Q&A 4/02/15

These Q&As include questions on Training Plans for Athletes with Leg Injuries, Gaining Mass While Maintaining Functional Speed, Maintaining Strength and Conditioning with Minimal Equipment, Training Plans for Royal Marines, and many more…

Finishing up arm hypertrophy work.
Finishing up arm hypertrophy work.


Hey, first of all, I wanna say thanks for all the amazing programs you’ve put out. I’m currently doing the Hypertrophy for Skinny Guys plan to put some mass on, and loving every minute of it.

I plan on joining The Marines, and I am hoping to receive a UZ (Recon) contract, and although I know how limited these are, I want to be as ready as possible, and show my recruiter just how dedicated I am.
I was planning on getting the Basic Recon Course training plan, but my only concern is that I have no access to the USMC O-Course.

I’m curious as to how often this is implemented in the training plan, and if you had any suggestions on substitutes for the O-Course.


You do O-Course intervals once/week in the plan, if my memory is correct.
O-course performance is as much technique as fitness. The primary purpose of o-course work in the plan is to drill obstacle technique.
Match the o-course reps and do one 300m shuttle every 2:30.

I’m a TACP and very active. I’ve completed a lot of operator sessions, Afghanistan prep plan, and the strength packet.I recently had several surgeries on my right knee to correct cartilage issues. They replaced the cartilage and the healing process is long and limiting as far as my training goes. I have a strength coach and a athletic trainer working on my strength and hypertrophy of my legs but I have a big limiting factor in that I can’t do any running jumping or plyometric exercises for another 6 months.
Both the therapists that are doing my physical therapy have left my work capacity and endurance training to my imagination, but it’s starting to get redundant. I am able to row bike elliptical etc, just no impact activities. Do you have a program that works work capacity and endurance portions with no impact, with the intent to be able to complete operator sessions when I get fully healed and released from my orthopedist?

Our Training Plan for Athletes Suffering from Leg Injury (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-from-leg/) includes strength and work capacity efforts.
This isn’t a rehab plan, but intents to work the rest of your body around the injury.
I’m assuming your strength coach is working your recovering leg – this plan will work your good leg, upper body and core too, as well as hammer work cap. We’ve had great luck with it over the years.
I’m a little disappointed your strength coach isn’t hammering these other areas also.

First of all, I wanted to say thank you and the lab rats, your plans helped me immensely with my overall fitness and strength as a firefighter before I enlisted in November as an 18x.
That being said I have just finished Army OSUT and begin Airborne school in a week before heading to Bragg as an 18x and head to Sopc and Selection.
Throughly OSUT I had the typical changes, lost 5-10 pounds(not that I had much to lose) increased run time and bodyweight capacity, lost overall strength with the mass and feel pretty weak.
My question is this, given that my training timeline is up in the air due to holds between schools and delays in my pipeline, what program(s) would you use to gain some mass and strength back, maintain my AFPT stats(maxing all but sit-ups, working on them daily), and prepare for selection either in June or August(like I said the timeline is constantly looking changing.
Again thanks for you programs, can’t wait to get back in the gym!
Two Options:

Option 1 would be best, but this plan is intense and time consuming and I’m not sure you’ll have the time and or energy to complete it with the stuff you’ve got going on between now and selection.
Option 2 isn’t quite as intense and might be a better fit with your other training.
Do the sessions for either plan in order – don’t skip around, and do them when you can given your other training. Be careful of overtraining.

I graduated Marine OCS last summer and am scheduled to commission on May 15th. I have used your programming and I have gotten a lot out of your RAT-6 and GoRuck Prep plans. I intend to use your programs to prepare for The Basic School so that I can excel and be selected to attend Infantry Officer Course. I was wondering if you could offer advice on what sequence of programs I should use from your website.

Not specifically for IOC. I’d recommend the Ranger School Training Plan: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/


I am going into Security Forces in the AF and want to gain some mass and get stronger while still keeping some functional speed.  What plan do you recommend for me?  Thanks.


Training plan as four primary objectives:

1) Increase upper body mass and strength.
We understand the deterrent value big, strong chest and arms can be to men and women who might want to mess with patrol officers. And if they do decide to try something, a strong upper body will help the officer take control. This training plan will to build upper body mass and strength – including grip strength.

2) Increase Core Strength.
This plan hammers your mid-section, especially your lower back. A strong mid-section will help you immensely in any scuffle or dangerous situation. It will also make you more durable and injury resistant.

3) Sprinting strength, speed, and stamina.
This plan builds lower and total body strength, then uses multiple sprint intervals to transfer that strength to sprinting speed and power. It’s unlikely a patrol officer will be running miles at a moderate pace during his or her duty day, but it’s very likely the officer could be called up to sprint, and sprint multiple times.

4) Build short, intense, multi-modal work capacity.
Short intense events such as scuffles, sprint and tackle, etc. are a reality of a patrol officer’s fitness demands. This plan uses short, intense, multi-modal events to train work capacity and cardio/muscle power.


I have a quick question regarding the Ultimate Meathead Plan. Session 7 has 10 rounds of Sled Push/Drags every 75 seconds, but has no load or distance listed. What would you recommend? Just to give you an idea of what I’m working with, I’m 5’9″ 168lbs and meet all of the Military Athlete strength standards.


Because of friction, think time, not distance. Aim for a push/drag of 20-25 seconds long.


I’m training for bortac this October, I have purchased several of your plans and wanted to see what your opinion on a trainining plan would be starting Monday the 30th and concluding October 5th (28 wks).  I could do your sfas training packet.  Or I was thinking of going this route
Valor plan
Courage plan
Fortitude plan
Bortac plan
If I go the route above then it will put me almost to the day of the selection course.  I am just wondering if its going to hammer my legs enough.   Let me know if your think the route above would be sufficient or if the sfas packet would be better.   Or if you have any other suggestions.

Do this:

Take a week full rest between plans.


I work in law enforcement, but in that I’m a designated Provincial Officer and enforce the environmental legislation for the province that I live in but I don’t carry a gun or kick doors down or anything like that.  Over the last few years there has been an upswing in the number of assaults against other officers in my field as the general idiocy level of the world we live in increases.  This is pushing me towards taking my physical training to a more serious level so that I know if nothing else my body is strong enough to either get me the heck out of Dodge if need be, or deal with the physical challenges that I may encounter.   We don’t get sidearms of any kind nor any specific self-defence training so the only tool I’ll have available in a given situation is my strength and conditioning.

Last year I sprained both of my ankles within about a month of each other so it’s been a bit of a lazier winter than I would’ve liked but I’m really looking to get back to the level of fitness that I was at and improve upon it.  If it helps for reference I have completed a couple of GORUCK Challenges so I’m no Superman but I am (or was) more fit than the average desk jockey.

The only equipment that I readily have access to is a 60# sandbag, a pull up bar, a few tires, bricks in a backpack, and the roads and hills around me.  I realize that you have many different program options from bodyweight stuff to specific LE programs but seeing that I don’t have access to a full gym I wasn’t sure what the best option for me would be long term.  I won’t lie money is an issue as my employer will not reimburse me for any costs even though, in my opinion, minimum physical standards should be a part of our job description.  I’ve been doing okay on my own for finding things to do but I’m looking for a more formalized plan.


Start with the Bodyweight Training Plan I: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program-i/

Follow up with the Sandbag/Dumbbell/Weightvest Training Plan: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/sandbagweight-vestdumbbell-training-plan/


I purchased the low back program as I sustained a mild lower back injury in Afghanistan roughly a year and a half ago, and then made it worse with poor deadlift technique that has since been improved but DL and deep back squats still “flare” the mild but frequent/steady low back pain. Front squats seem to be fine and I have been able to front squat 175ish with minimal felt pain response.

I purchased low back plan but would like to do op sessions as well. Would that plan be counterproductive?

Thank you for your time, I appreciate what you do and any advice you could offer.


Yes … don’t double up. Go through the low back fitness plan first …. and be cautious and slow. Then think about moving on.


I’ve been using your plans for over a year now and I convinced a friend of mine to do the same.

He is selected to join the Royal Marines in august. I believe this “school” is quite different from the USMC.

He’s in a good shape, but he wants to be sure he’s physically ready for what’s coming.

What would you recommend?


Others have used the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan successfully for the Royal Marines (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/).
That process is ruck-intensive, and the 9-mile speed march is no joke – I’d have to run the entire way.

I’m about to head to SERE here in 2 weeks.  Afterwards, I’ll have about 2
weeks before I start my MOS (18A – SF Officer) phase.  I don’t need to
be in Olympic condition by then, as they understand how much of a toll
SERE takes (I’m expecting about 15# lost) and it’s a very
classroom-centric course, but I need to be on my way.  Do you have a
recommendation for recovering/getting back into it after such a
massive weight/muscle loss like SERE?  For reference, I’m 6’2,
225-230#.  Thanks in advance, if you get the time – I know my
colleagues are interested in your response, as we’re all longtime MA


A week’s total rest, then start back with strength. In the past I’ve recommended Rat 6 or Big 24, but I’m thinking now I’d recommend Fortitude (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/fortitude/) which combines heavy, gym-based barbell strength, and easy to moderate paced running and rucking.
It seems more and more endurance is important in this peacetime army, and I’m not sure you want to get too far from endurance maintenance.
At 6′ 2″, you’re a little heavy. I’d like to see you at 210-215″. Focus on relative strength (strength per bodyweight) and movement over ground. SERE might do you a favor, and cut 15# for you – if you could stay there through less gym, more endurance – it would mean taking 15# out of your ruck and not carrying a 15# dumbbell on your runs.


Thank you so much for the great plans. 3-6-9 was a great follow up with the perfect amount of pull.
I’m about to complete it this Friday and need to get another plan along the same lines. Again, I’m going to EOD school in August so I would like it to contain;
Running (up to 6 or 7 miles would be ideal)
Core strength
Rucking (short distance (5-6 miles))
And a lot of ‘pulling’ with some ‘pushing’ in between.
I would write my own plan…. But that has not gotten me the results I want like you have. Again, thank you so much for everything.

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

I was hoping you could help me sort out some issues with my current training program. I am a former competitive powerlifter/Olympic weightlifter preparing for Army basic training. I have been advised to move away from strength and power movements and told to focus on high rep calisthenics exercises for muscular endurance as well as distance running. I have noticed a significant decrease in strength (relative and maximal), with what seems to be only minor improvement in muscular and aerobic endurance while training this way. Viewing your operator sessions I can see you still make strength a priority, while adding in endurance and work capacity activities. I would really appreciate your opinion on what kind of changes I should make to my training to best prepare, It feels like I’m getting nowhere fast.

I’d recommend beginning with the Army OCS Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/army-ocs-training-plan/) – which includes specific programming for the APFT, additional running and rucking, and bodyweight focused work capacity “smokers”.


What “packet” style progression would you recommend for someone looking to take on your PJ/CCT/CRO selection plan?


1) USAF PAST Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/usaf-past-training-plan/)
2) VALOR (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/valor/)
3) Operator Pentathlon Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/operator-pentathlon-training-plan/)
4) Sandbag/Weight Vest/Dumbbell Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/sandbagweight-vestdumbbell-training-plan/)
5) Big 24 + Swim Improvement (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/swim-improvement-plan/)
6) USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/)


As a suggested plan… PCS’ing injects a period of time where workouts can become difficult to fit in with a moving family. This can be compounded with an OCONUS move. 30 days of non home cooked meals and limited, to no resources, creates a dangerous period trying to get back into the gym.

A plan designed to work around this would be a great addition to your line up of fantastic plans!!


Do the Bodyweight I Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program-i/


I’m getting ready to do the heavy training plan and have a question or two.
1) the rucks for time in your plan are on fairly level ground
ie little elevation change correct?
2) on the trails around here I find it tough to do 12 miles under 3:30 without running/jogging a bit is that ok? O
r do you recommend fast walking only?


1) Yes
2) Absolutely run.


Thanks for all the hard work you and your crew have done.  I am a LEO in the process with DEA and will be taking the PTT again in a 3-6 months.  I am not currently following any program but only doing bodyweight circuits (push ups, sit ups, pull ups) along with mixed running and rowing (not as intense as I should be).  I previously used your DEA PTT program and it worked well.  
My scores for the first PTT were:
Pull-ups: 6
Sit-ups: 56
Push-ups: 48
120 yd Shuttle Run: 23.03
2 mile run: 15:29
My weak sections are the sit-ups and 2 mile run. My hip flexors start to tire out at 45-50.  I am wondering what your advice would be to began prepping for the next PTT in 3 – 6 months especially to work on my weak sections.  Should I subscribe to the daily sessions and re-do the PTT program after a month, 2 months?  Should I purchase the running improvement program and double that up with the DEA PTT program?
My stats are 6’1″ and 242. Thanks again for all you do and your advice.

No need for another plan or extra training.

First – you’re too heavy. I’d like to see at 210-215. Losing that 30# is the best thing you can do to increase your scores. Fixing your diet should be the first thing on your list.
Second – Repeat the DEA PTT plan: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/dea-ptt-training-program/

I am in Week 4 into your Sandbag/Weight Vest/Dumbbell Training Plan, and I have noticed a significant improvement in my functional fitness, stamina, and endurance. I originally purchased this routine as a substitute for gym strength training since my college’s gym is always full and desire to continue strength training with limited equipment. I have been using the training plan, on top of the USMC PFT Plan, to improve my PFT score and functional fitness, taking up between 1-2 hours a day for SSD/Military Athlete training. As a result, I have more energy, I am mentally stronger, and my recovery time from PT has dramatically reduced. The training sessions on Mondays and Fridays end up being Two-a-Days with my college’s OCS Preparation program, yet I have noticed a dramatic difference in my physical and mental performance and injury prevention during the grueling 1.5-2 hour PT sessions, thanks to your plans. I am looking forward to continue using this plan in addition to purchasing other plans that require limited or no use of equipment.


Thanks for the great note!
Looking ahead, don’t continue to double up – I’ve made this mistake many times in my training – that more is better. But really, you don’t improve fitness by training, you improve fitness by recovering after training.


I’ve been exercising and weight lifting for over 5 years now. I’ve just finished doing a GoRuck workout plan that has helped me increase my overall body strength. Now that I’ve completed this program, I’m looking to continue strengthening my body. I’ve looked over several of your plans and I really am impressed. The issue is that there are so many plans that I’m somewhat unable to determine which plan to go with. My goal is to increase over-all body strength.
Would you be able to help me narrow this down a little bit more? I’ve used your websites start here function, but I’d prefer to  to see if you can help me find a more accurate plan than what’s suggested.

Start with 357 Strength: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/357-strength/

I have been using military athlete for close to a year now and I love it. I have a subscription and a couple plans. However, I am doing the Spartan Ultra Beast in September and am worried about climbing the mountains. Are there any plans that would train me for this? I am looking to really step it up in the gym. I was not sure if there were certain plans that would be better than others for this.


Best option to add in with your distance running would be the Peak Bagger Training Plan: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/peak-bagger-training-plan/

For the step ups in the plan, use a 25 pound pack.

In your Q & A session dated 2/27/15 you’d mentioned that you were “in the process of designing a weight loss training plan complete with a menu,” and that you had hoped to have it out by 01 APR 15, if so, are you still planning to put this out and  do you have a tentative launch date? I’m a subscribing member to your site. I’m 44 yrs. old, 5’9″, 180 Lbs, and have spent almost 26 years in the Army, I’ve spent 23 out of the almost 26 yrs. on jump status and love every bit of it as well as getting out there with the young PARATROOPERS and getting after it. I’m currently in an Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), where I serve as a First Sergeant, what programs do you feel would work/benefit me at my current stage in life? (SF45, Operator Sessions, etc….) where should I start. Sorry for the length of this e-mail, but to echo the comments of everyone on your site, “YOU AND YOUR TEAM KEEP UP THE AWESOME WORK YOU ALL DO, AND KEEP THE AWESOME TRAINING COMING.”


We’re still working on the Weight Loss plan – the issue isn’t the fitness part, but the diet. Trying to figure out how to do that efficiently and may end up sending guys to myfitnesspal.com.
For you’re age and size, I’d like to see you at 170-175, so you’re pretty close. I’m not sure I’d recommend a weight loss plan for you.
Training plan?
Best option would be a subscription to the Operator Sessions and following the SF45 programming. If you chose this route, start at the beginning of the Husky cycle.
If you’re hesitant to subscribe, and know your way around a weightroom, I’d recommend beginning with Busy Operator (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/busy-operator-training-plan/).

If you’re not comfortable with barbell, dumbbell and other exercises, a great place to start would be the Bodyweight I Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program-i/). Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight” – this plan is no joke, especially on the legs.


I will attend BCT around September (date is still TBD). And after boot camp I will be going to AIT and Airborne school to come back and be support for the 19th SF Unit. Becoming a Green Beret was a dream of mine ever since I was young. Serving our beautiful country is something I would do with pride and diligence.
I have been involved in sports and fitness for almost my entire life. Whether I was playing rugby, soccer or basketball I was always active. I also have a nutrition certification. My expertise has always been in bodybuilding style training however. I have done compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, bench press and a little bit of overhead press. Never did much of kettlebells or any sort of clean though.
So, I have a few questions for you.
1. I have been having very minor pain in my knees behind and around the kneecaps. I have a scheduled MRI on April 8th to get it diagnosed. However, the pain comes and goes and never really bugs me while I am doing the activities. It is always after the activity is over that the pain starts to become noticeable, not irritable. So, with that.. How would you approach this situation? I don’t want to not work out because I would like to be an honor grad and PT stud at boot camp. But, I also will be going to Airborne school and do not want to break, tear or hurt myself at Airborne school for the short time I will be there.
2. Would you recommend following the selection routine you have on your website even before I have been to BCT, or is that something you would suggest I do after I get back from all my training?

3. I would like to travel up to your gym in the next couple weeks to train with you for a day or even get advice assuming my schedule allows it. Are you opposed to those sorts of things, and how much would a day charge be?


1) Because it’s both knees it tells me its likely not an injury. Because it’s “minor” tells my you could be over reacting with an MRI. At 20 years old, if you were in my gym, I’d tell you to suck it up and get back to training. Don’t be so delicate.
2) If you’re serious, you’ll start training like your are now. I’d recommend the APFT Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/apft-plan/) followed by Fortitude: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/fortitude/
3) I’m out of town beginning next week. We don’t do personal training here, but you would be welcome to come up and throw in with our Operator Session Lab Rats. Lot’s of guys traveling through do. Understand the session is early in the morning and you’d have the rest of the day to yourself. On the advice side, understand this stuff isn’t complicated. There’s no secret or real skill needed. It’s just hard, and takes work and commitment. Keep grinding, and it will come.

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