Q&A 11.13.15


I have used your AFG deployment program before my tour in 12-13, and I want to say thank you.

Now I am a Detachment Commander for a SF mountain team.  I am wondering what program to follow, since we have the unique mission set of traditional SF team and the demand of mountaineering and alpine/trad climbing.  What  programming would you recommend for me to follow?

And on a side question, I am sure you are familiar with the “horseman workout program” (with the program crediting you for a lot of the specific workouts).  What is your opinion on that program vs your formatted and structured programming?  I am not experienced enough to see if it makes any sense, which I know your programs do.

Thank you very much

v/r, – D


You should follow the Operator Sessions as your day to day training, and twice per year break out and complete the Peak Bagger Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/peak-bagger-training-plan/) to keep your elevation gain and loss fitness tuned. The Peak Bagger plan is one of the 50+ plans which currently come with your subscription.

Your limitation in terms of a rock gym is an issue or I’d have you follow the Mountain Base cycles – which include technical climbing-specific work.

Horseman – I understand this primarily a mis-mash of training sessions from different sources including ours. Which if this is the case, amounts to “working out” and not “training” – toward an end goal or objective.

Professional athletes, like soldiers, should “train.”

– Rob


First let me say that your website and programming are simply the best out there. Period.

I am currently finishing your Hypertrophy For Skinny Guys and I have seen a 10lb bodyweight gain and significant strength increases. My goal is to maintain a body weight of 200 lbs and bodyweight while training for several objective if it is possible. Here is why I find it hard to figure out how to do this.

My full time job is a paramedic/firefighter for a busy city. I would like to gain and maintain a level of strength and fitness that will allow me to do this job injury free until retirement. I am also in the Coast Guard reserves (6 years prior active duty) at a deployable unit that has it’s own demands of the body. Last but not least, I compete at a very high level of beach volleyball. This past weekend I won my first (low level) progressional beach volleyball tournament and I have plans on spending my off time from my busy schedule to train to compete at an even high level of beach volleyball.

Using your plans, how can I accomplish this? I was going purchase Maximus Strength & Power, Atlas Training Plan and 357 Strength. I didn’t want to start these if on the off hand you could suggest anything different.

Thank you for your time! – Z

In general, job performance as a first responder must be the focus of your fitness training. You’re recreational interests must come second.

Sometimes this can be a conflict with guys – most the times it comes up for endurance athletes and power lifters. First responders need some strength and mass – which can be a detriment to endurance performance, but also work capacity and stamina – which can hinder powerlifting gains.

I don’t see a clear conflict between beach volleyball and the fitness best for your job as a firefighter/paramedic. In general, for day to day programming you’ll want hybrid programming which combines strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, and stamina. From our stuff, I’d recommend the Fire Tactical I training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fire-rescue-tactical-i/)

It’s okay to drop away from your job-focused programming for short, focused, intense periods. 357 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/357-strength/) would be a nice follow-on plan to the skinny guys plan you just completed.

– Rob


I am planing to attend a very ruck intensive selection (similar to the SAS selection) and i am looking for a suitable trainingpacket.

I have about 2,5 years of time to prepare myself and be the fittest i can be. I think the SOFD-D plan might propably the most suitable one but a friend of mine told me about a packet which builds up to the SFOD-D plan , i just can’t find it anymore. So I guess it is not purchasable any longer. What mix of plans would you recommend to improve in every physical aspect with a focus on heavy rucking and running??

Keep up the good work

All the Best, T. Norway

You’ll want to complete the SFOD-D Training Plan directly before your selection. It’s a 10 week sport-specific training plan – and too intense to repeat over and over.

I’ve revising the training packet of SFOD-D – but it won’t extend more than 12 months.

For you now, I’d recommend the Virtue Series Training Packet (http://mtntactical.com/shop/virtue-series-packet/). These plans represent some of my most evolved programming theory for military athletes, and emphasize movement over ground (running/rucking).

