Hi Rob,


I live in a remote community in northern Canada, there is no gym, although there is a school gymnasium available for use with a chin up bar.  My colleague is in a remote community in the southern States, with access to a beach.  We're starting training for an event happening in September, and we've have heard exceptional things about the mountain athlete training programs.  


Can you suggest a base training program to start with ( I was looking at the bodyweight program, but am wondering if that's the only option)?  


Secondly, if I put together a detailed list of the events would you be able to come up with a custom program to help us get into tip-top form?  


Both of us are your average athletes, one is a strong swimmer in oceans and paddle boarder (so, good lungs, upper body strength not terrible); the other finished a 1/2 ironman this summer in 7 hours and completed the insanity program.  Both hike.  Just to give you a general idea of our fitness levels.  Thanks in advance


– V



Equipment restrictions limits our plan/training options. I would recommend you both start with the Bodyweight Training Plan ( Don't be fooled by "bodyweight" – our programming is fairly intense, and this will challenge you. 


Individualized programming? I'm generally hesitant to do this for athletes I haven't worked with before. But go ahead and send your events and I'll take a look at it. 


– Rob 






My wife has been wanting to get into your programming.  She is lean but de-conditioned.  Would the bodyweight or on-ramp training be a better place to start?  I have both of those programs and enjoyed them both.  Additionally, if you have another reccomendation I would be interested in hearing it.  The goal would be some shorter adventure races/triathlons and hiking/less technical mountains.  I know that is pretty broad, so maybe an introductory program and then base sessions?  Look forward to hearing your thoughts.  




– C



Bodyweight Plan (, to ….


Base Fitness or Mountain Guide Fitness session subscription, to……. 


Peak Bagger Plan ( before your hiking/less technical hikes. 


We don't currently offer Adventure Race Plan (it's in the hopper), and don't plan on building a tri plan – there are plenty of other sources for tri training.


– Rob 





I am training to climb the Matterhorn next Sept. Your big mt. plan has been highly recommended to me for my last 3-4 months before the climb. I am currently working on base fitness. Could you let me know about your base fitness program and your big mt. plan and let me know how to sign up? Thanks.


– S



I'd recommend our Peak Bagging Training Plan:


It's designed for one day, steep, ascents like this. 


This plan is no joke. What I'd recommend is purchasing and completing the plan now, then subscribing to our our Base Fitness training sessions on the website, then re-doing the plan the six weeks directly before your climb. 


– Rob




Hi Rob,


I have recently turned 40 and i am not unfit but i am not anywhere near as fit as i would like to be or could be, i'm a surfer and i have worked manually very hard since I was 16.


As i approached 40 i decided on preventative measures as i was assured that if i kept my present course i was going to pay with my physical health.


As i hit 40 priorities changed with respect to my family, i have stopped chasing selfish endeavours in favour of time with my kids and my home/work life.


For the last 7 years i have been building a small farm, literally building a small farm, no contractors just hard graft. The farm is now morphing into a horse trekking centre.


So as you can see i am just getting started. I decided to stop relying on physical RANDOM work loads to count as my exercise, instead training to safely meet the demands of the physical RANDOM work loads. I have been training for 7 months, but i am lacking structure, initially things were very progressive but i am tailing off rapidly. This fact has led me to you.


I do not do any mountain sports as in skiing, climbing etc but i do trail run (5 miles 5 times a week), i will randomly surf, heavy physical labour is a integral part of my life, i horse ride and my increased activity with the kids needs consulting as all they want to do is go swimming repeatedly and cycle constantly and generally beat dad into the ground with big sticks.


Question is which plan do i need?????I am not sport specific, i do not do seasons as i live in ireland and we only have one season, the rainy one, I have basic barbell & dumbells, an exercise ball, a mountain bike, a pull up bar, i also have a load of motivation and a cracking diet thanks to our home grown produce. I live a long way from the nearest gym. I have signed up for a tough mudder in october and i want to make my training a continuous progression. From a personal standpoint i would like to address all of the aspects of my physical structure, strength, power, mass and endurance. I guess i am in the all rounder camp….I was thinking the Base camp plan or the Body weight plan. I am looking for confirmation that i am barking up the right tree.


Please advise further, your experience and advice is already greatly appreciated.


Thanks for your time in advance.


– A



You're tracking right. I'd recommends starting with the Bodyweight Training Plan:


It will give you a good dose of our approach and intensity, and what it's like to train in a structured cycle. 


If it works for you I'd move on to one of our strength plans, specifically 357 Strength:

I love this plan for older athletes like you and I (I'm 45). 


Good Luck! 


– Rob






Hello! I am a subscriber to your service and wanted to ask you some questions with regard to crew and individual fitness with regards to how we could implement your workouts with the crew during the off-season and during the season. Typically, we are working long hours at repetitive tasks while fighting fire. Our current fitness plan is built around the concept that a strong core keeps you safe while working and strong cardio/endurance keeps you going and allows an energy or fitness reservoir for urgent times.


I have been working with your base fitness program and have some of my folks doing it with me.  It is good for an old hotshot like me, but I was wondering if you suggestions for some tweeks or changes to make it more specific in terms of work hardening for our guys. Also, how much running/hiking/swimming/etc… would you recommend as a supplement to improve cardio without risking overuse injuries? Currently, I am supplementing with light 2-4 mile runs on workout days with longer runs on the rest days, but feel that my younger guys could handle a bit more.


Any thoughts you had would be appreciated.


Thank you-

– P



In general, the closer you get to the season or "event" – the more sport-specific your training should be. 


For you and your Hot Shots, that means fairly intense "Base Fitness" programming in the off season with a focus on leg and core strength, and sport-specific cardio for hiking under load, and hiking up hill under load. 


What separates your crew from many of the mountain professionals we work with is the load carriage. Mountain Guides simply don't carry the weight into the woods you do … and our Base Fitness and Mountain Guide fitness programming reflects these lighter loads. 



Soldiers move with weight like you, and my first recommendation would be to cancel your subscription to the Mountain Athlete Base Fitness sessions and subscribe to the Operator Sessions at my sister site, These are far more intense – esp. on the loading. We regularly run with weight vests, ruck under load (45#), do thousands of step ups, etc. Also – the "combat chassis" focus of the Operator Sessions for soldiers is perfect for you and your guys.


Second, 6 weeks out from the start of your high season, or perhaps when your crew first reports in for the Spring, move from the Operator Sessions to our Hotshot Crew/Smoke Jumper Pre-Season Training Plan:


This plan is very intense, progressive, and not equipment intensive. It's 6-weeks long, so when you start it, you need to decide – but start with enough time to complete so you're ready for the busy fire season. 



We offer several plans at both sites which will harden your guys, and if they train together, bond them. On the mountain side, the Peak Bagger Training Plan ( and Bodyweight Training Plan ( are great choices. 


On the military side, the Endurance Training Cycle, which includes running and rucking ( would be awesome effort, as would the Weightvest/Dumbbell/Sandbag Training Plan:


Extra cardio/Running?

A better option would be to supplement your Base Fitness or Operator Sessions with our 4-Week Ruck Improvement Training Plan ( 1-Mile Ruck Intervals at 45# plus a sledge hammer = no joke. 


– Rob 




Hi Rob,


I was just reading on the Mountain Athlete website that you offer individual coaching for recreational athletes.  


I currently work as an instructor for NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School).  I guide rock climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing courses and pursue those sports in my free time, mainly rock climbing.  


I am living in Victor, ID for a month.  I am interested in a training program that I could do while working courses (typically 2 – 4 weeks) that would help me perform better when I climb between my courses (I might have 2 – 3 weeks off at a time).  Although I could have access to free weights and machines during some of my free time, the ideal routine would also have exercises requiring minimal equipment — stuff that is transportable when car camping.  


I understand that you post programs on your website for people to follow from afar.  I would be interested in that, but also something that I could take onto field courses where I don't have access to the internet.  I would also be very interested in coaching and feedback on my form while doing the exercises.  


Please let me know when you have some time available to discuss this in further detail.  I could come to Jackson several times a week.  


I will be in Jackson Wednesday morning, although I know that is short notice.


Thanks for your help!


– J



Best program for you to begin would be our Bodyweight Training Plan:


Don't be fooled by "bodyweight"  – this plan is no joke – and equipment free (except for a pull up boar or some rock rings). You can print the plan out and take it with you to the field. 


Between Courses – with car camping …. I don't have a perfect plan for you, but this gives me an idea to design one. One option is our Sandbag/Weight Vest/Dumbbell Training Plan on the Military Side:


You'll need a 60# sandbag, pair of 25# dumbbells, and instead of a weight vest, can wear a 25# pack. 


– Rob



Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA