Q&A 10/23/14


I’ve been doing the Operator Sessions since April of this year and have been very pleased with the strength and mobility gains I’ve made. I am an undercover narcotics agents and have spent the last two years working at DEA. I’ve recently started to notice the LE Athlete icon on the web page, and decided to check it out. I really like the LE programming, but wanted to know what are the primary differences between LE Athlete and Military Athlete? Would I better prepare myself and my body for my particular job hazards by participating in LE Athlete instead of Military Athlete?

Thanks for the information, and continue the great programming!



There are some differences based upon what I feel each type of athlete needs in terms of fitness attributes.


Military Athlete:

– High Relative Strength

– High Work Capacity for relatively short, intense events

– Sprinting Ability, under load

– Mode-Specific Endurance – running, rucking, ruck running

– Stamina for long events or multiple events over a long day

– Durability for a long (20 year) career


LE Athlete (Patrol/Detective and Full Time SWAT/SRT in Urban Area)

– High Relative Strength

– Upper Body Mass (for intimidation)

– Sprinting Ability, under load

– Stamina for long events or multiple events over a long day

– Durability for a long (30-40 year) career


LE Athlete (Full Time SWAT/SRT in Rural Area – such as Border Patrol BORTAC)

– Same as Military Athlete


There is another factor I’m still trying to come to terms with for LE Athletes – and that’s the age of the athletes. In Law Enforcement, it is entirely possible to be fully operational into your late 50s and even 60s. If you’re still in the military at that age, your a general or Command Sargent Major and driving a desk.


Problem is they don’t make slow bullets or weak bad guys for older LE Athletes. But …. the training I currently program for LE Athletes isn’t appropriate for older athletes. I’m still figuring out how to work through this.


In general, the Military Athlete Operator Sessions are loaded heavier, and little more intense than the LE Sessions. They can also go longer – up to 120 minutes. This also means they have more impact – for a longer career. Unless you’re full time SWAT in a rural area, the LE Athlete Officer Sessions are more appropriate.



Could I run the Rat 6 strength concurrently with the Run improvement plan? I’m doing the SFOD-D prep and would like to improve my running speed a little bit more before I start the prep program as rucking is my strong point. Endurance is decent for running as I’m getting 37:15 5 miles but my 2 mile is stuck at 14:00. Thanks for any input.



Sure – just watch for over training – you can do 2-a-days (lift first, if possible), or split the days based on the session –


Monday – Rat 6

Tuesday – Run Improve

Wednesday – Rat 6,

… etc.



I have a question regarding the FBI PFT program.  I have an FBI PFT coming up in the next 2-3 months although I am not exactly sure when it will take place yet as they have not informed me.  It’s also possible that when I am informed I will have less than 6 weeks to test date.  With that said can your program be repeated for longer than 6 weeks to ensure preparedness for the test?


If you don’t recommend running the program for longer than 6 weeks, is there a general weekly template you would prescribe someone to train general strength and still progress in the PFT events (specifically pushups and running as they are my weakest link)?

Thanks for your time Rob.



You can certainly repeat the plan. It begins with the PFT and uses those scores for your follow-on progression. Many guys do this who have a ways to go on PFT’s.



I have followed various mountain athlete plans of yours for the last couple years (bodyweight, big mountain, leg injury, backcountry ski), however, my girlfriend is interested in gaining upper body strength and overall better fitness. She’s done very minimal strength training in the past, yet she is quite fit…. she’s competed in triathalons, she’s a runner, bikes to work often and is out hiking most weekends. I suggested the bodyweight program, but am not sure if this is the best start for her. She also only wanted to do it 3 days a week instead of the recommended 5. Is this advisable?… How would it affect her results and fitness levels? (also, she can’t (yet) do more than one or two pushups and i have no idea how to scale the workouts for her)


What would your advice be for her??



I’d recommend your girlfriend start with the Offseason Strength Plan for Endurance Athletes: http://mtntactical.com/shop/off-season-strength-for-endurance-athletes/


She can do this 3x/week – but tell her not to skip around – follow the sessions in the progression they are programmed.


Will strength increase her endurance performance? I won’t guarantee it. The bulk of endurance performance is determined by aerobic base and sport-specific training (biking/riding/swimming for tri’s). I’m careful never to promise the endurance athletes we work with that strength training will make them faster in their sport.


What I do feel is that strength will simply make them more durable. Strength training addressed the strength imbalances that develop in most endurance athletes – and which can lead to injuries. I also feel stronger athletes are simply harder to injure, don’t get injured as bad if something does happen, and if they do get injured, recover faster than weak athletes.


Scaling? This and all our strength plans self-scale to the initial strength of the athlete. I understand your girlfriend likely doesn’t have a lot of barbell time under her belt. It’s not rocket science. If a meathead like me can figure it out, she can to. These exercises are simple, but hard.



So, earlier I asked a question about training my cadets and you recommended a program.  Unfortunately we needed to work on just the basics:  body weight exercises like pushups, situps, burpees, pullups, etc. and cardio (running with body weight exercises in between and/or sprint workouts).  So, Tuesdays is cardio and Friday is body weight.  Nothing fancy but I’ve got a generation of couch potatoes to deal with and we are getting better.  Did a couple of Hero WODs and I’m pleased.


In my earlier email I also asked about me and you recommended Work Capacity.  I’ve looked at it and like it but wanted to get more input based on more data for you.


Age:  51

Birthday:  March

Occupation:  High school teacher with a JROTC-like program/Reserve SGM (no operator here, just a JAG NCO)

Weight:  178

Height:  70″

APFT OCT 2014:  39 pushups, 47 situps, and 30 minute 2.5 mile walk


Training since 1 AUG:

Nothing but a few workouts that were pathetic.  I was tired and stressed from the start of school and my SGM Course that I am taking.  I worked hard in JUL while at Fort Bragg and completed a GORUCK Light in JUN.


SEP to date:


7 weeks with an average of 2 hours total workout time per week and averaging 3.9 workouts per week.  My goal is to get in 2.5 hours but it’s becoming a silly goal since I used to be a avid runner/swimmer/cyclist and kept score by time/distance.  The game has changed now.


During those 7 weeks I completed rucks (typical would be 4 miles, 60 minutes, 50#s), WODs that lasted 20-30 minutes, and Couch to 5k that lasted 30 minutes or so.  I just don’t run anymore but hate being inside on my rower when it’s nice outside.  Plus I coach xc and it’s the perfect time to get a little something in while they run.


Example of a WOD:  Yesterday we did Tabata Tuesday:  pushups, squats, flutter kicks, k-bell swings, bar thrusters (15-35 #), box steps.  4 minute for each exercise with 2 minute rest between.  Total time was 34 minutes.


Equipment at school:  dumbbells, k-bells, wall balls, boxes, pullup bars, ship ropes, 15 pound training bar with bumpers up to 85 pounds, sled, duffle bags, tires, squat rack.  Plan on getting for the group slam balls and a bench press.


Equipment at home:  TRX, Concept 2, ruck, k-bell, and other typical shit that lays around.


Goals:  continue to pass the APFT, stay strong and healthy as I get older, keep up with my cadets and my two teenage sons who I coach in xc and lax, complete a GORUCK in Spring/Summer 2015, drink beer and eat burgers.


I really like what you have but I can design stuff all day for my xc kids and lax kids but my workouts are completely hit or miss and I’m totally missing it now.  I have very little free time due to work, coaching, Army, and course work.  I try to work out with my cadets but I can honestly outwork them.  I got through the GORUCK Light with no thought other than just do what I do.  It’s not going to work as I get older though.  I’m getting injured more, sore a lot, and I know it’s due to no plan.


That’s it.  You probably thinking, “Thank God!”  But, I do enjoy your site and wanted to get the best plan for me.


Looking forward to your response and spending some money.



I’m currently developing a 45+ training program which would be where I would point you if it was ready. I’m not there yet.


From the stuff I do have, what seems to be missing from your programming is strength work, and some hard work capacity stuff.


Given your time constraints, I’d recommend Busy Operator I: http://mtntactical.com/shop/busy-operator-training-plan/


These sessions are 30-45 minutes long, and include strength and work capacity efforts. You will need a weightroom to complete them in.



GoRuck Selection in MT is 42 weeks away and I’m reinvigorated to start training again after getting injured the first time I tried in Dec. 2013.


What is the best way to utilize your training plans at this point? I’m a 5’10, 155 lb guy who just did well at a local Spartan-type race (but would rather swim than run in the winter months). Have access to a full-gym as well.



Couple Options:


(1) Subscribe to the Operator Sessions and start with the 7.28.14 session – working forward from there. Then cancel and start the GoRuck Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-selection-training-plan/) 10 weeks out from your event.


(2) Purchase the Ruck-Based Selection Training Packet (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-packet/) and follow it until 10 weeks out, then start and complete the GoRuck Selection Training Plan.



I am about half way through my Ramp-Up program.  It is kicking my butt, but going good.  Wonder what I should try next.  I am leaning towards the Military Athlete Work Capacity program.

Again I am a 49 year old police officer and not working towards any specific goal or event.  The Ramp-up has been really good so far but I must admit 5 days in a row have been tough……seems I need a bit of recovery after 2 days.

Any way…suggestions for the next one?


I’d recommend the Patrol Officer Training Plan from our LE Side: http://mtntactical.com/shop/patrol-officer-training-plan/


I’m 46, and don’t recover like I used too – and you’ve got 3 years on me. It’s okay to take an extra recovery day or two – just follow the sessions in progression – don’t skip ahead. So if you are supposed to do Session 17, and decide to take a recovery day, when you come back to training start back with Session 17 – don’t skip ahead.



I have another questions.  I saw most of your plans on the LE website.  I have some competitve kickboxers and was wondering if you have any suggestions on training plans that focus on legs and upperbody?



I’d recommend you start them with the Bodyweight Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-i-training-program/


Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this plan is no joke especially for the legs.



Do you have a recommendation for the best weight vest to use in your programming?



We use 25# weight vests from weightvest.com. Ours are “Coyote Brown” but I secretly wish we had ordered camo!


Any quality weight vest will do …



About a year and a half ago I purchased the Big Mountain program to get myself ready for Denali. It was so awesome and I walked up that big cold mountain, with all credit to the program.

I have a question – I’m gearing up for some big backcountry skiing trips this winter than getting ready to climb Mt. Foraker in the Alaska Range late next spring. If I signed up for your master subscription package (http://mtntactical.com/product-category/subscriptions/)

would that help me prepare? I’ve been doing Crossfit for almost a decade now and am really burnt out on it and need something new. Let me know if you think it’s a fit and I’ll sign up. I have access to a CF gym here, and also travel a lot for work and reliably have access to hotel gyms.

I look forward to hearing from you.



Thanks for the note and congrats on Denali!


Now, I’d rather send you to sport-specific plans. Start now with the Backcountry Ski Pre-Season Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/backcountry-ski-training-program/


Ten weeks directly prior to your Foraker Trip, I’d recommend the Big Mountain Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-mountain-training-program/



What plan or plans do you suggest after the 369 work capacity? Should i use the 357 strength with the 4 week run inprovement?



A strength plan or endurance plan. To get both, do Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/



Any training plan suggestions and/or advice for a military athlete that wants to complete an iron-man?



An Ironman is no joke. My recommendation is to drop your current training, find a good ironman coach and/or purchase an ironman-specific training plan and commit to doing your best possible at the event.



I recently found your site by chance.  It site and your programs look fantastic.

Only problem is I don’t know what program to start.  My philosophy has always been to “train” (not simply to work out), but to train as if I were preparing/maintaining myself as a US Navy Seal.

My background consists of a solid foundation in CrossFit and 5×5 strength program.



My first recommendation would be to get out of the gym simply as a change of pace.


If you’ve got access to a pool, I’d recommend you start with the BUD/s Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/buds-training-program/).


