Thoughts and Initiatives: Programming, Research, Education

By Rob Shaul 

We’re working on several new initiatives and testing theories in the gym, office and lab. Here are some highlights.


1) Work Capacity Program Design Using Power

We’ve been working on this idea for some time, and currently our tactical and SSD programming on the site and in our lab here is Wyoming, is build around the idea of power. Cyclists and rowers have for years used power to measure athletic proficiency and program training. Our ultimate goal is to use power to program work capacity efforts for mountain and tactical athletes. Right now we use time, specifically the duration of the event. So a general fitness work capacity session will have events of 5, 10 or 20 minutes and we can make progressions within this framework. However, what really matters from a performance standpoint isn’t how long you go, but how much power you generate. The trick is uncovering how to use power for multi-modal exercises and events. This current cycle is building a groundwork which we’ll build upon over the next 3-4 weeks.

2) Rock Climb Programming – using campus boards for strength and power

In the rock climbing world, many of the top climbers regularly use campus boards as a key training tool. However, existing literature misses how to design and progress athletes using this tool. What is out there is haphazard, or avoids campus boards all together. We’re currently working with a group of 5 lab rats to develop a campus board progression from dead hangs to full on concentric and eccentric dynos. We’ve had some great success with this cycle and hope to publish more thoughts on our approach in December.

3) Changes to Dryland Ski Programming

Our dryland ski program design has been very effective, but we never rest on our laurels, and this year’s design is significantly different than last years’. Specifically, we moved away from the Quadzilla Complex as our primary eccentric strength training exercise and implemented heavy eccentric back squats (, the heavy eccentric quad complex ( and explosive squat jumps ( Why the change? With these new exercises I’ve increased the loading, and dropped the volume with a focus on building pure strength and power. Will it work? Not sure … many of my long time athletes have expressed concerns. My hope is We’ll be able to increase eccentric strength and explosive “pop” on the snow, as well as decrease the loading volume on my athletes knees.


1) Trigger Pull Effect on Marksmanship

I’ll be traveling to California in mid-December to work with a SWAT for this study. We’ll see if there’s a marksmanship difference between using the 7.5-9# triggers in stock AR’s with 4.5# trigger upgrades. My hypothesis is that marksmanship will improve with the lighter triggers.

2) Shortening the time from “Boot” to “Battlefield Aware”

Many dangerous mistakes are often made gaining the hard experience to become battlefield aware. Same is true on the mountain side. We wonder if this journey can’t be made much more efficient and therefore, shorter. One project we’re currently working on is determining the physiological stress differences between live fire, target based CQB drills, force-on-force CQB drills, and actual tactical operations. We hypothesize that force on force drills elicit stress at a level much closer to the real thing than target based drills.

Currently, force on force training comes near or at the end of a training evolution, and the initial days are taught drilling fundamentals, and targets. We wonder if incorporating force on force drills in an efficient manner, earlier and much more frequently, could lead to better stress inoculation for the real thing. We’ve reached out to several potential partners for this project and hope to conduct the stress study this winter.


We’ve changed up the curriculum and decreased the cost of our two most popular programming courses, ( and are working with gyms around the country to bring courses to Bragg, Tacoma and San Diego – so more can attend. As well, we’re actively working to offer courses online.

Again, if you have any ideas, input or feedback, please email me: