Q&A 1.10.19

QUESTION

I’m a 37 year old professional firefighter/ paramedic for a large municipal fire department. I’ve been using a 531 strength training template with assistance work for the last couple years with great success in strength gains, but would like to start adding in some more cardio/work capacity training. Can you recommend a plan I can do in addition to my 531 training? I’m not agains trying a whole new plan that would incorporate both either. I would just prefer the strength portion to be mostly barbell based. I have access to kettlebells, sandbags and an entire set of barbell/bumper plates in my home gym.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans/order in the Big Cat Packet of Plans. These are designed as day to day programming for Fire/Rescue Athletes, and concurrently train strength, work capacity, tactical agility and chassis integrity.
Start with Jaguar.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am 55 years old.  Literally spent 40 years in the “gym” from middle, high school, college athletics. 8 years as SF soldier. Then did triathlons, heavy lifting, past 6 years in CrossFit. 18 months ago, complete burnout and have not done much since.  I enjoy mtn biking, trail running/hiking and lifting.  Have still done a little of those during my break. Have a home gym with bumper plates etc.

Goal is overall fitness.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans/order in the SF45 Packet. These sessions are designed for high impact mountain and tactical athletes ages 45-55. Start with SF45 Alpha.
– Rob

QUESTION

18 months ago I had a hysterectomy to fix a botched c section I had during a massive earthquake here in NZ in 2011. Prior to that I’d had four gynaecological surgeries and IVF. After my hysterectomy I applied for the NZ Army with much discussion with recruiters. I worked hard to rebuild my core and get fit enough. My running was weak but the strength gained was adequate. I used a combination of a very successful personal trainer, training at home and towards the end some CrossFit.
A month ago I headed to Basic and passed the required fitness tests, weapons qualification etc but due to either rubbish timing or the stress of Basic training environment I had a suspected ovarian cyst rupture that got worse and necessitated me leaving training. During this time my surrogate also miscarried our second embryo transfer, so stress was at an all time high. I received wonderful care from the Army and instead of a medical discharge I have what’s called a Return to Unit which allows me to train with them until I am ready to return to Basic training (reservist training generally only happens once a year) Most people would return the following calendar year but as my partner Hamish and I are hoping our surrogate has a successful pregnancy by next November and I am likely to try for Basic 2020 (I’ll be 37 then)
I am meeting with my Specialist this week to pencil in what I suspect will be a quick ‘clean’ up surgery. Instead of getting annoyed at a two year wait to return to Basic I am quietly excited about the prospect of returning even fitter, stronger and faster. I know my running needs work and while I was doing ok, I’d rather return and be near the top of the pack than be average. I lost over 20kg in the past year and still have room to improve my cardio endurance and strength.
I’ve looked at many tactical fitness type programmes. I prefer them to traditional gym / CrossFit programmes as they are better tailored to the requirements of the job. I am also an Urban Search and Rescue responder and do require a good level of strength and fitness for this.
What I’m struggling with is deciding how to build a plan for recovery and rebuild. Especially as a female given the amount of abdominal surgeries I’ve encountered. I’d love to build my upper body strength, running and core and then work on other areas later.
After my last surgery I built up from barely ten crunches to the required 130+ and 2-3 pressups to 15-20. I’d love these to get even better.
Do you have some recommended plans I can work my way through?

ANSWER

I’m not a doctor, and therefore not sure if the programming I recommend here will be too intense. You’ll need to be cautious and smart.
Follow it up with the Military OnRamp Training Plan, then move into the plans/order in the Greek Hero packet of plans, beginning with Hector.
Good luck.
– Rob

QUESTION

Just wondering if you’d have a plan you would recommend to give a good level of general fitness with minimum time spent? For the time poor!

ANSWER

Most of our base fitness training sessions are designed to be 60 minutes long. On the Tactical Side, the Busy Operator I sessions are designed to last 45 minutes and are what I’d recommend.
– Rob

QUESTION

Two questions- If doing relative strength as part of a packet do I move on if I’m not obtaining 4.5 or should I repeat the cycle? Any additional accessory work that can be done to help to help me front squat around.

