Q&A 11.6.15

Thought you might like this feedback….a year ago, I underwent major
surgery on my foot, ankle, Achilles, and lower calf muscle.
Additionally, I had to get the cartilage around my left ankle
“replaced.”  All of this was a result of a hiking injury. Since then,
I have done (not in this order), the Work Capacity, Big 24, Body
Weight, Kettle Bell, Post Rehab Leg Injury, and “Athletes Suffering a
Lower Body Injury” programs. I worked with my physical therapist for
about 8 months, but to be completely frank, it was your programming
that did the real work.
And here is the real proof that everything came together…I took my
first APFT yesterday since surgery, and ran a 12:31. A year ago I
could barley walk, even with the aid of a walker or cane for support.
Nothing like being 47 seconds better than the established “perfect”
2-mile time.

– M


I am a 50 year old subscriber………..I am following SF45.  I just completed “CUB” and have started “BEAVER”.  I t seems I am doing sustainably less weight on the Hinge lift than on dead lift…..but I am thinking this is normal do to the nature of the Hinge lift.  Yes?
Thanks – R


We definitely haven’t seen an increase in load – usually, after the athlete gets familiar with the lift, he/she will get back to the previous deadlift loading.
I like the hinge because I’ve found it’s safer, in general, and also trains the butt/hamstrings more.
  • Rob

I’ve been a follower of MA for about 5 years and seen excellent results from every program I’ve tried. I’m in EOD school right now and plan on attending an A&S for a special mission unit in late January. The physical aspect of the A&S consists of an APFT and a 12 mile ruck with 35 pounds for time. I want to blow both of these events out of the water. I just completed Rat 6 and saw awesome strength gains.


23yo, 71″, 178lb
1RM Bench: 230-> 255
1RM Front Sq: 225 -> 285
1RM PC: 195->215
1RM Sq Clean: 170->215
1RM MP: 135->155

1RM Hinge Lift: 305->365


What programs should I complete and in what order to be best prepared for these events? I have 11.5 weeks from today to prep.

Thanks! – E


I’d recommend the Ranger School Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/) – but drop the ruck load down from 60 to 35#. This plan has specific APFT work, rucking, running, etc. Your A&S will have “gates” of the APFT and ruck, but there will be much more fitness involved – as you know – and this plan will help prepare you.
The Ranger School plan is 7 weeks. Between now and then I’d recommend you do the first 4 weeks of Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/).
Good luck!

– Rob


Sir i’m a sgt. in the USAF and i’m trying to cross train into Pararescue. i Recently purchased your pararescue 9 week course. now i found out i have a stress fracture in my foot from working to hard i guess so by the time i start over i need to start slow. i want to look at purchasing your 10 month program so i can start from scratch. sadly its pretty expensive for me because i’ve had to go off base for chiropractic work because thats the fastest and best way to get work on my foot without waiting monthly for small visits that won’t do much. i’m not asking for free i’m asking can you give a discount on the 10-month program? just what the 9 week program price subtract that from the 10 month. i don’t have much time cause my enlistment is coming up and all I’ve wanted to do for the past 6 years was to be pararescue, but i keep injury myself to overworking and i need a steady plan. yours looks like the one. i’m desperate
thank you
  • D
We’re currently revising our packets so the packet isn’t available at this time.
In terms of your training now I’m not sure what your injury will allow you to do.
Couple options:
2) Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/
3) Training Program for Athletes Suffering Leg Injury: http://mtntactical.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-from-leg/

– Rob


I’m active duty military, but I’m not currently training for any specific schoolhouse or course. Just trying to decide on a plan that will be fun and help me lean cut up a little, right now. I love lifting but can get bored easily, however, the 357 plan looks interesting (with maybe some additional cardio?) curious if you have any other plan recommendations.

Thank you – M


Go with 357 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/357-strength/). This plans includes work capacity, but you can dd in some unloaded distance running as 2-a-days, if you like.

