I’m 169# at 6 foot , so about 15-20 pounds light for where I should be. I plan on doing the hypertrophy for skinny guys after the on ramp plan, but my question is if its a repeatable program? I can’t realistically see myself gaining that much weight in a four week cycle. Or would you recommend only once then Operator sessions?


You could repeat the program John, but take a week off first. 

The Operator Sessions are specifically designed not to add unnecessary mass to guys.

– Rob

Two questions; saw someone ask about your seminars in today’s Q&A and was wondering what you needed (logistically) and what you would charge to come out to a unit. Since my unit missed out on the coaching opportunity in December, I was curious about getting you out for a Small Unit Training Course. We’re located at FT Carson, CO. Second question concerns your new running program. How many miles does it have you putting in each week and how many days are you working out? Thanks again for your time.
– D.

Programming Courses: Equipment needed depends upon the course. A fully equipped weight room is needed for all but the Squad PT Course. Cost to come to a unit includes the per-student tuition cost (course dependent), plus travel expenses (air/car per diem). Here’s a link to the course offerings: Email me directly if interested.

What’s important to note about all of our courses is they are theory-intensive. These aren’t exercise-instruction focused courses. You’ll come away knowing how to do your own programming. Thus, they aren’t appropriate for super young, or unfit guys. They are appropriate for intelligent, forward thinking leaders who understand that a Soldier’s primary weapon is his or her body. 

Run Plan – 20 to 25 miles/week, including a weekly 8-miler.

– Rob


I’m currently deployed but headed home soon. I’d like to supplement some
running with the operator programming. I saw you mention before about how
planned on making some recommendations, have those come out yet?

Right now I plan on focusing on intervals (much like the running from the
endurance cycle that began in March) since I am not as fast as I should be
at this time. I’ll just do the intervals early in the morning, then do the
operator sessions in the afternoon. Any advice on how to try and do both at
the same time?

Thanks for your help

– K.

We built a Running Improvement Plan you can run concurrently with the Operator Sessions. You run 20-25 mile/week, and it includes scaled intervals, etc. Here’s the link:

– Rob

I have just completed your op ugly testing ( I have been doing operator sessions for a month now) and just got the following results
Bench 2
F squat 5
Dead lift 17
Sprints 40
Heaves 20
I am 6ft and 85 kg

I had to stop there because of a lack of time and equipment.
I have always had trouble with upper body strength.  I am happy to continue with the operator sessions, but I was wondering if there is a better option to address my weakness.

Any advice would be awesome.
– T.

Go to paypal and cancel your Operator Sessions subscription, then purchase and complete the Ultimate Meathead Cycle strength plan:

– Rob

Hi Rob

I read in one of your Q&A’s that you were invited to talk to a SOF unit about your programming in the past. 

I find your programming and it’s application for the tactical athlete refreshing and intriguing. From that experience of talking to the unit and working with current/former military operators, what is your opinion on current SOF physical conditioning? Having read up on some programmes (Tactical Athlete Programme, Ranger Athlete Warrior) that are being implemented in NSW, SF etc I would be interested to get your take on these strength and conditioning programmes. What do top level operators do to be in peak physical condition? You spoke of the unit you visited being more interested in your work than that of API. Are units buying into athletic programmes?

Historically, endurance was the bread and butter for military and law enforcement. In recent years there has been a massive shift towards functional fitness. Long runs and traditional PT are being replaced by more task and job specific training. While strength training and functional movement screens are (hopefully!) commonplace at the top level, the traditional aerobic capacity training seems to be discouraged despite it’s listed benefits (increased blood stroke volume, lower RHR, less prone to fatigue, better coping with stress etc). Obviously a police officer/soldier does not need to be able to run 10k in under 40 mins to be fit for their job, as it isn’t specific to their needs. But does lessening the amount of aerobic training actually harm overall performance? Granted, long runs should not be a regular occurence but nor should running be an irregular fixture in a programme due to it being the primary system used in training whether during recovery or exertion. What is your view on matching strength demands for military/law enforcement with the benefits of good aerobic fitness? It appears to be a grey area at times. While strength is very important, aerobic endurance is also necessary in my opinion. Granted, we aren’t powerlifters or marathon runners but that line between strength and endurance blurs in police and military circles. I’d be very interested to hear your opinion on this too.

