Q&A 4/30/2015


Questions include Training for Alpinism 1, Following up field training with a regular schedule, Ruck Based Selection training before Airborne school, Endurance programs including work capacity, HIT Type training, and more…


“When I first started doing the Ruck-Intensive Program, I had trouble getting through 10 80lbs. Sand-Bag-Get-Ups total, 5 on each leg. After about two weeks I was blowing through 10 on each leg. After the full 8-weeks, hitting 30 on each side actually became something I looked forward to and they are now my favorite exercise by far. The program is excellent in all other components as well – my rucking ability increased drastically and I now can keep a strong sub15-minute mile pace with 55 lbs. dry and a 10lbs. rubber ducky for 3 hours. There was no way I would have believed anyone who said I would have been able to do that in just 8 weeks after doing my first Ruck with 35lbs. at an 18min mile pace. I hope to message you again in a few months with news of Getting Selected so I can personally thank you for helping me get there physically. “


“I just finished the day 1 of week 4 and my scores went from: 

4 mile run: 31:08 to 25:56
Push ups: 65 to 70
Sit ups: 83 to 97
Pull ups: 17 to 12 (it was raining outside and i did the pull ups on a lacrosse goal post and my hands slipped at 12)
500 css: 9:05 to 8:09

I did lose my buddy though. He pussied out. Your program is the shit Rob. You are the man. I actually enjoy training now. It’s tough but at the same time fun as hell.”


I am super excited to get going with the training you offer.  I have let myself go a bit but this year have decided to get my act together.  I have been a climber for multiple years and have loved the idea of Alpinism for quite some time, in fact it was why I started climbing in the first place.  This year I have decided to stop thinking about my dreams and start acting on them.  I decided to sign up for the Alpinism 1 course from AAI to get more mountain travel/skills knowledge and now I need to get a bit more fit. Sorry for the long intro but this is what brought me to your program. Simply I like your approach of training for doing things.
I was looking around on your site and thought about doing the 10 week big mountain plan to start whipping myself into better shape so I will not be the straggler during my AAI session.  I had also thought that I want to continue this so I chose the monthly subscription thinking that I would have access to the 10 month big mountain training plan.  Alas, it doesn’t seem so which probably isn’t a big deal as I was looking through the archives in the Mt. Athlete section and there are so many session to choose from.  I was wondering if there was a date I could start on in the Mt. Athlete section that would kind of align with the 10 month big mountain plan.  It looks like there is somewhere in the archives where a base cycle starts I was just having some trouble with some of the jargon (i.e. work capacity, cap cycle etc) to try and figure out a good date to jump in.


Start with 9.10.2014 session in the Mountain Base Archive and work forward from there. These sessions include climbing work – so do your training in a rock gym which has a general fitness area.

Six weeks prior to your AAI course, cancel your subscription (you can cancel anytime) and purchase/complete the Peak Bagger Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/peak-bagger-training-plan/).

Good for you on following through and keeping your promise to yourself.


I just had hernia surgery in my groin 3 weeks ago. I am starting to get back into training again soon. I am wondering what programs you can best recommend when I can start training again and not just light cardiovascular work like running for a set time.


I’m not a doctor, so I’m not sure your restrictions. You don’t want to re-tear. So I’m thinking bodyweight only stuff, and being really careful with core exercises.

I’d recommend the USAF PAST Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/usaf-past-training-plan/) which includes swimming, running, push up, sit ups and pull ups – to get started.QuestionI’ve just completed about 9 weeks of field training as part of SFQC (SUT and SERE) and would like to see if you have any recommendations for working back into a regular training schedule.  Prior to those phases of field training I used the Q-Course Prep plan to get ready for the IUW gates, which worked out very well.  The training I just completed was entirely field-work and evals, so I haven’t conducted any regular workouts or cycles since JAN 26.Answer

Best would be a subscription to the Operator Sessions. Another option is Valor (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/valor/).


I know last time I deployed you allowed the legs and lungs program to be given to units heading out the door to Afghanistan, I was wondering if you still offer it? We are headed back again. Thanks
Also I had knee surgery and so I am out of shape and need to get back fast any programs you might know would be good for me to get back in the game.


We no longer give the Afghanistan Pre-Deployment Training Program away for free. Here’s the link to the plan on the store (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/afghanistan-pre-deployment-training-plan/).

You and your knee. We’ve built a plan specifically for athletes recovering from knee surgery – the Post-Rehab Knee Injury Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/).


I’m 19 shipping out for the Special forces pipeline on July 20th. I’ll go to basic, jump school, selection prep, then selection. I’ll begin selection November 30th. I have a good base, I ruck twice a week with 65 lbs going 4-8 miles and I also run 2-3 times a week from 2-6 miles.

    My question is will completing your Ruck Based Selection training help me at all if I won’t be doing it for 23 weeks during the basic, airborne, and selection prep? If I do the 8 weeks once or the 6 weeks before the taper twice, will I still be able to maintain that strength, endurance and durability with just standard physical training and less rucking during basic or will it die off?Answer


This is a common question and I always recommend guys complete the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/) prior to Basic.
Will you lose some of the fitness during Basic and Airborne school? – Yes, likely. Will it be a waste, then? No.

This training plan is no joke. And having the discipline and mental toughness to complete it, on your own, prior to entering the pipeline will pay dividends when it counts. It’s hard to describe, but the plan is a gut check on it’s own and will get your head right going in.


I’m looking to start a Military Athlete training program but I wanted to get some insight before I jump right in.

I’m looking to improve my half-marathon time but also want to maintain maintain/improve my work capacity.  Never been a big guy so putting on mass isn’t really on my radar (especially with my other goals).

Do you have an endurance program that incorporates work capacity?  If not, which programs do you recommend using in concert with each other?


Valor (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/valor/) combines some endurance, interval work and work capacity. It might be a good choice for you, but I’m not sure the distances in it would be best for your half marathon training.

Best might be to continue with your own half marathon training plan and work in sessions from 369 Work Capacity (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/369-work-capacity-cycle/) 3 times/week.


I am in the middle of my contracting phase to qualify for a spot with the Marines for OCS. I weigh about 219 at about 9% body at, 5’9 and I do 6 days a week at a Crossfit gym. I very strong but I’m not as bulky as you would think I would be for weighing 219. My only issue is the 3 mile run. I have been following an intermittent fasting diet plan for about a month and it has helped me lean down quite a bit, trying to shave as much weight for running as possible. With the athlete subscription, would the SSD or Military Athlete programing be better for me? My last best 3 mile time was about 23 minutes, would a sub 21 minute be achievable by mid June with your programming? Also, as I understand it the athlete subscription will give me access to all of the programming selections, does this also include any other training archives or training plans?


At 5’9″, I’d like to see you around 175-180. You’re carrying around way too much mass and muscle, and it’s making you slow.

Training – I wouldn’t recommend you start with a subscription to the site. Rather, I’d recommend you purchase and complete the USMC OCS Training Plan (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/marine-corps-ocs-training-plan/).
This plan includes specific training for the USMC PFT – including the run. I’d recommend you stop Crossfit, and do this plan exclusively. Getting away from the barbell will help you cut some mass.

A subscription to the website gives you access to the daily sessions and archives for SSD, Mountain, Military and LE training sessions. It does not give you access to the training plans. These you have to purchase separately.


I have planned trip to Tajikistan mountains by end of the summer. And have been looking at  Big Mountain Training Plan to prepare myself.

However, I have run in a bit of dilemma…

Big Mountain Training Plan consists of 4-5 training days per week. But i also would like not to forget on rock climbing. Normally I do 3-4 rock climbing sessions per week.

Is there some way on how to incorporate both? Or I just need to decide on priorities and there’s no good way on combining both together?


Do the Alpine Rock Climbing Training Plan: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/alpine-rock-climb-training-program/).

This plan combines grip-specific rock climbing work with “mountain chassis” work (legs/lungs/core) for apline-style approaches and descents.


I’ve let my fitness become more about resting on my laurels then getting shit done and being ready. I’m tired of being good enough. I want a plan that will crush me and build me back up. I’m on post so I can get to the gym though I prefer outside (no matter the weather) training sessions. I feel that being good enough has caused me to get this laziness that I hate. I want to discuss with you a way forward please email me at your earliest convienence.


Start our stuff with Valor (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/valor/).

Enjoy those ruck run intervals!!


I purchased the USMC PFT and the Core Strength Bodyweight programs earlier today. I also have Army PFT Military Athlete program circa 2010.

I apologies for the poor articulation on some of these questions. With such a short time left until I leave, I am trying to utilize every day that I can to be as prepared as I can be when I ship.

Three questions in all.

1. The reason I purchased the USMC PFT program was because I wanted to incorporate longer runs and pull-ups in addition to the pushups and sit-ups of the Army APFT program. To be honest, I prefer the way the 2010 APFT program is set-up more than how the USMC PFT which scales the workouts (don’t get me wrong – I just completed the SFAS 8 week program w/ scaling and it was phenomenal).

I was wondering if you would be able to give me one or two good base numbers for pull-ups and formatting of the workout in addition to the 2010 APFT program.

For example the 2010 APFT Program follows this routine  –

M/W/F – 80 to 120 push-ups followed by 6 to 8 rounds of 20 second sit-ups each
Tuesday/Thursday – 20 rounds alternate 10(+1 each week) push-ups/10(+1 each week sit-ups)

Should pull-ups be done before pushups, after situps or in-between on MWF? Should it be a set number like push-ups or done in sets of time like sit-ups? What is a good number of pull-ups to base for Tuesday-Thursday 20 rounds?

2. Would doing the Core Bodyweight Program on top of doing the APFT+pull-ups be overkill or would it be an effective supplement? For Special Forces preparation purposes, do you recommend the MA Core program over the SSD Core Strength I Program or vice versa?

3. The weakest link in my fitness right now is my running. I have 7 weeks until I ship out to OSUT so I was also considering running through (pun intended) the Run Improvement Plan. I understand that piecing together various programs may not be the best idea, but what is your opinion on doing the following concurrently –

APFT Program + pull-ups and with the running removed
Core Strength Bodyweight Program in Full
Run Improvement Program in Full


1. I’m not sure I understand your question about push ups and pull ups. It terms of order, it doesn’t matter, with three exercises, no matter what, you’ll be doing push ups and pull ups back to back. In terms of numbers, start with 80 pull ups/session if you’re using the old format, and work up from there. At 20 rounds, that 2x pull ups/round, which sounds easy, but isn’t if every one is super strict.
2. You could do this.

3. That would work.QuestionClimbing Mt. Rainer on June 25th and was wondering how many days prior the trip should I be finished with this training program. Also on week 3 I may not have access to a gym and was wondering what can kind of workout I should do and/or make up for a possible missed week besides picking it up the following week.Answer

Just 3-4 days.

Week 3 – Do the 3x sample sessions in the Mtn. Bodyweight product plan page: http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program/ – but for the second session, do 10x mini leg blasters instead of the split between full and minis.


I’m currently a student in the Q Course and am looking to add a little excitement back into my training.  After looking into the different plans you’ve put together the two that I am most interested in are your Valor and Fortitude plans. My questions are:
1) What is the major difference between the two plans?
2) Which would be better/best for a Q Course student?

On a side note, we’ve been doing endurance PT (running and rucking) in the morning and I’m strong in both endurance categories. What I’ve lost is overall strength and am looking to regain that while maintaining my endurance abilities. Whatever program I choose would be my second workout of the day, don’t know how that would influence one of your training regiments, but I thought I would let you know.


Valor (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/valor/) has a much greater work capacity focus – work cap efforts in the gym, and mostly short, hard running and ruck run intervals. It also includes a little strength and endurance, but work capacity and speed over ground are the focus.
Fortitude (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/fortitude/) focuses on heavy strength in the gym, and longer, but moderate intensity running and ruck running. You’ll finish with a 9 mile run and 7 mile ruck run.
I’d recommend Fortitude.


I have a friend who has had amazing results with HIT training, specifically stuff from Mike Mentzer.  The hypertrophy is undeniable and his gym numbers have improved.  I am interested in finding out the correlation between size and strength, both real world and gym numbers.  It seems like this plan is counter-intuitive but gives people amazing results.

I know it is a somewhat unusual topic but since I found your programming I think more about the whys and really the physiology and theory behind fitness (especially weight lifting).  I really enjoy learning about the human body but more specifically fitness and nutrition.  Not sure if I have any aspirations beyond my own fitness but I do want to know more about the whys and hows of things.