– Rob


Good day, I am training for non-competitive ski mountaineering following Training for the New Alpinism (TFTNA) as my base theory but I’m looking for strength programs. I’m hoping you can help me navigate your choosing 2-3 of your programs with the following context:

I will not have access to a gym (climbing or weight), but I do have or can purchase basics such as  dumbbells/ kettle bell, sandbag, plyo boxes (16, 18, 24, 28″), medicine ball etc.in addition to bodyweight exercises

For aerobic/ anaerobic work I will be hiking/running/skinning/biking (blessed with mountains out my back door) Using TFTNA language, I’d like strength programs for the following

1. general strength training during off season/transition period
2. maximum strength during base period
3. muscular endurance during sport specific period
4. maintenance during extended peak (March/April long day + one multi-day trip)

I know not having a gym limits the programs you have planned and my ability to fully train, but that is the reality for me. I don’t mind if I have to modify plans slightly, but I don’t want huge gaps.

Any advice on what plans you recommend and how they correlate to training periods? I’m open to non-ski specific plans too that bring in more simple equipment/bodyweight if you see enough ski fitness application.

Cheers, – A., British Columbia

Recommendations based on your numbered needs:

1. Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/sandbagweight-vestdumbbell-training-plan/)

2. Kettlebell Strength Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/kettlebell-strength/)

3. Dryland Ski V3 Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/dryland-ski-training-program/) – you’ll need to make some modifications for the limited barbell work in this plan

4. Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/)

– Rob


I have been referred to your site by a my  Green Beret Medic in my Unit. I will he attending Ranger Assessment and Selection Program late next year. I was wondering what you can offer me. I Currently weight 179 an my heights is 69 inches. I have taken numerous Ranger style Pt Test I’m scoring around 75 pushups 70 sit-ups and running 5 miles in 37 min and completing six dead hang pull-ups. I am also deployed and was wondering what plan would best fit my needs? 

v/r – J

We have a RASP I&II Training plan here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rasp-12-training-plan/

This plan requires minimal equipment, but does include swimming. What I’d recommend is you do the plan now, down range skipping the swimming, then repeat again 6 weeks directly before you attend RASP.

Between subscribe to the website and follow the Operator Sessions.

– Rob


I’m a sophomore at the Naval Academy trying to prep for EOD and SpecWar selection tests about 1 year out from now.  I want to lock down a pretty solid (but flexible based on needs) year-long program to allow me to peak for the screening tests (each are about 30 or so hours of running, rucking, swimming, boat races, and other PT events).  The PST is also a factor but it is not overly important, although I would like to improve my scores.

                PST Scores: 8:10 swim, 105 push-ups, 82 sit-ups, 17 pull-ups, 8:48 run

                Goals: 7:15 swim, 120 push-ups, 105 sit-ups, 25 pull-ups, 8:14 run

Performing well in the screeners are much more important though and I don’t want to train to the PST.

So far I’ve done a 6 week strength/work capacity cycle of the Operator sessions with the swim improvement program (8:20 swim to 8:00 swim) and am 3 weeks into Rat 6.  Maxes from the first week (I’m 5’9” 170)– 215 bench, 215 front squat, 305 hinge lift, 145 MP, 190 pc, 190 fc

My question is where do I go from Rat 6? Should a big increase in strength be my main focus for the time being (without getting bulky or muscle bound)?

Tentative plan:                       

1.       369 Work cap after Rat 6
2.       Big 24 or 357 next (which one would be more applicable to my situation?)
3.       Operator sessions until around March

After this I am not really sure what to do except I plan to do the BUD/s V2 9-10 weeks out from the screeners.

I want to include the ruck improvement program, run improvement program, and continue improving my swimming as well.

I know where I want to be and the avenues to get there, but I think the biggest challenge for me is knowing the timing of when to incorporate all these aspects of fitness to have a very solid foundation and then peak at the right time in order to compete for the top spots.

Thanks for all the programming, it’s been very helpful so far.

Very Respectfully, – A.

I would say your PST scores are good for now.  I would focus on getting your strength up to our “Military Strength Standards”:

LIFT                                        MEN               

Front Squat                             1.5x BW         255#
Dead Lift                                  2.0x BW         340#
Bench Press                            1.5x BW         255#
Push Press                              1.1x BW         190#
Squat Clean                            1.25x BW        215#
Squat Clean+ Push Press       1.1x BW         190#

If you aren’t hitting over those numbers (we want a little buffer room) by the end Rat 6 I would probably do another strength cycle – either Big 24 or 357 will do.

After that, dropping into the operator sessions sounds like a good idea.  You can, if you want, mix in some additional rucking or swimming based on your needs – but I wouldn’t go over 6 days a week training.  The key is to monitor your progress as you progress and get closer to the screener.  That should allow you to add focus to events which need them (rucking, running, swimming, work cap, etc.)    

From what I understand about the screener, it is basically a 30-hour event filled with multiple mini-evolutions.  The BUD/s V2 plan includes a few of these, but you might also want to look at the UMSC CET plan (lots of long mini-events). 

Assuming you are doing the PST twice a year here is what I would recommend:

01DEC – 15JAN:     Big 24 or 357
15JAN – 01MAR:     Operator Sessions +/- Swim
01MAR – 15APR:     Operator Sessions +/- Ruck (PST if needed)
15ARP – 01JUN:     Operator Sessions
01JUN – 15JUL:     Operator Sessions +/- Swim
15JUL – 01SEP:     Operator Sessions +/- Ruck (PST if needed)
01SEP – 01NOV:    BUD/s V2 or USMC CET

If you end up going the EOD route.  Here is what I recommend prior to starting training: 

The most physically demanding portion of the pipeline is dive school – get comfortable in the water (side stroke, fin, snorkel/scuba) and be ready for long PT sessions on the grinder.  EOD school is almost 100% academic.  If you stay in good shape during EOD school you don’t really need a specific plan for Jump School, but before you head to your tactical training, you might want to get ready for a few longer days under load. 

Pre-Dive School:
– BUD/S V2 Plan

While at EOD School:
– Daily operator sessions to maintain your base fitness

Post EOD School:
– Airborne (if you want)
– Air Assault – prior to tactical training

At your Mobile Unit:
– Daily Operator Sessions

Let me know if you have any other questions.

-Adam Scott


What would you use as base physical requirements for getting the Body Weight Program?  I’m 43, a federal LEO assigned overseas, prior Infantry in the National Guard.  I’ve been alternating between Al Kavadlo and Pavel’s Simple and Sinister for almost a year and a half.  I’m not where I want to be on either program and I haven’t run in almost three years.  I am in the process of adding the running Couch to 5k program, as it has been a while.  Thoughts? – P

Start with Bodyweight Foundation (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/). It deploys initial assessments and subsequent sessions are based on your initial assessments. This way it automatically scales to your incoming fitness level. This plan also includes running – which you can skip if you have another running plan.

– Rob


I am a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy and I am looking for more military focused training to prepare myself for service selections from the Academy. It is my plan to enter the Marine Corps and become an infantry officer to pursue a career in MARSOC, but lately I have been discussing the possibility of Navy EOD with a company officer. My fitness background is grounded in football and weightlifting. I struggle with endurance. Swimming is my greatest weakness. I max all strength portions of the Navy PST and Marine Corps PFT and run a 9:31 1.5 mile and on average a 21:00 3 mile. I have been lifting 5-6X a week with strength and mass gaining as my major goals, but now I need to focus on the endurance portions of training (running, swimming, rucking). I don’t want to lose strength during the process though. I’m needing some assistance finding a program from this point forward. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond!

V/R, – A

It will be difficult, if you’ve been training 6x days/week on strength and mass, to greatly increase your endurance work and not lose strength and mass.

Keep your focus on the goal. Certainly MARSOC has a strength component, but you likely won’t be assessed on your max bench and squat. Selection is generally and endurance and stamina effort, not a strength effort.

I feel strength much beyond our strength standards doesn’t serve a functional need for military athletes. Strength is a big part of durability, as well as performance for weighted movement, but being too strong at the expense of endurance isn’t helping, and carrying unnecessary mass simply slows you down.

Options for you now:

1) Fortitude (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/) + Swimming Improvement Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/swim-improvement-plan/). Don’t do two-a-days, but rather alternate training sessions daily – Fortitude on Mondays, Swimming Tuesday, Fortitude Wednesday, etc. Fortitude combines gym-based strength with military endurance – running and rucking.

2) Take a 4-week break from the weightroom and do the Operator Pentathlon Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-pentathlon-training-plan/

3) Get a taste of what’s to come and complete the MARSOC A&S Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/marsoc-as-training-plan/). Split up the 2-a-days into daily sessions if needed with your school responsibilities.

Good luck.

– Rob


I’m slotted for sniper school August/September and was wondering what plan you would recommend for training 8 week out from the start date. I’ve completed the mountain base alpa and in the middle of the monster factory for the winter ski season.

Love you plans – J

First 5 weeks of the Ranger School Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/) – it includes APFT work, 5 mile run assessment and long rucks. Increase the ruck load to 65#. As well, you can skip the strength sessions in the plan.

– Rob


I just finished on ramp and I’m looking for a strength program that can be effectively scaled to 3x per week. For background, I’m 6ft & 195 and about 75-80% of strength standards and I am looking to use the winter to address strength deficiencies before spring trail running season and several planned Goruck events. What would you recommend?

Thank you, as always, for your kind assistance and counsel.

All the best, – C.

Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/). Do the sessions in order – don’t skip ahead. If you’re running on your own, skip with work capacity sessions and just do the strength progressions.

– Rob


I came across your programming via word of mouth and my desire to find a training program that I didn’t have to create.

Im 39 yo, 5’10” 200lbs and have been training in one form or another since I was 13.  To give you a little background I worked as a Wildand firefighter for 10 years.  6 years with the Wyoming Hotshots, 1 year with Teton Helitak, and 2 years as an engine captain.  I even rookied with the Mcall Smokejumpers in 2008, but washed due to injury.  Most recently I worked as a paid Firefighter/EMT with Lake Dillon Fire Rescue in Frisco, Colorado.  Currently Im a stay-at-home-dad and have been for the last 3 years.

I have had labrum repairs on both hips and one shoulder.  I still train hard, Ive been dabbling in Power lifting lately.  Due to life, kids, moving, injuries and Hunting seasons I haven’t been in a gym since early august. 

Sorry for the resume but I wanted to paint a picture so my following questions make sense. 

I turn 40 next september.  I have a goal of deadlifting 500lbs and being able to go on a week long backpack hunt.  I can deadlift 405 right now and just finished 15 days in the field hunting.  So these goals are very achievable. 

I used your “on-ramp” program last spring in conjunction with some other lifts to jump start my work capacity/endurance training leading up to hunting season (I’m an avid hunter).  I LOVED IT!!!

I would like to put together a progression of your programs to help me reach my goals.  I do however have two caveats.  1.  I have to deadlift.  2. Due to previous injuries, long runs beat the crap out of my hips so I try to keep those to a minimum.

Sooooooo, very long story short,  could you/ would you recommend a progression of your current programs that would fit all of this?   Where would you plug deadlifts into it?

Again, sorry for being so long winded.

Thank you for you time. – O

I don’t have the perfect plan for your deadlift goal. Our focus is outside performance, and to get much beyond 2x bodyweight dead lift, you’ll have to sacrifice other fitness attributes. In terms of backcountry hunting specifically work capacity and endurance. In other words, the cardio work you need to do to hunt, would negatively effect your deadlift gains and goal.

I’d recommend you break up your goals, and this winter – through March or so, focus on the dead lift.

I’m not a power lifting coach, but my guess is you’ll likely need to add focused supplementary exercises like heavy good mornings, heavy walking lunges, Sumo dead lifts, heavy box squats and deploy complex, dynamic, and max effort programming to push up your dead lift. You’ll want to limit your cardio to short intervals of heavy sled drags and pushes.

Our Rat 6 progression could be a start, but likely, you’ll need a more focused progression after to make your goal. I’d encourage you to reach out to a power lifting expert.

Backcountry hunting demands legs and lungs for extended movement, 5-15 miles/day, and significant elevation gain/loss. As well, core strength for the pack out. Unless your horse supported, you know the deal.

Assuming you do the deadlift push, 20 weeks out from your hunting season I’d recommend this progression of plans. For the running in Fortitude and Valor, you could substitute cycling if needed.

1) Fortitude – 6 weeks. Gym-based strength, rucking and running endurance. (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/)

2) Valor – 6 weeks. Gym-based work capacity, running and rucking speed over ground. http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/

3) Backcountry Big Game Hunting Plan – 8 weeks – step ups, rucking, sandbag getups, etc. – Plan specifically built to prepare athletes for the fitness demands of backcountry big game hunting (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-game-hunting-training-program/).

Here’s a podcast interview on the plan: http://mtntactical.com/mountain-athlete-articles/built-for-the-backcountry-podcast/

Good luck!

  • Rob


I’ve just been notified that I will be competing for the Army’s annual NCO of the Year.  In my state, during assessments a 5 mile ruck and APFT are conducted.  What plan would you recommend? – M


Do the Air Assault School Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/air-assault-school-training-plan/

This plan includes an APFT+ assessment (we add pull ups) and a 6-mile ruck assessment, and follow-on focused progressions for these events. It also includes work capacity efforts and some additional endurance (running, rucking).

Good luck!

– Rob


Hi Rob,

Huge fan of your training programs, figured I’d ask your advice on my training plan moving forward… Getting ready to attend SFAS about 8 months down the road. Was going to take a step back and rebuild my strength and foundation, then get more job specific as I approach my leave date. My plan is something like this;

Rat 6 or Big 24 + run 3 days per week, ruck once first half, then bring it up to ruck 2 days

Strength 357 + Ruck Improvement Plan

Work Capacity?

Ruck based selection or Delta selection

That being said, what do you recommend? Any ways you would change the plan? And which would be more appropriate, Rat 6 or Big 24? I was also considering throwing in the Core Improvement plan as well… Keep in mind I’m already in fairly great shape and have experience with military selections. Strength is probably my most limiting factor, spent way too much time focussed on endurance in the past, and endurance comes naturally to me. And I know SFAS’s main event is rucking so I’m trying to keep a heavy focus on that as well… Appreciate the input! Thanks!  – J

Here’s what I’d recommend. 8 months = 32 weeks….

Week     Plan
1-8         Rat 6 Strength + 3 days running
9-14       Fortitude
15-20     Valor
21-24     4 Weeks of Rat 6 or Big 24 + 3 days run/rucking
25-32     Ruck Based Selection Training Plan

– Rob


I see that you have had numerous units train with you in Jackson and you with them at their locations. A couple guys and I want to get out there for either your Scholar Athlete/Coach Advanced Programming Course or your Unit Fitness Leader Certification Course.

Because it’s a civilian course and not required, typically how do the people that train with you pay? On their own or unit funded?

Thanks in advance. – B

Both. Some guys get their units to pay, others foot the bill themselves.

Soon we’ll be announcing the course calendar for next year, and we hope to have courses near Bragg, Fort Lewis McChord, Benning, and Pendelton/San Diego. That can make it easier.

– Rob


It looks like I might be heading to SFOD-D selection next September.  That gives me about 9.5 months to prepare, and I am kicking around some ideas for a training plan.

I notice you no longer offer the SFOD-D selection training packet, and I was curious as to why you decided to remove it from your site.

I read through some Q&As and I noticed that you have recently been advising other Delta guys interested in SFOD-D to complete Fortitude and Valor prior to doing the SFOD-D 10-week plan.  My assumption is that Valor provides an adequate endurance base to keep up with the running and rucking in the SFOD-D 10-week plan?

I have fallen a bit out of shape since moving into my current job and I am not in the fighting shape that I used to be.  I know that I am not quite reading to jump straight into an intense training plan yet, I probably need to establish an all-around base.  How would you recommend that I use my time to train prior to selection?  Thank  you. – M

I removed those packets from the store to revise and update them. The Virtue Series of training plans represent my most recent theory, and I am incorporating these plans into the packet. The new packet should be up soon.

Here’s what I’d recommend:

Week           Plan
1-7               Humility – Bodyweight Strength, loaded work capacity, IBA runs and long, unloaded runs (http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/)

8                  Total Rest

9-12             Big 24 – Barbell based, total strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/)

13                Total Rest

14-19           Fortitude – Gym based strength, distance running and rucking (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/)

20                Total Rest

21-26           Valor – Gym based work capacity, short, intense running and rucking intervals (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/)

27                Total Rest

28-33           Resilience – Gym-based Strength, Chassis Integrity, Heavy Rucking and distance running (http://mtntactical.com/shop/resilience/)

34                Total Rest

35-44           SFOD-D Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/sfod-d-delta-selection-course-training-plan/)

Forty-four weeks is 10 months. For you, cut out the first and 3rd rest weeks to get to 9.5 months.

Good luck!

– Rob


Hi rob, i’ve just finished commandos School here in Chile and i want yo follow one of your programms. But as you know after any special ops school My physical Fitness is poor, my joints are smashed etc. I have to attend special forces school in march so i want to scale My workouts getting first a good active recovery and then increasing loads and intensity to peak performance in march.

Thank you very much for your help.

V/R – J

Congrats on selection!!

Generally I recommend guys take 1-2 weeks off, complete rest, to recover, then start back with strength training.

From our stuff, I’d recommend Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/) when you begin training again.

Rat 6 is barbell-based, and deploys classic exercises. It deploys initial strength assessments – so automatically “scales” to your incoming strength.

Weight is high, but volume is low – it’s designed to build back your strength.

It also includes some short work capacity efforts and focused core strength training.

After Rat 6 I’d recommend Fortitude, then Valor.

Directly prior to school, I’d recommend the Special Forces Qualification Course Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/special-forces-qualification-course-training-plan/).

– Rob


I’m curious to know your opinion on the best way to get started using one of your training programs. I’m a male and weigh 202 at 5’8″ and 45 years old. I’m not unfamiliar to training; was a wrestler since grade school, paratrooper in the army, and was in good enough shape 5 years ago to run several 1/2 marathons, etc.

Forward to now…totally out of shape and need to lose weight and get back to my fighting weight of 160 lbs. I’m not close to a gym and will be doing all of my training at home. Which training program should I start with?

Thanks for your time, – T

Good for you.

Start with Bodyweight Foundation: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/

As well, fix your diet. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUiTR_zJV0cB8l8qSBYya-eg&v=VGs2tnMQJlc

– Rob

I have been following the Operator Sessions for a few years now and recently I was looking back at some of the Operator Sessions from a few years ago. I’m curious what your thoughts are as to how the tactical athlete programming has changed. Do you still stand by the effectiveness of the Operator Session programming from 5-6 years ago or is the current programming far superior? Thanks for all you do.

Very Respectfully, – C

Our programming is constantly evolving as we learn and grow and test.

In general, today’s programming is much more “sport specific” to the fitness demands of military athletes. For example, it has a bigger endurance component, we do much more loaded movement, core training has transitioned to chassis integrity training, our exercise menu has slimmed, and there have been significant changes to Fluid Periodization.
Most improvement is evolutionary – and this is the same with our programming.

– Rob




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