Q&A 2/27/15

Questions include:  What to do when repeating Bodyweight plan, how is the Alpine Fitness Assessment different from the Alpine Combine, how to improve my finning, what to do after On-Ramp, and what pack is best for rucking.

Rob answers the question of the week:


First and foremost, thank you for the wealth of knowledge and guidance. Using your MARSOC A&S program to prepare for it, I successfully completed and was selected at Assessment and Selection. Your program definitely prepared me and put me among the top of the class. Again, thank you.

When it comes to preparing for the Individual Training Course I have heard your program will translate well. Would you recommend the exact program or any tweaks other than adding finning?

Congrats! Good for you!

ITC? – I honestly don’t have a recommendation for you there. My sense is the A&S plan would be overkill, but don’t know enough about ITC’s fitness demands to say for sure.
I’m sorry.


On my 4th week of Bodyweight 2 and loving it. On my second go round what should I do? Just keep adding reps to week 4 workouts? Am going to start adding pistols to leg blasters starting with 1 on week one like you said. Anyway to add more normal pushups? Up my warmup reps? Thanks for the fantastic programming – can’t believe I’m getting these kinds of results with no equipment.


1) Buy a 25# weight vest and repeat the plan with the vest.

2) Move on to something different, but still low equipment. A great plan is the Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/sandbagweight-vestdumbbell-training-plan/


I just read the article on the Alpinist Fitness Assessment and find it very similar to the “Alpine Combine” from Training for the New Alpinism by Steve House and Scott Johnston. Given the number of climbers and alpinist you’ve trained I’m curious to know whether you’ve read the book and you’re thoughts on it?

Thanks for the great resource.


I have read “New Alpinism” and did see Coach Johnston’s combine. Mine is different in several ways:

  • Only one pushing assessment – Dips. We’re interested in the correlation between strict pull ups and strict bar dips – ideally, the numbers will be similar and reflect a strength balance between upper body vertical pushing (dips) and upper body vertical pulling (pull ups). Using bodyweight makes the loading the same.
  • Hiking ability assessment standardization and leg strength emphasis – Our loading for the step ups at 40#, regardless of athlete, is significantly higher then Coach Johnston’s. Also, strictly prescribing the assessment be 1,000 step ups at 16″ box is both more vertical feet (1,500 vs 1,000) and requires more strength (16″ step, heavier pack). It’s also longer – a fit athlete will finish this in 40-50 minutes, vs. 30 minutes for 1,000 feet.
  • Coach Johnston uses basic sit ups for his core assessment. I use sandbag getups – which I’ve found are a much greater functional assessment of core strength than sit ups. First is the loading, second is each getup is a flexion, rotation and extension core exercise – while a sit up is just flexion. Finally, each getup is also a lunge with 40 or 60# – i.e. more leg strength. Everything in the mountains begins with the legs. Also, this is a work capacity and mental fitness test – esp. after the previous 1,000 step-ups, and is aimed to reflect the long, high volume days for a alpine summit push.
  • The Bouldering V-Sum brings together in one assessment climbing-fitness (grip/forearm/pulling) and climbing proficiency. We’d expect high level alpinists to score in the 30-32  range for a bouldering V-Sum. This is 8x V-4’s, minimum. I’m not sure why Coach Johnston didn’t include a similar assessment – it could be he defines alpinism as non-technical walk ups. Athletes I’ve worked with have done both – walk ups like Rainier, and grip intensive technical summits like the Moose’s Tooth in AK. In general, I believe elite alpinists should also be accomplished climbers, both mixed and rock. The reason I didn’t include a mixed/ice assessment is equipment issues and standardization using tools.
  • The ending 12-mile run, at the end is a great test of overall endurance and, especially, stamina. Coach Johnston emphasizes endurance in his programming, but his combine doesn’t have an endurance component.
  • Finally, at 3.5-5 hours, my assessment is a true, long, stamina event – with different periods of loading, intensity and duration. Athletes will be beat down at the end …. like they would feel at the end of a long summit push.

In general, I believe Alpine events are “stamina” efforts, not “endurance” efforts as Coach Johnston believes. Some of this is semantics – I define “endurance” as single mode, constant movement – ultra running, for example. “Stamina” to me is stop and go, and loaded, and has a higher strength component.

Overall, the more important difference I see is Coach Johnston overwhelming emphasis on aerobic base and endurance. He believes this is singularly important.

