Q&A 1.31.19

QUESTION

Why does your strength standards focus on relative strength vs absolute strength?  I know measuring relative strength allows for a standard of general strength across the board. However, I feel this can be detrimental.  I don’t care is a 150 Soldier can deadlift 2x body weight, especially if the Soldier is unable to deadlift/drag a 225 lb Soldier with 90 lbs of gear.  On the same note, a female’s strength standard should be the same as a male. Life doesn’t care if the task to be completed is that of a man or a woman.  Thoughts?

ANSWER

I’ve gone back and forth with this in my mind several times over the years, but have always come down on the side of relative strength over max effort strength because of the multi-modal fitness demands of tactical athletes.
There are good arguments in favor of max effort strength: 
– There’s no lighter equipment (rifle, bunker gear, chain saw, artillery shell, etc. for female or small male athletes
– In most the cases, most probable heavy effort would be to drag or carry a fellow soldier or first responder to safety. A 200-pound soldier with all his gear could easily push 250 pounds. A 200 pound firefighter wearing 75# of bunker gear is at 275#
The reason I’ve moved in favor of relative strength is to error on the side of the non-strength fitness demands of tactical athletes – esp. endurance and longer work capacity efforts. Soldiers, esp. have a high endurance fitness demand – which is shared by wildland firefighters, wilderness professionals, and many LE SWAT/SRT teams. The issue with max effort strength programming is the time it takes to get strong for smaller athletes, and also the way endurance programming works against max effort strength gains. Oly weightlifters and competing power lifters don’t do a lot of running or rucking!!
We’ve found our relative strength standards, and even more simple, the MTI Relative Strength Assessment, to be a happy medium. Scoring a 5 or more (tactical) on the Relative Strength Assessment indicates a high level of strength, but also a reasonable bodyweight. Most the time, tactical and mountain athletes are moving themselves around.
From a programming perspective, I’ve found I can get athletes to both high levels of relative strength, and also high levels of work capacity and endurance.
I have worked with many “mutants” – naturally strong athletetes who also had monster lungs – but these were the outlier.
Our Operator Ugly Fitness Test is perhaps a happy medium between the relative/max effort strength arguments, plus it includes significant work capacity and endurance components. I’ve rarely been criticized for the 185# loading deployed in the assessment for the bench and front squat, or the 225# loading for the hinge/dead lift. However, I did work with a 6’5″, 230# athlete who was hitting 30 reps on the 185# front squat … so for the next Operator Ugly we bumped him up to 225# for the bench and front squat, and 275# for the hinge/dead lift.
Since we developed Operator Ugly almost a decade ago now, several LE and Military Units have adopted it or versions for their fitness assessments.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’m interested in purchasing this training plan but I am more than 53 weeks from selection. Should I wait until I’m exactly 53 weeks out? If not how can I make the program last longer than 53 weeks?

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans/order in the Pirate Series of training plans until you start the packet. The Pirate plans are designed as day-to-day training for tactical athletes with water-based mission sets and concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, tactical agility and endurance (run, ruck, swim). They’ll build solid base fitness for you before you drop into the packet.
– Rob

QUESTION

On the SFRE Plan:

– What’s a good time for the work capacity event in session 4
– Are there rules for carrying the 10 lb sledge hammer? Can it be alternated between hands every few minutes?
– For the mini-event ruck run, should the run be continuous, or 1 min walk, 3 run, etc…