No pool, do the Military Athlete Endurance Cycle: http://mtntactical.com/shop/military-athlete-endurance-training-cycle/


If you want to stay in the weightroom, but mix in some some endurance (running and rucking), try Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/



I am looking for a training program for my son and I. Our family usually serves; in the Navy or Army. My only son left at the home is 13(5’6”,120#) and I am 51(6’1”,172#) and we are in good shape(his 2 older brothers are 5’10” and 6’0”). we did cross fit for a year and have ran into scheduling issues. He is always talking talking about special forces.  I feel that he is more suitable for the Army’s Green Beret, even though I was in the Navy. His older brother is in the Army. My Uncle and Grand Father were both in the Army also. The rest of us in the Navy. I would Like something that is geared toward the Green Beret. He is learning Spanish(4 years) and will be learning two other languages in High School(2 years each).



Strength first.

Begin with the Bodyweight Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-i-training-program/


Follow it next with Big 24: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/


You can both do these together. Enjoy training with your son!!



I recently found out about military athlete via a friend and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised, it was exactly what I’m looking for.


I am  a ex military (served 3 years in a mechanised infantry unit in my country) and looking to get back in service again in about a year or so.


I’m 23 years old and I see myself as very unfit at the moment.


I’m aiming to eventually serve in what can be considered the equivalent to your army rangers and I need suggestions on what plans I should follow, I’ve done a little research and I’m thinking about buying the On-Ramp Training plan and after that take on the ranger school plan? Is that the way to go or should I follow other plans?


Also I’m wondering about equipment, so I don’t start without the proper tools. I have access to a very basic gym, I can train my whole body there but it is focused on the very basics, deadlift, benchpress etc. Should I be worried about this before I start your plans?



The OnRamp Plan followed by the Ranger School Plan would be a good initial approach. The OnRamp Plan does require a full weightroom – but you can manage if yours has barbells and dumbbells. You may need to build a sandbag.



I wanted to thank you for all the great programming and advice.  I recently attended my unit’s SFRE (a mini-SFAS based event that screens and selects candidates to go onto SFAS) and was one of several selected.  I owe a large portion of the success to your insights and training programs, specifically the ruck based selection packet and daily operator sessions.  We did multiple events virtually back to back over the four day period such as timed 2 mile and 4 mile runs, timed 6 mile and 12 mile rucks and also many team events.  Everything we did involved rucking over long distances as well.  Being able to perform to the standard was difficult given the short breaks between timed events and overall sheer volume placed on our bodies from the rucking.

I feel I am still a little beat up from the event and my body is mildly sore as it only ended 2 days ago.  I wanted to ask your advice as to how long I should wait before starting back up again.  I am probably still several months out from a potential SFAS date as even if things went smoothly I wouldnt be going until sometime next year at the earliest.  I would like to start back up with some sort of training this week.  Do you think it would be wise to start up again now or should I wait a week or so to let my body fully heal.  I don’t have to much in the way of joint or muscle pain, just some nagging blisters and abrasions.  Also, I was looking at starting the ultimate meathead program as I feel I could definitely add some upper body strength.  I figured I could use the meathead program now to get some hypertrophy, then transition into a strength based program such as Rat 6, then transition to the operator sessions until I am 8 weeks out from a

SFAS date?  I just wanted to know your opinion and thoughts.  Thanks Rob, couldn’t have done it without the great programming!





Take the week off.


The Ultimate Meathead Cycle would be a great place to start back (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ultimate-meathead-cycle/).


UMC includes lower body and total body work, so Rat 6 would be redundant. When you start the Operator Sessions, begin with the 7.28.2014 cycle and work forward from there.



Just signed up for your operator sessions as the next step to me training for USAF CCT. I’m planning on adding on running, swimming and rucking in addition to the workouts you programmed, I’ve talked to a lot of guys on your programs and everyone seems to think they’re phenomenal for strength, muscular endurance and other skills needed in the military, however most people seem to add on there own running and swimming to train there cardio. I’m planning on running and swimming 4 days a week and probably add in a ruck once a week as well, any way you suggest doing this? Anything I should change or certain days I shouldn’t add in this additional cardio etc? You know conditioning far better than I do and I have a lot of respect for you as a coach, looking forward to hearing your insight and learning how to make sure I do this effectively. I’m going to use your CCT selection plan prior to departing but am doing the operator sessions until then. Thanks!



I recommend you start with the 7.28.2014 Session – this 6-week cycle combines gym-based strength and running/rucking. The following cycle combines work capacity and running/rucking. You’ll need to add in swimming somewhere there – perhaps drop one of the running days in favor of swimming.


Both of these cycles are 1-a-days. If you decide to do a two-a-day, try to train in the gym before running/swimming/rucking.



I’m sure you get a lot of emails, but I have a question concerning two of your purchasable training plans.  What is the main difference between the GORUCK Heavy Training Plan, and the GORUCK Selection Training Plan?


Just to give you some info on what my plans are, I am planning on training for the GORUCK Heavy in 2015 (May), and I am thinking of training for Selection sometime in the future as well (possibly ’16 or ’17).  Could I use the Selection plan to train for the Heavy event, or are they completely different types of training?


Thanks in advance, and your site and videos are very informative.



The intensity of the events reflect the intensity of the training plans. So the GoRuck Selection Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-selection-training-plan/) at 10 weeks, is more intense than the GoRuck Heavy Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-heavy-training-plan/) at 6 weeks.


The events themselves don’t differ so much in activity as they do in duration and intensity. The same is true of the training approach and intensity of the training plans.


Could you use the selection plan for a heavy? Likely – but it could be overkill.



I was checking out both the SSD and the Military Athlete today. I’ve been following the MA workouts for close to 3 years now and I love it. I read the philosophy behind both the MA and SSD and they seem the same. What are the differences, if any, between the programming for MA and SSD?



The difference is the Military Athlete Operator Sessions are focused on preparing athletes for a fairly limited outside performance build around relative strength, military-specific work capacity and endurance (running, rucking), sprinting, etc.


SSD Sessions don’t have this outside performance requirement – for example, right now the cycle includes an old school 2-day split (Mon/Wed – upper body/core, Tue/Thurs – legs and lungs). We could do a cycle in the pool, a cycle focused on endurance, a cycle on just bodyweight stuff – it’s broad and still evolving.


One of my Marines just received confirmation they have to take a written & physical exam with the FBI.  I don’t know much about the FBI physical training but you were the first name that came to mind.  Do you

have any insights/information?  If so, would you suggest daily workouts in one of your disciplines (MA, MtnA, SSD, etc…) prior to a sport specific programming (which one)?



My guess is they will take the FBI Fitness Test. Here’s our prep plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fbi-special-agent-pft-6-week-prep-program/



So I have filled all my hunting tags and am a huge fan of your type of workout. What do you recommend for the rest of the winter and into the summer. I ski Jackson a lot but just really need something to follow to stay in shape? What do you suggest?





1) Subscribe to the website and follow the SSD Sessions. These are general fitness focused.

2) Subscribe and follow the FreeSki Sessions – beginning with the 10-6-2014 sport specific dryland cycle. This will get you ready for ski season.


Hesitant to subscribe? You can also purchase our Dryland program here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/dryland-ski-training-program/



Thanks for the quick advice as I’ve worked through your various programs.


I most recently stopped the LE Athlete subscription I was trying because a friend wanted to do the swim program with me. Turns out he bailed on it from the beginning but I plunged ahead. I’ve never been a swimmer, can swim but never laps or anything like that. This was a great challenge, then I ran into a snag.


Our rec center turned the pool heater off a week and a half ago, right when I was in the middle of the program. I was fine until today when the temp dropped to 67 in the water and decided I had had enough. I’m on my last week plus the assessment. I know I improved a lot, and am kind of ok bailing on this now until spring.


That said, I’m a bit at a loss at what to do now. I have been going through a few of your programs and then signed back up to the LE sessions right at the start of the last assessment training. I feel like I’m going from one set program to the next and am a little burned out.


I’m wondering if I should just sign back up for the operator sessions and slug it out or maybe focus on some nagging strength issues I can’t seem to bust passed.


I can’t seem to break out of body weight bench and front squat limits. I can get maybe 10lbs over that but no matter the program I try I’m hitting a block somewhere.


Lots of rambling but any insight would be most helpful. Thanks!



Couple options for you:


Train Strength and Military Specific Endurance (running, ruck running) together with Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/


Or focus just on strength with Big 24: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/

Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA