Q&A 4.8.16


I saw the Big Mountain climbing training program on your website and was wondering if that would be appropriate for me.  I am a hiker who is interested in learning mountaineering and have a goal to climb Mt Rainier next year, 2017.  I addition to developing hiking training, I am looking for a gym and outside training program to help me prepare.  For this challenge, I will need to train for stamina for two consecutive days of long climbing and have the mental fitness for the unexpected challenges of being on the mountain.  Before I get there, I have a lot of training and hiking to do. 


You’ll want to complete the Big Mountain Training Plan the 10 weeks directly before your Rainier trip.

Lots of options for you between now and then.

From our stuff, I’d recommend you begin with our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/). Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this plan is no joke and a great place to begin your journey.

– Rob



I was taking a look over your Ruck Based Selection Program Training Packet and wanted your opinion.

I am currently scheduled for Civil Affairs Selection on 20SEP16. Doing the math, that leaves me with 5.5 months starting this coming Monday. I wanted to know what you would cut from the training packet or if you have any other program recommendation. I am coming off 4 month surgery recovery and my Run/Ruck/Pushups are very weak.

Thanks for any advice you can give!


5.5 months = 24 months. Here’s what I’d recommend with you coming off surgery:

Weeks  Plan

1-6        Bodyweight Foundation (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/)

7           Total Rest

8-15      Fortitude (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/ – repeat the last week of the plan)

16         Total Rest

17-24    Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/)

– Rob



I just wanted to let you know that I successfully completed my TACP PAST by using your PAST training plan!

Now I will be in the 1-Level TACP program with my Air National Guard ASOS. Essentially I will be drilling with the unit until I get a slot to BMT and the Schoolhouse. Each monthly drill will consist of a PAST, team building exercises, and career field classes.

I want to continue working on my PAST scores, so I figure I will keep on using the PAST plan. However, I wanted to know if you had any suggestions as to what I should do on the swim days in the plan. I usually just skipped them as rest days, but now I’d like to add a little bit of strength work. Any ideas?

Thanks for making quality programs!


Good for you.

I don’t have a one-day-a week strength training plan for you. One option would be to 8×3 sets of front squat, bench press and power clean in the gym on your gym days.

What you may want to consider is Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/) – which is a great military-specific training plan that includes bodyweight work, gym-based strength and work capacity, and running and rucking movement over ground. It will transfer well to your career.

I wouldn’t worry so much about maintaining your PAST scores now … think longer term and know that if needed you can spend 3x focused weeks and get them up where needed.

– Rob



I bought your training plan, Ultra Pre-season, to start training for the Rut 50K in September out in Big Sky, Montana. I have about 3 weeks left in the plan and am trying to decide what to transition too. I have really enjoyed the balance and strength aspect of the plan. One of the things I am trying to figure out is to how to best train for the vert and descent in the Rut (11,000 ft) here in flat Oklahoma, our longest hill is maybe ¾ mile. I ran the Pikes peak marathon last year and did mostly running with a lot of time pointing the treadmill up but my legs were destroyed coming back down the mountain. Would you have a plan or a hybrid of plans you might recommend I purchase that would prepare me for the pounding?


Running downhill takes eccentric strength, not concentric strength. What happens is gravity bounces you downhill, and your legs must absorb the impact, and keep you from being forced down into the mountain.

In the Ultra Preseason plan, you completed a progression of our mini-leg blaster complex – the parts of the sessions that looked like this:

  1. 8 Rounds

6x Air Squats

6x Lunges

3x Jump Lunges

3x Jump Squats

30 sec rest

We’ve found leg blasters to be a great way to train eccentric leg strength that transfers to downhill running/hiking and even skiing.

We’ve increased intensity to this idea with our Quadzilla Complex – which has you holding 25# dumbbells while you do a similar complex. You could work in Quadzilla Complexes to your running schedule 2 days/week.

From our other plans, the progression is included in our Dryland Ski Training Plan as well as our Big Game Backcountry Training Plan. Of the two, I’d recommend the Big Game plan for you now. You’d want to skip the rucking in the plan – replace it with long runs – and skip the long Friday mini-events in favor of another long run.

The rest of this plan is pretty awesome – and it only requires a pair of dumbbells, step up bench, and sandbag.

– Rob



My roommate has been very involved with your training plans for a while and I trained with him also when I was prepping to go to Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.

Unfortunately, I broke 3 metacarpals in my right foot. My roommate said that you had a training program for people with foot injuries but I have been unable to find it. If you do, could you please point me in the right direction? If not do you have any suggestions?

My military days are over but my fitness goals are to be more of a well-rounded mountain athlete. I want to build all around strength but also be in great hiking shape.


I’m not too sure where you are in your recovery. Our training program for athletes suffering a leg injury isn’t a rehab plan for your foot, but trains the rest of your body around your injured limb: http://mtntactical.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-from-leg/

We also have a post-rehab leg injury training plan you can use after you’ve completed PT and have been given the go to get back to training: http://mtntactical.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/

  • Rob



I have been using your plans and doing the operator sessions off on and on for about 5 years now and absolutely love them. The question I have is about the USMC PFT plan. I would still like to incorporate some barbell work in for the next six weeks while I complete the plan. What would be your suggestion for still incorporating the squat, deadlift, and presses into the program without over doing it? I understand the focus of the program but I don’t want to totally trash those lifts for the next six weeks. Thanks for your time and help!


Do one of the exercises each on Monday, Wed, Friday – before your other work.

Keep the loading heavy and the volume low. I’d recommend 8x sets of 3 reps – increase each round until 3x is hard, but doable.

  • Rob



I followed your program a while back and loved it, especially the Afghanistan prep: it REALLY helped. But I wanted to ask your opinion on what I should do for my current situation: I was prepping for Ranger school slot with the “pre-ranger” program which was basically running and rucking all the time, didn’t work out too well for my knees/foot and I had to drop out of the running for Ranger school. I am on my last week of recovering from a bunch of tendinitis pain in my knees and foot. I still want to try out for Ranger school but it wont be predictable as this last cycle, whenever a slot opens up I would be expected to perform.

Right now I can do the following
Push Ups: 60 (Strict) in 2 mins
Sit Ups: 80 in 2 mins
Chin Ups: 12 (Strict) at Cadence
5 Mile Run: 36:21
12 Mile Ruck: 2 Hours 40 Minutes

I want to be able to maintain (if not improve) my performance while also doing maintenance on my knees/feet/shoulders. What do you recommend to accomplish this?


I’d recoMmend Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/

– Rob



I am a police officer for a small agency in western Colorado. I’m writing you simply to tell you that I’m looking forward to the Bodyweight program, I purchased this morning.

I was turned on to Mountain Tactical Institute via my brother, (who I think has been in contact with you). He is 12 years older than I am, and I’ve seen him get into amazing shape! I figure if he’s recommending you, why not?

A little about me, I’ve always been a heavy guy. I’m 6’3″, and currently weigh in around 280lbs. My department requires physicals twice yearly, (medical and functional movement) and I’ve had no problem passing them. Once a year, our doc’s have us complete a biometric screening. My last screening showed that I was about 22% body fat. I am proud to say that at my heaviest, I was about 320, with slightly over 30% body fat. No good, at all. At that time, I had a sedentary job. When I found out I was transferring to patrol, I realized I needed to make some changes.

I’m no stranger to the gym, but find I struggle to maintain a real, set routine in going. It’s sort of an on again, off again relationship. I’ve done crossfit, Starting Strength, done my own programming, etc. I also mountain bike on occasion. The really bad news, I loathe running….. not a fun time for big guys. However, I see the value and am willing to try it. I’ve found that oddly enough, my aerobic capacity is generally pretty good, but I don’t have the endurance to bike (or run) long distances.

I chose your bodyweight programming, as I want to take a “back to basics” approach, and really focus on your durability type programming. I’m no longer a spring chicken, and find I tend to err on the side of injury prevention. My goal is to focus on endurance and durability using your programming.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on nutrition. I do try to follow at 50% fat, 30% protein, 20% carbohydrate intake. But I find myself losing energy faster, if I don’t eat more carbohydrates.

I could ramble on and on, but most importantly- I wanted to thank you for providing a variety of opportunities, for those wanting to make a lifestyle change, with a focus on fitness. I’m sure you’re a busy buy, but I wanted to take a quick moment to say thank you. I’m optimistic about the next 6 weeks, and if I get the results I want- I’m sure I’ll be back for more.


Thanks for the note. I’d like to see you at around 230 pounds. Losing 50 pounds will make a huge difference on your joints, energy, running, etc. As well – it will extend your LE career.

We have a simple, direct message when it comes to nutrition. In a nutshell, eat clean (no crap) 6 days/week, then cheat like a mother on day 7. Here’s the full speel: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition

Eating right has little to do with knowledge, and much more to do with discipline. You’ll note our recommendation doesn’t include caloric restriction – you should never be hungry. Just eat clean.

Good luck.

  • Rob



I am 26 years old and I am considering going into ROTC for graduate school and I will need to attend Leadership Training Course this summer.  However, I injured my shoulder some time ago (I had a nerve inpingement in my left rotator cuff) and I am starting to heal.  I have been given exercises to strengthen my shoulder and it is improving.  However, I’m still not at 100% and I’ll still need to continue my physical therapy.  I need help getting back into shape for this LTC program.  My friend recommended doing the On-Ramp Training Program along with the APFT program  concurrently.  I like both plans, but I still need time to work on my shoulder and I don’t want to overload it or strain it as it could cause a much bigger problem.  Do you have any recommendations regarding what I should do or what plan would work for me?



I’m not a doctor and don’t know what limitations you have with your shoulder. I do know you shouldn’t double up programming.

What I’d recommend is the Bodyweight Foundation Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/

This plan is more well rounded than the APFT Plan, and avoids gym-based strength training. Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” however, it’s no joke.

  • Rob



For the purposes of a ruck-based selection, have you found that it is more efficient to ruck (walk) at a consistently fast pace, or to do a measured combination of rucking and ruck-running?  Specifically, I’m wondering about longevity/endurance over a longer selection event (one month) under varying loads.

Additionally, what’s the minimum min/mile pace that a candidate should be able to consistently hit (hot/cold, rested/tired)?


We run as much as possible. For the longer events, sometimes we’ll run/walk on an interval basis …. run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute, etc.

We’re not sure about the pace or requirement for the various events you’ll face at selection, but we’d wager you won’t be punished for being too fast.

I’d aim for 12 min/mile, minimum.

– Rob



Rob what are the program goals set for the Navy PST plan?


This plan is solely focused on increasing performance on the PST Assessment (see below). It is not a general fitness plan. You’ll complete the PST day 1, and use your assessment results for the follow on sessions and progressions. This way the plan automatically “scales” to your incoming fitness.

(1) 500m Swim for time

10 min. Rest

(2) Max reps Push-ups in 2 min

2 min. rest

(3) Max reps Curl-ups in 2 min

2 min. rest

(4) Max reps Pull-ups in 2 min

10 min. rest

(5) 1.5 mile Run for time

– Rob



I don’t know if you get many questions like this one but I was hoping I could get help getting set on the right path. I just graduated ranger school and my body is beat down. I want to get back in the gym but I don’t know how to ease back into a routine without hurting myself. I noticed there were recovery programs on your website however they were very specific programs. I was wondering if you had a program designed for recovering the body a few weeks? Thank you for any help you can give me if you have any advice or not I appreciate all the things you do.


Congrats on Ranger.

This question has come up a lot.

First – take a couple weeks off, total rest – eat anything you want, then after two weeks start to clean up your diet.

As you move back into training, pay attention to your heart even more so than your body. Your head will tell you to get back in the gym and start hitting it hard, but listen to your heart. If you go to the gym, and you’re heart just isn’t into it, leave.

Training wise, you’ll want to start back with strength training – high weight, low volume. From our stuff I’d recommend Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/). Do the sessions in order, but start just 3 days/week. After a week or two you’ll be ready to go 5 days/week.

– Rob



Rob, I just completed the Fire On-Ramp, Build and Fire/Rescue I programs. I thoroughly enjoyed the programs with significant gains from start to finish. I am interested in finding a new program but I am struggling to decide which program to choose. I am a Fire/Medic and with my schedule, on certain days, I have access to either Olympic barbells with pumper plates when I’m at home or dumbbells only at the firehouse. I understand I can start all over with the programs I just went through but I was wanting something a little different. I interested in Limited Equipment package,the Big 24 and the Kb/Sandbag/Vest programs. Was interested in any input/advice you can offer. Thank you for all your hard work in these programs. Look forward to your feedback. Rob Parker


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

  • Rob



I have been following your Operator Sessions since September of last year with the intention of enlisting with an 18X contract.  I am giving myself approximately 5 more months to prepare myself for the rigors of the selection pipeline that lies ahead.

I was planning on completing the current Apollo session, then the SFAS Training Plan which I have already purchased. That is about 3 months of training in and of itself.  I am not wanting to complete the SFAS Training Plan immediately before shipping, as I want to see where I stand and improve areas of weakness if needed.

In short, I guess I am wondering if this is the best use of my time? And If not, how I should continue to program for the next 5 months?

Also wondering if you had any insight, or heard back from any guys that were successful, as to how they maintained their fitness during OSUT and Airborne School before SFPC and SFAS.

Thanks for everything you do.


I’m not sure why you’d wait any longer to enlist. You need to make sure you can get the 18x contract. I’d recommend you get into a recruiter and get it all in place. I’d hate for you to spend the next 5 months training only to find out there was another delay or you didn’t get accepted into the program.

I’d rather have you complete the plan directly before enlisting.

The question about OSUT and Airborne comes up frequently and I don’t have a good answer for you. Both have PT and other physical demands. My suggestion is guys who have time to train ruck heavy and lift heavy – leave the PT at the schools to maintain push ups, etc.

This path is common, so common sense tells me the Army isn’t going to set you up for failure going into SFAS. Perhaps the school cadre give 18x and others extra training time, or else the schools themselves do an adequate job of maintaining your fitness going in.

  • Rob



I am a police officer in Maine.  I am just finishing up the Patrol Officer program and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
I am looking to find the best program for our States new SRT fitness standard.  It is copied below:

Maine Criminal Justice Academy Tactical Team

Annual Physical Fitness Test

Maximum Repetitions Bench Press @ 85% of Athlete’s Body Weight

Do as many repetitions as possible.  You can “rest” holding the barbell up, off your chest in the elbows locked out position as you fight for more repetitions.  The barbell must touch the athlete’s chest for each repetition, and finish with the elbows locked out.  The feet must remain on the floor, and the athlete’s butt cannot lose contact with the bench – no excessive arching!

Maximum Repetitions Front Squat @ 85% of Athlete’s Body Weight

Do as many repetitions as possible.  You can “rest” in the standing position, holding the barbell on your chest in the “rack” position.  The athlete must lower the barbell until his thighs are at parallel or below.  If you have a Dynamax medicine ball, place it below the athlete, and have him touch the ball with their butt for the “bottom” position.  The top of the range of motion is standing with the hips locked out at full extension.  The athlete may hold the barbell on his chest with his hands and arms in the “clean” position, or crossed in the “body building” front squat position.  The clean position is preferred, but not required.

Maximum Repetitions Dead Stop Dead Lift @ 85% of Athlete’s Body Weight

Do as many repetitions as possible in 60 seconds.  NOTE THAT THESE ARE DEAD STOP, DEAD LIFTS – NO BOUNCING!  The barbell must stop completely on the floor after each repetition.  The range of motion starts with the barbell resting on the floor and ends at the top of the lift with the hips fully extended.  The athlete may rest by setting the barbell on the floor and standing up without it.

Maximum Repetitions of 25 Meter Sprints in 4 Rounds of 60 Seconds

60 seconds of 25 meter sprint

60 seconds of rest between each round

Protocol:  Each full 25 meter length counts as 1 repetition.  Each full round trip counts as 2 repetitions.  No partials!  The athlete has to sprint a full length to get the point for the repetition. 

Maximum Pull Ups

Do as many repetitions as possible.  The athlete can “rest” while hanging on the bar with both hands in the bottom position.

Maximum Repetitions of 60 Pound Sandbag Getups in 10 Minutes

Do as many repetitions as possible in 10 minutes.  Start standing with the sandbag on one shoulder.  Lay all the way down, then “get up” any way you want.  The “finish” position is full sanding position, knees and hips at full extension, feet shoulder width apart.  The athlete may or may not switch shoulders with the sandbag, as they wish. 

3 Mile Run within 30 minutes (Pass/Fail)

Start within 10 minutes of finishing the Sandbag Getups.  Time the run.  You have to finish within 30 minutes.


Each Bench Press repetition = 1 point
Each Front Squat repetition = 1 point
Each Dead Lift repetition = 1 point
Each 25 Meter Sprint repetition = 1 point
Each Pull Up repetition = 1 point
Each 2 Sandbag Getups repetition = 1 point (every 2 repetition = 1 point)
3 Mile Run within 30 minutes (Pass/Fail)
Here’s an example on how to score the test:
Each Bench Press – 10 repetitions = 10 points
Each Front Squat – 10 repetitions = 10 points
Each Dead Lift – 18 repetitions = 18 points
Each 25 Meter Sprint – 36 total repetitions = 36 points
Each Pull Up – 18 repetitions = 18 points
Every 2 Sandbag Getups – 52 repetitions/2 = 26 points
TOTAL: 10+10+18+36+18+26 = 118 points


Minimum passing score is 100, and finishing the run within 30 minutes.
I am pretty confident that I can score over 100 but naturally I want to smoke the test.
What would be the best program for a fitness test like this? The SWAT selection program?
I appreciate your help!

Thank you,


This is a modification of our long standing Operator Ugly Fitness Assessment.

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

For the first OU assessment, use the same loading as in the SRT’s assessment.

Can you please provide me a contact email for the SRT? I hadn’t realized they were using our assessment.

– Rob

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