I’m a tactical athlete and initially scored a 3.97. On the 90% day I couldn’t hit 4 reps of front squat per set. So I focused on just getting through the reps without a time limit. I’m struggling to front squat or clean even close to my body weight. It feels like my low back is the point of failure. Any accessory work that I can supplement to help these lift along? I know this issue will also be the limiting factor for push press and Craig specials in my next cycle. I retest Monday and estimate a 4.3 as every time I do this cycle I make improvement in bench and pull ups. With a 4.3 should I move on or repeat the cycle?

ANSWER

Move on with the programming – don’t repeat.
You’ll get more front squat practice with the Craig Specials – be patient and keep grinding.
– Rob

QUESTION

Looking for some way to assess my condition at the beginning of the year.  Would like to be able to do it quarterly going forward.  What do you recommend?  I’m 55 with two bad knees so need to limit the running to less than two miles or substitute with the bike. If anything I would consider myself as a mountain athlete. Really looking at generally fitness assessment.

ANSWER

Specifically – reduce the run from 3 miles to 1.5 miles, and skip the heavy ruck.
So you’ll still do the strength, work capacity, 1.5 mile run, and 40 minute step ups for reps @ 40#.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m looking for training plan recs. I patrol full-time in Taos, which is an area that includes some hike-to terrain, biggest walk being about 60 mins. Current goals include basic strength, stability, etc for the ski season, but with an aim to ski bigger lines in the Tetons in April. Maybe compete recreationally in a skimo race or two in February and March. Pre-season training has been fairly limited in terms of focus. Fair bit of mountain biking, including a month-long bike packing trip that’s just concluded. Thanks for any direction you can provide!

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

Upcoming Afghan deployment and trying to maximize my training time; Mission is helicopter and CQB based, so I am leaning towards the urban conflict plan, but wanted to check in –
I’m coming off of many months of minor injuries, sickness, etc, so my baseline (especially work capacity/endurance) is not that great – plus I live below sea level so the altitude is going to be rough.
I also don’t have a ruck sack and will be doing some traveling/using non-CF type gyms, if that makes a difference.
Thank you for everything ya’ll do!

ANSWER

The Urban Conflict Training Plan is best for your deployment – but it’s an equipment heavy training plan and I’m not sure how it will work in with your travel. Given your baseline and restrictions, I’d recommend theBodyweight Foundation Training Plan.

– Rob

QUESTION

Looking for some selection guidance. I am planning on attending HRT selection in May of 2020.

To date I ran the swat selection packet in April/May of 2018, following that I completed big 24, officer sessions and now am working my way through fortitude.  I’m a long time customer and have followed your programming for years; multiple academies, selections and trainings passed because of it so I know it works.

I’m looking for more of an actual plan to follow and peak right like your Delta/CAG selection packet and other packets you have available.

One area I noted myself to be deficient in during previous trainings / selections is the swimming component.

Any guidance you might have would be fantastic, thanks again!

ANSWER

Here’s what I recommend:
Next – Plans order in the Pirate Packet of plans. We have more of these plans on the site for subscribers.
Directly before selection – repeat the FBI Selection Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

I joined the Athlete’s Subscription. Please recommend a beginning program(s) and programs for progression based on my following goals, present status. etc … Thank you.
– Male
– 49 years of age
– 5’7″
– 161 lbs
– Prior ankle surgery ( 1986 ) – weak left side including back, knee & shoulder
– Former Wildland Firefighter
– Recently began combat sports training. 2-3x per week: 1-2 hrs per session.
– PR’s: Front squat: 130 lbs
            Back squat: 155
            Press: 95
            Bench press: 145
            Deadlift: 275
            Oly lifts: Bar only but technique is good.
I have been doing basic lifts for the past 6 weeks at the local YMCA and small home gym.
I am looking for longevity in strength, speed, power, endurance and mobility. I am not ” concerned ” with a bodybuilding physique, PR’s. powerlifting totals, numbers, but do and will keep track and seek progession. I enjoy variety: bar, kb’s, sandbags, ropes, bodyweight, etc … .
I have a 1 year old son. I want to train him/ with him in combat sports, take him mountain climbing/bouldering, take him hunting in varied terrain, in general keep up and play with a growing boy for the next 18+ years.
I had various friends both in the Wildland Fire community and the military use your programs to great success.
Thank you for your time and recommendations. I truly appreciate it.

ANSWER

Start with the MTI Relative Strength Assessment Training Plan, then drop into the plans/order in the SF45 training Packets – the SF45 plans are designed as day to day programming for high impact mountain and tactical athletes ages 45-55.
– Rob

QUESTION

I finished the MTI relative strength assessment plan. I saw big improvements in my squat and bench press. Programing felt great.
I’m scheduled to do an APFT in 8 weeks. I’m planning to jump into the APFT training plan. However, my max pull up was only 5 at the end of it (up from 4) and I’d like it to be a lot more. What are your thoughts on doing a pull up progression plan at the same time as the APFT plan?
Additionally, given my total pull up reps are so low, what is the best way to go about increasing? I did a lot of eccentric pull ups after doing 2-3 sets with reps of 2 then gassing out. 30-40% of 5 is always 2. Should I do the density, volume, eccentric or weighted program? Maybe a mix between the density and eccentric? Given my total reps are so low which one do you think would be best?
Thanks for your advice.

ANSWER

Okay to add pull ups – do the volume programming.
– Rob

QUESTION

Hope you’re doing well. Just wanted to run something by you and get your thoughts. I recently jumped back into training pretty hard and was probably a little more ambitious than I should have been out of the gate. Anyways, I strained my right pec, not too badly, but enough to need to lay off of it for about 4-6 weeks. I was wondering if you might be able to suggest a plan I could piece together to keep training while I heal up. I’d like to keep moving forward on lower body strength and mix that with some conditioning/work capacity but thought you might be able to point me in the right direction.

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

I’m shooting for a PR in a race coming up in February. I currently attend a CrossFit gym for functional fitness, but they don’t spend as much time training the skill of running as I feel like I need to hit a new PR. Do you have any plans that I can use to supplement my other training to help me hit this goal? If so, then how would your recommend I fit it into my schedule?

ANSWER

Weeks 6-10 of our Running Improvement Training Plan focus on a 3 mile effort  – which is the closest I have to a 5K. This is what I’d recommend. You can skip the strength days in the plan  – but do the run days (Mon, Wed, Friday, Sat).
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m going to be doing the running improvement plan because I need to regain a solid base of endurance. My strength is at a pretty advanced level and I don’t want to lose it. My question is, would you advise against replacing the strength workouts, or at least adding in 2 per week, to attempt to maintain my strength and size? Maybe a full-body high intensity, low volume session twice per week with 3-4 days between each, utilizing compound movements and sticking to the essentials. Any thoughts on this would be great.

ANSWER

You could do that, but cut back if you’re not making your prescribed times for the interval runs. Keep the strength volume low.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m scheduled to start ABOLC on 27FEB. I made a 292 on the APFT about a month ago (PU-75, SU – 84, 2MR – 13:42), so I know that I can pass ABOLC physically. I want to excel physically at ABOLC and be as physically prepared for Ranger School afterward.
I have Air Assault School scheduled from 07-18JAN. That gives me four weeks until Air Assault and then 5 weeks after Air Assault to prepare for ABOLC. I’m not too worried about Air Assault because rucking has never been too strenuous for me (I’ve done a few 12 milers in under 3 hours) and I can climb a rope fairly easily.
I’ve been looking through the plans and I was thinking about conducting Humility until Air Assault, with some rucks added on Saturdays; and then conducting the IBOLC Plan after Air Assault.
What are your thoughts?
Just for S.A.
-There are 3 APFTs during ABOLC, all counting towards the OML
-The Ranger Physical Assessment (RPA) is conducted within the first weeks to see if LTs can make it into the Ranger School Preparation Program at ABOLC

ANSWER

Your plan is solid. Good luck!
– Rob

QUESTION

I am trying to understand how your training plans can be modified to help one who is missing some of the equipment. I am a 60 years old and want to work in my garage.