My approach places equal emphasis on (1) Endurance, (2) “Combat Chassis” Strength (legs/lungs/core), (3) Work Capacity/Mental Fitness, (4) Climbing fitness and (5) Stamina. I agree that endurance is important, and indeed have included more and more endurance work in my programming – but feel these other fitness attributes come to play also. The best example is a distance runner who tries a long alpine summit – say Gannett Peak in Wyoming’s Windriver Range – carrying a 25# pack. The 50 mile car to car round trip is on the surface, nothing for an accomplished distance runner but between the strength needed for the vertical gain and loss, plus the loading, I feel a distance runner who only trained aerobic base and running endurance, would suffer because of weakness.

But I could be wrong …..



I just purchased your SFAS Ruck Based Selection Program after seeing a lot of good reviews on a couple of different forums. Before my questions I’ll give a little back ground information. I’m a twelve year Marine, getting ready to make a transition to National Guard under their Special Forces Program. I was told by the SF Recruiter that there are some initial test that are done before they’ll accept your contract and schedule my A&S dates. They Include a Max bench press with an undisclosed percentage of bodyweight, max effort push-up, sit-ups, dips and pull-ups, a timed rope climb, a 5 mile run in 40 min  and 9Km Ruck. So while having been a Marine for a few years and with your program to guide me I’m sure selection will go the way I’m hoping. Additionally, I’m getting back into a regular workout routine after having my wife and I’s first child.

Now my questions:

What I had been doing was combining Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 and Big Yoke Program with Sealfit’s Stamina, Work Capacity and Durability, do you think if I kept the 5/3/1 and Big Yoke and replaced the rest with your program it will completely sink the ship? What if they were broken up into two-a-days? Put it at the end of the session?


Quick answer is “No” for 2 reasons:

1) The Ruck Based Selection Training Plan is no joke – you don’t want to add anything to it. It already includes 2-a-days.

2) You’re focus should be on the events of the initial test – and I’m not sure what Big Yoke is, but I am familiar with 5-3-1 and while it’s a great strength plan, the upper body events in your initial assessment asses strength endurance, not strength.

So you should focus, laser-like, on these events.

I don’t have a perfect plan for you, but one that is surprisingly close is the DEVGRU Selection Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/devgru-selection-training-plan/).

DEVGRU also has initial tests which will cover you push up, situp, pull up, bodyweight bench press and 5-mile run. It also includes rucking. You could add in max dips and follow the same progressions as the sit ups and push ups. I’d have you drop the swimming from the plan. You’d have to add in some rope climbing.

Regardless – don’t think your current training will transfer to these assessment events. Don’t risk it – train sport specifically for the assessment.



I recently purchased your PJ/CCT selection training plan unfortunately my swimming endurance is not yet up to the standard. Do you have any advise for me in the finning department? So that once I can do 1500m I can start back on the course.


Start with 250m Fin intervals.

Do 2 sessions of:

  • 4 Rounds
  • 250m Fin
  • Rest 3 minutes

then, do 2 sessions of :

  • 5 Rounds
  • 250m Fin
  • Rest 3 minutes

Then, do 2 sessions of:

  • 6 Rounds
  • 250m Fin
  • Rest 3 minutes

Then, do 2 sessions of:

  • 3 Rounds
  • 500m Fin
  • Rest 3 minutes

Then try 1500m.


Will you be releasing any programs for the US Marshals SOG selection or the 75th Ranger Battallion’s Regimental Reconnaissance Company’s selection (Ranger Recon)?


I’ll look into the US Marshal’s SOG selection – to see what I can learn of the selection events.

For RRC, I’d recommend the SFOD-D Selection Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/sfod-d-delta-selection-course-training-plan/


I have been conducting Navy PST specific training and I will purchase the program you created for the event soon.  After I receive a contract I will likely transition to one of your BUD/S prep programs.  I have some questions on your programming I was hoping you could help me with.

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 160

I have access to a traditional gym but not one that utilizes functional fitness gear.

  1.  Do you think it is important for candidates to achieve a set level of relative strength (Barbell or otherwise) before utilizing the BUD/S selection program?  If so, what would be an appropriate way to increase strength while at least maintaining PST run performance?  (Maintaining the swim would personally not be difficult).
  1.  If I were to transition straight from the PST program to the BUD/S program would the sudden introduction of a ruck run for assessments be problematic since none exist in the PST program?  I’d like to include a weekly ruck in the PST program if you think it wouldn’t hurt my overall performance.

I also wanted to thank you (and curse you) for introducing me to sandbag getups.  They’re one heck of a challenge but they’ve made me realize the importance of strength under an awkward load.  Thank you for your time in advance.



