Mr. Shaul,

About a year and a half ago I had started training for BUD/s. I started ramping up my running, swimming, Crossfit, and all the basic PST movements within a very short amount of time. Long story short, about 5 months in I injured my back due to idiocy and over training. While it was good in the sense that I had to face some demons I was ignoring, I have now been out of the game in regards to serious training (Read: two-a-days & BUD/s preparation) for over a year.

I have just recently started your operator sessions and thoroughly enjoy them. But at the same time, I am lacking in physical readiness when it comes to things like the basic PST movements and with my running and swimming.

I know that you advise switching to sports specific training about two months before the event (in my case leaving for boot camp), but I don’t feel that I can realistically build up to the necessary levels of sport specific (BUD/s) fitness within a two month time frame.

I am hesitant to injure myself again due to over training; so my question is how would you suggest balancing sport specific fitness (pst movements, running, swimming) with your operator sessions before switching over to your BUD/s training plan?

Thank you for your time,


Couple Options –

1) Supplement the Operator Sessions with additional swimming and running. We just build a running improvement plan for this purpose:, and this week are building a swimming improvement plan for the same purpose. The best way to do this would be to do 2-a-days, 2-4 days/week, or to substitute a running/swimming session for a gym-based Operator Session 2x/week.

Our plans will give you structure and progression, but you don’t need to buy them. You can design your own running/swimming sessions.

2) Cancel your subscription to the Operator Sessions and complete the BUD/s plan now. Then drop back into the Operator Sessions, supplemented with swimming/running, and 2 months out from boot camp, repeat the BUD/s plan.

– Rob

Hi Rob,

I’m a SERE Specialist in the Air Force, rank of Senior Airman/E-4.

I’ve been subscribed to Operator Sessions for about a month, and definitely pleased. Becoming a SERE Specialist involves a selection that is partly ruck based and I certainly could’ve used your programs when I was coming into the military in 2009.

I was wondering though, if you’ve ever thought about lowering the fees for junior enlisted military members. At $25 per month/$300 per year, its still kind of steep to make that commitment when there are free workouts all over the internet. Is there any way you could find a way to verify or take peoples’ word on being E-1 through maybe E-5 and offer a discount? When we make as little base pay as we do, it comes down to those perks and benefits: health care, housing, free gym on base, and occasional military discounts.

Anyway, thanks for all that you do, and if your pricing structure just doesn’t support it I totally understand. Just curious.

Thanks again,

– N.

I’m sorry N., I feel our programming is a solid value.

– Rob

Hi Rob,

I recently purchased your bodyweight plan and I enjoy it. I have a question about some of your other workouts.

I usually workout in a full gym, however I am looking for supplemental workouts to use while traveling on business.

I am in very good all around shape: 5’11, 175 lbs, 220 max bench, 17 max pullups, however I am a naturally skinny guy (former distance runner) who can only put on mass with the help of a lot of weights.

Do you have a workout plan that is like your "hypertrophy for skinny guys" but can be completed with VERY BASIC gym supplies (free weights and body weight)?


– Z.

All I have for mass gain is the Hypertrophy Program, but it can be completed in any commercial gym or a garage gym. Most the exercises use a barbell, rack and dumbbells.

It would be very difficult for a hard gainer to put on mass using bodyweight exercises.

– Rob


I was wondering if I get the APFT plan should I continue to do the Opperator Sessions as well?

– S.

No S. Just do the APFT Plan.

You’ll want to go to paypal and cx your subscription while you’re doing the apft plan. –

– Rob

Hi there,
I have some limited experience with XFIT, but am mostly familiar with MMA strength and conditioning. I am also
obsessed with GORUCK!! So my question is: what sort of programming would you recommend? I am interested in building strength and
power, but also want to be proficient with body-weight activities. Also, will I need like a full gym or box worth of equipment?

– R.