– Rob


Love the program.  Thanks for the dedicated time and effort it took to make this plan.  Quick Question, I am most nervous about my pushups.  I was a high school and collegiate runner who gave little thought to strength training.  I continue to run, most recently on the post Army 10 miler team.  I can bench my body weight, 175lb for 5 sets of 5.  I have no trouble passing my pushups on the APFT but would like to excel in this area and want to leave no doubt when it comes to the Ranger PFT.  Should I perform additional pushups on non-pushup days of the plan? If so, what is your recommended strategy? – A
No – wait until your Week 3 re-assessment – see what your improvement is, then decide if you need extra push up work.
– Rob

First off I want to thank you for your hard work. The programs you have built, the articles you write, the videos you produce and the military athlete community you created are all incredibly helpful. I am currently preparing for Ranger School and I had a few questions.


I try to adhere to the programming as much as possible, however my work as a platoon leader in the Airborne keeps me very busy. On days that I get off work at 2100 it is hard to sustain a habit of going out and rucking for 2-3 hours after a full day of airborne operations, field problems, ranges or normal office work.
We have a silly habit in the Army of simply writing such concerns off as “excuses” or just telling paratroopers to “ranger up.”  Realistically I am looking for an answer on how I should re-format the programming so I can still get work done without breaking myself off before I even get to Ranger School. I already use my weekends to do workouts I miss, and often I go weeks at a time without a proper recovery day.
My nutrition is great, and my fitness is better than it has ever been. I dropped my run and ruck times significantly as well as improved my normal RPFT event scores. My problem is that I am focusing on rucking and running as my big events that are nonnegotiable when it comes to weekly priorities, the end result of this is that my strength and weight lifting has slipped away from me.

What advice / coaching do you have?


I am 3.5 weeks out from Pre Ranger School and loving the program by the way, even if it kills me some days.

Very Respectfully, – R


1) Drop Monday’s Gym-based strength work.
2) Move Tuesday’s AM RPFT work to Monday.
3) Drop Thursday’s AM RPFT Work
So this would be your sched:
Mon – RPFT work
Tue – Ruck Intervals
Wed – Core/Durabilty
Thurs – Ruck Intervals

Fri: Bodyweight Smokers


Good luck!

– Rob


I am currently studying at University and want to begin a training program for joining the military in the future. I train a lot already, but was wondering if Valor would be a good fitness program to begin MA with.

Thanks – S


Fortitude first. Then Valor.

– Rob

Was wondering if I can still deadlift, squat, and other lifts while doing the ruck based training plan. If so, which days should I incorporate those kinds of exercises?

Thanks, -C


No. The plan is too intense.

– R



Found your website and the amazing selection of courses.  Summer of life issues and heavy work load has me in poor shape compared to the past.  Your advice on a program is appreciated


52 years old
OK shape (for 52, poor compared to my 11Bravo son!)
5k run = 28min
Pushups = 12 super clean
Road bike = 75 mile max
Ruck = 30# / 6 mile about 2.5 hours
Bourbon = Limit about 2 – can 4 if it’s expensive and we’re having fun…
Next event – Frozen Otter  24hour 64 mile adventure hike on Jan 21 in Central Wisc (never finished, made 48 miles in 18 hours last year)
Overall goal – increased muscle mass, reduce bodyfat, slow the aging process, Overall health is pretty good, fitness needs work

Thoughts Rob?!  Thanks!! – D



Start our stuff with Humility (http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/). Humility deploys bodyweight strength training, loaded endurance, and dumbbell-focused work capacity work. It’s a great plan to kickstart your fitness.


Next we’ll move you into some solid strength training with Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/) and focused rucking/hiking with the 4-week Rucking Improvement Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/4-week-ruck-improvement-program/)


Then, you should turn to pure distance work in the weeks before your hike – likely based on one of our military selection plans.


Humility, Rat 6 and the Rucking Improvement plan are available at the links above. As well, they are 3 of the 50+ plans that come with a subscription to the website.


– Rob



Hi Rob – I am looking for some training plans and coaching. I have been doing Crossfit for 3+ years and like that it gives what I consider to be a good overall fitness base.


I have climbed recreationally for the last 2 years, some peaks and multi pitch trad stuff but more cragging.   I have started focusing more on climbing, trying to make some improvements specific to that sport and have been following the Anderson brothers book. I have liked the results but am struggling to maintain the overall fitness that I want.


Looking for help in getting programming that lets me train 4-5 days per week, with climbing as the focus, but also working in strength and endurance.


I have access to a good climbing gym with Crossfit type equipment and I feel comfortable with the movements, just need some programming.


There is a lot on your website, hard to tell what the right path is for me. – T



Start with the Alpine Rock Training Program: http://mtntactical.com/shop/alpine-rock-climb-training-program/


It will give you a great idea of sport-specific focus, and includes both climbing and strength/work capacity/endurance work for alpine rock.


After, move to the Mountain Base Alpha training plan. http://mtntactical.com/shop/mountain-base-alpha/

– Rob


I have done a few of your programs for specific schooling while I was in the Corps’ Infantry and really reaped the benefits. They helped greatly with preparing my body for long movements under weight, patrols, etc.. I am now out and have a garage with a pull up bar, rings, a 32, 28, 24, and 20kg KB’s, and resistance bands. I briefly looked over your programs and am curious on how much I’d have to substitute if I wanted to do something similar to the meathead cycle. I’ve had to substitute much due to not always having a full gym while in the Corps. What are your thoughts on what o I’d be better doing with the equipment I have? A goal would be to

gain strength per say. Thanks again sir – W



I’d recommend our Kettlebell Strength training plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/kettlebell-strength/


– Rob



I’m a soldier from the 173rd Airborne that has recently purchased a couple of your plans. Now for the Army PFT I see in the section that covers push up strategy for a pt test it says – “When you rest, rotate your shoulders and bend at the hips to take some load off of your chest and triceps.” Rotate them how? The Army has two official rest positions when performing push ups during the PT test. However I’m not sure which includes a rotation of the shoulders and which direction they are supposed to be rotated.


Secondly, I noticed that in the training cycle you said that the event that one is training for should include a training plan specific to it after following an operator training plan that works in general fitness. Well which are the “operator” training plans within the military athlete brand of your programs? Only a select few actually have “operator” in their title. I want to submit a packet to OCS in February. My main concern is the PT test that is required for such because I have suffered a recent shoulder injury that has sidelined me for a while and I need to try and build my upper body strength back up as much as I can to prepare myself for the PT test that would be required to complete my OCS packet early next year. – M


Shoulder Rotate – think of rotating your elbows instead of your shoulders.

Not “Operator Training Plan” but the :Operator Sessions” – these are the day to day programming we prescribe for military athletes and are available with a subscription to the website.


Note we also have an Army OCS Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/army-ocs-training-plan/) which I recommend you complete directly before OCS.

– Rob


Since I would like to join the French Navy Special Forces (Commandos Marine) next year, I would like to be in the best physical condition I can possibly be. I would need your advice on choosing the right program.

Selection looks a like this:


First a pre-selection (in september)
– 1500 meter sprint + 8 km march (with 11kg ruck+weapon+equipment), immediately afterwards -> diving 5 m deep under water in an outside tank
– carrying buddy for 90m in under 24sec
– two rope climbs with ruck
– 14 pull ups and 50 push up
everything done consecutively with limited rest.
Then the selection starts with a 4 week phase where our physical strength will be tested.
– Marches for 12km, 15km and 25km with (20kg) and without rucks
– outside tank dives 5 to 7m plus swimming parcours
– various obstacle courses
– boxing / MMA,
– nautical fin swims
– rock climbing,
– shooting,
– “high-stress” phases (long marches at night with obstacle courses, observation and intelligence gathering, interrogations, evasion etc.),
– land navigation ruck-marches…

everything with little to no sleep.


The next phase runs for 5 weeks: All the aforementioned activities but with “hit and run” missions to conduct each night, consequently very little or no sleep each night (average 3-8 hours a week). Also little food, cold temperatures, lots of very tough combatives and constant pressure. Plus, you have to learn lots of things (tactics, weapons, explosives…) very fast. It also incorporates:


– 6m underwater dives
– holding your breathe for 20sec
– 50m swims with snorkel; w/ mask
– 1000m fin swims in the sea in under 30min
The final phase lasts 3 weeks with a conclusion exercise (1 week) and parachuting instruction (2 weeks).
Which one of your programs would you recommend for Commandos Marine selection course?
Thank you in advance!

I’m looking forward to starting training with Military Athlete soon.


– A



I’d recommend completing the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/) the 9 weeks directly before your selection.


This plan includes bodyweight fitness test work, extensive swimming, treading and breath holds, running, finning, body-weight “smokers” and long rucks and ruck runs.


