Q&A 11/20/14

This week the questions include designing training for Helicopter Rescue Swimmers, the difference between Big 24 and Rat 6 strength plans, training around a leg injury, sample session from sandbag/weightvest/dumbbell plan, recommended reading for strength training philosophy, ruck run standards, and more!


I consulted you years ago about training specifics, building strength, and movement selection as a helicopter rescue swimmer. I highly respected your approach, ideas, advice and methodologies. I took your advice from those previous consults and poured myself into the books and have learned a great deal. Thank you for your inspirational leadership and direction!

Now, I am an instructor at the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer school and have two key responsibilities that your expertise/knowledge would greatly benefit. I will be redesigning the 24-week physical training program. Our school is broken down into 4 (6-week) specific phases:

  • Phase 1 serves as a build-up/INDOC with the goal of readying the candidates to pass the PT In-test (50x push-ups, 60x Sit-ups, 5x Pull-ups, 5x Chin-ups, 1.5 mile run, 500m swim, 4x25m underwater swim).
  • Phase 2 introduces and teaches all the rescue swimmer procedures (deployments, recovery methods, dealing with a combative survivor, and parachute disentanglement) where the students need physical training to enhance their buddy towing ability, finning endurance, strength-endurance and stamina.
  • Phase 3 introduces rescue strategy and tasks the students with multiple-person rescue scenarios that last in excess of 30 minutes. Students need great work capacity, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and mental fitness.
  • Phase 4 concludes all physical performance requirements, but continues with physical training. I have decided to utilize this phase as a rehab/restorative transition, preparing the graduates to head out into the fleet healthy and not over-trained.

Currently, we are having a reoccurring problem with students failing their push-ups. We are not able to supplement our training with external loading, and I am cautious to program an abundant volume to avoid overuse injury to individuals with weak shoulder girdles. Do you have any methods you have found to be helpful in increasing muscular endurance in this movement with all the military advising you have done?

The second responsibility I am involved in is creating a course (developing curriculum/content) for operational fitness training for RS’s in the fleet. It  will be a one week course (I attached a brief synopsis for your reference), as you will notice we have modeled the foundation around your theories on military athlete training. Again, I regard you and your experience/knowledge as a forefront leader in this realm where old school PT methods are slowly phasing out. My question regarding this element is how would you present a programming concept for individuals with no competitive season (unlike the military athletes you work with we don’t have deployments to build up to), but rather operate out of the burden of constant emergency readiness. I know that you periodize your mesocycles around specific objectives – work capacity, stamina, strength, etc. Would this change with our operational needs?

Lastly, it would be an honor to meet you and attend one of your advanced programming courses. Our command here focuses our training on sending us to the Athlete Performance (Exos) Tactical Mentorship programs level 1+2. We are also NSCA TSAC-F holders. So my request to attend your course was turned down do to resource allotment elsewhere. We’d like to attempt to pay out of pocket, is there any possibility two of us could travel out there for the price of one?

I recognize you’re a very busy man and your time is valuable, so thank you for taking the time just to read this. Any advice or feedback you provide will be utilized to the fullest.


Thanks for the great note and kind words. Way back in the early 1990’s, I was an Ensign on a buoy tender in Astoria, Or, (USCGC IRIS) and trained in the grungy weight room at AIRSTA Astoria. There were just two of us who regularly trained there every night – myself, and one of the Rescue Swimmers at the AIRSTA. I forget his name but this guy was a monster! We did lot’s of upper body work and running!

Answers for you…

Push Ups – we’ve had great luck running an assessment, and using that assessment for percentage based follow-on progression, 2-3x/week. The percentage progressions we’ve had luck with is 30%, 35% and 40% and we like to run each progression three times, then re-assess. For example,  say during your PT test I score 42 push ups. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’ll do the push up progression based on my assessed total (42). Week 1 I’ll do 5 Rounds of 30% push ups ( 42 X .30 = 12.6 or 13x reps) every 60 seconds, then on round 6, do max reps possible (rest as needed) in 60 seconds. Week 2 I’ll do the same thing at 35% and week 4 at 40%. Then re-assess and start over again.

Programming – You’re operational demands are not dissimilar from urban firefighters and busy LE Athletes in the sense that there is no real down time. However, there are likely much busier times of the year depending upon the AIRSTA location – and you could almost treat these busy periods as a “season.” However, for all practical purposes I’d recommend you cycle through mesocycles like I do for our military and LE Athlete programming, interspersed with a 2x/year or 1x/quarter fitness assessment. For example, my Operator Sessions Lab Rats will take Operator Ugly next Monday and we generally take it 2x/year.

It’s the assessment which adds some focus to your programming, and helps bring you back in line if you lose focus by exposing weakness areas. For example, if we do too much strength training with the Operator Sessions  it’ll show in poor performance on the work capacity and endurance events in the Operator Ugly.

The key, and controversial part of this, is developing a solid fitness assessment for operational Rescue Swimmers. My recommendation would be to make it a “suggested” fitness assessment coming from the school instead of jumping through the administrative hoops, and operational resistance to a “required” assessment with jeopardy. Design the assessment around the fitness demands of a rescue mission, and add in some basic general fitness and strength elements. I’m assuming this assessment would have a strong swimming and run endurance component, loaded, swim-based work capacity effort, relative strength events, etc.

The process of identifying the fitness demands of a rescue mission, and the fitness events for the assessment which reflect these demands will help focus the emphasis and design of your mesocycles. For example, just like Rangers and Green Berets should never get too far from rucking, your guys should never get too far from the pool.

Getting back to your general question about programming around the “burden of constant emergency readiness”: (1) Deploy Fluid Periodization interspersed with your Rescue Swimmer Fitness Assessment to keep you honest; (2) If possible identify “busy” times in the operational schedule, and in the weeks prior, do a focused train up to prepare.

Advanced Programming Course – AP/Exos has a no-bid contract with SOCOM and several guys have attended, not learned much, and like you, struggled to get funding to attend on of my programming courses or bring us in to teach a course at the unit. We’re working to get on SOCOM’s radar and at least compete for this work and hopefully we’ll be in the running in the future. In the mean time we’ll continue to strive to be quiet professionals doing our best to program and teach guys like you. But I can’t give you a discount on the course tuition – for two reasons. First, it’s not fair to the others who have come on their own dime. Second – it devalues the course and there’s nothing else like it offered anywhere. I’m sorry.

We do have a SOF unit on the East Coast working to bring us out for an Advanced Programming Course. If that gets approved I can ask if others can attend and it might be an easier sell to your command.


Been doing MA since ’08; awesome. Currently deployed to Liberia, Africa and have ZERO weights and equipment.  We do have our body armor. I have 6 x of your programs; 2 x of which we can use here (APFT and bodyweight dated may 2013).

We’re about to finish up the bodyweight, don’t really feel the need to conduct pt test specific training. Any suggestions? I half thought about doing the bodyweight program in body armor over the next 4x weeks, reducing distance on the FRI run days.


I like the idea of doing the Bodyweight Plan in body armor, but not right after doing it unloaded. Mentally you need a break from that programming.

Another option now might be the Endurance Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/military-athlete-endurance-training-cycle/).

Instead of bench press you could do IBA push ups and/or handstand push ups. You could also do the pull ups in your body armor.


I am trying out for Ohio’s SF Unit in June. Part of their assessment weekend includes the Operator Ugly test. I am currently about to start week 2 of the On-Ramp Program. My question is this: When should I begin to take the Operator Ugly test? My intial plan was to start at 50-75% loads and increase until I can do 100% comfortably by June.


After OnRamp I’d recommend Big 24 (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/) to continue to build strength. Then the Operator Ugly Train Up (http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-ugly-train-up/).

If by the time you get to the Operator Ugly Train Up you’re still struggling to bench and front squat 185#, and hinge lift 225#, still do the trainup, but use 135# for the bench and front squat and 185# for the Hinge.

After the Train up, email me with where you’re at. Good luck!


For my crucible experience for 2015, I may  register for the GoRuck Selection (Aug. 20, 2015) or the Sealfit 5 day Comprehensive Academy followed by their 50 hour Kokoro camp (Aug. 22-30, 2015). I’ve included links below for the Sealfit camps.

Two questions:

How should I structure my programming leading up to either camp? I’ve done Kokoro camp once, but I really struggled with the running both on and off the beach. I’m not a strong distance runner. I went into the camp weighing 225#, at a height of 6’3″.  This leads to my 2nd question, should I shed weight and go in as light as I can regardless of which event I end up choosing?

I did just finish your Big Mountain program and I’m beginning your Valor program which will end right before my hike at the end of the year.

