Programming Test: 3-Week Cycle Pairs Super Squats and Endurance, Both Increase 5%

By Rob Shaul



This 3-Week multi modal training cycle paired focused back squat training via MTI’s “Super Squat” progression, and focused endurance programming around a 6-Mile Run assessment.

Four veteran MTI Lab Rats (2 men, 2 women) and 1 new athlete (man) completed the same 3-week training cycle in April/May, 2019.

The four veteran lab rats had extensive MTI strength and endurance programming experience. The one new athlete had little strength training experience but is a high level recreational ultra race runner with an extensive endurance training background.

A 1RM Back Squat assessment (1 Repetition Max) and 6-Mile run assessment were both completed the Monday (back squat) and Tuesday (6-Mile Run) the week of the training plan. Both were retested after 3 weeks of progressive programming. At the post cycle assessment, the average increase in Back Squat 1RM was 5.2%, and decrease in 6-Mile Run Time was 5.7%.


Programming mass effort strength and endurance together in the same cycle is an approach unique to tactical and mountain athletes.

Conventional strength and conditioning programming for the max effort sports of powerlifting and Olympic weight lifting avoids any endurance programming and minimized work capacity training.

Likewise, conventional endurance programming avoids max effort strength training. When any strength training is programmed for endurance athletes, it’s generally high volume work focused on developing strength endurance, not max effort strength.

Few competitive sports have unique fitness demands which require both strength and endurance as do professional tactical and mountain athletes. Our work and programming evolution at MTI has significantly been driven by developing methodologies to train both max effort strength and endurance together.

This quick 3 week, 5 day/week training cycle paired one of MTI’s version of the Super Squat progression, with speed over ground, and aerobic base training for a 6 mile run effort. The programming also included chassis integrity work (core) and one day of multi-modal gym-based endurance.

The “Super Squat” progression is MTI’s version of a famous progression developed by Dr. Randall Stossen. In MTI’s version, the athlete completes an initial Back Squat 1RM assessment, and then a follow-on percentage-based progression of 20x Squats in a row, with 3 deep breaths between each rep.

Below is was the cycle’s weekly schedule and after is the cycle outline:

  • Monday: Super Squat Progression
  • Tuesday: 6 Mile Run Assessment or 2 Mile Speed Over Ground Intervals
  • Wednesday: Gym-Based Endurance
  • Thursday: Long Run (7-8 Miles) at an “easy” pace
  • Friday: Super Squat Progression



Lab Rat Back Squat 1RM and 6-Mile Run re-assessment results are below:

In general, over a 6-week cycle, I’ll look to see assessed gains across measured modes for untrained athletes in the 15-20% range, and 5-10% range for highly trained, experienced athletes.

Why the difference?

In general, trained athletes, with a higher “training age” (years training in that mode) will be closer to their genetic potential in familiar training modes, and thus their “ceiling” of improvement is lower. Hence, the lesser gains.

In this programming test, “Josh” was the “new” athlete to MTI programming. However, he came to the cycle with an extensive endurance background, and in the midst of training for an ultra marathon in the summer.

For the experienced athletes – Emmett, Kat, Ryan and Alley, the 1RM Back Squat and 6-mile run assessments were in line with what we’d expect from athletes with high training ages. Only Ryan’s 1RM Back Squat result surprised – as he did not increase back squat strength over the course of the cycle.

Josh’s 1RM Back Squat improvement was below what we’d initially expect for an athlete relatively new to strength training. However, his 5.4% improvement in 6-mile run time was also surprising given his endurance background and run training load coming into the cycle.

Overall, this short programming test helps validate the possibility of training max effort strength and endurance concurrently and seeing improvements in both.


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