Having purchased your DEVGRU plan a while back, I have to say I think the Legacy test is one of the best physical fitness tests out there. Upper body push/pull strength is required to be high to pass, coupled with a good level of aerobic fitness. It appears to match the physical requirements of the job (I assume). Coupled with a functional movement screen I think it is excellent for testing fitness capacities. You may or may not agree!

Finally, any news on kicking off? Thanks again for what you do, and as for replying to emails.. major kudos! It is genuinely appreciated.

– I 

SOF fitness seems to be first on an individual basis, and second, on a unit basis. Generally, the guys who invite us in are pretty darn fit – that they called us in the first place is a good judge of their level of fitness and professional attitude toward fitness. 

Most units live by "big boy" rules – which means the individual often has the responsibility for his/her fitness training. My understanding so far, is that although many special forces units have strength coaches available, the guys aren’t made to use them. 

The same "big boy" rules which allow guys to use our programming, also means some guys let their fitness go when they get to the unit. Some operators have expressed frustration with this at their units. 

Aerobic Fitness. It’s important that the fitness training matches the demands of the sport or activity. I believe soldiering and most policing are "power sports" – when things get dangerous.  This leads to our emphasis on building the "combat chassis" work for durability, speed and power for sprinting, etc., good upper body strength, high work capacity for relatively short (up to 40 min) high-intensity events, stamina for long days or multiple short events over a long day, and some endurance work. 

A couple practical issue comes up when trying to match the power/strength/speed demands of a combat situation with the endurance/aerobic base you advocate. The first is simply training time. Athletes only have so much time to train – and in general, training for strength/speed/power takes less training time then training for endurance. 

Also, we know in a combat situation, you’re never going to be running unloaded at a moderate pace in shorts and a t-shirt. Thus, you should appropriate your training time for endurance accordingly. 

Recovery? Does having a high aerobic base build through single mode endurance training help with recovery? Ah… here’s the kicker – it depends upon the type of activity. Many great aerobic athletes have "blown up" aerobically in my gym trying to complete a hard, fast, multi-modal work capacity event. Their single-mode aerobic conditioning didn’t help them. 

If the fitness tempo of a combat situation can be defined as working under load and sprinting, jumping, shooting, pausing, sprinting, jumping, shooting, pausing, repeat ….. the best way to train for that physiological hit is to simulate the tempo in the gym. 

Further, studies have shown that single mode endurance training can dampen the effect of strength training – i.e., if you squat heavy, then run long, you won’t gain as much strength from the squatting as you could have – the running "dampen’s it." 

All this being said, recently I added endurance as one of the fitness categories we deploy in our Fluid Periodization for a couple reasons. First – we’re moving to a peacetime fighting force, and current military fitness tests and many commanding officers use running as very important measure of fitness. Second, I felt we needed to be better at endurance events – there was a "hole" in my programming. 

More specifically, I feel work capacity fitness (especially repeated sprinting and recovery from it) is more important to a soldier/LE professional than traditional endurance/aerobic fitness. The line between the two can be fuzzy, however, and the two types of training can complement each other. 

I’ve also found the endurance cycles we do (we’re in the middle of one now) help address the "burden of constant fitness." It’s simply nice to get out of the weight room, throw on a pair of shorts and t-shirt, and take a long run once in a while. 

Long answer to a short question!! 

Couple other irons in the fire but hope to launch LE Athlete this fall/winter. 

– Rob


During the GR Heavy program can we do regular CF WODs or swim/run?

– B.

Depends upon how fit you are. The plan is no joke and I’d recommend against it.

– Rob 


There is no specific dietary guidance for this program like there is on the 4-Week Strength and Honor program.  Considering the long sessions, I’m likely going to add complex carbs back into my diet during the week on the nights before the workouts (Sweet potatoes and some pasta).  Do you have any strong objection to that?

Also, you use the phrase "pack volume into your ___" a lot.  That’s sort of vague.  What do you mean?  Is this just another way to say that a particular part of a session is designed to keep you moving with lots of reps while you’re fatigued so you can train your body to recover faster?  The answer isn’t vital considering I’m going to do the program regardless.  I was just wondering.


– S

Diet – I’d rather you stick to our guidelines and supplement with energy gels before and during the sessions. Sweet Potatoes are on the diet menu – so you’re good there. 

The primary goal of the stamina cycles is not to build aerobic fitness, but to train recovery from long events, or from multiple short events over a long day. 

What we’ve found is relatively short, intense events as well a our strength training allowed us to complete long days. For example, I could go out with one of the mountain guides who train with us and climb the Grand Teton in a day. This is a car-to-car event of 8-12 hours, with round 16,000 feet of elevation gain and loss (8k up and 8k back down). The problem is the next day, my legs would be trashed. I could barely walk I was so sore. 

So aerobically, and strength wise I could do this long event, but my legs/core weren’t use to the volume – thousands of step ups and step downs. The Stamina Sessions use the efficiency of gym training to pack as much volume as possible into the athlete – esp. the legs. 

Now, we can go out and climb with the guides – and the next day, I’m sore, but not debilitatingly so – I could go climb again if needed. 

– Rob

I have purchased and trained through quite a few of your programs to include, Operator Ugly Train Up (completed twice), Pre Season Ultra Running, Strength and Honor, and the Ruck Based Selection (currently working through it for the second time). I miserably failed OU the first time through but have since passed. However, I am in a bit of a rut, and was wondering if you could give me some basic guidance with planning. I currently work out twice a day on most days, and plan 75% of my workouts- however, I am starting to feel over trained. Currently, my plan looks like this:
Monday AM- 5+/- mile run at a 7+/- minute mile pace (can’t change) Monday Lunch- Commanders lunch
Tuesday AM- Swim 2400 +/- yards in pool Tuesday Lunch- Usually a work up to 1RM day as I’m limited to 45 minutes
Wednesday AM- Short interval run day, usually totaling 2.75 miles (can’t change) Wednesday Lunch- 90 minute MA session
Thursday AM- Ruck Thursday Lunch Swim 2400 +/- yards
Friday AM- Bodyweight (sandbag, rope climbs, pull ups, dips, weight vest) Friday Lunch- 90 minute MA session
Saturday- 30-63 mile training ride (cycling)
Sunday- Active recovery
Some things I cannot change, but I do have some freedom to move anything else around. My goals are to be able to move under a heavy load, durability (knees, ankles and hips in that order) and strength. I am mainly looking at the lunch time sessions, as well as Tuesday and Friday mornings for possible changes. Can you help me move or change some things around? I am not opposed to having a dedicated “durability” session, as I find these exercises very beneficial. I am 5’9, and weigh 160. My deadlift 1RM is 425, bench at 215. I am an endurance athlete by trade (Army Officer in real life), but am less concerned with running and cycling often right now and more focused on being “combat” ready. I max every event on the APFT, and my five mile time is around 34 minutes.
Thanks for the continued support.
 – M.

In general, I think it’s fine to train 2x/day if you’re training up for a specific event or race – or for a relatively short time, but over the long run you’ll either overtrain physically, or mentally (burden of constant fitness), and likely both – which I sense has happened to you.

Guys with endurance backgrounds like you sometimes get addicted to endurance training – they do it a lot, get relatively good at it, and don’t want to see any decline. Then, like you, they eventually get bored with just endurance work, but instead of cutting back on their endurance stuff, they keep doing it, and add more stuff. Pretty soon they are training 2x/day, 5-6 days/week. All this training volume – both physical and mental, adds up.

Although I suck at endurance stuff, I’ve been here before myself.

It does seem your dual goals of getting stronger, and cutting back on training (because of overtraining) align. From a training perspective, for the next 4 weeks, I’d recommend you cut down on your training to 1x/day, 6 days/week, and focus your gym-based training on pure strength.

 I’d recommend Big 24 for your strength training ( Big 24 is beautiful in the sense that it is full on, and loading is prescribed. The 3rd and 4th weeks, especially are super intense – the closest I’ve ever come to throwing up. This focus and intensity will help satisfy your training addiction. Once change I’d recommend for you is to swap the overhead squats for back squats, so your 3x Big 24 exercises would be Back Squat, Power Clean + Push Press and Squat Clean. We’ll be doing Big 24 for our next strength cycle for the Operator Sessions and these are the exercises we’ll be using. 

Second, reading is like weight lifting for your brain. I’d recommend you commit to reading 6-8 books over the next 4 weeks, and to use your second training period to read, rather than train. In general, I like early mornings for reading, and lunch for training. 

This would be your schedule:

Monday AM – Required Run 
Monday PM – Required Lunch

Tuesday AM – Read
Tuesday PM – Big 24

Wednesday AM – Required Run
Wednesday PM – Big 24

Thursday AM – Read
Thursday PM – Big 24

Friday AM – Read
Friday PM – Big 24

Saturday – 60-90 minute brick-style easy endurance effort – run+swim, or swim+bike, or swim+bike. – no more than 90 minutes

Sunday – Read/rest

Suggested Reading List:
"On Killing and On Combat" by Grossman
"Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot" by Stockdale
"Art of Living" by Epicetus and Sharon Lebell
"Young Men and Fire" by Norman Maclean
"The Talent Code" by Coyle
"Perfect Practice" by Lemov, Woolway, Yezzi
"The Zanzibar Chest" by Hartley
"Athletic Development" by Gambetta
"Decisive" by Heath and Heath
"Big Data" by Mayer Schonberger and Cukier
"My Share of the Task" by McChrystal
"The Generals" by Ricks
"Worth it….Not Worth It?" by Otter
"The 80/20 Principle" by Koch
"The Undefeated Mind" by Lickerman
"Inside the Box" by Boyd and Goldenberg

– Rob

Mr. Shaul,

I’m currently doing an extended trip (1 year) around the world, and as such I don’t have access to a gym, except intermittently, so not enough for an actual program. I’ve just cycled through both the BW and Sandbag Programs (with some modifications to use my backpack) with great results, and I also have the Afghan Prep Program (I’m a former Marine) for use before some mountaineering excursions.

Do you have any other recommendations other than cycling through these programs? Maybe the Peak Bagger? I’ve worked in some lighter self-designed workouts as unload weeks between these.

Thanks for your time,

– J.

Options from the Military Side: 
APFT Plan:
Running Improvement Plan:

Options from the Mountain Side:
Peak Bagger:
GORUCK Challenge Plan:

Have fun and be safe! 

– Rob


I’m a 1LT platoon leader in the Army and I am about to drop my packet to the ARSOF board and try to go through SFAS for the Green Beret "Q Course."  I max the APFT and I am a solid runner.  However, I am 5’7" and only a 130 lbs. I would like to put on some muscle mass, improve my rucking capability, and still not lose all of my distance stamina and speed. What do you suggest I do? Does military athlete have something for me or should I keep looking?

– T.

Based on your bodyweight (I’m your height and weigh 155…) you need some mass/strength. I’d recommend you do the Hypertrophy Program for Skinny Guys:, and follow it up with a subscription to the Operator Sessions, or the Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell Plan:

Note – as you gain mass and strength, don’t expect your running performance not to be effected. Keep you’re eye on the ball – not a max APFT, but an ODA command. 

– Rob


How are you? I’m new to your programming and currently just looking for an everyday program such as your operator sessions, however was interested in the swim program as well. Is it possible to do both at the same time?  Based off the free operator sessions that you offer I am comfortable with the workload but I’m not necessarily a strong swimmer and do not know anything about programming in the water.
Thank you.

– V.

Yes – if you’re fit, you can double up the Operator Sessions and either the Swim Improvement Program ( or the Run Improvement Program:

– Rob

I’ve read your diet recommendations a dozen times, but I read it again a few days ago and it just clicked and I’ve been following it this week. I feel great, and its a lot easier than some of the other recommendations I’ve tried in the past. I haven’t lost any weight yet, but I have a lot more energy and just feel cleaner.
Just out of curiosity, at 5’10" how much should I be weighing?
Thanks for your work.
– C.

At 5’10" I’d like to see you 175-185#

– Rob


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