I have both your first version Kayaking program and 8 week Kettlebell program.  What are your thoughts of using the KB strength workouts as an in season workouts?  I am a 53 year old male who mostly mountain bikes and whitewater kayaks. If not, what would you suggest?   Once the weather breaks, I usually bike 2/week, kayaking 1-2 times per week.



Hi M – 

Couple things to think about when it comes to training during the sports season:

1) Gym-training shouldn't affect your sport performance because of fatigue or soreness. 

I learned this the hard way – when we first started with mountain athletes here I scheduled Friday sessions, and because everything in the mountains begins with legs, we usually trained legs on Fridays. Of course the skiers and runners, and mountain bikers were either mad at me, or just quit because their legs were gone because of fatigue or soreness when they went to do their sport on Saturday. This was my fault, and I've since most loaded or intense training on Fridays for Mountain Athletes (we still run moderate distance). Also, for the in-season athletes, I've significantly cut back the volume, and increased the loading. We've found that a few reps at high weight doesn't make the athletes sore, usually, and doesn't fatigue them for the weekend/sport. 

2) Actually doing your sport covers volume and work capacity.

Kayaking 2x/week and biking 2x/week will give you the muscle volume you need to maintain and train your work capacity in a sport-specific manner. 

Back to your question….

Kayak plan is out – because it contains lots and lots of volume, and would fatigue you for your actual time on the water.

8-Week Kettlebell Plan – Pick and chose these sessions to avoid the work capacity work and only do the strength sessions – and limit these to 2x/week.

– Rob





First – I have purchased both the Surf and Dryland Ski programs and absolutely love them. They got me squared away for ski season and recently for a weeklong trip to Puerto Escondido in Mexico.


I am settling in for Session 12 today for the Surf workout and cant figure out what a 1-2-3-2-1 is and it is not on the website. Can I get a short description?


Thanks!! Keep it up.


Hi J- 


This is a rep scheme. For example ….






Push ups

Pull ups




1x Squat

1x Push up

1x Pull up, then


2x Squat

2x Push up

2x Pull up ….. etc up to 3x of each exercise then down back again to 1x.





I am curious as to who your body weight plans are specifically geared for. I don't have direct access to a gym at the moment due to my location and I was wondering if this would be a good plan to follow for maintaining strength and endurance. Appreciate the help.



Hi S- 


The Bodyweight Plan ( deploys my theory of Fluid Periodization to bodyweight exercises – so the plan trains strength, work capacity and some endurance, as well as core strength. On the strength side we're somewhat limited by not having loading, but we still do a good job, especially for those not accustomed to our intensity. 


Don't be fooled by "bodyweight." The plan is no joke. 


– Rob



Hey Rob,


I’m interested in your training regimes and learned about you from a friend of mine, TA Loeffler who has used your services.  I am going on a trip to Bolivia with my wife in mid-July and wanted to get in great climbing shape for three mountains over 19000 feet.  I am built like a football lineman/linebacker and am hoping to cut some weight and get strength built for these mountains.  I’m at about 290lbs right now, but have been cutting weight the last few months—down about 45-50lbs so far.  I was wondering what program you recommended for some training.  Should I be sticking to the general program or the big mountain program.  My strength got me through a 4 week trip to Nepal last year to 20000 feet, but I know I can be better.  Thanks for the advice.



Hi T- 


Cutting weight has to be your biggest priority. Understand your weight will not only make it much easier on you, but if you happen to twist an ankle, break a leg, etc., your size could be a real danger to the folks needing to get you to safety – esp. if weather was coming in. 


Start with cleaning up your diet. Click here to watch a video on our Nutritional Guidelines:


Your training – 


The Big Mountain Training Plan – You and your wife should this the 10 weeks directly before you depart for your trip: 


In the weeks between the start of the Big Mountain plan and now, purchase and complete this OnRamp Plan from the military side:


– Rob



Hi Rob


I recently bought the Peak Bagger Training Workout as I am planning a week of mountaineering in August including a Matterhorn attempt.


What is your recommendation with regard to timing of the six week program ahead of an intended climb – should there be a period of (active) recovery before attempting the week out in the mountains? I am trying to plan when exactly would be best to start the 6 week program.


I am London based so most of my training will be on flat ground!


Thanks for your help.



Hi G – 


Two days rest right before will be fine. These can be travel days too. 


Good luck! 


– Rob



on your website you advocate a mostly paleo diet 6 days a week with 1 day being a cheat day. you also underline the importance of event nutrition and how its different from dailey nutrition. my question is what would a diet look like for an high volume endurance athlete that is doing 2 plus hours of cardio a day 5-6 days a week. ive tried to eat paleo while training like that…it was miserable


Hi J- 


Best – more vegetables, esp. sweet potatoes.

Next best – pasta.


– Rob





i purchased the big mountain program this morning to train for an August climb of Rainer.  Do i need to include any weighted hikes or should this program be take care of that.  If additional hiking isn't required can i substitute it for some of the step ups?  We are going to colorado this summer and would be nice to hike there.




Hi D- 


The Big Mountain Plan ( includes step ups and weighted work you'll need. The plan is no joke – good luck! 


– Rob




Hi Rob,

Wondering if I can complete the preseason mtb program without owning a bicycle? I have access to a good quality spin bike. If that works, how many hours a week am I looking at being on the spin bike during the base-style cycling blocks?


Had a lot of success with your preseason ski and in-season ski program, but really "enjoyed" the 357 strength program last year. Got me stronger than ever before.





Hi C – 


As best I can tell, the longest you'll be spinning is 2 hours, and the longest training week is 10 hours – which includes both strength and spin training. 


– Rob



Hello Coach,


First off a few kudos. I've been following mainly your militaryathlete site since '09 and I love the evolutions that have occurred throughout the years. I still have workout journals with workouts that have names such as "hot afgan chicks"! Since than I have made the transformation into ultrarunning and I am intrigued by some of the new mtnathlete site options. My main question is what are the differences between the Ultra Running Pre Season Training program that is offered in the store and the Subscribe: Ultra Run subscription tab? I have a 50 mile ultra race on the first weekend of May but after that I plan on taking 4 to 5 months to basically rebuild weaknesses and revamp my training for a 100K sometime in the fall. Any advice could be very helpful.


Hi C- 


Our general process is to design programming, test it on lab rats, fix the mistakes, then publish it in a plan. 


The Ultra Pre-Season Plan ( is the result of this process from last year. The plan would be a great pre-season plan for a 50-100 miler. Alone, it's good for a 50K. 


This year we've bumped it up some and are again working with ultra lab rats in the gym. These are the ongoing sessions you see in the tab alongside. This aggressive 8-week cycle is designed with a 50 miler in mind. 


So you have 3 choices with our stuff – 


Purchase the Ultra Preseason Plan, 

Subscribe and follow along with our lab rats through the Ultra tab on the site, or

Follow another running-focused plan, and perhaps complete our In-Season Strength Training for Endurance Athletes:


– Rob



Good Morning Rob


First let me thank you for the quick response to my questions about which program to use for getting back into the alpine climbing.

I purchased the peak bagger program and have been reviewing it.  It looks really good and I will start on Monday.  The only question that comes to mind is that on Rainier and on some other approaches, we will be carrying full packs of 40 to 50 pounds with our tents and other gear.  Would it be ok to increase the ruck and step up weight during the course of the plan along with the volume or would it be better to complete the 6 weeks first and then increase repeat the final until weight reaches 40 to 50 pounds. 

Thank you



Hi T – 


You could increase to 40# from the get go, but don't go over 40#. We've had experience with this and 40# is the limit. 


– Rob





Can you send me a sample session for the Big Mountain Training Plan? I'm interested but want to see an example of a session before I drop $80 on it. 




B – 


See below: – Rob



Obj: Strength


Warm up: 


5 Rounds

10x Swings (M-35#, W-25#)

10x Goblet Squats  (M-35#, W-25#)

10x Push ups

10x Situps 

Instep Stretch




(1) 6 Rounds

4x Shoulder Hold Lunge Lunge each leg – increase load each round until 4x is hard, but doable

5x Military Press – increase load each round until 5x is hard, but doable

Pigeon Stretch


(2) 3 Rounds

3x Calve Raise Tabata 

20x Hamstring Hell

8x Pullups Men, 4x Pull ups, Women


(3) 4 Rounds

20/20/20 Low Back Complex

20/20 Low Back Lunge

20/20 Kneeling Founder

12x Face Down Back Ext





Obj: Stamina




(1) 700x Step ups (350x each leg) M@40#, W-30#


(2) Run 4 Miles, Moderate Pace

Moderate = Comfortable but not easy


(3) Foam Roll Legs and Lower Back





Warm up: 


5 Rounds

10x Squat Jumps

10x Push ups

5x Pull ups

Instep + Hip Flexor Stretch




(1) 5 Rounds

300m Shuttle every 2:30


(2) 4 Rounds

10x Weighted Situps (M-35#, W-25#)

60 Second Front Bridge

10x Seated Russian Twist @ 35# plate or Dumbbell (20x total)

10x Face Down Back Ext


(3) 2 Rounds

45 Second Jane Fonda

50x Shoulder Hand Job, @ 2.5#


– Rob



Hello, Coach Shaul.


I have been training with Mountain Athlete for the past 3 years via a combination of the online sessions and purchased programs (Big Mountain program).


Last fall, I started to experience a lot of lower back pain, as well as developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot.  I've spent the last 5 months resting, not running, playing hockey once/week and trying to maintain cardio conditioning via things like the stairmaster, swimming, etc.


Per your advice (I e-mailed you a few months back), I have also started following the Foundation Training book and have been working that into my routine.


Right now, I'm in a strange rut where my foot is feeling better and my lower-back pain is going down, but I'm certainly not 100% and I don't feel like I have a true fitness plan to follow.  The online programming is fantastic, but a lot of it involves heavier weight/jerk motions that I am concerned will aggravate my back.  And I don't have access to a system board.


I am writing to see if you and your team at Mountain Athlete would consider developing a custom program for me – perhaps something akin to the 8-week programs on your site, but tailored to a guy with a lousy foot and a sore/weak lower back. 


If so, I'd be happy to provide whatever data you might need and, of course, would be happy to pay for your expertise.


Thanks in advance for your consideration.


Warm regards,




Hi A- 


Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We're not quite set up right now where we have the resources to do this for remote athletes. We're moving in that direction, but aren't there quite yet. 


In the meantime, I'd recommend our Bodyweight Training Plan ( 


This does include sprinting/etc  and some running – so I'm not sure where your foot recover is, but you can sub a rower or stationary bike for the sprinting/running parts. Look not at the distance, but the time – so about 90 seconds for a 400m run, etc. 


I would continue with the foundation training work.


– Rob


Outstanding.  Thank you, Coach Shaul.  I sincerely appreciate your feedback.


When you need a remote "Lab Rat" for piloting custom training, I am your guy.  I've been a huge fan of Mountain Athlete for the last several years, and really appreciate what you're doing out there in Jackson.  I'd be honored to help develop that program if you need a guy like me.


All the best for continued success.

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