Q&A 1/8/15


Questions include: what to use to fill sandbags, how to deal with intense soreness, rest day philosophy, how long to hold stretches, hang squat clean vs. hang clean in Big 24, and more…
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I read SSD at least every other day.  Your post on BIG BOY RULES really struck a chord.  As you know, my entire adult life was involved with Marine Corps Force Recon, Special Operations, and MARSOC.  I served in every billet from Recon Team Point Man to Joint Special Operations Task Force Commander.  I commanded at every commissioned rank and – by my count – have gone through 3 rigorous selections and about every major SOF school.

You could not be any more accurate in your evaluation.

The challenge is to program the time.  As you know, the life of a SOF man/woman is pretty full.  There are some who feel that PT time is a spot in the training schedule in which one can get some “me” time.  But what occurs is what you stated:  people gravitate toward something they like to do.

Your comparison to marksmanship is perfect.  In today’s world, we have much to choose from with regard to sights, mounts, sling, etc.  But marksmanship is based around sight alignment and sight picture combined with trigger control.  Basics still rule.  Just like in physical training.  The “combat chassis” will always matter…

The best thing – the absolute best thing – we ever did was to gravitate toward the strength coach.  While at MARSOC, the best one I worked with was a young female – talented and no-BS – who ran us (everyone) through the workouts.   It was comprehensive; competitive (because we are built that way); and cohesive (because everyone is there).

You hit on the challenge:  being away from the unit.  But if the “buy-in” is there, they will maintain.  And get right back into it when they return.

In my JSOTF, we went through the Big Game Hunting Program you designed twice.  I had that one with me and so we did it.  Super cohesion builder and it paid dividends in operations.  The Leg Blasters and Step Ups are still talked about when guys contact me.

Capability is PERFORMANCE UPON DEMAND for SOF.  I sent your article to several young operators I advise this morning.  I told them that “the number one BIG BOY RULE is to execute the workout prescribed…”

Awesome article Rob.

And SF45 is great.  Keep it coming.

(Read the article HERE)



I bought the body weight program and I am not sure about one of the exercises. What is the 1/2 pull up? It says to do one every 30 Sec. Couldn’t find it on the exercises page.  Second question is can the range fitness carbine plan be adapted to pistol?


1/2x Pull up = 1 for women, 2 for men.

Range Fitness – yes and no. We’ve used the theory with pistols effectively. But you can’t adapt that plan for pistols. I’ll publish a pistol plan hopefully early summer.


I’m hoping you can help me find a workout plan, I’m not sure what direction to go.

I just started working out again(I was in a car accident) so my number are pretty weak right now. I will be applying for PJ pipeline in September so I was going to buy that plan but I do not have access to a pool right now so didn’t know if the plan would work as planned.

What I was looking to do is get a plan that will improve my running, push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups but also do some weight lifting, what would you recommend? One last thing I was doing the 5×5 lifting program but doing squats really hurt my hip flexor, I’ve been stretching it and using a foam roller but nothing seemed to work so any pointers on that?


I’d recommend you start with our Bodyweight Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-i-training-program/

Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this plan is intense, and a great way to re-commit your body and mind.

Hip Flexor – I’m not a doctor and am not sure. You could have an injury. I’m sorry.



I am 210, 5’6.  Former college wrestler.  Current active duty army. I am doing the operator sessions since Dec 1. I have seen great gains in performance and truly enjoy getting my ass handed to me on these. I can complete but it’s great when I am done.

2 questions:

1)  weight loss – I can tell the shirts are getting tighter in certain spots but no weight loss.   Is there any nutrition advice/plan?

2)  4 days a week. Just as the schedule says.   I am trying to get down to 190 this summer and doing 4 a week is not enough.  Should I add a SSD day or what would you suggest?


Eighty percent of body fat is diet. Start by cleaning up your diet. See here for our nutritional guidelines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGs2tnMQJlc&list=UUiTR_zJV0cB8l8qSBYya-eg

You can also read there at our FAQ: http://mtntactical.com/military-athlete/military-faq/

You can certainly add in some additional training – but not strength work. Start doing some distance running.

Not sure your build – you must look like a fire hydrant …. – but at 5’6″, I’d like to see you at 150-160#. Perhaps you could get down to 175#. You’re going to lose strength and mass, but my sense is you’re overpowered now, and that 40-60# of extra mass like like running and rucking with a heavy ruck.




I am preparing for Air Force Combat Rescue Officer selection and I was wondering how much success you’ve had with your CRO/PJ selection program.  Is that the plan I should go with or would something else be better suited?  Thanks


Yes on the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/



I’m completely sold on the new Big 24, it’s worth the 40$. I’m replacing the lunges with hinge lifts. I do have 2 questions:

Did you use Hang squat cleans just because the plan is designed for a commercial gym? Or you actually wanted Hang cleans? I do have access to a powerlifting gym.

Also can prioritize the cleans over the hinge lifts or even squats? Here’s the reason: I’ve been out of Ranger Battalion for sometime now but I guess I will always be a Ranger! We don’t understand the concept of going “hard but doable”. I tried the first 2 sessions from the plan and I stacked as much weight as I can, then slapped a weightlifting belt and added as much as  possible for me! So by the time I got to the hang squat cleans, which my weakest, I was smoked. I would like to get the cleans out of the way before the deadlifts.

On a completely different subject, have you considered using “stiff legged deadlifts” for the hingelifts? They look like what Mark Riptoe describes as stiff legged. You mentioned the nomenclature issue in a video. Just a thought.



Hang Squat Cleans – I feel the squat clean versions are a better total body strength exercise than the power exercises – like a hang power clean.

Prioritize the Cleans? It’s up to you. The last exercise will always be the most intense.

Stiff Leg Dead Lifts? No – I like the hinge.



Just had a few questions about your online training programs.  I am basically trying to figure out which program I should follow. I do not ski professionally but am a weekend warrior snowboarder/splitboarder and downhill biker . I am looking for something that will allow me to perform well and give me overall good fitness. So my question is would I be best to follow SSD?

Also, while I have most of the gear you have listed on your website at my disposal, I do not have a GHD a tire or rope. Are there options for exercise substitutions?


For recreational mountain athletes, I’ve got a couple general guidelines:

  1. In general, as you get closer to your sport season, the more sport specific you want to get with your training.
  2. Don’t let soreness or fatigue from gym-based training affect your outside performance.

Here’s my ideal situation for your Snowboard season:

  1. 10 weeks out, be a subscriber to the SSD sessions for general fitness.
  2. 6 weeks directly before your get on the snow, cancel or suspend your subscription and complete the Dryland Ski Training Cycle: http://mtntactical.com/shop/dryland-ski-training-program/ This program works for snowboarders too. Our pro snowboarders train right alongside our skiers.
  3. When the season starts, either drop back into the SSD sessions – being sure to take Friday off for the weekend, or do the In-Season Ski Maintenance Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/in-season-ski-maintenance-training-program/

After snowboarding, drop back into the SSD sessions to build back up your general fitness.

Exercise subs:

  • GHD: Do 2x in situps. So if the session calls for 10x GHD situps, do 20x regular situps.
  • Rope: 1x Rope Climb = 3x Tarzan Pull ups.




Hope 2015 finds you well. Deployed to a spot with zero weights or equipment. Already completed Bodyweight I and Endurance (run, ruck) programs.

Impressed with results, want to keep the same flavor. I have Bodyweight II and am leaning towards doing that with the following adds:

-adding IBA  to 2nd round of training on MON and FRI

-Replacing WED running with continued progression from the run/ruck Endurance to

  •        wk1 = run 6mi, ruck 3mi
  •        wk2 = run 6.5 mi, ruck 3.5mi
  •        wk3 = run 7mi, ruck 4mi
  •        wk4 = run 7.5mi, ruck 4.5mi

Thoughts, suggestions?


