Q&A 11/13/14

Wildland Fire plans, SWAT selection, Pre-workout supplements, Shuttle run substitutes, and more!


Working through SOF CCC in preparation for the Q Course.  Q starts mid-February 2015.  In September, after completing the RAT 6 Strength Program you sent, I worked back into Operator Sessions, starting with the Strength/Endurance cycle that began 7.28.2014.  Just completed that 6 week cycle and am about to start the Work Capacity/Endurance Cycle that began 9.15.2014.

Here’s my question: What’s your year-long periodization look like?  What’s the start-point/end-point goals look like for the Operator Sessions in a year of programming?  I’m really just asking out of personal curiosity.  When I complete the Work Cap/Endurance work, I am going to go into the Q Course prep for sport specific training.


Unlike coaches who work with team or individual sport athletes, military athletes don’t necessarily have a “season” to prepare for – especially the SOF guys who can deploy anytime.

Team sport and other athletes, during their off season, can afford to let their fitness decline – or do cross train – knowing they will have the pre-season to get fit again for their “season.” And coaches can program so their athletes can “peak”.

Hence, military athletes have the “burden of constant fitness,” in general. Some athletes know deployments are coming up and can train sport specifically for them – or have selections coming up and can do the same. This is why we developed our sport-specific training plan like the Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Plan, or the DEVGRU Selection Training Plan.

The Operator Sessions are designed for working, deployable operators, for which I deploy Fluid Periodization, which trains strength, work capacity, endurance, stamina and durability simultaneously but with cyclic emphasis.

See more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDFlJbC1IiM


I just purchased your BC skiing training plan a few days ago and started it yesterday. I really enjoy your training (only did 2 sessions so far). I have been doing CrossFit for the last 4 years at a CrossFit gym but realized over the years that it does not help me much with my hobbies. For summer, I implemented a running program to get better at endurance. It helped a little with my hiking/mountain/climbing adventures, but not much for the winter.

Last week a friend from our Rescue Team (Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council, which I am part of too) mentioned your program. So I am giving it a shot for the winter season and using the BC skiing program to prep for the season.

I have a few questions:

  1. What to do after the program is done during the season? I see there is a Skiing maintenance program, but it from the description it is more for downhill skiing? Or do I have the wrong impression?
  2. Your program is very specific for each sport, like Climbing, skiing, Mountaineering and so on. Is there a more general mountain fitness program you might have?

The reason for that question is that being part of a Mountain Rescue organization, we do everything: In the winter, we skin, ski, ice climb, snow climb and all winter mountaineering. In the summer, we do hike (heavy loads), climb, scramble and summer mountaineering.


1) You’re correct, our In-Season Ski Maintenance Program (http://mtntactical.com/shop/in-season-ski-maintenance-training-program/) is designed for lift-assisted skiing. I haven’t built a program for in-season backcountry ski maintenance. If I had the program would include extensive endurance work – uphill skinning if possible, or uphill running, or general cycling. Here in Jackson our athletes are spoiled with a Town ski hill which allows easy uphill skinning.

2) A master subscription to the website will give you access to our Mountain Athlete sessions, which include season-specific preparation (right now we have a dryland program running for our FreeSki team and an a Ice Climb program for our pick swingers), as well as more general shoulder season fitness and training. This is the best option.


I think I will be going with the operator sessions plus the 4 week ruck improvement then start the marsoc prep. I saw great results with the 369 ruck capacity plan dropping my 1 mile ruck from 10:41 to 8:55. And I saw great strength in or cements as well as the 5 mile run. I am currently on the 1st week of fortitude. Plan as follows:

  • 1) fortitude
  • Rest a full week
  • 2) operator sessions plus 4 week ruck improvement (should I restart the ruck plan and use it for 8 weeks which is what I need it for before I start the marsoc prep?)
  • 3) marsoc prep

Any suggestions? Thank yall a lot and helping get to were I need to be!


Plan is solid. Good luck.


Our SWAT selection is a 4 day, 24/ 7 course. You have different evolution during the four days lasting between 1 to 4 hours and run continuously. You have a issued level III vest (45lbs) you have have on during most of the evolutions plus your M4 and TAC gear. Their is lot of running involved  but not  for very long periods of time. There is a log carry event that usually breaks the weak minded. Most of the evolutions task most if not all your body. From my previous tryout I learned its not so much  how strong you are but how long you can do it for. Muscle endurance I believe is what needed.


I don’t have a perfect plan for you. I’d recommend our Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-packet/) with some modifications.

This plan includes intense work capacity efforts, lots of running and bodyweight work, IBA Runs, etc. These modifications:

  • Don’t do the heavy ruck work
  • Wear your Level III vest for the IBA run assessment and IBA Run intervals.


I had a quick question for you. Whats your opinion on Pre-Work Out supplements? Stuff like C4, Hyde, NOExplode etc. I’m curious to know what your opinion on your military athletes taking pre-workouts and how/when to use them. Have a good one. Keep up the good work.


For strength training – Don’t like ’em. Don’t use them. Won’t recommend them. Waste of money.

For endurance work – a pre-run or ruck gel helps for a 60+ minute effort.


Great website, great programs. I first read about your stuff from a recent Sofrep article. Anyway, I was just curious if you were to recommend one of your two NSW/NSO programs (PST/Buds) which one would you recommend? Do you think the PST program will get us prepared for BUD/s? I like the Goals outlined in your BUD/s program, but the PST program is much less expensive. I ship to RTC in March. I really appreciate your website, and my training partner and I are currently following body weight training one. Leg Blasters are inspirational haha.


I’d recommend the BUD/s Program (http://mtntactical.com/shop/buds-training-program/). Our PST Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/us-navy-pst-training-plan/) is focused only on the PST assessment events.


I talked to Kate on Facebook and she told me to shoot you an email.  I loved the “Sample Operator Sessions” and would like to know what I need to get hooked up with a subscriptions for the workouts the Operator Session Workouts?

Kate said For $29/month you can sign up to get daily sessions year round, sounds pretty awesome to me.  I am hoping to use your program for the next 2 or 3 months until I leave for my school.  I am hoping to follow Military Athlete workouts 3-4 times a week and follow my running program the other days. What I have been doing is mixing the Military Athlete workouts with Crossfit Endurance running workouts and liking it so far.  I do have a couple more PST’s coming up once I get to my school but nothing I am worried about performing at.  The instructors at the prep school told me the operator Session workouts are what they use and would greatly help me if I start them now.

I hope you can help to put a plan together that will test me, help me improve for what lies ahead of me.  The Operator sessions looks great  Please let me know what you need for me I still have the last two sample workouts to complete.


Your plan is solid. Another option is our Fortitude Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/) which combines strength and endurance on a 5 day/week training schedule. You’ll strength train 2 days/week, run 2 days/week and ruck run 1 day/week.

Fortitude was a cycle we “lab ratted” during the Operator Sessions this summer.


Bought my first training plan today and have a substitute question. I’m starting the big 24 program but will have a hard time doing the shuttle runs due to the facility. Do you have and good tip on how to incorporate a rower or a ski-erg as sub ?


Best – go outside and use the parking lot, or grassy area, or side walk. That’s what we do. Know that 25m = 82 feet. Measure it.

Next – 60/60 intervals – 60 second row/ski, 60 second rest.

But it’s best to run.


Just got one of 65 slots for the Mavic Trans-Provence Enduro Mountain Bike race in France next summer (http://www.trans-provence.com/).

I am sure you are familiar with Enduro Mountain Bike racing but just so we are on the same page, they are typically multi day stage races, where only the downhill is timed, but you must still complete the “transition” stages of climbs to the next downhill. One can expect about three of these “Up-Downs” per day and in the case of the Trans-Provence, six days of this in the Alps.

I would like to discuss timing for a training plan for this with you and also, what plan you would suggest or create for it based on the fact that I have only the standard gym set up to train. (no GHD or any specialized equipment).

My schedule up til the race is as follows:

  •   Full time student through mid May 2015 (living in Asheville NC, can ride year round)
  •   Spring break March 28 2015- April 5 2015 (could use this for long days on bike)
  •   Going to go out to Crested Butte Colorado and stay/ride/train/acclimatize  with friends out there from Jun 1 until I fly to france around the 20th of June 2015.

My thoughts on the plan would be to do about a two month strength session starting around the new year, and then transition into more sport specific with a day of strength maintenance for the rest of the season (other races after the trans-provence).

A little more background on myself. Used to work out with Ed and Dave at Mil-Athlete as well as the NSCA in COS when I was still in the service, so I am familiar with your work. Have been through the USAW Sports performance coach weekend. Was an Army Special Forces Medic with a bunch of self study on strength and conditioning.

Please let me know what you think and if you have the time to help me develop something for this. Also, cost wise, what we would be looking at. Could throw the Mountain Athlete logo on my jersey for some international recognition as well if you are interested in that.


Congrats! So much fun!

Training Plan? – Sorry, but no. We took a look at this and it seems true fitness component is the uphill work, but because it’s not a timed portion of the event, there’s no hurry. If you were unable to ride all winter, I’d have you spinning, but because you can – uphill riding, combined with packing together 2-5 days of uphill/cross country and down hill work will help prepare you.

It seems your success will be of a technical nature – fast downhills. There’s certainly a fitness component – esp. upper body and grip, but technique is paramount. Think this through – and identify your technical weaknesses and strengths, and dial training around these.

I certainly woudn’t avoid riding for a couple months.

I’d recommend gym-based strength training during your winter riding – 2-3 days/week – our In-Season Strength Program for Endurance Athletes: http://mtntactical.com/shop/in-season-strength-training-plan-for-endurance-athletes/


I’m excited to write this email, because this will be the second military athlete program I have completed. The first being the Afghanistan pre deployment program. I am currently on a rest day anxious for week 4 of the Hypertrophy program. I have been following the meal plan and eating everything I can and can tolorate. As far as protein and peanut butter I just resupplied myself with the help of friends and family in the states. I wanted to get advice from the man himself, on what workout would be beneficial to keep gaining size and overall strength and durability.  I went from 134 to 148lbs. I recently scored a 300 on a pt test here in Afghanistan about a week ago with my 2 mile time sitting surely at 11:52. I’m happy with where I’m at for running that has always been part of a weekly schedule. What program(s) though would you recommend for me, whether it be part of LEA, MA, or MA it doesn’t matter to me. I’m actually looking into SWAT once I leave the military this next summer. Look forward to hearing from you!


After the Skinny Guy Plan you need to move back to strength and work capacity/endurance. A great plan to do next is Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/


I was looking through your plans and wanted to ask your opinion about training for Winter Death Race. I’m planning on purchasing your USAF PJ plan to train before selection and was wondering if you thought that would be an appropriate prep for WDR as well or if there is another set of programming you think would make more sense.


The USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan will prepare you physically as good as any for your event. My understanding of the WDR is it’s more exposure, cold, sleep deprivation than a pure fitness event.


At the moment, I am unable to make a sandbag to use for getups (for max reps in ten minutes @ 80#). Would you recommend turkish get ups as a viable substitute, and if so, what weight kettlebell?


No on Turkish Get Ups – your shoulder fails too early. Best to build a sandbag. Many have done this.

Next – hold a 16 or 20kg Kettlebell with one arm in the rack position.


Quick question about which program to begin with.  I am 33 year old that hasn’t been making PT a priority in the last year.  Currently in an assignment that is less tactical, but keeps me busy. To be completely honest, the last month I was getting in about 2-3 days of PT, mainly focused on intervals and PU improvement for my APFT. Took an APFT today – squeeked out  54 pu, 63 su, and ran a 14:47- not a surprise.

Heading out in a couple of weeks for a long tour, I will have access to a complete gym. Will make 1-1.5 hrs a day priority for PT, with time to squeak in PU/SU/Pulls throughout the day. But someday’s will get stepped on.

What program do you recommend that I start with – was thinking “Ramp-on” or Bodyweight, or the Busy Operator Training Plan (not sure I am ready with that one.) Don’t care much about APFT scores for another year, but definitely want to max when I get back.  My focus is more on total fitness level, and think the APFT score will improve if I do things right. Appreciate any guidance you can push.


I’d go with the Bodyweight Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-i-training-program/).

This program is no joke, and a great way to kickstart your fitness.


I got one of your programs from Mtn Athlete a while back and had great luck with it.  I hope you’re well.  Here’s my question.  I’m back climbing after rehabbing a shoulder injury.  During rehab I did a bit of powerlifting and bulked up significantly (up to 195).

Over the last 9 months when I’ve been back climbing I’ve been losing a lot of BWT.  I’ll eventually come in and settle back down at my climbing weight (about 160).

Once I’ve done that I’d like to do a cycle of yours to regain a bit of overall balance, body strength and GPP. Falcon and Strength and and Honor looked to be possibilities to my uneducated eye but you’re the expert.

I’ll still be climbing hard and I will want to keep my weight down.  I tend to muscle up quickly when weight goes on the bar. Thanks!


I’d recommend Falcon (http://mtntactical.com/shop/falcon-training-plan/). This plan combines work capacity and strength, with just a little endurance tossed in. It should help keep you strong while still driving your work capacity and cardio.


I am a future special operations soldier with the Army and I am currently in the Medic’s course. I want to do the run improvement program but I also want to get stronger/bigger.

I run a 13:45 – 14:00 minute 2-mile on the APFT. My last push-up raw score was 75 and sit-up was 80. I am 5-11 165 pounds and have a pretty good strength to weight ratio but have been hopelessly skinny for my whole life despite have a decent sized frame. I just can’t seem to keep the muscle on. I have several other programs from military athlete that I like the looks of, including:

  • Hypertrophy for Skinny Guys – Have ben leaning towards this one
  • Strength and Honor
  • Ultimate Meathead
  • Military Work Capacity
  • Squad PT
  • Military Athlete Stamina cycle

I want to know what you would recommend at this moment. I am still in the school house so I don’t have the luxury of just focusing on getting jacked because the cadre like to randomly have us to PT for no other reason than to smoke us. There is no programmed PT it’s all on your own. Any help you could give would be great.


I’d recommend Ultimate Meathead: http://mtntactical.com/shop/ultimate-meathead-cycle


I am interested in trying one of your programs, but not sure where to start.  I am not doing any consistent training or working out right now, but I am a runner and not overweight.  I like to run, play competitive soccer (weekly) and golf.  I would like to build overall body strength with an emphasis on core and legs.  What would you suggest?  I am 34 yrs old, 5’10” 160lbs.


Start with our Bodyweight Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program/

Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this program is no joke, “core/leg focused,” builds serious strength and is great intro to our programming. It’s also a great way to prepare for one of our weightroom focused strength plans.


I’m interested in learning more about your subscription program. Looking to get an idea of what it encompasses, your website has given me a good idea of what equipment I would need. I’m a wildland firefighter and really looking for a program that meets my training/improvement needs in a comprehensive manner. Thank you for your time.


I’m heartened to see more interest from the Wildland Firefighting community. I’ve done a little work with athletes in your line of work, and we’ve built some pre-season training plans for Wildland Firefighters (http://mtntactical.com/shop/wildland-firefighter-pre-season-training-plan/) and a more intense pre-season training plan for Hotshots and Smokejumpers (http://mtntactical.com/shop/hotshot-crewsmoke-jumper-pre-season-training-program/). These are super intense training plans and reflect the seriousness of your work – but have not gained traction in your community.

Just recently I was contacted by a Hotshot team in Colorado interested in some formal, off-season training. I’m hoping they follow through. This team is talking about developing a fitness assessment with a pass/fail component team members have to complete and pass when they report in the team.

What is interesting about Wildland Firefighters is they share many of the same fitness demands as the military athletes we work with (load carriage, sprinting/high work capacity, core strength, rucking ability, upper body and grip strength) as well as many of the fitness demands of the mountain athletes we work with (legs and lungs for uphill hiking, large aerobic base). Also, similar to many in the military, the traditional training modes have focused on distance and trail running, and bodyweight calisthentics.

Back to you now – coming off your long season, and still having some time before you start again, I’d recommend a training plan with a strength focus, or a hybrid program with a big strength component. I’d recommend a plan now, and then dropping into our daily sessions, likely the Military Athlete Operator Sessions, following.


I just finished up a selection program of yours and am going to get back on strength specific. Does your monthly subscription allow access to plans like the 357 and other strength specific plans or do you recommend them being purchased separately?


Sorry no. A subscription to the website gives access to all of our daily programming and most of the archives – Mountain (Ice, FreeSki, Rock), LE Sessions, SSD (general fitness) and Military (Operator Sessions). Individual training plans have to be purchased separately.

With a subscription you can look back in the archives and find a recent strength cycle, and start there, or purchase one of the strength plans from the plan store.

All are proven – Rat 6, 357, Big 24.

We also just published a killer plan we’ve used successfully with high school athletes under our Prep Strength Program, Maximus (http://mtntactical.com/shop/maximus-strength-power-training-plan/). It’s an awesome strength/power/hypertrophy plan. Full on meathead stuff!!


I have followed your program in the past, to get me ready for Ranger school and 2 deployments to Afghanistan, both with great results.  I am a soon to be Infantry Company Commander who has utilized CrossFit in the past, but hate what the programming has become with the new found popularity.

So my question for you is – are the operator sessions right for me?  My goal is to be able to physically outwork my younger Lieutenants in all aspects of fitness while still being able to run 5K/10Ks and max out my APFT.  I would imagine the answer is a resounding YES! But I wasn’t sure if you would recommend a different program of yours, or if operator sessions are what I am looking for.  If so, I will sign up for an account today!


The Operator Sessions are designed as day to day programming for SOF guys and others who can deploy at anytime. Tactical fitness demands are different than the type of fitness it takes to run your best 10k or max the APFT.

As a professional soldier, absolutely I feel the Operator Sessions should be your day to day training programming, but when you have an APFT coming up, you’ll want to focus on push ups, situps and the run for 2-3 weeks directly before it – if you want to do your best.


Reaching out for guidance.  Had planned on completing the SFAS packet in prep. Couple things went south.  Got hurt, required surgery.  I am looking to gear back into it on the first week of DEC.  SFAS date is end of May of 15.  Gives me roughly 6 mos.  Last year has been hit or miss with training because of injury, and I have severely atrophied both strength and work capacity (even doing one arm, etc.).  I am thinking the following to success and want your opinion.

  • 6x week: On Ramp w/ run improvement at week 3-6 (watch for over training)
  • 1 total rest week
  • 8 week: Rat6 w/ Ruck improvement at week 3-6
  • 1 Total rest week
  • 8 week SFAS ruck plan

There is a built in 7 day buffer to play around with rest periods throughout the training cycle to watch for overtraining.

The current versions of the plans are as follow (do you have new ones?)

  • On Ramp – V.1? (2013)
  • Rat6 – Need to purchase
  • Ruck Based – V.4

If over training becomes a issue I will play around with the Run/ ruck improvement plans as I prep. Final question:  Should I look at different plans/ training cycle then I already have?  I am starting at a low base of fitness due to injury.  Only room to play is something other then rat 6 for strength as I feel I could benefit from On Ramp due to my current state, but I respect your opinion on the matter. Look forward to your guidance.


Your plan is solid. Only change I would make is to change Rat 6/Ruck Improvement to Fortitude – which combines strength, and military-endurance (running and ruck running). Link: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/

Your plans are latest versions so you’re good there. Good luck!


I really like what you guys are doing at Strong Swift Durable. I had purchased the Body Weight I training program, and it has really helped with my overall work capacity (the Leg Blasters are a killer!!). So I am currently training in order to get a contract for special operations through Naval Special Warfare, and my concern with developing a proper training program is always whether I am doing to much or not doing enough. From your knowledgeable experience what is the better way to train for muscular endurance (i.e. greater numbers for push ups, sit ups, and pull ups), more frequently through out the week with less volume during each exercise session or more volume during each exercise session with less frequency throughout the week? Please help me with this so I can become a better SEAL candidate.


It doesn’t make a difference, but a couple things to consider:

(1) Progression – you have to keep adding load to improve fitness. Load can be more reps, or more weight.

(2) Everything works, but nothing works forever. Eventually you’ve got to change things up.


I am going to purchase a subscription for a year, but need some help choosing some of your plans.  I am a Border Patrol Agent that tried out for BORTAC this year, but had to drop due to a neck injury.  I felt pretty good prior to the injury, however, I want to go back even more prepared.  I am wondering what are the specific plans you would recommend in addition to your subscription service.  I have until October of next year.


Couple Options:

1) Subscribe to the Operator Sessions and complete these until 8 weeks out from selection, then cancel and complete the BORTAC Selection Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bortac-selection-training-plan/

2) Start with the OnRamp Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/on-ramp-training-plan/, then follow the plan progression in the Ruck Based Selection Training Packet (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-packet/) but finished with the BORTAC Selection Plan directly before selection.


Was wondering what is the difference between the Valor and Fortitude Plan, which is better for prepping for the Ruck Based selection or Q course plans. Also a USMC scout sniper indoc what is is a good order or group of plans to do have about 17 weeks to prepare. Indoc as to my knowledge is tons of PT ( pushups, pullups, situps etc.), log PT, running in full gear and rucking long distance ( at about 100lbs) Was planning on doing Ultimate meat head to build back strength, then Fortitude or Valor, and then to finish Ruck based selection or q course.


Main difference between Fortitude and Valor is the running and rucking distances. Fortitude’s running and ruck rucking are longer, but at a moderate pace. Valor’s running and ruck running are shorter, but at a threshold pace. Fortitude is better to prepare the for the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan.

Your plan going in is solid. Ultimate Meathead to Fortitude to Ruck Based Selection.

Links: Ultimate Meathead:http://mtntactical.com/shop/ultimate-meathead-cycle/

Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/

Ruck Based Selection: http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-plan/

Good Luck!


I saw that you have training plans for 50 and 100 mile ultras. One of my longer-term goals is to run the Spartathlon, a 145-mile race through the mountains of Greece. What modifications to the 100 mile plan would you suggest, or would another plan be more suitable?


I’m sorry, we just don’t have experience with that distance and I’d hate to wager a guess. Obviously we’d want to add to the mileage in our 100 Mile Ultra plan, but how much, without overtraining you, I’m not sure. Wish I could help more.



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