I have the following

  • Dumbbells
  • TRX
  • Boxing bag
  • Jump Rope
  • Some Kettlebells (More after Christmas, I hope)
  • Pull up Bar (Post Christmas)
  • Stationary Bike

I have been active most of the time, but into a slump over 2018. I have done Irontribe, similar to Crossfit, for 1 ½ yrs. until mid-2017. Also any suggestions of other equipment is appreciated. Battling sore shoulder since March.

ANSWER

We have several limited equipment training plans for you to consider – each has a required equipment list you can match to your equipment.
But first, I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan.
– Rob

QUESTION

I would like to  gift a plan or subscription to my husband.  I’m unsure on which would be the best fit for him.  He is a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations assigned to our advance training facility based in Fort Benning.  On a daily basis he is on his feet for long hours instructing firearms, defensive tactics or special response tactics to our agents.  He will always get his workout in since fitness is a priority to him and one of his main roles as an instructor is to provide the daily PT sessions to the Special Response Team candidates during the three week school.  He PT’s with them and participates in all the team challenges so he needs to be at peak physical condition in order to LEAD.  In preparation for these schools he will normally increase his cardio and body weight movements.  When these schools are not in session he focuses on more weight training and complex movements for increase strength and mass.  He is 6’3” and stays around 190.  He has a great metabolism so as soon as the cardio increases he slims down quickly and he really needs to be determined to gain weight.  His current routine consist of body weight Tabata workouts, 5-3-1 weight lifting, a sprinkle of metcon’s and walks/sprints with weight vest. We have an infant son so when he is off the clock he still needs to have energy for dad time.  I know this is a lot of detail and I hope it helps in your recommendations.  I’m leaning towards the subscription so he can have access to everything and tailor for what works best for the type of training he is conducting at the time but I also know that sometimes too many choices can lead to too much random programming without a goal.

ANSWER

I’d recommend the Gun Maker Packet of plans for your husband. These are designed as day-to-day programming for full time SWAT/SRT – and concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity (core), tactical agility and endurance. Sessions are designed to last 60 minutes.
– Rob

QUESTION

As long as I can remember, it’s been my intention to try out for SF once pinning captain. I was training up while deployed to Kuwait but severely injured my back in the gym while doing power cleans (about one year ago to date), forcing me out of the gym for almost four months. Since returning stateside in June, I injured my back again while merely standing up from a chair (and I’m only 29). I’ve since had two separate sets of X-rays taken, both of which were negative for fractures/ruptured discs. Based on your experience, do you think the lower back plan will sufficiently strengthen and “injury-proof” my back?

On a similar note, I recently started experiencing moderate pain in my right shoulder when benching and doing heavy shoulder exercises (it hurts most during flat bench but hurts significantly less during incline bench. Go figure.). The pain’s increased enough to preclude me from benching heavy. I’ve since visited a physician who tested me for impingement syndrome (prognosis: negative) and then told me that my pain could be attributed to anything from tendinitis to calcification on my clavicle.

And now for my questions: have any of your athletes developed shoulder issues from heavy benching? If so, how have you remedied said afflictions? Any recommendations you can provide would be much appreciated.

ANSWER

Back? Overall we’ve had good success with the plan – but everyone is different and I’m not sure where you are in your recovery. I’d recommend starting with our Core Strength, Bodyweight Only Training Plan, then move to the Low Back Fitness Training Plan.
Shoulder – impingement would have been my first guess – but since it’s not that I have no idea. The Crossover Symmetry system has a good reputation with crossfit athletes and baseball players – and you may want to look into it. We’ve had only mixed success with it.
– Rob

QUESTION

I have had good success using UMH and hypertrophy for skinny guys. I have gotten a little fat from the two months of bulking. Do you recomend a plan that trains strength and volume for cutting? Do I need to keep volume around the same to maintain the mass? I also do jiu jitsu several times a week and will probably throw in some runs and swims to help with calorie restriction.
Thank you!

ANSWER

Work capacity is the preferred method for cutting fat, not lifting.
You’ll need to keep training hypertrophy volume likely 1/2 the time to keep the mass.
– Rob

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