1) Ideally athletes will meet the Military Athlete Strength Standards (See FAQ Here: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#standard) before beginning any of our selection plans. Understand it’s not as if you’ll be doing Oly lifts and heavy bench presses at BUD/s, so going in strong helps somewhat with performance, but mostly with durability. Strength gives you a “durability” buffer going through selection. But even if you were weak as hell, and had just 8-9 weeks before BUD/s, I’d still have you do the selection plan.

You can run and still complete one of our strength plans. I’d recommend Big 24: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/. You can do this in a commercial gym.

2) It will suck, initially, for sure. You can add in a ruck – just watch for over training.


I purchased  the Big Mountain plan in order to train for a couple of peaks this summer , Mt Hood and Shasta actually . I noted your stamina days typically call for running , I kind of find running hard on my knees and wanted to know if I could change it to either walking uphill on a treadmill or stair master ? Any suggestions on how I can translate the running mileage to any of those ?

Also the program doesn’t really suggest hiking outdoors on trails I guess , Is that something you would suggest on top of the 5 days ?


Certainly switch from running to uphill hiking or a stair master. To translate, think time, not mileage. So if the session calls for a 5 mile run, and you would regularly run it at 10 min/mile this is 50 minutes. Hop on a stairmaster for 50 minutes.

Be careful adding extra training to the plan. It’s intense, and you’ll need to watch for overtraining. However, if you’re recovering well, certainly hike on the weekends.


I recently bought the Maximus strength and power plan and ran my younger brother who is a high school senior through it.  I’m curious about the Altas training plan.  My question is would you recommend putting an athlete through the Atlas plan after a wee or so break after completing the Maximus plan?  If that isn’t what you’d recommend my next question would be what cycle would you recommend leading into summer conditioning? Thanks for your time.


Give your brother a full week’s rest, then you can run him through Atlas (http://mtntactical.com/shop/atlas-training-plan/).

I’d recommend repeating Maximus (http://mtntactical.com/shop/maximus-strength-power-training-plan/) prior to summer conditioning.

Atlas has a hypertrophy (size) and strength focus, and ideally you would do it prior to Maximus, which transitions from a size (mass) focus to pure, transferable strength and power.


I’m considering which program to purchase in your Mountain Athlete series. I realize they are slightly different with regards to end goal, but was hoping you could recommend which program is the most advanced for someone training for both 50k trail runs, and for GORUCK events in mountainous areas.  Would one of your programs cover both of these events pretty well?

I had narrowed it down to Big Mountain Athlete and the Hotshot Crew/Jumper Pre-Season program (unless you recommend something else?)


That’s a tricky one and I don’t have a perfect plan for you. The trick is combining the distance running you’ll need for your 50k’s with the loaded movement, and work capacity smokers you need for the goruck-esque events.

From what I do have, I’d recommend the GoRuck Selection Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/goruck-selection-training-plan/

This plan includes movement under load and step up assessments, bodyweight efforts, work cap smokers, solid gym-based strength work, and an assessed 5-mile run. The ‘hole’ in the plan for your purposes is the distance running. You’ll want to change the long Saturday rucks to long runs, and likely work in another mid-distance run mid-week.

Then, 4-6 weeks out from the event, you’ll want to focus on one or the other – the 50k or the goruck-type event. Good luck.


I coach an athlete (female) that is heading to Army basic in approx. (3) months.  I would like some help picking which program we should use.

Background on athlete:

  • Crossfit athlete who is strong and has a big gas tank.
  • Not strong on distance run and does not have a good pace in the 1 mile or 1.5 mile
  • Strong with oly lifts another other crossfit movement be needs more work on PT movements to increase counts

Goal of athlete:

  • Not worried about passing the minimums but wants to excel.
  • Wants to be in great shape when she hits the gates so she can focus on the mental part of basic well and not loose focus due to her body / mind wanting to just be in survival mode.

What do you think?


I’d recommend the Army OCS Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/army-ocs-training-plan/

This plan is overkill for Basic, but perfect for your athlete. It will move her away from crossfit stuff, and into the sport-specific activities she’ll need for the Army. In addition to testing and focused APFT progressions, it includes distance running and rucking. And it’s intense – so she won’t miss the intensity from her previous gym work.

This is a 6 week plan. Have her cycle through it twice.

Good luck!