1.  Do you think the HIT type training has any value to a functional athlete?  
2.  Has anything like that informed or influenced your programming?
3.  Do you have any reading recommendations for me on this or fitness in general? 


1. Sure – it if gets a person stronger or for LE guys, adds mass. I’m not a believer in just one approach, however. One thing I learned long ago when it comes to training is “everything works, nothing works forever.” I’ve also learned to be skeptical of advocates pushing one method over all others. My programming theory continues to evolve as we learn, read, and test.
2. Not HIT. Joe Kenn really influenced my TLU strength session design and the idea of training the entire body, each strength session, but modulating intensity. I’ve also developed other strength design theories, but Kenn’s general approach I found works really well for functional athletes who have a wide array of fitness demands including work capacity, endurance, stamina, etc. I’m not sure TLU is best to build pure strength, but I keep coming back to it for the athletes I work with where relatively modest relative strength (our strength standards) is enough.
3. Here’s a start for Reading:

Pat O’Shea, “Quantum Strength & Fitness”

Robert dos Remedios, “Power Training”

“Foundation Training”

Eric Cressey, “Maximum Strength”

“The Ultimate Offseason Training Manual”

Rippetoe and Kilgore, “Practical Programing for Strength Training”

Joe Kenn, “The Coach’s Strength Training Playbook”

Mike Boyle, “Advances in Functional Training”

Mark Vertegen, “Core Performance”

Gray Cook – “Functional Movement”

Vern Gambetta, “Athletic Development: Art and Science of Functional Sports Conditioning”

Zatsiorski and Kraemer, “Science and Practice of Strength Training”

LTC Grossman, “On Killing,” “On Combat”

Greg Shepard, “Bigger Faster Stronger”

Greg McMillan, “You, Only Faster”

Joel Friel, “Total Heart Rate Training”


I’ve been running for almost 40 years…not regularly but almost. I did the Ottawa half-marathon in 1h38 minutes in spring  2014 (at 40 years old I did the North-Conway NH half marathon in 1h 21minutes…but that was almost 20 years). I also do some race competition in ski-mo since 2 years.
I always been doing some rock climbing and ice climbing (Mt Washington, NH; Lake Willougby, VT); and other places.  Four weeks ago I went with a friend at Gothic Mountain in Adirondack. We did the approach with our skis, did the climbing and down with our skis (9hours). I had 40 pounds on my back …I Know it is way too much…but anyway… we had a nice day!
I definitely like to improve my strength. I’ve been reading the articles you post on your Website…I like to do everything…We follow almost the same cycle:
  1. Spring…finish skiing (like Tuckerman Ravine in Mt Washington) begin MTB and rock climbing
  2. Summer: rock climbing, cycling and sea kayak
  3. Fall: cross-country races, start training for skimo races, and ice climbing…
  4. Winter: doing ice climbing, skimo Races and cross-country skiing
I have access to a Rock Climbing Gym and I have a lot of gym apparel at home.
I have the privilege to have some friends who are really good alpinist. They are willing to eventually bring me in 2 or 3 years in the Bugaboos for rock climbing and eventually to a place like Denali…and I definitely like to improve my strength.
I’ve read your article on « Lessons learned programming fitness for mountain guides» and it really inspires me. I know that I needs to work on my Quads they were burning when I was at Gothic) and also on my hamstrings (for balance) and my core and my upper strength.
I would like to invest in your program in Mountain Athlete. Do you suggest me the Athlete Subscription Package or should I bought some specific programs and adjust them depending of the season, like the Alpine Rock Climbing training program or one of your AMGA training plan?
I definitely want to focus on your Mountain Athlete.
Note: Ice climbing grade: lead 3, follow 4 and a little bit in 5; rock climbing lead 5,7 in trad and follow 5,9.

 P.S. Sorry for my English. Leaving in Quebec, I speak mostly French.


You’re a badass!
I’d recommend you start our stuff with the Alpine Rock Climbing Training Program (http://strongswiftdurable.com/shop/alpine-rock-climb-training-program/)
If you do the plan, use 15# dumbbells for the Quadzilla Complexes.

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