Q&A 1.5.17


I am contacting you after receiving feedback from one of the FBI academy instructors after failing my last PFT. I feel embarrassed and my confidence has been significantly shaken since the PFT. I applied to the FBI in May of 2015. I have passed the first two phases and was given a few weeks notice of the PFT.

Let me start by saying that I understand that in order to be an agent, candidates are required to be physically fit at all times. Although I was aware of this, I allowed other things to distract me instead of making this my primary focus. I realize these are excuses and that the bottom line is that if I truly want this, I have to work to achieve it.

In the past, being physically fit was not a problem. I am prior military. I played sports in high school and while in uniform. However, after I got out of the service, I had a baby and my priorities shifted. My daughter is now 9. I have no reason for not setting goals and sticking to them. I hired a personal trainer after I got home from my last deployment, but it was exceptionally expensive and I did not focus on the running as much as I should have. My scores were so low on the PFT that I was required to wait one year before I could take the test again.

In terms of professional experience and knowledge, I have that in spades. I know professionally I have the ability to excel as an agent. I don’t know why I have such a mental block when it comes to maintaining the correct eating habits and fitness plans.

I am reaching out to you to see if you have ever had similar experiences and what you did to over come them. I did purchase the FBI PTF preparation plan, but I have put it off because I have seriously second guessed myself. I know that ultimately this is something that I have to overcome, but perhaps there is some insight and recommendations you can make in order to help me get over this and just excel.

I realize it is almost New Years so I likely will not hear back from you after the holidays. I am deployed to Kuwait right now, so I have the ability to follow a more structured schedule her.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your response.


Action will bleach your doubt and bring beautiful solace.

Action = Start Training.

All the chirping between your ears right now will still be there at first. You can’t ignore it, so don’t. You’ll just have to listen to the chirping while you’re training. Train anyway.

Training = the FBI PFT Plan, or better, join a crossfit gym for a month or two and follow a 5:2 schedule.

You’ll notice a difference in a week. Two weeks and all that noise will evaporate. It’s just noise.

Start also cleaning up your diet: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition

And do some reading: “Art of Living,” Sharon Lebell (stoicism), “Grit,” Angela Duckworth

But most of all. Train. Start today.

– Rob


I’m a long-time Military Athlete who was a religious follower of the Big Mountain program when I was in 1st Ranger Battalion and have since fallen off the wagon a bit after I transitioned to civilian enterprise.  I’m now a desk jockey in a big city working in commercial real estate after 8 years of service.

Life has been a bit dark for me of late, for reasons I can certainly elaborate on at a later date, but I have an opportunity to take a (much needed) leave of absence from my new civilian job in the new year.  I thought there would be nothing more appropriate than to come out to your facility to try and get an opportunity to reset/re-center mentally and physically for some time.  One of my favorite Soldiers, went to one of your seminars back in 2013 (?) and spoke volumes about his time there.

I need some time to myself, and need some time to get myself clean and fit.  I have had a black book of tactical and mountain athlete programs traveling with me for years now, and I could use a kick in the ass from the “man” himself to return to a sense of normalcy.  I don’t know if this is something you do, or if there is a precedent set for you catering to visitors, but I can assure you funding or accommodations or commitment are things that you wouldn’t have to provide for me.  But I could use some time, and would be deeply indebted if you gave me that and some space.

Happy to chat on the phone if it’s easier to do so to organize, but wanted to float this earlier than later.  Greatly appreciate your time and consideration, in advance.


I’ve received several requests like yours over the years from people of all stripes who want/need to reset and ask about coming to Jackson and training with us.

Everyone, as long as they are reasonably fit and willing to work hard, is welcome to join our daily sessions and if you’re really fit, our tactical lab rats. But know you’ll train with us 1-2 hours/day, and the rest of the time is on your own.