I’ve decided it’s time to move away from just pursuing gym goals and go boldly explore the wonderful outdoors more often. I’m a long-time gym rat that has done a number of your programs and the Operator sessions. I’m going to start doing regular trail races, mountain bike races, and adventure races. I’ve done these races in the past, but they were never my primary focus of my fitness training. Any recommendations for which plan may best suit my needs?  I’m looking at your in-season and out-of-season programs for endurance athletes, but I’m worried there’s an underlying assumption that I’m that endurance is already my strong suit if I use those plans. Is there any plan of yours that covers the middle ground for someone who wants to transition from the gym to the outdoors?


SF45 Sessions have an endurance focus – start there.

If not, start with the 4-Week Running Improvement Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/run-improvement-plan/


Quick background-  got away from skiing for 20 years.  Only recently got back into it 2 years ago.  Ski approximately 45 days a year.  Have always been dedicated to fitness (overall general fitness, plus did long distance triathlons for a period).  That said, 10 months ago, had double spinal fusion surgery (l4 l5/ l5 s1).  Worked very hard in offseason at rehab, so that I would be able to ski this season.  So far so good, have spent probably 30 days on mountain, achey but livable).  That said, I know I have room for very large improvements, and a lot to learn re: becoming mountain fit with a bent towards skiing, training a lot smarter.

So few questions. Was thinking of purchasing the following-

  • 8 – Week Low Back Fitness Training Program
  • The Athlete Subscription Training Package (which I see has access to specific  to the sport specific training  workouts)

Is this the right way to go? Can I do both the Low Back Fitness Training Program in conjunction with overall fitness/ sport specific? Or am I better off purchasing say the Dryland Skiing Training/ in Season Maintenance programs.Any direction you could provide me is greatly appreciated.


I’m not a doctor and therefore can’t advise you concerning what is appropriate for your low back. Given that, I’m not sure our Low Back Fitness Plan is okay – the plan is progressive – get’s harder as you work through it – but it does include loading. My sense is your doc would nix that.

That you’re skiing, and fairly young, for now I’d point you toward our Bodyweight Training Plan on the Mountain Side: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program/

This program is no joke – especially on the leg and core strength side – however it does include some sprinting and running. You’ll need to plug in your cardio of choice for the session where running is prescribed. As you make the sub, think time, not distance. So if the session calls for a 200m sprint, think cardio for 1 minute. If it calls for a 5 mile run, think 9 minute miles X 5 = 45 minutes, so 45 minutes of biking, swimming, step ups, rowing, etc.

SF45 might work for you after, but you’ll need to continue to make subs for running.


I’ve been following your website since 2011 and purchased several programs from you and had great success.  My little sister is a world half marathon team member, however she has been plagued with injury, foot, calf, and hip.  She’s looking for a program she can use to aid in the prevention of injuries and believe it or not the access to quality trainers and doctors as a distance runner aren’t great.  Any thoughts or recommendations would be much appreciated.  I’m willing to pay for a program specifically for her.  Thanks.


I’m not an Athletic Trainer or even a strength coach who specializes in rehab.

In general, I believe strength is by far the most important part of durability. And if your sister was in my gym, I’d start her training strength – with a focus on the lower body and core. I’d want her to start in the off season, ideally, and pull back from her running mileage to train strength. I’m not sure where she is in her competing season now, and/or what her team coach is programming in terms of strength.

From my stuff, I’d actually start her off with the Post-Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/.

Lower body and core focused, this plan not only trains strength, but also includes unilateral work to help fix strength imbalances. I’d be hesitant to begin working with her individually until I knew her training schedule, and what her team coach was prescribing.


I am a 40yr old full time police officer and have completed several of your programs with great success.  I’m 5ft 9in, and just weighed in at 243lbs, I am having a difficult time dropping weight. To make things harder, I work the graveyard shift.  I’m trying to balance eating right, school work, workouts, family life and sleep.  What changes do I need to make to get my weight down around 190-200lbs.   Running for me is difficult, but more mental than physical.  I’m having a hard time figuring out if I should focus on strength training vs intervals vs bits of both.  Obviously, it’s not working.  Can you recommend a training program that will address this.  Also, how would you cycle training year round so I can stay fit for duty.


You’re 60-70 pounds heavier than I want you. Max I’d like you about 180#. At 40 years old, there’s a sense of urgency now. Guys our age (I’m 46) can’t screw around.

To be clear, 80% of body fat is diet related. Cleaning up your diet is the best thing you can do. I’m sure you’ve seen our dietary recommendations, but if not, here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGs2tnMQJlc&list=UUiTR_zJV0cB8l8qSBYya-eg

Eating well doesn’t take a nutritionist, scientific study, hand holding, etc. It takes discipline. Of course this is easy to say …. and harder to do. Aim for improvement, not perfection.

Could be you’re build like a fire hydrant and are caring around too much upper body mass. My bodyweight recommendation for you is the same – I’d still like to see you down to 170-180#. Imagine wearing around a 70# weight vest right now … think about the impact on your low back, knees, ankles. You’re wearing a weight vest right now in extra bodyweight. You’ll feel so much better.

Training – our day to day training for LE Athletes is a subscription to the website and following the Officer Sessions. These are 45-minute sessions, focused on upper body strength, power, core strength, and sprinting ability. This is what I’d recommend for you.

I’m in the process of designing a weight loss training plan complete with a menu. Hope to have it done by April 1.


I’m looking for a strength program. I have a history of lower back problems. I work in the construction industry heavy duty stuff tearing down buildings building roads etc . Don’t know if it matters but im also 43. Suggestions on diet would help to. Thanks.


I’d recommend our Low Back Fitness Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/8-week-lower-back-fitness-training-program/

Diet – here are our nutritional guidelines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGs2tnMQJlc&list=UUiTR_zJV0cB8l8qSBYya-eg


I stumbled into your website while searching for a training program to prepare me for an upcoming backcountry archery hunt in the mountains of Colorado (12k max; rugged terrain). The hunt will be a week long in duration while wearing a 60 lb (up to 100 lb if successful) pack.

I am from Pennsylvania and this will be my second hunt in this area. I did ok for my first time last year but obviously want to do better this year.

I read through some of the descriptions of the military programs on the website and all sound somewhat applicable but is there any that you specifically recommend ?

I am in decent shape but was in much better shape last year. I have 6 months remaining to prepare and feel the last few months have left me covering the same ground.


1) Purchase and complete the Big Game Hunting Pre-Season Training Plan now (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-game-hunting-training-program/). This will kickstart your training and get your head right.

This is a 6-week plan, after completing it, subscribe to and complete the SSD sessions on the site for 3 months. Then, cancel, and re-do the Big Game Hunting plan directly before your hunt. Good luck!


I am a BUD/S hopeful, currently finishing up my associates degree, and planning on enlisting afterwards. I have been training on my own for some time now, predominantly with the Navy PTG, and “programming” of my own. I haven’t been seeing the returns that I had hoped for from my training. I stumbled upon your website, and am very interested in starting one of your plans. I have been looking at a couple of your training plans and wanted to run a couple of questions by you.

  1. It seems to me that BUD/S V1 is a little more PST focused. Would it be advisable to run this program to achieve competitive scores, then, if and when I earn a contract follow up with BUD/S V2?
  2. I was also wondering what kind of running and swimming mileage both of the previously mentioned plans build to? I am currently running 20-25 miles a week, and swimming 3-4 miles and would like to increase this.
  3. Can I expect decent strength gains from either of these programs? After following the PTG and trying to tackle my training on my own, I feel like my strength could definitely use improvement.

Thanks in advance for any advice or insight that you have to offer. I look foreword to hearing back from you.


1) For maximizing the PST, I’d recommend focusing solely on that event and completing the Navy PST Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/us-navy-pst-training-plan/

For BUD/s, I’d recommend V2 (http://mtntactical.com/shop/buds-training-program/).

2) At the top of the progression, BUD/s V2 has 35 miles combined running/rucking (mostly running) and 13,850m of swimming, not counting treading.

3) BUD/s V2 is not a strength plan. It’s focus is on the events you’ll face at selection – swimming, rucking, running, work capacity events, long days of constant movement. So no, for strength I’d recommend Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/).


Having nearly completed the on-ramp, where does this leave athletes? Should they be able to slip into daily subscription or would another plan be worthwhile before starting subscription?


You should be ready to jump into the daily sessions.


I’ve been subscribing to the free skiing program. I’ve just come back from 3 months of skiing (thanks, the program helped me a lot!). I’d like to keep the training going, what should I follow? Thanks in advance.


Glad the plan worked for you. Follow the SSD sessions via the Athlete Subscription.


First of all, thanks for the great work at SSD and especially the weekly Q&As. It’s awesome that you take all questions, and provide thoughtful, honest answers.

My question involves training for a planned backpacking/climbing trip in Colorado in late August.  Our plan is to do a 3-4 day backpacking trip, followed by a climb of Long’s Peak (possibly overnighting at the boulder field).  I am thinking the Peak Bagger plan is the approriate way to go, but I have a couple of specific questions.