Best place to get an idea of the programming we offer is to click the "Start Here" button on the site homepage:

And also look at the different training plans we offer at the website store:

For guys new to our programming, I generally recommend you begin with our "On Ramp" plan, which requires a weight room:

or our Bodyweight Training Plan – which is super intense, but doesn’t require equipment:

Finally, we also built a GoRuck Challenge Training Plan, at the request of GoRuck, which several have used successfully:

– Rob

Hey Rob,

It’s been a while. I’ve purchased 3 of your programs and subscribed for 2years to your site. I’m currently following your skinny guys work up to replace some strength and mass I’ve lost. I’ve done quite well helping others due to help of your workouts. However I have a current project I’m seeking guidance on. I have a current candidate I’m trying to get into the police academy. He’s 6"4 355lbs. He has to do 30 push ups in a minute, 25 situps in a minute and a 300m run in 50 seconds.

Now normally most of us would laugh at such a PT test, however his pushups may be the weakest I’ve ever seen. It’s a struggle to get two perfect pushups. His situps are around 15 and his run is a minute and two seconds which really isn’t bad for his size and the fact that he hasn’t regularly trained for it. The pushups are an extreme concern for me. Can you give me guidance please? So far I’ve turned into a game on the shift. Such as everytime he walks in the office for something he owes 2 pushups.


– D.

The obvious answer is the guy is around 120 pounds overweight. Eighty percent of bodyweight is diet. Him losing weight will help everything – including pushups, running, etc.

Specifically to push ups – it seems there’s a couple ways to train these. First, in general, the best way to improve pushups is to do push ups – so you’re on the right track there.

Method 1- "greasing the groove" – this comes from Pavel, and is the approach you’re using. Do a bunch of pushups over the course of the day, but never get close to failure.

Method 2 – Focused, intense pushup sets – pyramids, decks of cards, etc. A bunch of push ups, in a short period, and go to failure or close on bunches of sets. I like this method.

One method we deploy is density training. Have him do a max effort set – say he gets 20 pushups in a minute.

Then have him do 5 rounds of 30% of this max rep number, every 60 seconds – so he’ll do 5 Rounds of 7x pushups every 60 seconds. On the 6th round, have him do a max set of pushups – as many as possible, in 60 seconds.

He can "break" any or all of these sets – so lets say on Round 3, he gets 4x pushups unbroken. He can stop, rest, then do 3x singles to get his 7x reps – but he has to finish in the 60 seconds, and be ready to start again when the timer starts again.

Once he can get all 5 rounds at 30%, increase to 5 Rounds at 35%, then 40%. After he can get 40%, retest his max reps, and start the process again.

You can do both, the method I describe above, and the "grease the groove" method you’re currently using (2x pushups every time he walks into the office…)

– Rob

Hi Rob,

I’m a active duty Navy SEAL, currently one month in to a five month non combat deployment. I was recently introduced to your website by a teammate.

I really liked what I read about your philosophy on training and I purchased your "low back fitness program" to give it a try.

Over the last month I’ve been trying to self diagnose where my back pain and weakness was coming from. After looking through Kelly Starrett’s website, I discovered that I’ve been over extending on most of my lifts, in other words arching my back instead of maintaining a neutral spine. From my understanding this is the equivalent of treating your spine like a car door that you continually open to the limits and then apply pressure to with a load. Despite my lower back pain which I have begun to correct with proper movement and taking a break from heavy squats, deadlifts and o-lifts. I have been able to maintain relatively good strength and work capacity.

My questions are the following:

Will the "low back fitness program" be enough for me to maintain my current work capacity or will I have to supplement in Sprinting or something else?

The weights throughout for lifts such as the Goblet squat, KB swing, military press etc are going to be extremely easy for me to perform. If I can maintain proper form do you see any problem with me bumping those weights up?

Given that I’ve been able to maintain most of my work capacity minus the really heavy lifts, is the low back program for me or should I be doing the operator sessions?

I hope I’ve given you enough background information to answer these questions. I know your a busy man and I didn’t want to drag this email out.

Thanks for your time.


– C.

Not sure about your self diagnosis on your back issues. The kettlebell guys, specifically the RKC guys, really like extension as a way to protect the back. And I’m willing to bet if you spoke to 6 "experts," you’d get 6 different diagnosis.

Low backs are a mystery.

Our approach – through the low back plan, is simply to build core strength and confidence in the athlete. I’ve found athletes who’ve suffered low back issues are super concerned about it – and sometime they are more mentally fragile then their back is physically fragile.

The plan is intended for guys who are coming back from one of these low back episodes which knocks them down – and thus, starts really easy and light, and get progressively more difficult.

I’m not sure where you are in this process. Sounds more like you’re overall feeling pretty good, but know you have low back issues and want to build strength there.

What I’d recommend is to go ahead and add some sprinting, and bodyweight focused work cap efforts, and also to increase the prescribed loading in the Low Back Plan – heavier then prescribed, but perhaps a size lower then what you think you could do. Do this for a week and see how you feel. If you feel good, bump up the loading to where you feel comfortable, and proceed with the plan.

– Rob


I have had a lot of success with all your past programs: Stamina Program, BUD Program, Big 24, and the Ruck Program. I just recently deployed to a super-small base in an austere location and while we do have a gym with one pull-up bar, two dip bars, a few benches, one 24"/30" box, an inconsistent varied amount of dumbell weights (no kettlebells) and a somewhat descent squat rack, the equipment is limited and we only have three, maybe four, 45 lb bars at any one time to serve the many Soldiers and Airmen the who workout in the gym at the same time, but we actually have tons of bumper plates. I brought an empty, 60 pound capacity Rogue sandbag, olympic rings, and even Metolius rock rings just in case we wouldn’t have a pull-up bar. Asking for any more gym equipment from our finance/supply people would be asking for too much since we’re still a really small base and getting extra fitness equipment flown in would be low-priority. I tried to start day one of the Strength 357 program the other day, but it was really hard because using one bar and later using two bars during the work capacity portion pretty much left the rest of the people in the gym with one bar to use — which turned me into "That Guy." Do you have any suggestions I could follow? Since I wasn’t sure of the situation here beforehand, I actually bought the Strength 357 Program, the Military Athlete Bodyweight Program and the Run Improvement Program that I could do concurrently with one of the other programs, if I had the resources, time and energy to do so. I even bought the Mtn. Bike Program since the mtn. bike season starts when I get back from deployment.

The other thing is nutrition. I notice the poor amount of quality foods has slowed and affected my recovery. I brought some pre- and post- workout powder and vitamins, but the nutrition in the dining facilities is mediocre at best: inadequate vegetables and fruits, sub-par protein, high amount of starchy vegetables, high-saturated fats, high sodium, no healthy fats, and pasta and bread dominate everything. Do you have any nutrition advice on how I can mitigate the poor food and dining situation?

Thank you and thank you for providing great fitness programs and advice.

– N.

Couple options:

1) Do the bodyweight program. It’s great and doesn’t require any equipment.

2) Continue with 357, but make exercise substitutions for the work cap portions so you don’t need two bars.

3) Combine Bodyweight and 357 – Do the warm up and 1st circuit for each 357 strength session as your "warm up" – then go to part (1) of that day’s Bodyweight Plan session (i.e. skip the bodyweight plan warm up).

4) Nutrition – I don’t have any magic bullet for you. In general, try to stick with the dietary guidelines – protein, veggies, nuts, 6 days a week. Cheat like a mother on day 7. You can use protein shakes for meal replacements – I’ve done this lots. Just plan to have bad gas and be hungry…..

– Rob


I had a question regarding your programming. Why do you choose the
front squat over the back squat? Not that the back squat is never
used, but the preferred lower body method of training seems to involve
the front squat much more. Wouldn’t the back squat target more of the
"combat chasis" altogether? Thanks in advance for relieving my

– N.

Several reasons.

1) Safety.
When you fail doing a heavy front squat, you can dump the bar forward, and get out from under the load. When you fail on a heavy back squat, if you don’t have a spotter, or spotting bars, your head is going to the ground underneath the barbell. Plus, you’ll likely strain/injure your low back fighting the barbell as it takes you down. Also, because you can’t lift as much with the front squat as you can with the back squat, the overall loading on your spine/joints is less.

2) Simplicity.
The front squat is a more simple exercise to perform – as long as the athlete doesn’t have wrist flexibility issues… which I know is a big deal for some guys.

3) Core Strength
Actually, I feel the mid section gets a little more work on the front squat, then the back squat – simply because the barbell is a little forward of your body’s centerline on the front squat.

4) What your Front Squat can say about upper/lower body strength balance.
In a balanced athlete, his or her front squat 1RM should mirror, or be very close to his/her bench press 1RM. Doing both lifts gives me an instant view into upper/lower body strength balance.

– Rob

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