As always, thank you for what you do and for the help. http://sealfit.com/sealfit-academies/comprehensive/



Subscribe to and complete the Operator Sessions until 8-10 weeks out from either camp, then train sport specifically for that camp. The Operator Sessions have a strong and growing endurance component.

We have a GoRuck Selection Training Plan you could use for that event here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-selection-training-plan/

I’m not sure which of our training plans to recommend for the Sealfit camp – but you’re having done it before will  help you chose.

Weight – you should go in lean to either camp.

Finally – both of the camps are no joke, but manufactured. How about a self supported Caribou Hunt in Alaska? Or a Rim to Rim Grand Canyon Hike? Or fastpack the Wind River Range in Wyoming in 2-3 days? Or bike the White Rim in Utah?


I’ve read countless articles and have started your operator sessions a month ago in advance of the ruck based selection prep you have meant for SFAS. My inquiry is about stacking operator sessions with other training guides. I know your Ruck improvement states you can stack with operator sessions. My question is for how long? Meaning I need to improve my run and ruck times without injury. I have a 277 pt score and have been doing your body weight program in the mornings to improve my calisthenics. My run tends to be around 13:30/13:45 depending on the day. My 12 mile ruck is 2 1/2 hours in full kit with 35# pack, nothing spectacular. I’m at Fort Carson so it’s at roughly 6,000ft elevation. My selection date is next May so I have a good amount of time. I was thinking of doing the run improvement program one month with operator sessions and the next month do the ruck improvement and flip flop until 8 weeks out and hit the ruck based selection prep. In theory it sounds great, but knowing multiple SF cadre from GORUCK events they’re saying just stay healthy. I have “runners knee” in both knees after this last weekend (climbed pikes peak under weight).  I’ve rested this week other than Thursday’s workout but the double eagles and lunges put some strain on both knees.

Sorry for the lengthy message but do you advise flipping between ruck and run improvement with operator sessions prior to ruck based prep? Also, I would’ve bought your 9 month prep but my date is only 6 months out. You’ve always been a huge help, I greatly appreciate your work!


It somewhat depends on the cycle we’re in for the Operator Sessions. This current cycle, with it’s hypertrophy/strength focus, would be okay to double up with running. But next you’re dropping into a stamina cycle – which won’t be appropriate.

I’d recommend you go back in the Operator Sessions archive and begin with the 7.28.2014 Session – which is a 6 week strength/endurance cycle. You won’t need to supplement with running for this cycle, or the one that follows.


First, thank you for the free LE fitness training plan.  I start this coming Monday on week 1.  I have a couple of questions that I wanted clarified after watching your nutrition suggestions. 1: I think you said sweet potatoes are ok to eat correct? 2: What about peanut butter and cottage cheese? I’m hoping you say they are good to go lol! Thank you again for all you do for LE & Mil personnel and I look forward to your response.


Sweet potatoes are ok. Almond butter over peanut butter. I try to limit my dairy to cream in my coffee and some hard cheese.


I am currently serving in the US Army Infantry, and I was wondering what you would advise as being a good workout program for myself. I have tried traditional weight lifting and have found it at times not intense enough as I’d like it to be, I have also tried CrossFit, and have liked the intensity, but it seems as if there is no structure just purely random day to day workouts. I’m wanting to find a solid program that will enable me to become stronger, gain a little more mass, run faster, have more muscular and cardiovascular endurance. I am familiar with Olympic lifts, I am also a certified trainer of Mountain/Ranger Athlete Warrior. I just need more direction in the programming department. I apologize if I asked to much of you, and apologies for taking away some of your time. I just need some direction, so I can progress and better myself.

My current numbers in and body composition/lifts are:

  • HT: 5’11”
  • WT: 164.5lbs
  • Waist: 32″
  • Lifts:
  • Bench Press: 225 lbs
  • Dead Lift: 315 lbs
  • Clean: 155 lbs (need to improve form)
  • Snatch: 145 lbs (need to improve form)
  • Military Fitness:
  • 5 miles run: 34-35 minutes
  • 2 miles run: 12-13 minutes
  • 2 minutes push-ups: 64
  • 2 minutes sit-ups: 64
  • Pull-ups: 10 dead hang in a row


I’d recommend Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/). Valor represents my most recent programming theory and combines gym based strength and work capacity efforts with assessed, track based ruck run and running intervals.


Could you advise regards a decent program to improve my Obstacle Race performances please? I was considering the Falcon program. I operate out of my own garage gym. Any advice would be appreciated.


Falcon (http://mtntactical.com/shop/falcon-training-plan/) would be a good general fitness training plan for obstacle races – especially because of it’s focused short and mid-distance track work.

We’ve also built a Tough Mudder Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/tough-mudder-training-plan/) you could complete after Falcon.


If you have an opportunity I would like to get a recommendation on programming.

I’ve had success with your APFT program, enjoy outdoor activities (hiking, mountain biking, etc.) and generally do well on standard Army PT (I can grind thru pushups, sit-ups, rucks, and runs).  I’m active duty and at a position and rank that allows me time to workout on my own as long as I can perform on unit runs, APFTs, rucks, etc.

However, I’m not satisfied with my current fitness levels and I would like to increase my durability (I have started to acquire injuries as I’ve gotten older).   My goal is to utilize the operator sessions to maintain fitness.

As I’ve read through both your theory and program descriptions, I believe I need to work up to the operator sessions as the strength standards are outside my current fitness level, I know that I need work on my core/leg strength, and I know I need to learn even the basic weight room exercises.

I’m 6’4″ 190lbs with a general background in endurance/work capacity.

I was planning on progressing from Bodyweight to build leg and core strength, to Ultimate Meathead to gain weight and focus on strength as per your earlier replies to similar sized athletes, and then transition into the Operator Sessions.   I didn’t know if I should instead start with the On Ramp plan as I’m not a “new” athlete or starting from a poor level of fitness. I’m just not a strength athlete.  Would you have a different recommendation all together?

I apologize for the length of this email.  Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


I like having you start with the Bodyweight Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-i-training-program/), but follow it up with Big 24 (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/).


I’m coming off a long PT season and would like to get back into the gym for some strength work. I’ve been looking at some of your strength plans, specifically the big 24 and rat 6, and was wondering if you could explain the difference or point me to an FAQ where you’ve already answered this. I’m just looking for all around strength increase; weight gain is not the goal but it’s not a negative. Thanks for all your help thus far.


The difference between the two plans is the progression technique, and exercise menu. Big 24 uses a weight-based progression, and has a much smaller exercise menu build around Back Squat, Push Press, Hang Squat Clean, Walking Lunge and Bench Press. http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/ Rat 6 deploys a percentage-based progression, and has a larger exercise menu. http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/

We’ve had great success with both plans – both with us lab rats and athletes around the world. Both are intense – but in general, I’d say Big 24 is just a little more intense.


I am 41, 5’11” and 156 #. I purchased/did the hunting program, body weight, and then hunting again.  During the second go round on the hunting program, I followed your diet recommendations. I lost about 15 pounds and feel like I got more out it than I did the first time.  It totally prepared me for a week in Gallatin National Forest. I felt like a goat. I can’t imagine how well I’d have done without training with your program. I feel like I’m in the best condition of my life.  Thanks for the thoughtful work you put into your programs.

Now I’m looking to do something a little different.  No particular event goal. I don’t want to lose all the work capacity and endurance gains.  Suggestions?


Thanks for the note and glad you felt like a “goat”!! Hope you had a great hunt!

Do Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/ Awesome program deploys the most recent of my theory. Enjoy the heavy barbell work and the 1-Mile Ruck Runs!!


Is is possible to get a more info on the rando race training plan than what is on the web site before I purchase it?


The Randonee Race Training Plan (https://mtntactical.com/shop/randonee-race-training-plan/) is a sport-specific, endurance focused training plan which will have you spending hours skinning or ski bounding. There’s no gym-based training. In the programming we deploy endurance programming theory we’ve tested and proven with our randonee athletes.

Required equipment is a heart rate monitor, randonee equipment, and a stop watch. If you can’t skin, you can skin on a treadmill, and/or ski bound.

I’ve used a few of your programs to great success.  I’m now sidelined with a knee injury, no diagnosis yet (something is up with collateral/lateral ligaments I think).  It had been nagging for couple of months and just recently got much worse.  As you say, being injured is no excuse not to work out, and I agree and my sanity is at stake here so I need to figure out what to do.  At this point I’m hobbling around, very limited range of motion in the right knee and any kind of torque is very painful.  I had taken a break from running anyway but at least was able to ruck and row and now can’t do that.  Is your leg injury plan suitable for someone like me?  I will continue with the core strength plan but am worried about losing strength and and especially endurance.  I’m female, 43yo, and recently made it through a GORUCK challenge without too much difficulty.  I’d be grateful for your input.