Background on me:  51 years old, 6’0″, ~180lbs, never considered myself a very good athlete, but have completed multiple endurance type events up to half-marathons and half-ironmans.  I like to consider myself in fairly good shape, but as you have found, my recovery isn’t what it used to be. Neither are my strength numbers are not up to par with your mountain athlete standards (bench and squat roughly 1.2xBW), I have always just considered that mostly due to my thin lanky frame.  I live in Tennessee, where I do several backpacking trips a year, mostly in the Smokies and the AT.  In addition, we do a trip out west each summer (Teton Crest trail, Maroon Bells, GlacierNP, Wind River Range, etc) and have climbed Rainier, Grand Teton, Orizaba (all with a guide service).  We will not be guided on Long’s, but I think we have the experience to do that, although I will admit, the mental aspect of the exposure sometimes gets to me.  I train in my garage, where I have pretty much everything I need (sandbags, weights, pull-up bar, Kbs, rower, even a small bouldering wall that I built).

Basically, I would like to know your thoughts on 1) the approriate plan, 2) when to start it, 3) what specific training cycles should I be doing before I get going with sport-specific Long’s Peak training?

Again, thanks for the great content and Q&As in the weekly emails.  You are doing great work.


1) Peak Bagger (http://mtntactical.com/shop/peak-bagger-training-plan/) – start the 6 weeks immediately before you begin your Colorado backpacking trip. Between now and then a couple options …. (a) Subscribe to and complete the SSD daily sessions on the website. (b) 7 weeks before beginning Peak Bagger, complete the Backpacking Pre-Season Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/backpacker-preseason-training-plan/).

I have trouble with exposure too … even top rope rock climbing. About 6 pitches, and my brain is fried. I know I’m a sissy….. One of my guides, Brenton Reagan made me follow him up the Cathedral Traverse here in the Tetons, – Teewinot, Owen and the Grand in a day. I was good until we were moving between the top of Owen and the north side of the Grand – I happened to look down and …..wow. We were on a 2 foot ledge with nothing but sky below on the right. I stopped and said, “Clint” -(my nickname for Brenton), I think I should be roped up for this.

“You’ll be fine,” he said, and kept going. I wanted to call my Mom, right there ….


I started subscribing to your programming about 3 – 4 months ago after completing the LE fitness assessment training plan.  I love the LE Athlete programming but I feel that my running suffers a bit from it.  The only reason that I feel this is even an issue is because I am a K-9 officer who is also a SWAT officer and an Army Reservist.  Because of SWAT and the Reserves, I am required to maintain the ability to run moderate distances of 2 – 4 miles.  Funny part is, it is more of a requirement for SWAT than it is for the Army.  But, I still want to max out my Army APFT score to the best of my ability without having to focus specifically on it when it comes around.  So my question is:  Should I add running as a secondary work out 3 times a week with the LE Athlete programming to keep myself acclimated to running, or should I start doing the Operator sessions?  As a side note, I really enjoy the LE Athlete programming for the fact that it has exposed weaknesses in my fitness that I have improved on such as all of the sprinting and core work.  I truly feel stronger especially in my core and have had far less lower back pain and down time due to injury to my lower back since beginning your programming.  This had become an issue especially when I began handling a 90 pound canine that pulls like a beast and who I have to lift over obstacles practically daily. So I guess I can sum it all up by saying, I feel stronger in every aspect but running distance.  What do I do? Thank you for your time and keep doing so much good for so many people!


So funny! We were just considering today adding in a 3 mile run for the next LE Athlete cycle and decided against it …. mostly because we didn’t think many guys would do it!

Stick with LE and add in extra running.


I am a college student with 2.5 years left until I can enlist. I have been training with a gymnastic strength plan, but want to make sure that I am on the right track. I powerlifted in high school and played football so I’m not new to the training scene and always try to have impeccable form. However, I did always notice a different between my gym strength and my father’s functional strength when working in the woods. I figured a bodyweight strength plan that forces you to shore up your weaknesses to progress would greatly benefit me, but in short, “I don’t know what I don’t know” when it comes to military fitness. My goal is Army Special Forces, and I intend to buy your running and rucking plans as funds become available. Also, if you were to provide me with a framework or progression of plans that would greatly benefit me, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, sir.


The Bodyweight Plan I would be a great place to start (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program-i/).

In terms of how to work through the plans, I’d recommend following the plan progression outlined in the Rucking Based Selection Training Plan Packet (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-packet/). This is a great progression to follow.


I’ve been following your training for years now to keep in shape for my hobby, alpine climbing. With the recent changes to SSD and the new categories of training, I’m not sure what to follow any more.

I’ve been reading a lot about endurance training and get the sense that the new “rock climbing” category is too specific and not inclusive of enough leg and cardio endurance training like the old “mountain guide” training was. Likewise the “SSD” category seems to divert to far in the other direction as well.

Gym training is so convenient and I don’t think I can adhere to a plan like detailed By Steve House and Scott Johnston in “training for the new Alpinism” which entails so many hours daily.

I still plan to do a long cardio day and also a climbing day a week…

But I’m not sure what to base my gym fitness around to optimize the qualities needed in alpine climbing (that you touched on in your recent write up)


What we found was many mountain athletes were more interested in the season-dictated sport-specific prep, and we moved in that direction. What we also found was many non-mountain athletes were following the old Base Fitness sessions and had no need for the climbing-specific work – which is why we eliminated it from the SSD sessions.

Couple options:

1) Stick with SSD. We are making a conscious pivot to more endurance in our SSD programming beginning with the next cycle – 3 days/week of endurance. Our programming has evolved to understand many outdoors oriented pursuits have a strong endurance component, and this also translates to many work capacity focused activities. With SSD, we still hit leg and core strength (mountain chassis) and work capacity, but this next 6-week cycle will be focused on Endurance, Strength and Agility – which will be interesting. Sessions will last 60-90 minutes (with the endurance going longer).

2) Cancel your subscription and complete the Alpine Guide Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/mountain-guide-preseason-training-program/

This includes both mountain-specific strength, endurance and climbing work.

Moving ahead, we intend to build a year long Base Fitness training plan for high level mountain athletes built around the fitness attributes in my Alpinist Fitness Assessment.

Understand that I differ somewhat from Johnston and House and their endurance focus. I believe Alpine climbing is a stamina event, not an endurance event, and as such see mountain chassis strength, climbing fitness, and core strength as equally important to endurance for alpine performance. Some of this is based on the mountain guides I work with, who unlike professional climbers like Steve House, carry heavier packs, and need to have the strength and work capacity if a client needs assistance. I like my athletes to have this “strength buffer” not only for emergencies, but also for durability.


I am looking to get ready for army SF dive school and was wondering if you’ve had guys use the BUDs prep for this.  Any success with it?


Yes – guys have used our BUS/s V2 plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/buds-training-program/). It’s not perfect for Combat Dive School – but it seems to cover bases well – swimming, cals, running.

However, I honestly have not heard back, good or bad, on how the program prepared them. I’m sorry – I have a plan for this on the list but haven’t gotten to it yet.


I have been following your site for a little while now and I have a question for you. I have never formally trained in a gym, but I’m work/farm strong. I’m 45 years old and I want to be the best I can be for myself and my family, can you help me get started?


I’d recommend you start with solid strength – specifically Big 24 Strength: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/

You’ll need to learn the barbell exercises in this plan – but none are complicated. It will be an interesting trip for you.


I just started your CrossFit prep program. I am curious why you chose not to put any snatch, Jerk, or deal lift exercises in the program? Also, How come there is so much bench press for a CrossFit athlete?


If you’re referring to the SSD for CrossFitters Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ssd-for-crossfitters/), this plan is not CrossFit improvement plan, it’s a plan designed to introduce CrossFitters to our style of programming. The plan description identifies the differences between our approach and the CrossFit approach:

How Strong Swift Durable differs from CrossFit

  • Programming Detail: Strong Swift Durable training sessions are thoroughly periodized, programmed and designed. Nothing is random about our training sessions.
  • Fluid Periodization: This Strong Swift Durable mesocycle includes strength, work capacity and endurance work which is deployed uses the latest application of our Fluid Periodization programming theory.
  • Bias toward Strength: Strong Swift Durable programming has a bias towards relative strength, as opposed to the work capacity emphasis of CrossFit programming.
  • Volume and Training Session Length: Military Athlete programming pushes more volume, and its training sessions are longer than typical CrossFit WOD’s. Strength and Work Capacity sessions are designed to be 60 minutes long. Endurance Sessions can be 60-90 minutes.
  • Training Schedule: This Strong Swift Durable Base Fitness training schedule is deploys a 5 days on, 2 days off training, as opposed to the standard 3:1 CrossFit WOD schedule.
  • Durability Included: Mobility and durability drills are included in these training sessions, sometimes worked into strength circuits, and sometimes worked into durability-only circuits.
  • Focused Core Strength Training: Several sessions included dedicated and focused core strength training circuits. We believe a strong midsection is essential to durability and our programming reflects this.
  • Not every Training Session or Circuit is a Race: Circuits or other training session parts which are “for time” or are to be sprinted through are clearly indicated in this training plan. Unless the training plan calls for “for time” or “sprint effort” work briskly, not frantically. In general, these sprint efforts will be regulated to parts of Work Capacity training sessions.

What we find is many of the athletes to come to our programming “graduate” over from crossfit. Here’s another piece I’ve written on the subject: http://mtntactical.com/strong-swift-durable-articles/crossfit-awesome-different/


I need a 60 minute plan which includes warm up that is ideal for a busy weight room yet entails the important heavy lifts and also includes exercises such as sandbag get ups and weighted vest step ups.  I have a class that has to share a busy weight room and they often have trouble completing their workouts but they have 100% commitment.

Any suggestions?

Operator Ugly Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-ugly-train-up/

For recreational athletes you’ll want to significantly scale down the loading – perhaps 75-95 pounds for women on the bench and front squat, and 105-115 for the hinge. For men – 115-135 for the bench and front squat and 135-155 for the hinge. Likely 40/60 for the SBGU.


I am a 2LT in the Army and currently attending Infantry School. Although I will not be attending Ranger School until July I am concerned about what will happen to my body post Ranger School.  I am close friends with numerous guys who have attended and graduated Ranger having left school and lost 40+ pounds and lost all physical fitness abilities except for Endurance due to lack of sleep and nutrition. Not to mention the endless rucking, training, etc that Ranger school conducts.

Like I said, I have several months before I get to Ranger but what would you suggest would be the best Workout plan for Post Ranger School in order to gain back Cardio, Strength, etc fitness abilities?


After Ranger School start back with strength. From our stuff I’d recommend Rat 6 Strength. However, be sure to take at least 1 week total rest, and 2 would be better. Also, start at just 3 days/week and pay attention to your head as much your body. If you’re in the gym and don’t want to be there, get out and try again the next day.

Also, many guys pig out on shit food when they finish. This is okay for a week, but after a week, start working back to a clean diet. Good luck!


In previous years I have used to training programs to re-balance, stay motivated or just general training. ‎I spent last year completing training for long distance endurance. I’m getting back into the gym hard and rebuilding some of the losses over the year  and rounding out again.

Previously I’ve turned to your “Strength and Honor” program when trying to make strength gains without suffering other areas. I’ve completed one circuit of it with gains, as would be expected as my body gets used to regular barbell work again. I decided to circuit through it again and look for my next option. The key is some of my benchmark strengths are still a little low by your recommendations.

When I exploring your website I noticed the S&H was on there anymore, any particular reason for this? Where would you recommend I go for my next program, or is the subscription the next best decision?


Every once in a while we pull our older training plans as we replace them with some of our more recent programming.

Subscribe or buy a plan?

If you just interested now in strength training and plan on getting back to endurance after, I’d recommend a plan – either 357 Strength: http://mtntactical.com/shop/357-strength/, or Big 24: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/. Both are awesome.

If you’re just getting back to gym training, I’d recommend a subscription to the website and following the SSD sessions. Begin these at the start of the most recent cycle.

Currently I’m a corpsman in the Navy that’s trying to crossrate to the SEAL’s. I purchased your “BUD/S Training Plan,” and saw that it called for #45 ruck runs. I’ve been searching online and still can’t find any definitive answer on what ruck I should go with. Other then buying a pack from GORUCK what do you suggest? (price doesn’t matter)

We’re actually building a training ruck now – it’s in the design process, but won’t be out until this summer. We currently use medium ALICE packs, with frames, now – and they work well. You should be able to pick up a used one for $50 or so.


I just recently purchased your Athena program for my 12 year old daughter. It’s kind of funny because now everyone in the house besides our 7 year old is now doing your programming.

With the Athena program I have a few questions.  Taylor has soccer all year round, she has two games a week plus one practice. Would it be a good idea to do these workouts on the same day as those? I’m kind of worried that if I make her do it as is, on top of all that, she’ll get annoyed and want to stop.

Do you have any suggestions to work around those days or should I still try and do them as is?

Don’t make your daughter double up. Alternate Athena sessions with her soccer practice/games, but still do the Athena sessions in order.

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