Please know that I don’t do personal training and I don’t offer intense personal life-coaching. Some have asked if they can come and receive an individualized programming course – the answer is no. I’m just too friggin’ busy. Our facility in Jackson is a lab. We’re busy there training/coaching 2-3 hours/day, and spend the rest of the 12-14 hour day doing business/academic/research stuff.

Jackson’s recreation offers plenty to do to fill that non-training time, including climbing, wilderness medicine, ski mountaineering and other courses. There’s much more of these offered in the summer over the winter. A major issue here is housing. It’s incredibly tight and expensive and on you.

In the past we have had working professionals from the fitness, mountain and tactical worlds come and spend 2-6 weeks interning with us – where they train, and work for us. We have a young West Point grad coming in next week for 4 weeks to do this. But this requires an intensive application/vetting process and isn’t your situation.

The bigger question for you is the reason for the “reset.” Jackson attracts many urban professionals who quit corporate and move here to escape the rat race and start over. All trade big paychecks for authentic work and intense outdoor recreation. None regret it. Being a desk jockey working in big city on commercial real estate sounds like drudgery to me.

Free Advice Lecture #1:

Three things make you happy: 1) Living in a place you love; (2) Doing work you love; (3) Being around people you love.

Get 2 out of 3 and you’re doing great. 3 out of 3 and you’ve hit the jackpot.

Free Advice Lecture #2:

If you know what you’re doing now is wrong, stop doing it …. even if you don’t know what to do. Stopping the “wrong” thing will give you the space and urgency to get about finding the right thing. It will break you out of the rut.

– Rob


We received the feedback below recently on Wildland Firefighters running in logger-style boots. See the original piece, HERE

Hey Rob I just wanted to point out that most Hotshot crews do something like this on day one of work-

Assessment Day
1.5 mile run
Max push ups in 1 minute
Max sit ups in 1 minute
Max strict pull ups.

Change from PT clothes into fire clothes and boots.
99 foot individual line dig in 50 minutes or less
3 mile “hike” in 50 minutes or less(50lbs pack)
1000ft elevation gain over mixed terrain
Crew hike until the day is over. (Hike over varied terrain while occasionally stopping to do calisthenics)

The reason I’m pointing this out is that the 3 mile hike is a 3 miles run if you have any intention of finishing. On my crew at least 3 guys finished sub 40 minutes. Many guys will wear a mountaineering type boot on this day and then Whites for the rest of the season. However I have seen guys put up impressive times in their Whites. So it can be done and often is done. I think if it were a reasonable option guys would love a tactical boot but there isn’t one on the market that can stand up to the demands of a tough season.


Hi Rob. I have not emailed you for a while and have continuously worked a couple of your plans. I went from Fort Sill to Korea (didn’t get a stab at Ranger due to that), and now I’m at Fort Benning training to be one of the first female Armor officers. Fort Bragg and Ranger school are absolutely on the horizon. I did your resilience plan and I absolutely couldn’t believe the bench press gains I made during that time. I’m going to hit up Valor again and work through that until 7 weeks prior to ranger. I was just wondering if you ever got together a hybrid program like you were thinking of ? Thanks I appreciate the correspondence and love the workouts !


Thanks for reaching out and good luck with the Armor career!

Yes on the programming evolution. Our latest programming is captured in the “Greek Hero” series of plans here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/greek-heroine-training-packet/

– Rob


My son is 17 and has largely been an unmotivated couch potato and as a result he has packed on the weight.  He is 5′ 7″ and currently weighs 253.  As a former Marine this has been a source of tension and frustration for me.  I have tried to set the example over the years by staying active and using positive approaches…but it hasn’t worked.

     Finally, this year he has taken the initiative  and shown an interest in improving his health…and recently asked me to help him.   His eating habits aren’t horrible but could be improved… we are incorporating that aspect already.  He also hit me with his desire to join the Marine Corps next year which I explained will be a kick in the nuts for anyone but even harder for those less prepared.

Today I ordered; the Fat Loss Trng Program; the Bodyweight Foundation program; the Chasis Integrity program; and the Core Strength Bodyweight only.  I thought I would start with the Fat Loss and Chasis and when those are done switch to the other two.  Then build from there.

     Does this sound like a reasonable approach for someone his age and size who will be new to working out?  I know what works for me…but this isn’t my area of expertise and things have changed a lot over the last several years with the move towards functional fitness.  I will be doing these with him to help keep him motivated and stay on track which may not be as easy (at 45) as it use to be.  Thanks for any guidance you may have to offer!


Our fat loss plan is designed for guys 20-30# overweight. Your son should weigh around 145# at his age – so he’s 100# overweight.

You need to be careful … I’m thinking the fat loss plan is perhaps too intense out of the gate.

The main thing is to get him to cut weight. Everthing will come with that.

Start with Bodyweight foundation.

This plan includes exercises like in-place lunges, push ups, pull ups, etc. He may not be able to do even one or two reps of these exercises. Be smart …. – you can eliminate or change the exercises using common sense. You don’t want to embarrass him … so, for example, don’t bother will pull ups. Perhaps have him do bent over barbell or dumbbell rows, instead.

This plan includes some distance running. Just have him walk the distance. It’s not necessary to run.

80-90% of it will be diet. Clean up his diet and he’ll shed weight. He doesn’t ever need to be hungry – just have him eat clean, stay away from the junk, and he’ll shed. Lots of protein. Jerky is a great snack. Be sure he gets a “cheat” day. See our recommendations here: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition

Be overly patient with him. Seems this could be a crucial time in your long term relationship.

– Rob


I am enjoying your programs.  I have a few questions:

How often, if ever, do you need to update your programs?  In particular, bodyweight Foundations, SFOD-D, and virtue packet.

Do you use any liners in your sandbags when using wood pellets?  Do you still prefer wood pellets as a filler?

Do you have a recommended reading list for topics such as mental toughness, motivation and selection preparation?


1. We frequently update our training plans – last week we completed updates of Big 24 (took it to 6 weeks) and 357 Strength – eliminated “garbage squats.” We do this when we have changes in our approach, develop better more efficient ways to achieve the training goal, and also for school and selection plans, when we learn that the event has changed somehow.

I’ve written before how “Sophisticated Design is Immature” – what I mean by this is whatever is being designed – a car, shirt or training plan – the first iteration is too complicated or sophisticated. As you work on it the design and the design “matures” – I find we start cutting back complexity and unneeded features.  So these days, when I sit down to update a training plan, often I make it simpler. This has certainly happened with your Ruck Based Selection Training Plan …. we’re on V5. The SFOD-D plan was built long after our first version of the Ruck plan, and therefore benefited from our learning.

2. No – and when we used pellets eventually they ground down and the bags became dusty. We replaced the pellets with rubber mulch and no longer have that issue.

3. Pls understand I’ve never attended selection, to take my recommendations below with a grain of salt. Given that, perhaps here’s a start:

  • How Bad Do You Want It?, Matt Fitzgerald
  • Deep Survival. Who Lives, Who Dies and Why, Laurence Gonzales
  • Breaking BUD/s, DH Xavier
  • Art of Living, Sharen Lebell (Stoicism)
  • Grit, Angela Duckworth

– Rob


Hi Rob I have been on your training plans for 3 years. I have done multiple plans plus many of the daily sessions. I have completed goruck hcl and many heavies and challenges and lights back to back. I have also completed Spartan ultras and beasts back to back. I need something more and want selection. I have been on the 9.5 month ruck selection program since October. I just want to know that what I am doing will get me there. If you can give me any info or advice it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


If you’re speaking of GoRuck Selection, because it’s a commercial event, likely run different each time because of different cadre, on the fitness side getting past the initial gates is the first hurdle.

After that, the fitness element fades and the character element ascends – if the cadre run it like a true military selection.

Regardless of your initial fitness going in, good cadre will push you to your limit. Not as a test of your fitness, but of your character.

Many of the most athletic candidates going into various selections don’t come out the other side. My sense is the selfless grinders, there not for the pin, but who want to be part of something bigger than themselves – these are the candidates the cadre are looking for, and are the ones who do well.

At some point in the process, selfish motivation won’t be enough to stay in the fight. This is what they’re looking for – individuals who will stay in the fight, no matter what.

– Rob


Rob, how exactly is the “chassis integrity” program meant to be programmed in with a current workout?  Should you do 5 sessions a week taking a break on weekends for example or is it meant to be ran session 1 – 30, E/O day or does it matter?  What is your recommendation for optimal results?  Thanks.


If you’re doing our most recent stuff – the daily Operator Sessions or plans from the Greek Hero Series, CI is already programmed in.

If you’re doing stuff on your own, add in CI from the plan at the end of your current training sessions 2-3x/week.

– Rob


I have recently purchased a subscription to MTI, and I am wondering where to start.

I do eventually plan to attend Warrant Officer Candidacy (WOC) course,

but I’m generally fit at age 25, so I’m not concerned. Last APFT: 297

I’d like to be stronger, faster, run farther, and do more reps, so basically I’d like it all.

I’d be down to develop a long-term plan since I’ll be subscribed for the foreseeable future.

Please grace me with your thoughts when you are able, In the meantime I’ll be doing the Bodyweight modules for stability and endurance.


Follow the progression of plans in the “Greek Hero” Series: http://mtntactical.com/shop/greek-hero-training-packet/

You have access to all these plans.

Good luck!

– Rob


Had some buddies in 5th group tell me to email you. Going to a selection not listed in 3 months. Doing the ruck based selection plan, I need to add some stuff for building climbing/obstacle course stuff. I’m 6′ 235, pretty lean, upper body heavy. Trying to drop 15 pounds or so. What other plan or exercises can I incorporate to get some stamina, o course after long ruck/run.


Couple thoughts –

1. There are two elements to O-Course performance: (1) O-Course specific fitness; (2) Specific obstacle technique.

2. Best way to train for both are to run O-Course repeats.

Best way to train the ability to run an O-course after a long ruck is to: (a) 1x day/week, do O-Course repeats … 3-5, with a 1:1 work to rest ratio. So if it takes you 3 minutes to run the course, rest 3 minutes before you run the next one. Work on speed and technique.

(b) Run an O-course fatigued after your long rucks/runs/work capacity efforts in the Ruck Plan. This will be about as sport-specific as we can get.

I’m assuming here that you’re garrisoned some place with an O-Course.

If not, we don’t have a perfect manufactured O-Course drill. But we’ve done our best with the Devil Dog Assessment: http://mtntactical.com/exercises/devil-dog-assessment-modified-manuf/

We use Devil Dog Circuits (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/devil-dog-circuit/) to help train for the assessment.

So, if you don’t have an O-Course to train on, do Devil Dog Circuit Repeats, 1x day/week. Then, after each long run/ruck in the plan, complete the Devil Dog Assessment.

At 6 feet, I’d like to see you around 215, max.  So, either you’ve got some fat to lose, you’re built like a fire hydrant, or you’re carrying around excess upper body mass (lay off the curls).

– Rob


I’m a fat-body that is looking to make an abrupt about-face in my life. I purchased the BW Foundation plan but I really can’t keep up with it. Humbling for someone that was once fit.

I was thinking about subscribing and cycling the fat loss program twice before moving on. Does that seem reasonable?


It’s pre-mature to subscribe now. Save your money.

Cycle through BW foundation, clean up your diet, and touch back on the other side.

– Rob


My name is Curtis Black and I am looking into starting the ‘Hypertrophy program for skinny guys’. I have four questions that I was hoping you could answer for me:

1) How long does each workout takes a person on average?

2) Does anyone pair the program with anything else such as a core or body weight only program?

3) After completing the hypertrophy program, what do you recommend for someone wanting to maintain and continue to improve fitness levels. Repeat the program or is there a program people  commonly switch to?

4) I have a lot of experience with dumbbell and body weight related exercises; however, my experience with barbells is quite limited. Any suggestions on how to properly learn the technique and form for some of the barbell exercises in the program?

Look forward to hearing from you soon!


1) 60-75 minutes

2) No … the plan is plenty intense as it is and I wouldn’t recommend

doubling up.

3) Do Fortitude next – Strength and endurance.

4) Youtube and practice. These exercises are not super complicated.

– Rob


I have a Rainier climb scheduled for the middle of June and I am planning on completing your Rainier training plan before then.  However, I also must take my AFPT test before the end of June and I wanted to complete your AFPT plan prior to testing.  I would only have a week or two between the climb and my test (I can usually max everything but push-ups). Do you have a recommendation on how to prepare for climbs and military tests at the same time?

With Appreciation,



APFT Plan in the AM. Rainier Plan in the PM.

– Rob


Happy New Year! What are your thoughts on plain full-fat Greek yogurt (like Fage Total), natural peanut butter (salt and peanuts only) instead of almond butter, and non-tropical fruits like bananas? Guessing the nix on yogurt from your nutrition video includes all varieties but thought I would inquire…


No yogurt. Peanuts are actually beans, so almond butter is better. My

understanding is that bananas were tropical fruit. Limit your fruit.

– Rob


I was looking at your Greek Hero packet to take with me as my workouts for Afghanistan. I have two quick questions:

1) How long have you programmed this program to take from start to finish

2) Is there a certain target audience for this program? I am currently an Infantry Platoon Leader and am looking for a good program that will take me out of my current comfort zone of workouts (think Elite FTS 5-3-1 powerlifting with variances in volume) and help with overall function fitness in my job. I am about to wrap up the AFG Pre Deployment program and really found it useful.

Are there any personal statistics I can send to give you as good an idea of my fitness level as I can through email?

Thank you and Happy New Year!


1) 42 weeks, including unload weeks between plans.

2) The plans in this packet began as daily training in our Operator Sessions. These plans are designed as day to day training/programming for SOF guys and those who aspire to that level of fitness. If you just finished the Afghan Plan, you’re good to go.

– Rob


What, if any, running should I do with the Big 24 workout? I’m wanting to increase my big lifts but I also want to go to Army OCS and hopefully get branches infantry.


The plan includes weekly shuttle sprints. You could add in PM distance running if you’d like. Better would be to complete Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/

Fortitude combines heavy, gym-based strength with military endurance – running and rucking.

– Rob


You must get this a lot but I just subscribed to the MTN Tactical monthly plan. Currently, I am prepping for Army OCS but wanted to dial down and improve my APFT score before I drop my OCS packet in March.

Would you recommend incorporating strength training with this APFT plan? I currently struggle with the run so would this hinder the run results from this program?

Thanks much.


No. Just complete the APFT Plan alone if you are interested in improving your APFT score.

– Rob


Have you guys ever experimented with heavy rucking on a stair master? Some guys in my unit swear by it for patrolling saying it conditions the body for patrolling in steep terrain.

What are your thoughts?



No. No experience with stairmasters. We use step ups …. everyone can do step ups, there’s no equipment issue.

– Rob


So my plan is to get a Navy SEAL contract. Right now i am doing Stew smith calisthenics (Monday Wednesday Saturday) then i am doing your run and swim improvement plans at the same time. Im 135lbs. Ive always been good at body weight exercises and swimming and running. (Naturally good at them from my size I suppose). After these 4 weeks. I plan on doing stew smiths 6 week running plan plus his calisthenics. Then enlist and get a contract. After that. Im looking to put size on my body and get a bit more muscle before i leave for buds. When (if) i get my contract. Do you think i should do the buds v2 plan? Or should i do a different strength plan? (Rat, foritude something along these lines) any input is appreciated, thank you!


After all your running and swimming, I’d recommend a solid, 6 weeks strength cycle – simply for durability and to build some mass. Rat 6 would be solid.

After your current stuff, I’d recommend Rat 6, then the BUD/s V2 Plan. Skip doing the Running Improvement and Swimming Improvement plans concurrently.

– Rob


I wanted to say thank you for your programming. I used your ultra running plans and was able to complete my first 100 miler this weekend.

The next challenge on my schedule is the Bataan Death March, and I have two questions about the plan:

When the plan calls for:

3 Rounds unloaded:


Does this mean do rounds of 7 reps, 6, down to one, then back to 7 and start again?

The local weather may force some training on the treadmill. Any suggestions on what incline to use?


1. Yes – countdown.

2. 1.5%

– Rob


My name is J and I was talking to another USAFA cadet today about the company and what you all offer. As I was looking through the plans there were plenty that caught my eye, however, I wanted to know if you offered anything dealing with triathlon training?  I’m currently 3 months out of ACL reconstruction and planning on doing one in April if I am cleared by then.  Please let me know if you have information on this, and I look forward to hearing back.


No. Our focus is on mountain and tactical athletes and there are a bazillion  coaches/resources for tri’s.

Comming off an acl, after you’re finished with PT, I’d recommend our

Post-Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/

– Rob


I love the site and the methodology. I’ve done cross fit, dinosaur training, 5x5s, and Sealfit – but I feel like you have the most rational approach to my tactical athlete training. I apologize because I haven’t subscribed yet, but I have been studying your training methodology very closely.

In the Chassis integrity 2.0 article you expressed a struggle to find something to replace sandbag lifts for total body. Have you considered using 5 gallon water cans? I think these are great training tools for a few reasons.

  • 1.    Every soldier has access to them and they’re easy to find at military surplus.
  • 2.    They can be added to a ruck for a simple 45 lb. load.
  • 3.    You can transport them empty and fill them at the training site.
  • 4.    You can pour water out to decrease load.
  • 5.    You can carry them to the top of a mountain, then empty them to decrease the impact on the way back down.
  • 6.    They can be partially emptied to make a sloshing dynamic load.
  • 7.    They’re great for Farmer’s walks.
  • 8.    You can drink the water.
  • 9.    They are very durable

Some months I carry them everywhere to help develop grip strength and the athletic quality that I now refer to as Chassis integrity.

Above all, thank you for the great information.


Thanks for the note. We use the sandbags for cleans, toss + Chase, pick up and carry, rotational keg lifts, etc. Water jugs would only work for a few of these exercises. A couple years ago I messed around with slosh bags – … PVC bags with water inside …. but they weren’t as durable or versatile as the simple sandbags.

We have used water jugs as ruck loads before … specifically uphill hiking where we can poor out the water on the top and run down.

– R


This is kind of a weird question but what kind of shoes do you recommend for your style of programs? I was looking at Salomon S-LAB WINGS 8 and Merrell Bare Access 4’s because thats what I’ve used in the past. Also do you have any advice on what I can bring on deployment for food? I was looking at paleo camping food. The food in the galley is always pretty unhealthy choices. Thanks for the help!


Shoes? I like 2 pairs of shoes. Weightlifting shoes for strength stuff and sneakers for everything else.

Weightlifting shoes – my old pair lasted for 8 years and I just bought a new pair of the same thing – $80 Adidas Powerlifts: http://mtntactical.com/all-articles/mti-endorsed-gear/adidas-powerlift-2-0-3-0-weightlifting-shoes/

Sneakers – Just about anything will work as long as you can also run shuttle sprints in them. I’ve used Salomon Speedcross recently.

1 Pair only? – I’d recommend a pair of the new crossfit-inspired shoes from Reebock or Nike. I recently bought a pair of the Nike Metcon shoes and they work well – a little more stable for strength but also good for sprints.

I don’t recommend any of the minimalist shoes. Also – I don’t recommend the Chuck Taylor shoes – these are okay for lifting but bad for sprints.

Rogue Fitness is a great source for training shoes – both sneakers and lifters. That’s where I get mine.

– Rob

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