You’re more than 9 weeks out now. I’d recommend you still complete this plan now – it will be a great test of your current fitness and resolve, and get your head right for next year’s selection.


After the plan, subscribe to the website and drop into the Operator Sessions.


9 weeks out from your selection, cancel your subscription, and re-compete the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan.

Good luck!
– Rob 

I just returned from SFAS, and unfortunately did not make it past week one. I saw that you had a 9 month train up progam, but I will be returning in 6. What training programs would you recommend for a 6 month train up?

v/r – E.


6 months = 26 weeks. here’s what I’d recommend….
Week        Plan
1-8             Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/)
9-14           Fortitude (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/)
15-18         Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/)

19-26    Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/)


Several have used the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan successfully for SFAS.


Good luck.

– Rob


Hello I am interested in purchasing the bodyweight training program, but have noticed that there are two programs available. I am a fit athlete with the goal of entering the military. My question is if the bodyweight program 1 is less difficult than number 2? or are both programs the same difficulty? are the programs tailored to any fitness level?. Additionally can the bodyweight program be used in conjuction with the core strength bodyweight program ? thank you.

— J



It’s a great program and no joke. It includes core strength training – so you won’t need to add any in.


Bodyweight II isn’t more difficult – it’s just different.


– Rob



I found your website and am very impressed!! I am based in Australia and have been into crossfit for a few years, but I am not feeling satisfied with it. Basically what i am after is a more structured program that I can do at a gym or outside sometimes.


I have a slight back injury (ongoing due to biomechanical faults in my spine) so I have some limitations – no max lifts in deadlifts, back squat, front squat, full cleans etc. I would like to be an all round fit person. I don’t train for a sport in particular, just for the love of it and keeping fit and healthy.


What would suit me? All your plans look great – I got sent to the athlete package from the start here page and also the Falcon training Plan. Some of the exercises I am unfamiliar with eg soctty bobs – do they come with demonstrations.

Any further info would be great.


Thanks so much. – K



A great place to start our programming is Humility (http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/). Humility combines assessment-based, bodyweight strength training  and intense, loaded, work capacity efforts. As well, it has a strong endurance component built around long distance, unloaded running and moderate distance loaded running in a 25# weight vest or 25# back pack.


It’s a great introduction to our programming.

– Rob


I am in need of your advice on how to go about training for the Petawawa Ironman in Fall 2016. It’s a Division level competition in the Canadian Forces and consists of the following:
-34km Ruck-run
-4km Canoe Portage (Still with Ruck)
-8km Canoe
-6km Ruck-run
Ruck weight is 50lbs, not sure how much the canoe weighs but they use fiberglass ones, not wood (thankfully). The top finishers usually come in at around the 6 hour mark if memory serves me right. Which of your plans would you recommend?

Thank you, – D


This event is pretty much a long ruck event with some canoeing in the middle.

From our stuff, I’d recommend the RASP I&II Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rasp-12-training-plan/, with a couple changes.


First – use a 50# ruck for the rucking and assessments in the plan.


Second, skip Wednesday’s pool work and make it a rest day.


This plan includes extensive rucking, but also great bodyweight calisthenic work, running, etc. It’s a great all around plan with a significant rucking focus.


Good luck!

– Rob



I am currently deployed but need to prepare for CDQC right after the deployment. I am 40 and feel every bit of it at times, but I can still obtain a 300 on the APFT and pass the UBRR. Is there a training regimen you would suggest? I am looking at maybe a 4 month time window right now. Thank  you. – B



We’ve built a sport-specific CDQC Training Plan here (http://mtntactical.com/shop/cdqc-training-plan/) but it requires a pool.


The non-swimming components of the plan include PFT work, and running.

For you going in without being able to swim ahead of time, I’m thinking there are a couple areas of concern not related to water confidence: (1) aerobic capacity for swimming, and (2) hip flexor fitness for finning.


My recommendation from our stuff:

Start with Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/), follow it with Big 24 (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/) for general strength and durability, and finish with Humility (http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/) before selection. Combines, these are 16 weeks of training. You can purchase these plans at the links above. As well, they are available with a subscription to the website.


Rely on the endurance work (running/rucking) in Valor and Humility for your swimming aerobic base. For humility, add in extensive sessions of flutter kicks for hip flexor work.


Water confidence – freedivers and spear fishermen practice breath holds on dryland, and have seen great transfer to water. There are actually several iphone apps and other protocols to train this. I’d encourage you to do so.


Good luck.

– Rob



Good morning sir, prior service infantry marine here looking at going back to active duty and going into the 0321 recon marine field, biggest things lacking is my swimming…I lift,run and train martial arts 4-6 days a week as it is any recommendations you would have to get me to where I need to be would be appreciated. – P



We’ve built a sport-specific USMC Recon Course Training Plan here (http://mtntactical.com/shop/marine-corps-basic-recon-course-training-plan/).


What I’d recommend is you complete this plan now, then subscribe to the website and follow the Operator Sessions, until 9-weeks out from your course. At that time cancel your subscription and re-complete the Recon course plan.


– Rob



Tree planting is not a well known in the US but in Canada it is a well known job. It involves carrying saplings in bags like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qZq-b6HLBY, and a shovel used in one hand, and walking about 10 ft, making a hole, planting the tree and closing the hole. This is a video example : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qZq-b6HLBY (this is an example of very flat land with very close spacing). You are paid by the tree ($0.07 – $0.18) and people typically planting 2000 – 3000 per day, but can plant up to 8000 in a day. $300 a day means your a good planter and $400+ means your very good.


I’m looking for training advice for tree planting, seeing as how there is nothing on the subject. A typical day of tree planting is 10 hours long and the only breaks taken are to fill your bags back up. So it might look something like 50 mins of planting 10 mins bagging up/eating/peeing repeated 10 time throughout the day. Full bags are around 60 lbs, but most if the weight can be carried on the hips, and the land can range from extremely steep to perfectly flat. It is also common to have 45 min walk ins before you can start working. It is also common to lose 20 lbs in one season.

Tree planting is not like any other endurance activity because your performance is not measured on how many trees you plant in one hour, or one day, or one week of work, the only number is total trees planted in the whole season (start of May to start of August), so durability is key. There is a lot a technique to planting, but once you start planting over 3000 physical ability become a limiting factor. There is always a warm up period that can last the full first month before you are in top form, the goal of this training would be to come in on day one in top form and have great money making potential.


SO I’m am looking for training advice for my upcoming season, the biggest factors I have to take into account are as follows:


– The high volume of work over 3 months (work schedual 3-5 day on, 1 day off)
– Ruck-like performance, having to move quickly and efficiently of very rough terrain for extended periods of time
– Lower back stability, due to constantly being hunched over all day
– Upper back stability (my biggest problem), being hunch over, coupled with constantly reaching down to the ground
– Shoulder stability, from pounding the ground with a shovel
– Lungs, due to constantly moving and being in the mountains in BC

– Wrist and hand maintenance, tendentious in the shovel hand is a common injury


The plans I have been looking at are the backcountry hunting program and the 3-30 work capacity program. After the previous season ended I did some light gym jones work out and running to get a foundation back, then started Joe Defrancos Strong Bastard 911 program to build a good strength base. This will take me to the start of 2016 where I want to transition to prep for the 2016 planting season.


Thanks a lot – R



Directly prior to your season start I recommend you complete the 7-week Ranger School Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/), with a couple changes –


First, drop the ruck assessment to 8 miles, and use 2 mile intervals and our Ruck Interval Calculator  (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/ruck-interval-calculator/) to calculate 2-mile ruck interval times.


As well, no need to carry a sledge for the rucks.


This plan includes solid upper body work, focused running and rucking, and low-back intensive core work. It also includes multiple 2-a-days – to get you used to the long days you’ll face during the season.


Between January and when you begin the Ranger School Plan, subscribe to the website and begin the programming with Fortitude, then roll into the Operator Sessions until you begin the Ranger School plan.


A couple notes on the activity ….

First, if possible, and if you don’t already – switch up your shovel hand and try to use both hands equally. This will help with shovel hand overuse injuries.


For your back – I’ve read about every low back out there, and one came to mind when I say your video. “8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back” by Esther Gokhale asks why people in 3rd world countries suffer low back issues at a far fewer rate than us, even through many bend over all day to work like you. The author notes the way these people “hinge” at the hips, while keeping their back in extension, and are able to work with no pain. Something for you to consider.
  • Rob

Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA