Wanted to drop you a quick note to thank you for all you do for our community. I’ve been following your stuff off and on since 2010 and in my humble opinion it is the best stuff out there as far as special operations physical training goes. A couple of reflections I wanted to share with you and your team to let you know we appreciate what you do.
One of the things I love most about your training is the stoic, quiet professional, blue collar way you and the lab rats go about your business. I love the photos. Things I notice as a professional: No shirtless poster boy show boats with cool, high socks or head bands with their Fran time plastered on it. When I came back into the fold this past time to your programming, it involved me parting ways with my old Crossfit gym on less than great terms. All over a damn double under. The conversation went something like this, coach: "You know you are really going to have to concentrate on some of the Crossfit skills like the Double Under if you ever want to graduate to being an elite level athlete." My reply to the walking advertisement of a coach covered in Crossfit merchandised flair, "I have never done a Double Under in a tactical situation, not once…….When is the last time you did a 10K offset with 100 LBS of gear on your back, with no sleep, and less than ideal food?" My point is this, I firmly believe you deliver on your advertisement of tailored operator sport specific training. And you do it in a humble, workman-like way. No flash, no flair, just ordinary guys training in extraordinary ways and doing extraordinary things.
Your ability to recognize the burden of constant fitness is much appreciated. You acknowledge that the guys using your training are usually working extremely hard on the other finer points of killing. I don’t have time to get 12 hours of sleep a night, eat strict paleo zone 100% of the time, or get 3 WODs in a day. There are weeks where this job in and of itself is PT and a break is needed. The key is peaking at the right time for the right events and your specific trainups allow guys to do that while maintaining their base using your operator sessions.
You and the lab rats’ humble honesty is much appreciated. You put yourselves out there, post your times, stats and numbers, and reflect on the pains and pleasures of training. For type A personalities, striving to beat the experts is always an incentive and you post the numbers for guys to gauge where they are and it serves as a means of shared hardship over digital means. We appreciate it.
Really loving the new endurance cycles. As a meat head ex football player, the gym has always been my first love. Endurance is something I needed to work on and you have made me do it. I am anxious to see how it will transition to the strength and work capacity efforts and anticipate it helping both while still improving endurance over the long term.
I’ve went too long already, thanks again Coach.
Firstly let me thank you for all that you and your lab rats do, I love your programming and your methodology has inspired me to become more professional in my training. I have successfully used your lower back and body weight training plans with great results and attempted to make it through the hypertrophy program, but the rep/set scheme was a little much for me at the time, planning on knocking it out in the near future.
I have to stay fit for my job. Problem is, I don’t enjoy jogging and have limited experience rucking. I have completed P90X, Insanity, TRX, have practiced Crossfit, and enjoy using my rowing machine. However, I get bored easily and was looking for something new. I also prefer to do body weight workouts.
I recently worked out with a buddy who uses sand bags and ruck sacks to work out and really enjoyed it.
What program would you recommend?
1) Bodyweight Training Plan: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=56&&cart_ID=96
2) Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell Training Plan: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=56&&cart_ID=103
Dear Coach Shaul,
I have enjoyed Military Athlete programming for years and love that it is an ever-evolving program. Since getting out of shape after having a baby, I recently completed your On Ramp Program and your Goruck Prep Program to get my fitness level back. They both really focused on the core, legs and lungs. I noticed the exercises that you chose for this focus were mainly front squats, some back and box squats, step ups, and lunges. I am curious as to why deadlifts are not included in those programs? It seems that if you wanted to build strong legs and core, you would want to also choose exercises that work the posterior chain. I have always been the type to want to learn the "why" behind things instead of blindly following advice, so this question is simply a way to feed that desire for more knowledge. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
First, we moved away from the traditional dead lift in favor of what I call the Hinge Lift: http://www.mountainathlete.com/subpage_details.php?subpage_ID=1493&page_ID=14
I’ve found the hinge does a better job at training the butt and hamstrings, while at the same time, protecting the back.
However, the problem with both the dead lift, and even the hinge, is technique. The dead lift is simple enough, the problem is guys go too heavy, their core/back "breaks" during the exercise, and their low back suffers.
The hinge is a great exercise, but is technique-intensive, and even my lab rats have problems performing the movement correctly on a consistent basis.
So, even if an exercise is great, if it’s just too complicated, or dangerous for athletes to do correctly, is it a good exercise? This is the question I face with first the dead lift, and now the hinge.
One exercise I’ve found that also trains the posterior chain, especially the glutes, is the loaded walking lunge. Not only does the loaded walking lunge train the posterior chain, but it’s pretty hard to mess up. I’ve found in my programming I’ve moved away from as much hinging, and more towards more loaded walking lunges.
We’ve even started doing loaded, barbell jumping lunges – and find we really like this exercise too.
In addition to the walking lunge, I’ve moved to strength endurance exercises to train the hamstrings – primarily poor man leg curls and hamstring hells.
So – in a perfect world, we would hinge all the time. But …. I’ve found the simpler exercises work best, and for whatever reason, neither the dead lift nor the hinge lift is a simple exercise – hence the evolution away from them.
Side note: We use the Nordic Hamstring Curl a lot with my skiers to train hamstring strength. I’ve found to keep the reps low – no more than 3 each set – to get the best strength effect: http://www.mountainathlete.com/subpage_details.php?subpage_ID=751&page_ID=14
I’m a full time mountain infantry soldier in the French foreign Legion, here I do lot of skiing in the winter and a lot of rock climbing and marching (with loads on our backs ranging 10-20kg) in the summer. I been looking for a training guide to increase my mountain performance (strength and cardio). I wish to increase both my maximum rep number of pull ups and the number of times I can climb up a cord with my arms only, and of course increase my lower body strength to help my marching and skiing. Which of your training routines do you recommend for me or how much would it cost me for a routine made for me?
Thank you for your time
I’d recommend you begin with our Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Program. It includes focused lower body climbing, strength and rucking, plus upper body work: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=52&&cart_ID=83
I recently purchased your ruck selection prep. program. I must say it’s intense, and I love it. However I’ve noticed through the years, that the more training I do the more my legs suffer. I take in plenty of BCAA’s and regular amino’s. I adhere to the diet regimen of low/no starchy carbs. Even when going through scout sniper school my legs always fatigued fast. I stretch, and stretch, and train them hard on a regular basis. My legs are bigger than most, but completely muscle. Have you ever had anyone with this problem before? What did you recommend for them and did it work?
My biggest fear and problem is that even after rest days , I can do 15 burpees and my legs are fatigued. I must push through harder and harder each session and they never seem to improve.
I’m not sure what’s going on with your legs. You should be sore and tight – esp. at the beginning of the cycle. This should improve with your fitness. I’m not too sure you should sound the alarm.
Also – sometimes I’ll begin a training session and my legs will feel "heavy" – and more tired than they should be (like your 15x burpees) but after a bit, they warm up and come alive.
For recovery, not much beats an ice bath. You may want to try this.
I’ve been doing workouts 3-5 times a week with increasing intensity for the past 11 months. I plan on doing the Patrol Officer Training Plan for the new job. Do you still recommend doing the On-Ramp Plan? I’m also a SWAT Medic and was looking at the Selection plans. After you released the HRT plan, I figured that would be next. Should I spend some time doing the Operator Session before starting the next plan? Thanks for your time
On Ramp Plan? No, jump into the Patrol Officer Plan – you’ll know right away if you’re not ready. If not – then go back and do the On Ramp plan, but I’d try the Patrol Officer Plan first. You should be okay.
In general, I don’t encourage guys to do sport-specific plans back to back. The focus of the sport-specific plans can lead to strength and fitness imbalances, which can be remedied by the balance of the Operator Sessions. So yes – I’d recommend a couple months of the Operator Sessions before starting another sport-specific plan.
Hi, I am currently in the process of joining the Army. I would like to be able to max out the APFT before I ship out. Would you recommend your APFT plan or a Army BCT plan depending on my current score?
Thanks and I hope all is well.
I’d recommend taking the APFT and then purchasing the appropriate ARMY BCT plan based upon your score. We’ve built 3 of them – and your initial APFT score will be the the one appropriate for you. Links ….
APFT Score Plan
Less than 100 http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=60&&cart_ID=100
I washed out of the combat control pipeline at air traffic control school. I failed pull ups on the 30 day evaluation. I have some years before I can take a stab at it again and I want to take a different approach. My weakest areas are running and pull ups. I’m actually kind of weak all around except swimming. I passed selection easily but ATC was a kick in the balls. I can pass the USAF pt test no problem so I ask do you recommend your daily operator sessions? Or a specific plan? My goals at 20:00 3 mile and 15 pull ups along with high sit ups, push ups and fast swim as well as all around functional fit.
I hope to here from you,
Before jumping into the Operator Sessions, I recommend you complete a couple plans first:
1) Bodyweight Training Plan: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=56&&cart_ID=96
2) Rat 6 Strength Plan: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=55&&cart_ID=84
I’m trying to access my Big 24 purchase on my ipad, but it’s saying the link has expired. Can you hook me up with a new a link? Also, I have a question in regards to my long-term fitness goals. I recently just separated from the Air Force after 7 years, where I was a loadmaster in AFSOC. I’m now going to school full-time at Texas State University, and recently accomplished my first triathlon. I bring this up, because I’m trying to find ways to stay fit, and took up triathlon, and as a result, I’m now on the TX State Tri team. I separated from the military in order to get my education and to pursue a federal job. Specifically, I’m catering myself to the FBI, so I can go HRT, or an equivalent team, with a different agency, bureau, department. However, I need to have a back-up plan, and have decided that if I don’t get a federal tactical job, that I’m going to commission with the navy, and become a SEAL. So, I’ve got 3 years to get in shape until I apply for these jobs. I’m 26, about 5’7, and currently weigh 147. However, 3 months ago before I started triathlon sport-specific training, I was weighing in at about 155. Gaining weight is a mother for me, but it seems I can drop weight easily.
Within the past year, these were my 1RM:
Bench – 225,
Front Squat – 185 or 205. Can’t remember
Back Squat – 285/maybe more,
Clean – 155,
Dead Lift – 295
Military Press – 115
More than likely, all these numbers aren’t accurate at this time, because of the triathlon sport specific training. I haven’t been lifting as much as a result. On that note, I will not be doing more than triathlon sprint heats, in fear of losing too much weight/strength. I have some older Operator Sessions that I’ll bounce around on, I bought your hypertrophy program which is how i bumped up to 155 and was the strongest I’ve been, and Big 24 to use when I was sport specific training. Now that I’ve accomplished my first tri, I don’t care about winning or making the podium. I just need to stay fit, and this sport trains in running and swimming, so I figured this would be the best sport to be involved in while in college. Bottom line, Rob, I don’t give a shit about triathlon, and am ready to start out with a clean slate to begin the journey of being an operator. I need to be as fit, if not better, than the best operator. I only get one shot at selection, and I have 3 years to prepare and get in shape. I can’t afford to fail. I’ve decided to work with you after being on your programs for nearly 2 years now, and being familiar with majority of your excersises, while also knowing it’s legit. Let me know where we should start, as far as accomplishing another operator ugly, or any fitness test that we can begin with. I’m looking to begin on Monday, if you get this over the weekend. I’ve attached my tri race results to give you an idea of my fitness level currently. Let me know if you need any information from me, numbers, weight, etc. I own an AR-15 (M4), and am about to buy a 9mm, to stay current with weapons. I’ll have access to a range as well, so we can work on range fitness too. I look forward to working with you and think you can help make my dream a reality. Sorry for the lengthy email.
Bike 16.7 mi
In terms of your larger question, your timeline depends upon how committed you are to get your education now. You don’t make this clear.
Many of the federal tactical jobs won’t require a bachelors degree – so your movement into one of those could be much sooner than the 3 years it will take you to finish your degree. A Navy commission will require the degree – and you’re looking a 3 years down the road.
If you’re willing to delay your college degree to take one of the federal jobs, you should subscribe to and complete the Operator Sessions as your day-to-day training. The Operator Sessions represent our latest programming theory, and aim to cover the fitness requirements of a mulit-mission capable team: strength, durability, short, intense work capacity, stamina, endurance – and will the best job of establishing your "base" fitness upon which you can complete sport-specific training for whatever team selection you get a shot at.
You could still drop out of the Operator Sessions and do short train ups and complete tri’s – but understand your tri performance won’t be as good as it would if you would train for triathlons, more comprehensively.
If you’re determined to stay at Texas State for the 3 years it will take to get a degree, I’d recommend committing to triathlon training and competing for a couple years, and see how far you can go in the sport. A year out from graduating, you can drop back into operator-specific training and be plenty prepared for BUD/s, or whatever after graduation.
However know this – you’re 26 now, and will be pushing 30 at graduation. Three years out of the game may hurt you if you’re determined to get your degree and then try for one of the federal jobs. I would also recommend you verify age limits for Navy OCS and BUD/s.
I have used both your Afghan ruck workout and your selection prep workout. I recently went to selection and was selected so, thanks for the workouts. Now that I am back and have a few months before I begin training, I need to get back in shape. I like the operator sessions but have no idea where to start. My legs are shot and I feel like I have lost all the running stamina that I had before I went. If you could give me an idea where to start, I would really appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
I’d recommend starting with the strength/work capacity Hybrid Cycle which begins on 8/5/13 – and following along in order from there. You’ll get in some good strength and work capacity fitness, then drop into a 3-week endurance cycle.
Just got finished with the current endurance cycle. I have an issue with speed. During this last cycle my endurance did improve but my overall speed improved minimally. My question to you: Is it ok to supplement speedwork at the track with efforts to gain speed during this next strength cycle? My reasoning for this is because I’m running a 10k race in November and want to be faster than my previous 10k Times. I was thinking of running on Tuesday Thursday and Saturday. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the great work!
Sure. We’ll be lifting heavy legs on Monday and Thursday, for the next cycle – so you may want to do our extra running on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Watch for over training.