Leg Injury Program (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/) isn’t a rehab plan for your bad leg, but rather trains the rest of your body around the injury. It’s no joke, and has a strength and work capacity focus. Endurance will be hard to maintain – what I’d recommend is swimming. The plan doesn’t include swim work, but our 4-Week Swim Improvement Training Plan would give you some focus: http://mtntactical.com/shop/swim-improvement-plan/

You could follow both training plans and alternate days – Monday in the gym, Tuesday in the Pool, Wednesday in the gym, etc….


I recently got selected to train as an Officer in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Program. I have been a long time user of your programs and am looking for a program that will help me in preparation for dive school (leave in January). After talking to the training Unit and comparing it to your plans, it looks like the Sandbag/Weight Vest/Dumbbell Training Plan might be the proper fit. I was wondering if you could give me a sample of the program so I can get a confirmation on if that is the path I should be following.

I have recommended your programs to everyone in my Battalion and will continue to do so. I appreciate your help.


Thanks for the great note and I’m glad our stuff has worked for you. Below are the first 3 Training Sessions from the plan:


Obj: Strength

Warm up:

  • 10 Minutes Sandbag Getup @
  • 40/60 (Aim for 50+ reps)


(1) 6 Rounds

  • 4x Sandbag Hang Squat Clean @40/60, then immediately ….
  • 2x Squat Jump (be explosive!)
  • Pigeon Stretch

** Don weight vest if Hang Squat Cleans are easy

(2) 6 Rounds

  • 7x Sandbag Lunges @ 40/60, then immediately ….
  • 2x Jumping Lunges
  • Hip Flexor Stretch

** Don weight vest if lunges are easy

(3) 6 Rounds

  • 5x Scotty Bobs @ 15/25#
  • 30 Foot Standing Rope Pull @ 40/60 Sandbag
  • Lat + Pec Stretch

(4) 3 Rounds

  • 30-foot Dumbbell Crawl @ 15/25#
  • 10x Good Mornings with Sandbag across shoulders @ 40/60
  • 60 Second Front Bridge
  • 40 Second Sandbag Hold @ 40/60


(5) 2 Rounds

  • Instep Stretch
  • Foam Roll Legs



Obj: Work Capacity

Warm up: 4 Rounds

  • 10x Squats
  • 10x Pushups
  • 10x Situps
  • Lat + Pec Stretch
  • Instep Stretch


(1) 5 Rounds for Time in Weight Vest

  • 5x Dumbbell Front Squat @ 15/25#
  • Run 200m
  • 10x Situps

*** Rest 3 Minutes ****

(2) 20 Rounds

  • 1x Burpee + Suicide Sprint every 30 Seconds

(3) 4 Rounds

  • 20x Situps
  • 30/5/30 Sean Special
  • 10x EO’s
  • 15x 1-Leg Calf Raise

(3) 3 Rounds

  • Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Pigeon Stretch
  • Foam Roll Quads and Low Back



Obj: Strength

Warm up: 4 Rounds

  • 5x Air Squats
  • 10x Burpees
  • 15x Situps
  • Instep Stretch


(1) 6 Rounds in Weight Vest

  • 5x Sandbag Back Squat @ 40/60, then immediately ….
  • 2x Squat Jumps (be explosive!)
  • Hip Flexor Stretch

(2) 6 Rounds

  • 5x Dumbbell Thruster @ 15/25#,  then immediately ….
  • 2x Burpees (be explosive!)
  • 3x Floor Slide

** Don weight vest if thrusters are easy

(3) 6 Rounds for time

  • 5x Sandbag Back Squat @ 40/60
  • 5x Squat Jump (unloaded)
  • 5x Clapping Pushups (go to knees if necessary)

(4) 4 Rounds

  • 20/20 Standing Founder
  • 20/20 Kneeling Founder
  • 10x Face Down Back Ext
  • 10x Hamstring Hell

(5) 2 Rounds

  • Instep Stretch
  • Foam Roll Low Back


I am 45 y/o looking to compete in a go ruck challenge in about 6 months. I have done mostly powerlifting for the last 30 years. With some cardio thrown in ie some 5 k 10 k and one  half marathon and a stint crossfit thing . My dilemma is this when I focus on cardio my strength diminishes and vice versa . I would like to become a more well rounded athlete as I feel burnt out on all of the heavy lifting. The volume of the goruck challenge workouts are too much for me right now. I am looking for a program that i can progress with so that the rucking demands and volume of the Grc program will not be so demanding when I start it prior to my event. And one that I can use year round after. What program  do you suggest???


