Will MTI multimodal programming produce a national champion endurance athlete? No.

But the athletes we work with (mountain, tactical) are not single-mode athletes like powerlifters or endurance competitors – they have a wide array of mission-direct fitness demands.

The new, Big 3 + Run Training Plan plan combines strength training for the back squat, bench press and deadlift (plus pull ups which I throw in), with running fitness.

The strength programming is built around MTI’s efficient, and intense Density progression which deploys an initial and mid-cycle 1RM assessment and follow-on percentage-based progressions on an interval timer. The 1RM assessments ensure the follow-on progressions are scaled to the individual athlete’s strength.

The running program in this plan is based on a 2-mile running assessment and includes both speed-over-ground and aerobic base programming.

The speed-over-ground work deploys hard, fast 1-mile and 800m interval repeats scaled to the individual athlete based on his/her 2-mile run time. The aerobic base work deploys 3-5 mile, easy-paced Saturday runs.

My sense is this training plan could increase the 1RM Big 3 lift strength for athletes with a younger training age (not much time in the gym and/or experience with these lifts), and maintain 1RM Big 3 strength for athletes with an older training age …. while increasing running fitness.

The plan is focused, sport-specific, and direct. Classic MTI programming!

Questions? Email



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