Plan Focus: Resilience

Amy builds chassis integrity for her upcoming backcountry snowmobile riding season.

By Rob Shaul

Resilience is a 7-week, 5 day/week training program with a strong focus on the athlete’s “combat chassis” and overall Chassis Integrity. It is the fourth training plan in our “Virtue” series for military and tactical athletes. 

The “combat chassis” is the musculature between the knees and the shoulders which supports loading, braces for impact, and is the power center for explosive movement.

“Chassis Integrity” is the MTI mid-section programming methodology of functional, transferrable core strength programming to the battlefield and real world.

Our Chassis Integrity programming theory evolved in the fall of 2015 after a personal experience. I had moved away from the tactical programming to some distance running and bodyweight work. The bodyweight training included plenty of core work – sit-up variations, bridging, lower back complexes, EO’s, and some ground and equipment based work such as Russian Triangles, Ankles to Bar, GHD Sit ups, etc.

Further, my core circuits pushed beyond what I commonly programmed for athletes in both rounds and duration. I really hammered it – or so I thought.

After a couple months I got back underneath the barbell for some front squats and struggled to go heavy. My legs were strong, in isolation, and my core was strong, in isolation, but the link and coordination between the two wasn’t there – I lacked “chassis integrity.”

This had a real impact on me – as I’d hammered my mid section, but all that work hadn’t translated into a the functional task of lifting heavy while standing. It caused me to question my core programming theory to that point and I began to develop the Chassis Integrity model.

Specifically, the experience caused me to question why were we doing so many ground or equipment based core exercises when in reality most core work is done standing? I reasoned that not performing core exercises from a standing or kneeling position had compromised my chassis “integrity.”

Second, I questioned the need for isometric and flexion core exercises in general. Real life mid-section strength demands for the athletes we serve (mountain/tactical) is dominated by extension and rotational movement patterns. Real life also includes isometric work, but not in the way we had been training it. More specifically, rather than isometric work, what really occurs is anti-rotation. Mountain and Tactical athletes must fight force trying to torque them rotationally.

Third, previously I had programmed core circuits using the standard round and reps format used as examples above. This approach seems to train strength, but not necessarily strength endurance. Perhaps grinds for time would be more transferable outside the gym, I reasoned.

Resilience is designed for Military Athletes looking to strengthen their combat chassis and complete which builds integrity across the entire “combat chassis” skeletal/muscular system.

Resilience strengthens the combat chassis and builds Chassis Integrity in three distinct ways:

  • Complexed Total Body Barbell Exercises with significant level changes: i.e. taking the barbell from the ground and putting it overhead. Exercises include complexed versions of the power clean, hang squat clean, and snatch.
  • Extended Chassis Integrity Circuits which build both mid-section strength and endurance by deploying Total, Rotational, Anti-Rotational and Extension mid-section exercises from primarily kneeling or standing positions.
  • Heavy Ruck Running, out to 5 miles. Ruck Running by definition mission-specifically trains the combat chassis in a mode which directly transfers to the tactical mission set. Ruck running is also mode-specific military endurance training.

As well, Resilience dedicates one day/week to speed, and work capacity deploying unloaded sprints out to 800m. We deploy a 1-mile time trial, and use your assessment results to determine follow on 200m, 400m and 800m repeats. In this way the plan automatically “scales” the sprint pacing to each individual athlete – everyone gets pushed. Ouch.

Finally, Resilience trains upper body strength in a focused manner via the Bench Press and MTI’s Eccentric Strength programming progression.


  • Monday: Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Tuesday: Strength, Chassis Integrity, Eccentric Bench Press
  • Wednesday: Unloaded Sprinting, Work Capacity
  • Thursday: Strength, Chassis Integrity, Eccentric Bench Pres
  • Friday: Ruck Running out to 5 miles

This is the second version of this training program, updated in March 2017.

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