Start with the On Ramp Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/on-ramp-training-plan/), and follow it up with the GoRuck Challenge Training Plan directly before your event (http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-challenge-training-plan/).

Does valor allow weight gain as well?


No. Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/) has a work capacity/endurance focus. It includes strength training, but not mass-building volume like the Skinny Guys Plan.


I’ve used MA off and on for the past, and recently got back into it. I love your programming, and I’m bigger, stronger, and generally fitter than I’ve been in a long time.

My question is in regards to the LSD runs. You typically program them for 5 miles. For some reason, I’m having trouble completing anything over 2.5 miles or so. It’s not a problem with my breathing endurance (even at relatively high paces, I’m not getting overly winded, and I’m recovering quickly), but it seems to be more a problem with my lactic threshold. By the time I hit two miles, my legs are in agony. Not cramping, just pure pain and burn. By the last half mile I’m barely able to keep moving. Once I stop running, it gets better.

Currently I’m 5’7″ at about 165# (give or take 5# depending on the day). Should I work on some interval training on run days? Or should I just keep grinding and hope the problem works itself out?

Thanks for your time and your incredible programming.


I’m not sure what’s going on. It could be you’re just starting out too fast, your running form sucks, you need new shoes… I’d suggest –

  1. New running shoes.
  2. Try running for 2 minutes, walking for a minute, and see if that helps. Never push into the pain area. Try this for 3 miles.


Hey Rob, I was just wondering if you had any book sugestions with respect to physical training and the theory behind it.


Four to get your started:

  • Athletic Development by Vern Gambetta
  • Movement by Gray Cook
  • Power Training by dos Remedios
  • The Coach’s Strength Training Playbook by Joe Kenn


I’m halfway through the second week of your Strength/Endurance Cycle that you started in late July, and I have a question about the ruck runs. Specifically, about pacing. I’ve done plenty of rucks before as a Marine, and enough on my own to be proficient at them; that is, I have the endurance to run without stopping, and I know how to pack my gear appropriately. However, I would like to know what a good overall pace is. I’ve heard some pretty ridiculous stuff about guys running eight minute miles with rucks, and I’m not sure I believe them. I ran the five mile ruck run yesterday in my full uniform (cammies and boots) with a 50 pound ruck and a 10 pound sledge. I ran over dirt roads and blacktop roads, with one or two long gentle hills. I came in a 1:06:21 for 5.06 miles. So that is roughly 1:06 for 5 miles, or about 4.5 miles per hour. In pacing, that equates to 1 mile every 13 minutes and 12 seconds.

It felt pretty good, without me having to put an excessive amount of effort into the run. I probably could have gone a bit faster, but not over a sustained distance like ten miles. The standard for guys training in the community I’m working towards is 1 mile every 15 minutes, or four miles per hour, to make the minimum standards. Obviously, I want to be far and away above the minimums, but I have no idea what a good time is. I came in about ten minutes behind your posted time, but I ran it in full uniform and boots, in 14 degree weather. Yours was in shorts and a t-shirt, and presumably it wasn’t quite as cold. So I am uncertain of where I really stack up. Can you elaborate on your standards for ruck runs?


I can make 11-12 minute miles on some of those longer rucks – and I’ve had two lab rats make a sub 7:30 min mile interval at 45# plus a sledge.

So yes, it’s possible. I know of some retired Green Berets who could ruck run 10+ miles at a 10 min pace. We had a Army Major visit us and he was running 1-mile repeats at around 8 min miles – was amazing!

You think it’s impossible until you see a guy do it – We all went faster after his visit – like he helped us break a psychological barrier.

The next cycle you’ll do includes a 3-mile ruck run assessment, and then follow-on 1-mile intervals based on your finish time. The pacing for your 1 mile intervals is faster than your 3-mile ruck pace – and it helps teach you to ruck run faster.

Standard? – I haven’t developed one yet – but I’m thinking the 10-12 min/mile pace for fit guys. Obviously load matters. I’ve kind of deferred to a 45# load, though we’ve used 60# also.

I have read lots of good things about your ruck based plan and several of your plans but cannot seem to find any information about the 9 month packet. Do you have any feedback from guys that used this to train up and pass selection that has not been posted.

P.S. I’m flying through your On Ramp Program and am loving it.

Not yet. We just put that together last summer.


1st thanks for the quality products.  I put your website out there to everyone that comes through my program if they want to better themselves as a tactical athlete.  Your programs and training have got me in the best shape of my life.

I’m writing you because I’ve been having a little trouble with my program this quarter and I want to make sure I’m doing all I can for my Soldiers.  I have the Soldiers that cannot quite get to the passing standard of our physical fitness test before the end of Basic Training.  So after 9 weeks if they can’t pass their run, pushups, or sit-ups they come to me.  The catch is we only have 3 weeks to do it.  We do a PT test everyMonday, 30-60 intervals on Wednesday, and 1 mile repeats on Friday.  We also incorporate pushup and sit-up drills into Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Tuesday and Thursday we do the Strength Training Circuit.  (Kettle bell circuit used in PRT).  Every afternoon we do a kind of recovery workout where they just walk or bike easy for 20-30 minutes.

Would you have any tips to offer or any advice you can give me.  I know the army is not made for everyone but I want to make sure they are given the best shot.  Some are good kids they just weren’t introduced to sports and other things like we were as kids.

Also if you know any psychological tricks such as, I’m trying this tomorrow, I’m running 1 mile repeats with them.  Males need to be able to run a 8:16 pace to pass their two mile event (18-21 scale) so I try and pace them at 8min or just under.  However tomorrow I’m going to lie to them.  Whatever time we come in at say it’s 8:20 first mile, I’m going to tell them if they hold that pace on Monday for their pt test they will run a15:48 or something.  I can’t go too far off that they won’t believe it.  I think what’s really holding them back is they see this stuff as something they physically cannot do even though they can.

Any thoughts or time you’d have I’d greatly appreciate it. Thanks again for your dedication to fitness.


Your plan seems pretty solid – the only thing you may want to add is 800m Intervals, and go longer than 2 miles – say 3 at an easy pace.

Also – you may be over training. We get stronger not from training, but from resting after training. Perhaps cut theTuesday and Thursday strength work, and do an easy run or something.

Psychological Tricks? All mine include some type of punishment, unfortunately. Say they are going to run 8x 400m. Time them on the first, then they have to beat their time each successive round. Penalty is another 400m.


I had a question about the Expedition Mixed/Ice training program.  If we have more than 8 weeks until a climb or if if we want to train year round, how would you incorporate this?  Thank you for your time.


More than 8 weeks out- you can repeat the sessions in the plan, or work on the progressions on your way up to your trip.


I’m selected to attend an HRT school thats a couple of weeks long. One of the team members said to focus my training on carrying a heavy load and body weight work capacity ( allot of “smoker” sessions throughout the day and night). I just purchased the FBI HRT plan, but  I would like to focus on the combat chasis and the bodyweight smoker sessions and remove the ruck running and ruck sessions. Can I replace the ruck sessions with bodyweight sessions without overtraining? Or what can I do to replace the ruck sessions? Would you recommend I get the Body weight workout 1 and use some of those sessions as replacement?


I’m not sure you need to buy another training plan. The FBI HRT Training Plan is specific to that selection – which is why you see the specificity.

Suggestions to use this plan:

  1. Drop the swim, rope climb and stair climb from the Session 1 PFT. Replace with (a) Max Air Squats in 60 Seconds and (2) Max Burpees in 60 Seconds, and (c) Max In-Place Lunges in 60 seconds. Do the situps, push ups, pull ups and 2 mile run. Follow the same progression as the push ups for the air squats/Burpees/Lunges in the follow on sessions.
  2. Drop the 10 Mile run to a 6 Mile Run. Stick with the follow on 2 mile repeats and run them 10% faster than your 6 mile assessment pace.
  3. Keep the front squat and bench press work
  4. Keep the 5 Mile Ruck Run – the 1 mile repeats are great for load bearing!!
  5. Don’t swim on Tuesdays. Move Monday’s PM running to Tuesdays, and follow with 4 Rounds of the Shoulder Blaster/stretch of your choice.
  6. Do Saturday’s Mini Events but don’t ruck run more than 3 miles.

Good Luck!


Hey guys love the programs.  Currently I am using the strength package, and was wondering which program is the best for dropping of the extra weight. Should I stay with what I am using While not back to my old strength numbers I am still at a decent level.  I am 36 years old, 6’3 and 270 lbs.  my bench is 345, military press is 225, clean is 245.  I have two bad disks in my lower back so it has taken awhile to get exercises using those areas back up.


