Q&A 11.17.16


Mr Shaul,

Finally…finally!!! Someone who gets it. I’m an ex-Canadian Infanteer, who transitioned to a more analytical role, who is growing tired of it, who is thinking of moving toward Tier 1 role stuff, and I’m also a volunteer firefighter in my community. One thing that has never changed? That I can’t stand fat f@#$% in uniform. I’ve been saying it before I knew about your site years ago, and I still say it now. I don’t care if you’re an Air Force clerk working in the basement of NDHQ, you should always be fit to fight. As well, at my VOL FD, most of the Capt’s and long-time members are either obese or un-conditioned, as you put it. Sure, tonnes of job knowledge, and knowledge wise I trust them in a burning structure, but while it hasn’t happened yet, I always worry I’m going to have to carry some guys’ ass out of there because they couldn’t hack it physically.

And for me it’s not just your physical ability to do your job. Putting on either uniform, for me, is an honour and privilege, and something I felt I have earned, and continue to do so. While I don’t believe everyone needs to be a fitness animal, and not everyone is, take some pride in your appearance, because people see the uniform, not you. They see a fat slob in CADPAT, well, then, I guess they’re all fat slobs in CADPAT. It’s embarrassing!

Bottom line, thank you for this article, and for your doctrinal approach to what you call “The Quiet Profession(s)”. It’s a hard injection of logic that more people need to see.


I just got selected for BORTAC!  I finished your BTC Selection program that I had purchased a couple of years ago and it did the job.

Thanks for everything, and I look forward to taking a programming course from you in the future.  – R


I have a female Marine that came to us after she suffered a hip fracture in boot camp.  We PT 5 days a week and ended up giving her another hip fracture.  Do you have any workouts and mobility drills we can incorporate into our PT program to prevent further damage to her hip.  She finally healed but the doctors are trying to talk to her about medical separation if it happens again which is not what she wants.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.


Many coming back from a Knee Injury have used our Post-Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/

I don’t have any experience with this for hip injuries, but it should be a good place to start.

– Rob


I’ve used your programming in the past and I just have an honest question for you (and the rest of the fitness world). I’ve recently been told by a highly respected chiropractor (who is also a certified trainer and has a degree in nutrition) that unless a person varies the position of their wrists (for arm exercises) and ankles (for leg exercises) you won’t hit all of the muscles that compose each muscle group (I.e.- unless you do tri push downs with palms up, in, and down, you won’t get enough stimulation to create balanced strength in the 3 muscles of the tricep, thus creating muscle imbalances). Same thing for biceps, quads, etc.

She is also horrified that people still encourage runners to run on their toes. She said from a “muscle mechanics” perspective we are designed to be running with our butt cheeks squeezed together; our foot acting like a wheel, where we heel strike, roll through, pushing off with our toes and using a squeeze of our butt/hams to propel. I developed major Achilles tendinitis this summer before seeing her and now that I’ve corrected my form (I used to run on my toes…because of Crossfit) I don’t have problems anymore and I’m running very strong (at age 41). I had major muscle imbalances in my lower leg because of running on my toes/ball of my foot.

I appreciate your enthusiasm for public safety professionals (I’m a career FF/Paramedic in a very large city in Colorado) and an avid outdoors person). The older I’m getting the more physical problems I seem to be developing, so I’m just curious what your thoughts are on these things I mentioned. My chiropractor (who works with pro football players…guess which team) obviously knows the intended mechanics of the human body very well.

Thanks for your dedication to helping the public safety/mountain communities improve their fitness.


I’m not sure your question, but in general, I think you’ll find a bazillion different opinions and bunches of schools of thoughts from various chiropractors, personal trainers, physical therapists and doctors.

As you filter through all this info, I’d encourage you to keep a couple things paramount:

1) Does it transfer to outside performance?

2) Does it work for you?

– Rob


Long time believer here, i think i have half a dozen plans from MA, and some of them are different versions of the plan. I have a slight history with lower back issues. I found out the problem is due to a muscle imbalance from my glutes and hamstrings being weak and too tight. I’ve already been rehabbing them and it is getting better, slowly, every day. I wanted to do a bodyweight plan that is killer, and wanted to supplement a core workout to further rehab and ensure that I don’t have any weak links. What are your recommondations? Thanks always



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

Plus …

2) Chassis Integrity Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/chassis-integrity/

You can purchase these plans individually at the links above. As well, you get access to both with an Athlete’s Subscription to the website: http://mtntactical.com/shop/master-subscription-plan/

– Rob


I’ve been a big fan of your programming for a long time and I have had great success implementing your training (and some not-so-great results when I strayed from it.) Stupid question – I’m currently following the Operator daily sessions – what’s the best way to get in an Operator Ugly assessment (if I just want to see where I’m at). Should I just avoid trying to fit in an Operator Ugly and wait for assessments during the seven-week Assessment week, or would I be OK to just swap in Operator Ugly for one of the regular Monday sessions? Thanks again for all of the excellent work you do.


You can swap in Operator Ugly for any Monday. Just take a full day’s rest the next day.

– Rob


I’m at ocs with limited equipment for training during personal time. I just bought the pro band pack from elite fts to give me some type of resistance training so I can build before infantry officer basic while I’m here at ocs. Our morning workouts are platoon let and involve push-ups sit ups running and rucking, but I am looking for guidance on how to employ the bands using your workouts, as they have gotten me to this point successfully. Please help, as your programming is the best there is and has served me well for 9 years of enlisted time. Thank you for all you do and I look forward to your guidance.


No experienced with bands, but in general you could spend some time training leg strength, and chassis integrity. You’ll have to be creative in using the bands for resistance – but I’m guessing it’s possible.

To train leg strength pay attention to reps — make it difficult so you don’t go much above 8 reps per set/round, and no more than 6 rounds.

Chassis Integrity is different and reps/set can be up to 10. Do CI circuits for time – 15-20 minutes.

– Rob


Checking in after the final Atalanta assessment.  For context I’m 54, 240lbs, mountaineer/ocean-surf kayak/gym rat.

Swapped out back squats for DB Belgian Split squats  to lower risk on low back after surgery last year.

Results for initial/mid/final assesment:

  • DB splits squats: 150/170/180
  • Strict Pull ups:  19/21/23
  • Step up/run AMRAP:  9/10/11


1) Week four had me totally hammered, I suspect due to being an old clydesdale needing more recovery time.

2) I look forward to unload week like a five year looks forward to Christmas day.

3) Taking a while to rebuild my base endurance, but starting to see results.


1) 23 pullups – too much of a good thing, or keep developing super powers?

Loving the workouts and still getting results. 

Keep up the good work!


Thanks for the feedback …. good to know the in-cycle progression is working for you. On the tactical side we completed the stepup/run AMRAP in weight vests and it’s terrible.

Pull Ups …. I’m not worked about it. There are a couple ways you could test upper body pull, vs upper body press balance.

1) Do a Bench Press 1RM and compare it to your pull up number by taking your pull ups x 10% of your bodyweight. For example – say you weigh 150# and bench press 1RM is 200#. Your max rep pull ups is 15. 15x pull ups multiplied by 10% of your bodyweight (15#) = 225#. So your pulling strength (225#) is greater than your pressing strength (200#).

2) Do a max rep bar dip assessment and compare the total to your pull up max rep number. Ideally, for a balanced athlete, they will be close.

– Rob


Great article Rob. You mentioned Super Squats and you article and how you have adapted it for your uses. Can you recommend one of your programs that utilizes this?


Achilles: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-achilles/

You can purchase at the link above. As well – Achilles is one of the 130+ plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription to the website: http://mtntactical.com/shop/master-subscription-plan/

– Rob


Good morning my name is Alec and I am a US Army soldier looking to enhance my current PT sessions with the many options you have listed for programs.

My question for you is if it is possible for me to download or get access to several programs at one time? For example I’d like to try the running improvement plan along with some of the hybrid plans as well. Furthermore I’m having having knee surgery in a few months and I want to make sure I can stop whichever program I’m involved in and pick up a new one at any time.


With a subscription you get access to daily sessions for 130+ other plans. You have access to all and can mix/match as you see fit.

– Rob


I used your dry land ski program to get ready for the season, and am extremely pleased with the results. I was out last weekend, and as well as having the endurance to do laps all day, I think my balance and quickness / precision are at a new level.

Now I’m trying to figure out what to use as a program through the season. I teach at a local hill two or three nights a week, roughly four hours per night. On the weekends, I will either be training and participating in downhill skiing / ski instruction workshops, or out in the backcountry with friends. I bought both your in-season program for downhill, and your backcountry pre-season program. Are there elements from both I could / should combine? Or should I just keep it simple, and work through your backcountry program on a three-day per week schedule?


