MTI Essentials – The Operator Sessions

Long-time Operator Sessions Lab Rat, James.

By Mintra Mattison


With our Athlete’s Subscription Package you get access to everything MTI has to offer: well over 250 individual training plans and packets as well as our day-to-day programming for Military Athletes: The Operator Sessions

The Daily Operator Sessions is the cutting edge of MTI’s military programming. It’s where it all started, and where Rob deploy his most recent thinking. They are MTI essentials.
All Sessions are tested prior to release by our lab rats here in Jackson, WY, and run year-round. They are followed by active-duty members (military, special forces personnel), veterans, those who aspire to this level of fitness, and many more.

They mainly address 6 fitness attributes:

  • High Relative Strength (strength per bodyweight)
  • High Work Capacity for short events (up to 30 minutes) -with an emphasis on sprint-based work capacity
  • Military Endurance (unloaded running, uphill movement under load, rucking and ruck running)
  • TAC SEPA – Tactical Speed, Explosive Power, and Agility
  • Chassis Integrity – Our application of core strength (Read More Here)
  • Stamina – Different from endurance, stamina is focused on training recovery from long events and training mental attitudes toward long events or multiple events over a long day 

In addition, they

1) Train Recovery from long events.
It’s been our experience that relatively short, intense, work capacity training does do a good job of preparing an athlete for a single, long, endurance push. But he’ll be trashed the next day. His muscles, especially legs, aren’t used to this much volume, and won’t recover overnight. Short, intense events don’t train recovery.
2) Train mental attitude toward long events or multiple events over a long day
Tactical events are often most dangerous when athletes are tired and beat down from long days, multiple events, etc. Staying tactically sharp in this situation is mental stamina. As well, long, extended events, and multiple events over a long period of work to grind down tactical athletes mentally as well as physically. This is where attitude stamina comes in. Attitude stamina is the ability to face each oncoming event with an unemotional, professional, workman-like frame of mind. 

With thousands of daily training sessions available, you can either pick up the most current cycle or go back and start from the beginning.

All of the early sessions include Coaches’ Notes & Videos. Below you see a video recorded by Rob in 2013. Our original  Labrats Cody, James, and Nathan work through a Work Capacity Session including Overhead Squats, Burpees, Sandbag Get Ups, Thrusters, and Suicide Sprints.

Here’s what our athletes say about the Operator Sessions:

"I just wanted to say I love the operator programming. I'm from Australia, I'm no SF / Infantry soldier, however I do have command of troops and recommend all your programs to anyone that will listen. Your programs have been my consistent personal programming for the last four years and have helped keep me performing better across the board than many of my subordinates and peers. Please keep it up, I love the work you guys are doing and would be keen to train with you one day should I be out your neck of the woods."
"The Operator Sessions have kept me relatively strong, fitter than my peers, and injury free for almost an entire career. I'm 15+ years SOF officer. Now my work is far less physically demanding as I spend most of my time behind a desk and not in the field. Such is life, I suppose. I should probably transition over to your SF45 series, but pride won't let me. I typically had been doing 3-4 sessions a week, but since March have the time to do 6 sessions a week. I know a little more than you recommend, but I tend to get irritable on "rest days" and find the escape to the gym helps to balance me out."
"First off, thanks for always taking the time to look for feedback and ways to improve your programming.  I became an Operator Sessions devotee a long time ago around the time I was actually ending my career as an 18B in 10th Group.  As I have aged and physical fitness and life demands have changed, I have always come back to those sessions to get my brokedown ass in shape and measure where I'm at with my mental and physical fitness.   I am 41 and currently an agent with the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DS), which unfortunately like most FLEs has no real enforcement of physical fitness standards.  DS runs the gamut of PT animals to fat slobs and everything in between.  We also have a unique culture where half our jobs are overseas and half domestic and we typically do one to three year rotations in these different positions.  The overseas gigs are much more highly regarded in the agency and the State Department at large.  That said, those two arenas potentially have very different physical fitness demands, as we are largely doing criminal investigations/close protection stateside or managing vast security programs/running protection overseas.  It can be difficult to sell the need for a high level of physical fitness as long as nothing goes wrong, but few agents understand that they could be dragging an unconscious protectee (i.e. Benghazi), under fire in a very bad place, and what the required level of fitness is to not only get them off the X but potentially fight back in a coherent manner.   I apologize for all the email diarrhea, but the point I'm getting to is that on a day to day basis our physical fitness requirements aren't much beyond walking down the hall and pulverizing a computer keyboard.  On the other hand, overseas we often work alone with protectees in austere environments, small teams in failed states, or larger elements with DoD or PMCs in war zones.  Anything is possible and I am of the mindset that as an organization we should always look to be in shape for the worst case scenario.  It is simply not possible sometimes with our work schedules but myself and other colleagues have greatly appreciated your recent cycle of shortened but intensified Operator Sessions.  I can knock them out and get to my glorious 12hr day of cable and memo writing, but feel confident that when I have to take some "important person" out to bad guy country by myself, I am physically prepared if something goes wrong. To your question, the Operator Sessions exceed the daily physical fitness needs of my agency but my belief is they are an exceptional measuring stick of performance for anyone who carries a weapon and does dangerous work.  I used to have to cut down the longer form sessions because I simply could not fit them in my day or use the "Busy Operator" programming, but the current cycles have been a perfect fit and still thrash me.  Even if you can't continue to focus on creating shorter training sessions with the same level of impact, myself and others I work with greatly appreciate what is already on the site and would love to see more like it.   I'll stop making your eyes bleed with one anecdote.  I have converted a lot of guys and gals from different military and LE backgrounds to MTI training and I have always passed on my training mantra, which has stuck with just about all of them.  I look at the session for the day and I say "fuck you, Rob Shaul" outloud for the pain you are about to make me endure, and I end it with the same when I've completed it.  I still have buddies all over the world who will text that to me after a session.  Fuck you Rob, and I mean that in the best possible way."
"Thank you for putting together the training programs and Operator Sessions. Everyday is a challenge and a felt sense of accomplishment once completed. This is THE best workout program out there for those of us burdened with maintaining a constant level of fitness."
"I'm a long time follower of your gym and Military Athlete training ideals from Australia - I've touched base with you a couple of times before. Just wanted to give you some feedback from my recent personal experience.  I had after a few years of relatively successful Olympic Lifting seasons here in Perth (couple of years as state champ at 94kg) followed by probably a year of general inactivity - I had no real training focus. The last few months I have jumped back into you Operator Sessions starting with John and am now half way through Luke. What a change it's been! I've been strict with following your sessions in order - I don't necessarily train monday to friday because of work but I have maintained the order to your sessions. I've dropped 11kg of body weight and my running went from struggling to break the 5 minute barrier on a 1km sprint to last night running (as part of my 6 mile/9.2km run Luke session 16) consistent sub 5-minute kms for 10km and feeling great afterwards. My estimated VO2 has gone from low 40s to 52.

I know my pacing is a little quick (quick for me!) compared to what you have prescribed on the run chart, based off my initial 3 mile test in session 2, but I'm generally pressed for time so if I can run it quicker I will. The run times aren't super quick by comparison to a lot of people but they are for me! The gym-based endurance stuff is also a fresh experience and a good mental workout for me. Your Operator Sessions are putting me in a good place for an upcoming exercise in a few months and deployment at the end of the year, especially after being a lazy POS for so long haha. I am also gearing up for an attempt at SASR selection in 2019 if everything goes to plan and I feel like your training is absolutely right direction for me."

Thanks for the awesome work you are doing.
"I just wanted to drop you a line and say thank you for the awesome programming. I just brought my company back from a very challenging 6 months in eastern Afghanistan. The bottom line is that without your program we would not have been able to accomplish half of what we did and we would not have brought home as many guys as we did. My Soldiers hated me when I first instituted mind numbing amounts of leg blasters, step-ups, and sandbag get ups, and training that was like nothing they had ever done before, but all these things became a rallying cry as the Soldiers realized how far ahead of their sister companies they were in their physical and mental fitness. Keep doing what you are doing, the benefit cannot be understated." – B

You get access to the Operator Sessions with a $35/month Athlete’s Subscription Package that will include:

  • 4-6 Daily Training Sessions per Week
  • 250+ Training Plans for specific fitness goals (mountain and tactical) and PFTs
  • 7 Educational Online Courses


Learn More About The Athlete’s Subscription


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