At 6’3″, I’d like to see you at around 225 lbs. You’d likely loose some max effort strength getting down there, but your relative strength (strength per bodyweight) would shoot up and you would feel and move so much better.

I’m not sure how much of that extra 50# is muscle and how much is fat. For the fat, 80% is diet. Fix your diet and you’ll shed fat. Pls see our nutritional guidelines here: http://youtu.be/VGs2tnMQJlc?list=UUiTR_zJV0cB8l8qSBYya-eg

We don’t have a specific “weight loss” training plan. But with a good diet, the 369 Work Capacity Cycle would be a good choice from what we do have: http://mtntactical.com/shop/369-work-capacity-cycle/

Of the plans you already have in the strength packet, 357 Strength would be a good choice.


I am a soldier in the United States Army and I am going to CAG (DELTA) selection soon. I need a plan that encompasses and is centered around long distance ruck marches, stamina, and endurance. Any and all information that you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and help.


I built the SFOD Selection Training Plan specifically for the unit: http://mtntactical.com/shop/sfod-d-delta-selection-course-training-plan/ This 10 week training plan is designed to be completed directly before you report for selection.

Another option, depending upon the time you have before selection, is the SFOD Selection Training Packet: http://mtntactical.com/shop/sfod-d-selection-packet/ This collection of plans is designed to be completed 9.5 months out and concludes with the selection training plan.


I am currently in the process of taking the FBI PFT. I am interested in taking your FBI PFT training course, but I do have a few questions. I recently had a daughter so both time and money is limited. Is it absolutely imperative that I have the equipment listed? I do have a little gym at work. How much time a day should be dedicated to the workouts? Its only my wife and I taking care of her. Thanks.


The main focus of the FBI PFT Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fbi-special-agent-pft-6-week-prep-program/) is mostly focus on the PFT events, which don’t require equipment. But the plan also includes some general strength training that does. You can skip the general strength stuff, and/or substitute exercises the best you can with the equipment you do have.

Sessions are designed to be completed in 60 minutes.


I’m looking for a new strength based program to supplement a new PT program I am in at my Basic Officer Course. The PT is based on running, rucking, and the RPFT (generally one ruck run a week around 5 miles with a 5-10lb increase in weight per week, the other days include RPFT work and runs, with the occasional smoke session thrown in the mix). The PT does not involve lifting.

I’m looking for something to supplement this in the gym since the PT workouts are mostly cardio/endurance based. My goals are to increase strength and durability.

Your suggestions are always helpful.


I’d recommend Big 24: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/

This is one of our most successful strength plans ever, and could be done in conjunction with your PT. It’s leg/core/combat chassis focused, but also includes good upper body work. Just watch for overtraining with your PT, esp. ruck runs.


Im not sure which program to move into following a short break. Im in the Army and have worked up a pretty nice cardio base that I dont want to lose. At some point in the next 6 months I have the opportunity for a few good schools that require that base. I like the RAT 6 but dont want to cut out cardio. I really like the Fortitude Plan that I purchased last week. What do you advise? Also like Valor. I’ll await your guidance. Thanks for sll the work you do.


Fortitude now. Then Valor. Both have strong endurance components.


I have been recommended your site for a personal training programme. I am wanting to prepare myself for a British military selection course called Pcompany (British airborne). Can you please give me some information on how your services work etc?


Based on what I can learn about Pre-Parachute Selection, I’d recommend our Ruck Based Selection Training Program to prepare: https://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-plan/

This is a sport-specific training plan several have used for the type of selection you face.

I would recommend two changes to the plan however: (1) drop the long Saturday rucks. – I’m not sure those are needed for your selection, (2) Do 4 Rounds of the Shoulder Blaster (https://mtntactical.com/exercises/shoulder-blaster/) unloaded, at the end of the Tuesday and Thursday training sessions.

Good Luck!


I had a quick question about what training protocol I should follow. Im currently doing the on ramp plan after coming back after a period of inactivity.  Im not in military or law enforcement. Im a forester so Im in the woods a lot occasional with a pack.  My goals right not are to get stronger while also increasing my work capacity and overall fitness. I  want to “look” better, fitter and stronger as well. Which has a higher emphasis at strength goals the operator sessions or the ssd sessions.


Do the Operator Sessions.


Do you think I could add some running and pull ups to the GoRuck heavy train up? This will be my second time through it. Nothing crazy, just like a 60 min run once a week and some pull up intervals similiar to the push up and sit up ones. Thanks.



Subscribe to MTI's Newsletter - BETA