ANSWER

1. 30’ish minutes
2. No rules – carry anyway you want – but in your hands.
3. Ideally, continuous
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a 25 year old female, 5’1″ about 120lbs. I have been very inconsistent with my workouts the last 3 years due to the excuse that my academic schedule is daunting. Though my workouts are inconsistent, I am still a very active person. I am certainly not the high performing athlete I used to be but I would consider myself fit compared to the majority of individuals my age. My short term goals in life right now are to improve my arm strength and grip strength. I am going to be a large animal veterinarian and forearm strength is vital, especially because I am at a height disadvantage. Strength has been my downfall when compared to endurance. I would like to gain more core strength too.
I can’t decide what plan to buy because I will not have a normal schedule until May 2019, meaning one week I could be on the west coast in a hotel or a guest at someone’s house and the next I could be home. One week I may  work 40 hours and the next 80 hours. I never know what equipment I will have access to, if any, or what days I will have an opportunity to work out. That said, I need to get my butt in gear and buy a program to motivate me to no longer make excuses. Some weeks I have access to a full gym and other weeks I’m in a trailer house with door frames that don’t support pull up bars. What plan is offered that will give me a chance to get stronger (and I like endurance!) with less equiptment and less workouts per week? I can’t decide what would be best for me. Hope my explainations helped, otherwise I can answer any questions you may have.

ANSWER

Start with the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan. No equipment needed = no excuses.
Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this plan is no joke.
Email back on the other side.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am interested in pursuing one of your training programs, but had two questions I hope you may answer:

1.  Which plan?  I think the mountain athlete plan fits, but insight is appreciated.  My background is largely in ski mountaineering for the last ten or so years (as a whole in life it has always been endurance athletics).  I have a decent endurance engine, but have not worked in strength more than passively ever.  As I have left competitive racing, and aged out of my invincible 20’s (now 35), ignoring strength is really showing with increasing injuries, and imbalances.  What I am hoping for is a combination of strength and endurance: absolute performance is less of a goal, I just want to be a more well rounded and stronger person that can still motor along on skis.  I know that improving global strength will help everything (I don’t care if I am muscular pretty, just stronger and more capable), I just don’t know where to start and which plan would be best.

2.  Do you have any suggestions for resources or trainers familiar with what you are doing in the salt lake area?  I am self motivated, but much of this is going to be new to me, and having a trainer/coach/community would be great for guidance and questions.

ANSWER

1. Specifically for ski mountaineering, I’d recommend our Backcountry Ski Pre-season Training Plan. It includes both strength and endurance work. If you’re looking for a more general fitness plan which has an endurance emphasis, but also trains strength, work capacity and chassis integrity (functional core strength), look at Willie.
2. I’m sorry,  no, Nick.
– Rob

QUESTION

I’ve recently completed the event I was training for (a 100k run), and I want to say that your On-Season training plan for endurance athletes was a huge factor in my success at meeting my goal. My legs felt terrific, during the race itself and afterward. (Feet, not so much, but that’s to be expected.)

I took a week off, then started your 6-week Off-Season Strength-Training Plan for Endurance Athletes. I’m loving it so far. My question is, if my next race is tentatively set for the end of June and I run the 12-week on-season plan again leading up to that race, that leaves me with several weeks between the end of the Off-Season plan and the start of the On-Season plan. Do you have any suggestions for what I should do in those intervening weeks?

I was thinking I’d just start the On-Season plan and repeat it if necessary till I get to race day. But I thought I’d check in with you in case you have a better suggestion.

ANSWER

I’d recommend Willie, from our Country Singer Packet. Multi-modal, base fitness training plan with an endurance emphasis.
– Rob

QUESTION

My unit does a 5 day a week PRT program already, but I would love to augment their program with some after hours exercise. I saw the top 5 exercises for military athletes and I really like the concept. I may need to add some HIIT or run intervals into the mix. Is there a plan that incorporates all of that?

ANSWER

It includes ruck runs and sandbag getups – which should have you close to panic breathing.
– Rob

QUESTION

I work as a CNA with 3×12 hour (Thursday through Saturday)shifts and I don’t have time to workout after work. I focus on getting home, consuming copious amounts of food and shower before I have to hit repeat for my next shift.  I ain’t going to lie and say I’m super motivated on my first day off to workout, I’m mostly exhausted.  So, how would I go about using this plan without compromising the efficacy of it?  I guess what I’m trying to say is can I only do 3 sessions per week and still see results? I feel that I already know the answer I just want reassurance that it’s possible. Haha!

