The Quiet Rise of MTI’s Targeted Fitness Programs


MTI Lab Rats training Box Squats with the Big 24 Progression in June, 2018.

By Rob Shaul, Founder

The unexpected expansion of MTI’s “Targeted Fitness” programs into a major pillar of our programming library caught even me, its chief architect, by surprise.

Years back, when I embarked on crafting routines for mountain and tactical athletes, the offerings were divided broadly into:

  • Base Fitness: This encompasses everyday routines for mountain and tactical professionals, aimed at holistically improving mission-specific fitness elements: endurance, strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, and tactical agility. The primary objective? Ensure these athletes maintain an all-round peak fitness, readying them for sudden missions or deployments. With a robust “base fitness,” a more concentrated, “event-centric” training can be introduced as a mission approaches, ensuring optimal fitness.
  • Event-Centric Fitness: General “base fitness” cannot prep athletes for the pinnacle of every event. Fine-tuning for particular challenges like a special forces trial or a unique mountain climb necessitates laser-focused routines that cater to the specific demands of said event.

While I’m proud of MTI’s comprehensive Base Fitness programming, we’ve garnered significant attention for our “event-centric” solutions. These have been instrumental for countless athletes prepping for real-world challenges, be it deployments to Afghanistan, scaling Denali, or tactical selections.

However, as MTI refined its Base and Event-Centric programs, there arose a demand for “Targeted Fitness” regimes. A vivid memory is a request from a lean 19-year-old Army recruit, desiring a muscle-building program. This pushed me to conceptualize and build MTI’s Hypertrophy Plan for Skinny Individuals – now one of our top-rated programs.

Such requests, paired with our internal research and mini studies, have fostered our Targeted Fitness category’s growth. Take, for instance, the challenges many military personnel face with push-ups and pull-ups in fitness tests. Over time, we’ve experimented with varied progression techniques to enhance these specific exercises, leading to the creation of dedicated pull up and push up improvement training plans.

Both tactical athletes and mountain professionals grapple with the “burden of constant fitness,” meaning they can’t afford fitness lulls. Having personally piloted many of our Daily Operator Sessions – the base fitness programming for military athletes – I too experienced this continuous fitness demand.

To inject novelty and combat monotony, I began developing and deploying diverse strength training progressions. Consistent repetition without change can induce stagnation both mentally and physically.

This exploration culminated in MTI introducing over nine distinct strength progressions, including Big 24, Rat 6, TLU, Efficient Strength, and 357 Strength. Initially incorporated into our Daily Operator sessions, these progressions soon became stand-alone, strength-focused, Targeted Fitness plans. Of these, perhaps the Big 24 has emerged as the favorite, demonstrating consistent strength enhancement results.

On the endurance front, while progression methods remained relatively stable, we honed in on specific endurance distances. This led to the design of targeted programs to enhance performance in 2, 3, 5, and 6-mile runs and rucks, along with distance-focused swimming regimes. We even ventured into power-driven endurance plans for cycling and rowing.

While the majority of MTI’s athletes are mountain and tactical professionals, over the years, civilian athletes have sought our expertise, often drawn by our targeted fitness offerings.

From a coaches perspective, my role often feels like solving intricate puzzles. Athletes present unique events or fitness goals, and it’s my job to design and build the specific programming for their event.

This problem-solving challenge is immensely fulfilling. I believe that few in the strength and conditioning sphere have encountered the breadth of programming experiences I’ve had the privilege of navigating. Every plan I design and build adds to my tool box and knowledge base, making me a better craftsman.Crafting a plan for an niche special forces selection enhances my capability to develop base fitness programming for wildland firefighters, and vice versa.

MTI’s Targeted Fitness offerings are nestled within our “general fitness” category. If you have questions or want a recommendation on choosing a plan, email me:

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