Hey y’all. Greetings from Texas! I am the, owner of CrossFit Stars and Bars, and a board member of The Warfighter Foundation and a member of the Elite Athletes of Warfighter Foundation. Just wanted to drop a line and let y’all know I used the program years ago when I prepped my team for some work overseas. Great program y’all.

– E

I just completed and got selected from SFAS on Oct 25, and the ruck based selection train up was legit. Land nav didn’t break me off, and I beasted team week. While everyone was sucking, I was feeling ok. Thanks
– F

I have been following the site for some time and enjoy the insightful info as well as the Q/As.  I recently purchased the afghan pre-deployment plan for an upcoming hiking trip and have seen great improvement!  I was wondering if you had any experience with "heavy" swings (i.e stronger grip plateau buster etc.) and what your opinions was of them? Do they add any value to the training of a tactical athlete…if so how would you program them?
– K

Last year, or the year before, we didn’t do heavy swings, but we did bunches and bunches of swings at 20 or 24kg during one of our work capacity cycles. We got better at swings, for sure, and we helped develop some work capacity programming theory out of the experiments. One thing we found was that to a man, swings chewed our hands up. We even took to wearing gloves, and still we tore. 

We haven’t done a sustained heavy swing cycle, I’m sorry. In terms of programming, I’d likely use a density format, like 10 rounds of 30 second swing, 30 second rest.

In terms of value for a tactical athlete – we know swings can build posterior chain/hamstring/low back strength and strength endurance. And they can provide a solid general fitness work capacity hit… however, you need to be careful when it comes to work capacity stuff. Military/tactical athletes will never swing anywhere – they will sprint or ruck or ruck run. I certainly program general work capacity hits, but am also careful to frequently train these "tactical specific" modes (rucking, ruck runs, sprints). Make sure you do too.

– Rob

Coach Shaul,
I was wondering if you could put together a program, or make a recommendation for a program to use  for the Army Maneuver Captains Carrier Course Iron Mike PT Competition. The competition changes class to class, and small group to small group. You don’t find out the actual event until midway through the course. I would like to prep for the event at the start of MCCC which is formally a 22 week course. The Iron Mike competition is run at the culmination of the course.
Essentials of it basically consists of the following pieces:
2 to six-hour military skills competition spread out over 1 to 3 days
–          Rucking anywhere between 4-12 miles
–          Running (could be in Kit) anywhere 3-6 miles
–          Dragging a SKEDCO with a weight anywhere from 150-300 meters
–          Strong Farmers Man carry with objects (.50 cal barrel, water cans etc)
–          One of multiple Crossfit WODS workout (could be basic APFT stuff, thrusters, KB swings, etc)
–          Rope Climbing
I also posted an example  of an Iron Mike PT competition I got from my buddy below.
Run 5.23 miles with a partner interspersed with 5 minute AMRAP’s of:
strict pullups
American kettle swings, 40 lbs
box jumps, 18" and 20" box (I switched halfway)
sandbag carry up Cardiac Hill, 35 lbs
Skedco drag, 150 lbs

pullups: 55
swings: 120
box jumps: 110
sandbag: 3.5 trips (3 up-and-back plus 1 up)
Skedco: 3 trips
burpees: 42
– R.

I’m sorry, but I can’t design a sport-specific plan for the Iron Mike PT comp. One reason is it seems the goal post is always moving, and it would be hard to keep up. Of the plans I have already built, I’m thinking the Afghan Pre-Deployment Training Plan would be the best fit:

For you, honestly, instead of training specifically for this comp, I’d recommend you complete one of our selection programs, and then go ahead an enter the comp. Because you request a plan, I’m assuming you’ll have time to consistently train at MCCC. 

I don’t have a 22 week plan, but you could link 2-3 of our training programs together. 

Here’s what I’d recommend: 

(1) Rat 6 Strength Plan:
This 8-week plan is classic strength training. Strength is the key to performance and durability.

(2) Endurance Training Cycle:
4.5 week plan will get you out of the weight room and under the ruck and running. 

(3) Ruck-Based Selection Plan:
Take a week off, then start this 8-week Plan the 8 weeks right before the comp.

– Rob


Thanks for the work that you and your team do.  I have completed both the Ruck Based Selection and APFT programs over the last few months in that order and saw great success.  I want to work on my strength levels especially the core and lower body.  Of your strength plans, I’m curious of which one would be beneficial for this and still have enough work involved so that my run times don’t decrease drastically?  

Thanks for the help!

– R

Big 24:, with supplemental running. Understand your extra running will hurt the strength gains from this plan. Best would be to do the plan, then go back to your regular training schedule. 

– Rob


I did the kettlebell program and am currently on the running rucking endurance one, I’m looking ahead to my next program to follow, I would like for it to be a strength based workout, but I don’t want to put on to much weight, I would appreciate your suggestions on a couple programs you would recommend.

– J

I’d recommend Big 24:

– Rob

Rob, first, I want to give kudos on your Rat 6 plan so far. I’m half way through and have already seen decent gains on my bench, power clean, and front squat. I had a question though for the max week when it comes to scaling.  How much weight are you putting on while working up to 1RM?  For example, you recommend doing 5-3-1 for bench.  My max at the beginning was 235# and when working up to my max for week 5, I started with 135# for 5, then 185# for 3, then 225# for 1 and started adding weight from there.  

Also, what are strength standards for squat cleans?  I know for power cleans you say at least 1x your BW.  Thanks!

Very Respectfully,

– V

You’re work up to 1RM is close to what I would do. Ideally, you’re getting there by the 5-8th set. 

1.25x Bodyweight for the squat clean.

– Rob


Hey Rob,
I’m a combat engineer currently deployed to Afganistan, I just turned 19 and I’m training up to go to sf selection. When I get back, I will have 9 months until I turn 20 and am eligible to drop a packet for selection. I saw a link for your website in a spec ops chat room and I checked it out for a little bit, I didn’t go too in depth in checking it out before emailing you so I might lack some information on how you operate things. But I was wondering if you could help me out or point me in the direction of a plan that would be good for my weight and size. I’m 5’4” and 120lbs, not sure of the correlation but I will let you know what my three main compound lifts and PT test  are at right now.
Bench: 185×1
Squat:  245×1
Deadlift:  285×1
2:00 PU max: 75 (goal 90-100)
2:00 SU max: 90  (goal 100)
2 mile time: 12:30 (goal 11:45)

I’ll let you know right now that my shoulders are my weak point, as far as military press, something I need to work on. But I have know problem with putting a 55lb ruck on and rucking at around a 14:00/mi pace for quite a while. My cousin is in the SEALs and he recommended putting a 50lb ruck on and walking on a stair master for 2-3 hrs. Sounds pretty intense and I don’t have the equipment over here to do it. I would appreciate if you could get back to me whenever possible.

– G

Attached is our Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Plan, which we offer free to guys deployed or with deployment orders. Start with it. 

When you return to the States I recommend you complete one of our strength plans – Rat 6:

I’m concerned about your size and light weight – increased strength will help make you more durable. 

The 8 weeks directly before you report for SFAS, I recommend you complete our Ruck Based Selection Plan:

Several have used this plan successfully for SFAS and other selections.

– Rob

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