ANSWER

Start earlier before your season and do 3 days/week. You’ll still get lots from the plan. Work to complete all the sessions before you report for the fire season.
– Rob

QUESTION

Coach, I am a Fire/Medic and have been using your programs for a few years with good results, especially the Big Cat series.  I’ve recently been transferred to a engine house with a very large size workout area and was wanting to utilize the space. I’ve been wanting to use a weighted sled, rope pulls, sandbags/sledgehammers and other type of equipment that closely simulate fire grounds operations. I’ve read in the past you no longer program movements that require a lot of space. Is there a program built with those types of tools or could I substitute certain movements in the Big Cat programs with those? If so, could you please offer suggestions. Thank you.

ANSWER

Our current programming includes sandbags and weight pulls. I don’t include sleds as most don’t have that equipment/space, and guys get frustrated when I program it. Also, because of the sled load and sliding surface (which means friction), etc, a sled push in my gym might mean something different in another. So from a programming perspective, it’s difficult.
In my gym here, where we do have space, we actually do lots of sled work with myself and the lab rats – in fact earlier this week I completed 45 minutes of 10x sandbag clean and press @ 40# and a 40-foot sled push. I had foot surgery in December, so I’m walking on this peg leg contraption … but this effort was a great, long grind.
I’ll go ahead and write a post about our sled experiences – but again, we use it primarily for work capacity efforts, other than the Double Eagle Exercise – which has a strength element.
Some of my favorite work capacity efforts. We currently use the Rogue Fitness Dog Sled, and push on turf.
– 4-5 Athletes and one sled, 20 minutes of sled pushes. Light or unloaded sled – one athlete right after the other, – full sprint, 80 feet total on turf.
– 20 Minutes, 8x Hinge Lift @ 185#, Down Back Sled Push (unloaded), rest 30 seconds. …… This is pretty terrible
– 20 Minute AMRAP, Down/Back Sled Push @ 60# sandbag, Down/Back Farmers Carry @ 24kg – The Farmer’s carry never lets you catch your breath after the sled push!!
– 20 Minute AMRAP, 5x Sandbag Getup @ 60#, Down/Back Sled Push with the 60# Sandbag
– 15 Rounds, 80-foot sled push @ 40/60# (down/back), every 60 seconds.
For you there, you can substitute sled work for any of the programmed work capacity efforts.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a long time supporter of Mil Athlete and was in MARSOC for 5 years as a Team Commander, Infantry Officer in the Marines for 4 years prior to, utilizing your programming in preparation for and during to perform exactly how I needed to physically and mentally and I have always loved it, so thank you!

I have two questions….First, I recently got out of MARSOC and I have been on the hunt for something challenging to keep up my fitness and keep pushing myself and that has led me to looking into attacking my first Iron Man competition.  Do you have a program or possibly combining a couple programs that you feel would work best for this?  The Iron Man I am looking in to would start July 27 in Santa Clara, CA, so I feel like I have plenty of time given I’m not too far out of shape.

My second question pertains to my new job.  I am working as the Assistant Men’s Golf Coach at Stanford University as my first normal job after the chaos that was special operations.  Believe it or not, the strength and conditioning program for these guys is not where it should be and I was curious if you guys were at all interested in developing sport specific programming.  These guys are all over the map with class schedules and availability for time in the gym so what you guys provide as far as a platform to provide individuals with the ability to access a programed regiment from any location on their phone is ideal.  I have already pushed to them some of your General Fitness plans as a means to continue training as athletes over the off season, but if it could become more I would be very interested in helping how ever I could to make this more effective.

Stanford Athletics is a pioneer in new methods and philosophies for improving the performance of their student athletes and is often emulated by many of the other top University Athletic programs in the country.  If it was possible to develop something together that better met the needs of these athletes it is something that I could see spreading throughout to other programs.