Looks good. With the IBA …. be conscious of your low back – esp. with exercises like burpees, shuttle sprints, etc.



Yesterday morning, I broke my Tib and Fib, tore all the ligaments in my ankle and dislocated it as well. I had surgery last night and had two screws put in. Doctors assess 6 months recovery. This is essentially the worst thing that I could hear seeing as I consistently train using your programs once if not twice a day. Are there any programs that you recommend that I purchase or other things that you think I could do until I am operational again? Keep in mind, I have my right foot in a splint up to my knee and it can bear no weight. Thanks in advance Rob. I value your opinion and expertise and want to be back in the gym as soon as possible which is why I am giving you a holler. I look forward to hearing from you.


Give it 2 weeks total rest. You’re going to be dealing with pain and the shock of the surgery/injury.

During PT you can train the rest of your body around your leg with our Training Plan for Athletes Suffering Leg Injury: http://mtntactical.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-from-leg/

This plan isn’t a rehab plan for your leg – rather it works the rest of you. Many athletes have completed it on crutches. It’s no joke.

After PT – when you’re cleared to start working the injured leg, I’d recommend our Post-Rehab Training Plan for Leg Injuries: http://mtntactical.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/

This plan helps bridge the gap between PT, and full on training.

Injuries are always opportunities. There’s opportunity in this for you, but you have to find it. By “opportunity” I mean something different than coming back stronger – that’s easy – the real opportunity lies somewhere else in your professional development or personal situation. One huge gift injuries give is time to think, reflect and plan. Take advantage of it.




Could you give me a brief explanation on difference between fortitude and valor programs? I’m interested in them. I just finished operator ugly program with 20% gains. Many thanks.

I’m going to do your ruck-based selection program in early summer prior to sealift kokoro camp but want to do something before then.


The running/rucking portions of Fortitude focus on building aerobic base – longer, easy to moderate paced efforts.

The running/rucking portions of Valor are focused on higher intensity intervals and movement over ground. You’ll be doing hard running and rucking 1-mile intervals with the pace dictated by an assessment.

There are also differences in the strength work and gym stuff – but cardio portions are the important differences for your purposes.

I’d recommend Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/



Two questions for you, partially related to each other. I’ve begun my third week of the v2 BUD/s training program. I modify the swim sets to make it more individually challenging, but overall, I love the plan. It’s great to have this focus and direction again. Anyway:

1) Accelerating pushups. This is my weakness, as I mentioned in a previous email. I’d like to do some additional work, but am never quite sure how to approach it. There are various things I’ve tried: pyramid sets, setting a number to reach over the course of the day, a certain number of pushups on the hour every hour, interval sets, etc. But I’m curious, what would your suggestions be?

2) Next, what is your philosophy for rest days? I have the “go the extra mile” mentality, and my best leisure time is spent doing active things in the outdoors, but I think this can also result in overtraining (not good). Going off the first question, I could do pushups all day everyday, but would likely not be allowing myself to recover properly. How ought to incorporate this into the v2 plan, do you think?



1) Follow the plan as prescribed.

2) Total rest or super easy active outdoor stuff on the rest days. You get more fit not by training, but by resting from training.



I noticed in one of the recent Q and As that an SASR Program was in the works for 2015. When do you think that would be released and would it differ much from the Delta Program?

Just a bit of background – I’ve applied for the 2015 SASR selection, which is due to start in 02 May. I attempted selection last year, but was dropped on the 5th day.


I hope to design an SASR program this early winter, but if I don’t get to it in time, I’d recommend the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-plan/) instead of the SFOD-D plan. The team and other events you’ll face at SASR are better covered by the Ruck Plan.




Myself and a group of friends are planning to do our first peak bagging trip in December 2015 at Mount Marcy, NY.  We are all either active duty or previously served in the military and have followed your programming for about 4 years.

What programming would you recommend for the train up from now until the trip a year from now?  Thank you.


Six weeks out from your trip, do the Peak Bagger Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/peak-bagger-training-plan/



I am beginning to train for the GORUCK Heavy in May and found a link to your site, suggesting that I purchase one of your training plans. However, I am unable to figure out which plan is best suited for this race. Is it the ruck-based training plan? Could you help?

Also, what does a training plan come with besides a script of daily workouts?


We’ve built a training plan specifically for the GORUCK Heavy here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-heavy-training-plan/

This plan is a professionally designed, progressive, proven and sport-specific training program for your specific event. It’s no joke and not random. Good luck in May.



What do you recommend for treating fairly intense delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and should I modify the workout if I’m experiencing on a non rest day? I’m working through the most recent stamina cycle, so I’ll add Kudos because you are one sadistic bastard. Thanks again!


You should be sore. We’re training recovery. The first week, we are all pretty terribly sore. Still sore second week, but not as bad.

Fight through if you can.



I’m starting on the SFOD-D training packet. In the bodyweight training plan there are stretches listed right under the other exercises of the warm-up. So I understand that the exercises should be done i.e.. for 4 rounds, but are the stretches meant to be done each round as well, or just at the end of the 4 rounds? And if its done within the round, how long should the stretches be held…10-20 sec like demonstrated in the videos?


Do the mobility/durability exercise each round. It is your 10-20 second “working rest” between lifting sets.



I’m new to strength training but not to your programs. I just finished RAT6 and had some questions about the results I got. After the first 4 weeks all my lifts went up by at least 20lbs. My front squat went up by 40. After the second 4 weeks I only improved my deadlift and bench press, while the other 4 lifts remained the same. Is this typical for someone new to lifting?


In general new athletes will improve on a faster curve than experienced lifters. So your first 4 weeks was to be expected. I would have also expected to see your lifts go up the second 4 weeks also – but by a smaller amount.

Why didn’t yours? Not sure. Every athlete is different.




I’m a little late on dryland training for ski season.  I’m an east coaster and will ski three weekends in CO and Jackson end of this month and February, then a full week in Jackson in March then hopefully a few days in Alaska in April.  Which program should I do given that I’m starting late?


Dryland: http://mtntactical.com/shop/dryland-ski-training-program/



Is it okay to move on to the next workout for a given muscle group if you’re still sore from the last session you did with that same group? Or do you have to wait until soreness subsides?


Don’t wait. Jump in and work through it. You’ll warm up.



I’m a big fan of Mountain Athlete.

I am currently following the Ruck Based Selection plan; while I’m not in the military, I am training for trail running races, peakbagging and general fitness – this seems to fit the bill.

Unfortunately, I am currently rehabbing a hip flexor injury and my running has been limited. I was wondering how best to substitute biking and rowing for the prescribed runs and rucks (I have access to a trainer and an erg). Should I go off of the time it would take to run the allotted distance, or is there a better conversion factor?

Also, any advise on rehabbing a strained hip flexor would be much appreciated.


Use time for the conversion. This will work for the runs, but the rucks, because of the strength involves, aren’t as easy to sub for. But that’s what you have to do.

Hip Flexor – I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything for you there.



I’m currently working through your backcountry ski programme and really enjoying it, prior to a weeks skiing in February. I’m also planning on doing a weeks hut to hut ski trip in the alps at the end of March and wondered what your training advice would be.


Same Plan. Skinning/step ups will be the crux for the trip.



What is the best item to fill my new sandbag with?  I am just getting started.


Best is mulch made from ground up tires – available from home depot, lowes, or most garden stores.

We use pellets for wood stoves …. but these eventually get ground down and become dust…



I injured my right hand by spraining my thumb or possible tearing ligaments, I am headed to the orthopedic on Wednesday to find out the damage.  Either way what can I do to continue to work my upper body and arms with this injury?


We build this training plan specifically for athletes who injured an arm. The plan trains the rest of your body around the injury: http://mtntactical.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-arm-injury/



Just purchased your UMC program & started it today.  I have a couple of questions about the program & hoped you could answer them.  Thank you.

  1. Are the rest days ‘total rest’?  Would you not recommend swimming, yoga, bicycling, basketball?
  2. What is your recommendation time to hold a stretch (instep, lat + pec, 3rd world, etc..) during the workout?  I ask because we should be working briskly & don’t want the workouts to go over the 60-70 mins.


1) Total rest or easy active recovery.

2) 10-20 seconds.



I am planning to get the Falcon plan when I have access to a gym in 2 months but in the meantime have the above two plans. I really need to get my 2.4 km run time down as I have let it get away from me. I have completed both the bodyweight plans.

Can you combine elements from the run improvement plan into SB/WV/DB plan? E.G Adding a speed temp session to Monday and cycling through the speed/endurance sessions from the run improvement plan into the SB/WV/BW plan. I would most likely just complete the longer runs from the SB/WV/BW plan.

Your thoughts would be appreciated as I don’t want to do the Run Improvement Plan on its own.


Sure. Just watch for over training and be smart.

If running is most important – do it first, then do the session from the SB/WV/BW Plan later.



I’m wondering what plan you would recommend for selection for a UKSF unit which is similar to the activity, I know that the selection consists of a lot of squaded runs (including log runs etc), circuits and obstacle courses.


We’ve have several guys use the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-plan/) successfully for The Activity. This is the plan I’d recommend.



I’ve hit you up in the past, and have used several of your plans with great results!  I’m curious, I’m looking to compete in the Colorado Police and Fire games again this year, in the “Toughest Competitor Alive” competition.  I was wondering if you have any plans that you would recommend for training for that, or if you have any such plans in the works?  The event consists of eight events held throughout the day:  a 5k run, a 100m swim, a 100m dash, a Shot put, Legless 25m rope climb, max bench press, max pullups, and an obstacle course.  I’m a VERY good swimmer, so I’m not too worried about that short event.  Basically I’m looking for a plan that gets my work capacity up (for the obstacle course), gets my running times down, increases my pullup numbers, so on and so forth.  I realize this is a little specific, and totally understand that you probably get a million questions a day about training, but figured I’d ask anyways.  Keep up the good work, and thanks for all that you do.


No plans to build a plan for this specific event now.

From the plans we do have, I’d actually recommend the DEVGRU Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/devgru-selection-training-plan/) with some modifications –

  • 1) Change the Bench Press from bodyweight reps to Max Effort work.
  • 2) Shot Put – this will be as much technique as anything else. Get some coaching and practice!
  • 3) 100m Dash – practice this specifically. Again, technique and strategy will be important.



I am currently in FT Bragg, NC and a deployment is coming up again. If you remember I am avid Crossfitter but I will probably go to my grave saying that your programs are the best thing for the military hands down. I need your advice on this upcoming deployment. I am now looking to find a program for a BDE Staff plus HHC/HHB which is less focused on Afghanistan and more flat desert FOB life. We have about 8 months to prep so what can you provide that would best suit our needs? For Afghanistan you trained squad based PT and gave us Afghan prep.

We’ll be in Kuwait/UAE and we are a BDE Staff. We won’t be conducting combat patrols. What they need is endurance in terms of being able to be able to pull long hours in a Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and their ability to grab their own duffle bag and throw it on to a truck. If I could push a nutrition plan that doesn’t include gummy bears and energy drinks that would be nice as well.


Wow …. I’m not sure what to tell you here. There’s no mission set so any of our plans will work – but none of our plans are easy. To get your heads straight going in, I’d recommend Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/.

Understand this is full on, and may only be appropriate for your less motivated staff pukes.



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