The In-Season Ski Maintenance Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/in-season-ski-maintenance-training-program/) includes a schedule for “mountain professionals” like you. With the work on the hill you’re doing, you won’t need to complete a full pre-season plan like the backcountry ski plan.

Follow the “mountain professional” sessions from the In-Season Maintenance plan.

– Rob


I just stated my subscription and am really excited for the plans.  I’m wondering what plan I should start with first,  I’m 5’10 165lb female with poor endurance and extra fat to loose.  Right now I’m running 6 miles at a 15min conversational pace, training for a Half Marathon in 4 weeks.   

I’d like to attempt a Skimo race in April that is 25 miles with 6,500ft gain/loss.  I’m also planning Rainier’s Liberty Ridge in June.

Should I do one of the Mountain Base plans after my half marathon to build a good base, then start a plan for the skimo? I see you have a Rainier Plan that is for the DC, but Liberty will be more demanding.

Any advice would be appreciated.


When does your skiing season start? Is it backcountry, lift assiste…


Hello Rob, my ski season will start in about 1-1.5 months, lift assisted. Then around March I switch to BC as the snow is consolidated here in Colorado.

Thank you for the help!


Complete the Dryland Ski Training Plan. It’s sport-specific for lift-assisted skiing, no joke, and will get you ready for the ski season. It’s 6 weeks long — start at the beginning.

As well, fix your diet. 80-90% of fat is diet related. Here are our diet guidelines: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition


After reading your recent article, “Are You Strong Enough,” a colleague and I completed your relative strength assessment. Here are our numbers:

Athlete 1

  • Body weight: 175
  • Front Squat: 235
  • Pull-ups: 21
  • Power Clean: 175
  • Bench Press: 245
  • Total Score: 5.84

Athlete 2

  • Body weight: 175
  • Front Squat: 245
  • Pull-ups: 16
  • Power Clean: 165
  • Bench Press: 260
  • Total Score: 5.43

Based on your published strength standards for tactical athletes, it seems that our numbers for each of the three lifts in this assessment should be considerably higher, yet we both achieved scores well above “excellent” for this assessment. Additionally, I don’t feel that I am currently strong enough, and the previously published standards appear to be more in line with where I feel like I should be.

I thought this might be useful feedback for you, and I am interested to hear your thoughts.


Athlete 1 is a little weak on the front squat and bench – I’d like to see in general about 1.5x Bodyweight for both these exercises – or 260. As well, Athlete 1 is overpowered in pulling compared to upper pressing (pull up vs bench). 21×17.5 = 367.5 for pulling vs 245 for pressing.

Athlete 2 is close to the general standards – but a little light in the front squat and power clean.

Based on these scores, you don’t need to be much stronger. Remember, strength is just one part of the tactical equation – there are other important attributes …. work capacity, endurance, etc. I’m hoping to publish endurance standards soonas a way to get the conversation started. Thinking these through – we’ll need both a rucking and running standard, or some combined event.

– Rob


I currently work for the Flagstaff Hotshots and want to look for a new workout routine. Currently I do about 45 minutes of cardio and this includes the stair climber and running. And also do a total body weight routine.   I feel like I have a handle of the cardio part but my weight lifting is getting boring and pretty much hit a plateau and don’t feel like I’m getting stronger. I want to try not to gain a lot of mass but want to gain strength and maybe even up my cardio. What do you recommended?  I’m currently in NC on fires so going to have to start over when I get home with my conditioning.


I recommend you spend some time focusing on barbell-focused strength training – specifically Big 24: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/

Note – I consider the fitness demands of wildland firefighters (strength, work capacity, TAC SEPA, Chassis Integrity, Endurance) to be the same as special forces in the military.

– Rob


I will soon finish the on-ramp program.  I was hoping you could narrow down which path to take after the completion of on-ramp (military). A little back ground of who i am and where i want to go.  I am a EOD officer for the Army, i have always excelled at rucking so that is not a concern of mine.  I want to excel at the APFT but i do not want to sacrifice strength and mobility.  Historically my workouts were either geared toward the APFT or strength/mobility.  I have not been able to find a workout that allowed me to excel at both.  It seems that when i solely focus on strength/mobility i will become to heavy and the run will slow.  When i focus on the APFT i will lose upper body strength and my run will increase.  I planned to start Hector in the coming month. Would this be a good fit for my goal?  Also i will be taking charge of an EOD Platoon soon which consist of 9 soldiers what would the cost be to establish a workout regime for a group this number? I have included some of my stats below i dont know if this could help determine which path to take.  I follow the MTN Athlete diet fruit, vegtables, nuts and meats no grains, breads, pasta, dairy, sugar, etc…..


  • PU= 65 reps
  • SU= 81 reps
  • 2-Mile= 14:40
  • Weight= 220lb  Height= 6’4” 
  • Bench Press=245  Power Clean= 225  Front squat=245  Dead lift= 385


Understand our approach is not to continually train for the APFT. Rather, train for the demands of deployment and when an APFT does come up, drop into a sport-specific plan specifically for this test – our APFT Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/apft-plan/).

“Hector” (http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-hector/) is a great representative cycle of our day-to-day programming for military athletes. It trains 5 attributes: strength, work capacity, TAC SEPA, endurance and chassis integrity. It’s truly a balanced cycle.

In direct answer to your question, no, Hector will not prepare you best for the APFT. It’s not designed to.

When you click on the Hector product page, you’ll see a tab for “sample training.” This is a full week from the plan – I’d recommend you try it and see if our stuff is for you. It may not be.

Check back in on the other side.

– Rob


I’m coming back after taking the summer off with no formal training. I spend the summers mountain biking, trail running, climbing 14ers here in Colorado. I’m currently wrapping up the “Helen” Dumbbell training plan. I’m 50, want to increase durability a bit this off season. I just took the MTI Relative Strength Assessment, scored a 3.75. I’d like to bring that number up into the mid 4’s, without losing too much endurance base. I was thinking about the Off Season Strength for Endurance Athletes, or Hypertrophy for Skinny Guys or maybe just repeating Helen, any thoughts?


I’d recommend continuing with the “Greek Heroine” series of Mountain Base plans. You’re strength will improve with your increased gym gime.

You get access to all 4 plans with an Athlete’s Subscription to the website.

As well, I just created a packet of these plans which gives you 30% off over purchasing them individually. Here’s the link: http://mtntactical.com/shop/greek-heroine-training-packet/

– Rob


Im interested in buying the ruck based selection (SFAS) packet but had a few questions before I do.

I currently only have access to a more traditional gym set up. There is a lot of the equipment that you would find in a functional fitness gym but not nearly as much open floor space. Would this be an issue with the workouts in the packet?

If I purchase a packet what format does it come in?


Yes. You’ll need to be resourceful and creative. For example, you may need to build your own sandbag, and do some of your work capacity sessions outside – this is what we do. The last plan in the packet – the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan is specifically focused on the selection and does include barbell-driven strength or work capacity efforts – it’s built around rucking, running, IBA runs, bodyweight work for the APFT, and work capacity smokers involving sandbags and dumbbells. Simple, but hard.

Plan access – online, there’s no download.

– Rob


I’m in the U.S. Air Force and I’m looking to start PJ Indoc around mid next year. I won’t know the exact day or even month that I’ll start selection. It’s all based on how quick the Air Force approves my retraining paperwork. But based on what I hear from other people about the wait time to start selection, I’m thinking I’ll start selection within April-June.

I just started week 5 of the AF PAST Program. Improving greatly on everything except push-ups. I’ve always had an issue with that, don’t know why. I’d appreciate if you had any tips on that or expressing your opinion on why it’s hard to increase my push-ups.

My main question is… what programs do you recommend I do, considering I leave for PJ selection in April-June. I was thinking after the PAST program, I’ll do the Big 24 with the running improvement program next (I’m a strong swimmer, but weak runner, although I improved my 1.5 mile run to 10:14 at the 6,000+ ft altitude of Colorado Springs)… Then I was thinking one other program before the PJ selection program. What do you think?

And why the 1 week rest in between programs? I’d think that I would lose what I gained from the previous program.

And how do you recommend I go about adding “water confidence” training starting with the next program until I leave for selection.

I’m sorry to make this lengthy. I love how you make your programming. And I have confidence in your programming. Thanks,


I recommend you follow the plans in the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Packet (http://mtntactical.com/shop/cctpjcro-training-packet/) leading up to your selection. It’s most important you complete the 8-week USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan the 8 weeks directly before selection. This plan includes focused PAST work, swimming, running, rucking, work capacity smokers, mini events, etc. It’s full on and is the last plan in the packet. You can purchase it individually here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/

Push Ups? Be patient and they’ll come. My sense given your running time is you’re past training has been running/lower body focused. You could be a little out of balance, and the strength training and specific push up work will take some time to develop.

Week between? You don’t increase fitness by training. You increase fitness by resting after training. Our programming is intense, and the rest weeks are needed or you’ll overtrain.

Water confidence? The USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training plan includes swimming, 25m underwater intervals, etc. to help. It does not include specific water confidence training simply because it’s too dangerous to do this on your own. What I do recommend is you supplement the water work in the plan with  focused dryland breath hold training. Spearfishmen and freedivers do this successfully, and you can find several phone apps which include breath hold progressions – one is iholdbreath – freediving trainer: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iholdbreath-freediving-trainer/id372651119?mt=8

– Rob


First, thank you for all you do. As a Senior NCO and Masters Tactical Athlete (ruck, run, shoot, swim), the work you and your team do has been inspirational, practical, and challenging. Thank you.

We are training for the GORUCK Triple Heavy in September 2017, and we are looking at the SFOD-D Packet to train from. Do you have any other recommendations? How does the Virtue series compare with the more recently developed Greek hero series in the lead-up months?

Any advice would be most helpful.


You’ll want to complete a “sport specific” plan directly prior to your triple heavy. I’d recommend the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan or the Goruck Selection Training Plan.

Between now and beginning this sport specific plan, you have multiple options:

1) Purchase and/or complete the lead up plans in the Ruck Based Selection Training Packet:

2) Virtue Series, Greek Hero Series or Operator Sessions.

The difference between the Virtue Series and Greek Hero series is the evolution in our programming. The Greek Hero Series represents the most recent evolution of our programming. More specifically, the strength and endurance trained in both series of plans is pretty much compatible. Here are the differences:

– Garbage Reps: Some of the Virtue Plans still have lightly loaded, deep squatting movements as part of work capacity efforts. I began moving away from these in our programming last Fall.

– TAC SEPA (Tactical Speed, Explosive Power and Agility) is a new fitness attribute for our tactical programming and not included in the Virtue Series. TAC SEPA is included in all of the Greek Hero plans.

– Chassis Integrity – I’d just begun expirimenting with this innovative, functional/transferable mid-section training at the end of the Virtue Series plans … Resilience, the last plan, includes the early versions of Chassis Integrity – but the prior plans don’t. Chassis Integrity is included in all the Greek Hero plans.

– Fluid Periodization is different. This is hard to describe in an email, but in general, the cyclic emphasis in the Greek Hero plans is more subtle than in the Virtue series plans.

Which is better? It’s really a wash. The Virtue Series is awesome programming, and I continue to recommend these plans to athletes all the time. The Greek Hero Series is more recent, but also solid.

– Rob


Just had some questions. I’m an Infantryman, and after getting back from Iraq about 6 months ago I’ve been having back problems. I’ve been hitting the gym 5-6 times a week and my problems have been slowly getting worse and I think alot of it is I haven’t been really smart when it comes to working out. I just go and hit it as hard as I can and while I have been getting stronger and bigger, I’ve also been increasing my back injury. Is there a program that can help me get to where I want to be? Which is strong and bigger, but functional


I’d recommend you start our stuff with Achilles (http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-achilles/). Achilles deploys our furthest evolution of fluid periodization, and has a subtle strength and work capacity emphasis. It’s strength programming is direct and to the point – back squat and bench press in a “super squat” progression, and heavy power cleans. Work Capacity efforts are short, intense and bodyweight driven. You’ll also train TAC SEPA (tactical speed, explosive power and agility) 2x/week, and Chassis Integrity – our functional mid-section training, 2x/week.

– Rob


How effective is your BUD/S V1 Training Program on terms of competitive PST scores? Have you seen people personally do the program and be able to achieve these numbers? Any reply is appreciated thank you.
I’d recommend our assessment-specific US Navy PST Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/us-navy-pst-training-plan/). This training plan’s sole focus is on the PST and the PST events.
How much improvement will you see? In general, the worse shape you’re in, the more improvement you’ll see. Super-fit guys will see less overall improvement than unfit athletes.
In general, we’ve seen a 15-30% event improvement first time through for athletes using our PFT programming methodology.
Regardless, good luck!
– Rob

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