Let me know your thoughts and I appreciate everything you have done for me over the decade I spent in the Marines!

ANSWER

1. No …. our focus is on mountain and tactical athletes, and although sometimes I move outside this wheelhouse, it’s generally for sports/events for which little other programming resources are available. This isn’t the case for triathlons – and there are just so many qualified coaches and quality training resources out there. As well, an Ironman is no joke, and if your serious, I’d recommend hiring a quality coach and/or following a solid program.
2. Golf …. that’s another toughy as I’m not personally a golfer, and other than the midsection/lower back demands and injury potential I really no little about the fitness demands of the sport. As well, I would only consider it if you personally coached group sessions – which it sounds like you won’t be able to do.
Sorry I haven’t been much help here ….
– Rob

QUESTION

First I just wanted to say thanks to Rob for the assistance he’s given me in selecting a training program. So far the leg injury program is going well! I just had a couple questions about program details.
I know that if I miss a day I’m supposed to pick up on the day I left off. How does that affect the Saturday & Sunday rest days? For example, I missed Thursday’s training because I went skiing, so do I do Thursday’s training today, and today’s training on Saturday, then take Sunday as a rest day? Or do I do Thursday’s training today, and today’s training on Monday, and take Saturday & Sunday as rest days?
My other question is about actual training. If I’m struggling to get through an exercise at the prescribed weight and reps, should I reduce the weight, the reps, or just do it til failure? This happened for me with 10x weighted sit-ups at 25# during a 15 minute grind. I wasn’t sure if I should keep pushing through even though my technique got bad, or lower something to complete the exercise.
Thanks for the help, and the great programs!

ANSWER

It’s okay to make up missed days on the weekend. If not, just start back Monday where you left off.
Reduce weight as needed to make the reps.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am half-way through week 3 of the backcountry course.
So far, so good.  I like the relative variety.  It is tough, which I like.  I will be able to give you some more solid feedback when I hit the hill in February!
Other feedback:  I like how I can do everything from home and/or outside on a nice day.  I am definitely feeling stronger and fitter, even only after a couple of weeks.  I am glad you’ve included solid foam-rolling to help recovery and how you incorporate key stretches between sets – mean.  I went for 4.5 hour hike last weekend, instead of the run.  Not sure if that was okay, but there was no way I could do a run after that!  I struggle with the quadzilla complexes.  They are my nemesis!  Today for example, I could only get through 4 and bit rounds out of 6 before I literally could not do anymore.  Most other times I have managed (slowly) to get 6 rounds out.  I think the 10KG weights in each hand smash me.  Funnily enough, I was able to do the 10 rounds of side box jumps (20/40) after a brief rest though.  Maybe I should be using lighter weights?
Question:  In terms of ensuring I’m good-to-to the next day after a solid day skiing, I assume going through the foam roll complex is a good idea?  Anything else you would recommend?
I’m no expert, but the movements do seem to use the muscle groups I will be using when skiing.  I will tell you after JAPoW however!
Programme is uber easy to follow.  Access is sweet-as.  Videos are mean.
Suggestion:  the foam roll complex is already becoming monotonous.  Would be cool to get some variety in there.  Perhaps foam roll days 1-3-5, and stretch days 2 and 4? Or something like that.  Or maybe an alternative foam roll complex.
Overall:  mean as.  So far, it seems to be awesome.  Of course, the best test will be on the hill!

ANSWER

Thanks for the note back.
Stick with the programming as prescribed – it’s okay to break up the quadzillas as needed – rest if needed, but fight to get all of the reps in.
Foam Rolling and good to go? 95% of your ability to recovery is determined by your sport-specific fitness. Foam Rolling, ice baths, hot tubs, recovery drinks, massages, etc may help with that last 5% … but most of it is your sport-specific fitness. I don’t fully endorse any of the recovery methods – as honestly none have worked for me personally. But I have athletes who swear by one or the other – so find what works for you. Foam rolling is essentially a cheap massage.
Sure on the foam roll complex. I designed the complex as a sure-fire method to cover the essential parts of the body- legs and low back. You can shorten it up by just hitting your quads and low back.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am currently living in England (my husband is stationed over here with the Air Force). I am planning on hiking up to Camp Muir this summer when I go back home and I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how to train to avoid altitude sickness? Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

ANSWER

From the research I’ve seen, the best method is sport-specific pre-trip fitness preparation and an acclimatization period.
I have seen some work on pressurized sleeping tents around your bed as having some positive effect, but little evidence to show that masks that restrict breathing help.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am an online subscriber – great programs, thank you. I’ll be traveling for work the next 3 weeks with little or no access to equipment. Perhaps a pull-up bar some days, not sure at this point. What program (with possible modifications due to lack to equipment) do you recommend during this time?

ANSWER

– Rob

QUESTION

I just have a quick question in order to help me select a training program. I am currently prepping myself physically to go to SFAS. My class isn’t for quite a few months though. Would doing the 14 month sfod-d program while waiting till I’m closer in order to start the SFAS packet you have be a good way to continue to prep myself while waiting to start SFAS? 
 
I appreciate your help with this. Have a good day.

ANSWER

No – do the plans/order in the Ruck Based Selection Plan Training Packet. It’s specific to SFAS.
– Rob

QUESTION

Couple questions. I’m on week 5 of gratitude and some of in regards to the prescribed weights do you recommend working with what is listed and the working being more cardio based or can I increase the weight? Some recommend lbs are light

Which plan would you recommend for me complete while at IBOLC? I’ve been told by some colleagues that the assigned PT is minimal?

ANSWER

You’re welcome to increase your weight – keep the reps the same. If you can’t get the sets unbroken, drop weight.
Training at IBOLC? Plans/order in the Greek Hero Series, or if you have a subscription, the Operator Sessions. Start with Hector from the Greek Hero plans.
– Rob

QUESTION

I recently purchased your APFT improvement plan. I am prior service Army trying to get back in shape to go back into the Army. I need to pass a PT test in order to reenlist. I’m really out of shape so I didnt know if I should do additional workouts. Will I diminish the results of the plan if I do more workouts with it?

ANSWER

Yes – plus you may overtrain. Do the APFT Plan as prescribed for 3 weeks before adding work.
– Rob

QUESTION

I was wondering what the actual definition of “hard but doable” was. I treated it as a 3 rep max and now I’m concerned that I won’t make the progressions. My partner is feeling the same way. Any advice would be welcome. Thanks.

ANSWER

3RM Max will work …. Big 24 is super, super intense. If you can’t make the progression, feel free to drop weight to make the reps unbroken.
– Rob

QUESTION

Looking for a good program to build strength and gain size. Reality is I have too much fat though. Around 22%, was around 15% 2 years ago before I hurt my knee. My knee is good now though

ANSWER

I’d recommend Ultimate Meathead. This cycle combines strength (lower, total), and upper body hypertrophy.
Also – fix your diet. Here are our recommendations.
– Rob

QUESTION

I am a retired Marine infantry guy, and really trying to find the right program.

I am a CSM at Norwich University and want to stay in shape, however, I am not 20 years old anymore either.

Looking for a plan that will give me the ability to gain some muscle as well as cardio. Keep in mind right now the cardio is on a treadmill or elliptical, as it was -12 degrees here this morning.

If you can set me up with a plan that incorporates that type of training I will buy it. I am not looking to max a PFT anymore nor do I have to RUCK, however, I looking for longevity.

Any plans come to mind??

ANSWER

I’d recommend the plans/progression in our SF45 I Packet. These are designed as day-to-day training for tactical athletes age 45-55.
Start with SF45 Alpha.
– Rob

 

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