Q&A 9.23.16



Love your training plans. I used to the PreSeason backpacker and Big Mtn V2 for training for this years hiking season in the PNW (I live in Vancouver, BC). I was in great shape for hiking in our area – day hikes and multi-night trips. I also cruised through a 7 day hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies. At 43, and with sedentary work, I was in the best shape I have ever been for carrying heavy weights in my pack overs trails with elevation gain and long distances. Many thanks to you and your team.



Good morning! I have followed your plans for years, completing the CCT/PJ trainup and the TACP Schoolhouse packet. I continue to keep my ear to the ground for new devlopments on how best to train including your ruck and pull-up studies.

I have found myself in a situation where using a gym is impossible and for a time being I have to forego bar-based strength training. But I am struggling without the clear goals which drove my powerlifting and the confidence along with it that I was making myself more durable. Could you recommend a strength standard to train and aim for which I could measure using my own bodyweight? One which could also be a gauge of when I am “strong enough,” and when I need to keep improving.

Thank you as always for the value you generously provide to curious athletes such as myself, and for all the work you do at MTI.


Easiest would be to look to APFT or other pft scoring systems.

From our stuff – completing Humility or Bodyweight Foundation would be where I sent you. These plans don’t have “standards” per say, but deploy assessments and re-assess – so provide motivation and incentive.

– Rob



I’m currently preparing the selection for the french equivalent of FBI HRT (the tests are very similar). The selection will take place in 40 weeks, and i have already done humility, Big 24 and i’m currently doing fortitude (Session 11).

What could be the optimal plan sequence to be as prepared as possible ?

I don’t want to be just the regular man who pass the selection, i want to be in the TOP 10% !


Most important is completing the FBI HRT Selection Training Plan the 9 weeks directly before selection.

By my count that gives you 31 weeks. I’d recommend after Fortitude you turn to my latest Operator programming encapsulated in our “Greek Hero” plan series:

Week     Plan

1-3         Fortitude (finish)

4            Rest/Unload

5-10       Hector: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-hector/

11           Rest/Unload

12-17     Apollo: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-apollo/

18          Rest/Unload

19-24     Achilles: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-achilles/

25          Rest/Unload

26-30     Perseus: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-perseus/

31          Rest/Unload

32-40     FBI HRT: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fbi-hrt-selection-training-plan/

You can purchase these plans individually at the links above, but with the exception of the FBI HRT plan, you also get access to them with a subscription to the website.

Good luck! The French tactical teams are super busy these days.

– Rob



Do you have any sample workouts for the above training plan?


At the product page for each individual training plan included in the packet there is a tab to “sample training” sessions:

Rat 6: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/

Ultimate Meathead: http://mtntactical.com/shop/ultimate-meathead-cycle/

357 Strength: http://mtntactical.com/shop/357-strength/

– Rob



I need a little guidance on where to begin to reach my goal. First, a little background me, I am a prior Marine and current patrol police officer. I got out of the Marine Corps about 14 months ago and miss the military life, I’m looking at trying to go into the National Guard with the REP 63 program. My problem is that Police hours and crappy food have gotten the better of me, so I’m pretty much starting from naught. I’m a larger framed individual 6’1″ and at the moment I’m at about 250 about 25-30 lbs heavier than where I’m most comfortable, with the lightest I’ve been since being an adult being 213. I’m definitely wired to be more anaerobic than aerobic, my average CFT scores were 290’s, PFT’s were in the 220-230’s.

So with that being said where should I begin? Which program or programs will get me to my goal? My line of thinking was either the LE or Military OnRamp (or a hybrid of the two) into either the SFRE or Ruck Selection?


First – fix your diet. 90% of fat is diet related. You can’t outwork a shitty diet. See our dietary recommendations here: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition

Over the years we’ve found our nutritional guidelines effective, and sustainable over the long run (i.e. years…).


Here’s what I recommend:

1) Military OnRamp: http://mtntactical.com/shop/on-ramp-training-plan/

2) Humility: http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/

3) SFRE Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/sfre-training-plan/

– Rob



1. Which of your programs do u recommend to prepare for a GoRuck Light?

2. How about for a GoRuck Tough/Light combo?

3. How can I test myself to determine my current level of fitness and know which of your training programs I need to start with?


1) GoRuck Challenge Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/?s=goruck+challenge)

2) GoRuck Heavy Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/?s=goruck+heavy)

3) Tough one. We program for the demands of the event, not the fitness of the athlete. A great plan for new athletes to our stuff, regardless of your fitness, is the Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/) Don’t be fooled by “bodyweight”. What is unique about this plan is it deploys and initial assessment, then follow-on progressions based upon your initial assessment. This way is automatically “scales” to the incoming fitness of the athlete.

– Rob



I am currently deployed and started working through the Operator Achilles program last week and I had a few questions.

I did Session 6 today and much like Sessions 1 and 3, I had problems getting through all 20 reps of the squat and bench.  I can get 12-13 in before I get too shaky and rack the weight.  I worked through the Russian Squat Routine prior to starting Operator Achilles to get my 1RMs up, and my 1RM squat is 230 and my 1RM bench press is 200.  Should I scale back my 1RM for calculating work weight for strength days?

And regarding the hinge lift, can you clarify the differences between the hinge lift and the Romanian deadlift?  I watched the exercise video and I see how it is much more hamstring dependent than the traditional deadlift, but it seems very similar to a Romanian deadlift. 

Lastly, I’ve never been much of a runner, never running more than 5 miles at a time. So, at the time, 8 miles on the last session of the week is a bit much.  Is it better to scale back the run to 4/5 miles or to run-walk the full 8?  I am unable to run outside, so I only have access to a manual treadmill for running.

Thanks for the great programming!


20x Reps for Squat and Bench …. no, stick with the prescribed load and really fight for the reps. If you need to rack, take 5 deep breaths and get back under the barbell …. break the remaining reps this way (with the 5 breath rest) until you get to 20 reps.

Hinge vs. Romanian Dead Lift – same, depending upon the individual coach’s RDL technique. Variances in what I could see as the definition of the RDL lead me to call what we do the “hinge” lift. It’s not a dead lift, and it’s not a straight leg dead lift.

Best to run/walk the full prescribed distance.

– Rob



Thank you for your programming and willingness to provide so many answers during what I imagine is a busy schedule.

I recently finished both the alpine rock and AFA programs. I wanted to reset a little before launching into the mixed/ice program for winter? What do you suggest?


I’d recommend Mountain Base Danae: http://mtntactical.com/shop/mountain-base-danae/

Danae is my most recent plan for mountain base fitness, and deploys my most evolved iteration of fluid periodization.

– Rob



I retire from the army this year in a few months, after many years in the Infantry I have a few herniated discs that I manage somewhat properly and at 52 years old I know my days of heavy rucking and long distance running are over. I have done marathons and Ultra’s but with my back can longer do those.

I am looking at your body weight programs as I have limited equipment, I have rings and plyo boxes. I want to find a plan like your  Body Weight build but looking at the sample plan a 9 mile run is not in my life at this time 🙂


I’d still recommend Bodyweight Foundation: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/

Cut the running in half if needed – or bike.

– Rob



I’ve used busy operator II, APFT Improvement, and your Pre-Ranger school plans.  I am currently working with large PT groups with little to no equipment other than a track and pull up bars.  What plan would work great for group PT sessions (with in my equipment limitations)?  We also have our rucks.


I’d recommend Bodyweight Foundation with a couple changes.

Change 1: Replace the unloaded running and intervals in the plan with either IBA runs, or rucks at 25#. You can still use the Run Interval Calculator (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/running-calculator/) and the athlete’s 2-Mile Assessment time for the 800m interval times.

Change 2: This is a 6 day/week plan. You can drop the long Saturday runs in the plan.

Change 3: For the second assessment – Week 4 – have your athletes wear their IBA’s or 25# Rucks for the squat, push up, lunge, pull up, calf raise, and dip assessments.

Plan Link: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/

Don’t be fooled by bodyweight. This plan is no joke!

– Rob



How’s it going? Just wanted to ask you which of your training programs would be best for split boarding? I really want to get faster this year and feel like your training programs are awesome. I don’t have access to a gym, so something simple would be great.

I was looking at the AMGA Ski Guide Training Course. Would that work?


I’d recommend our Backcountry Ski Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/backcountry-ski-training-program/ – if you had a gym.

No gym? – I’d recommend the AMGA Ski Guide Course: http://mtntactical.com/shop/amga-ski-guide-training-course/

– Rob



I was considering one of your programs but was moving around and realized how out of shape i was … is their any simple program for coming back from weight gain and serious out of shapeness the volume of stuff out their when i googled was just silly. i would be fine paying some $$ for info.



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

– Rob



I am seeking your advice. I am slotted to go to Sapper school 2JUN17 and am currently deployed until FEB17. Would you be able to recommend a training plan leading up to the Sapper training plan? I am still recovering from a shoulder injury that came from overuse and too much weight on bench. The only exercise I am still limited on is anything chest (push) but it’s slowly getting better. Any advice you could give on 1. A plan from now till Sapper and 2. Quicker shoulder recovery ideas, would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time Rob.

*There are no kettlebells or bumper plates at the gym where I am located but once I am back state side I will have full equipment access.


1) Start with a focused strength plan – Big 24 – , then roll into our new Greek Hero series of plans into the Sapper Plan. Greek Hero in this order: Hector, Apollo, Achilles, Perseus, Actaeon. You’ll want to complete the Sapper Leader Course plan directly before your selection.  All these plans (except Sapper) can be purchased individually. As well, all come with a subscription to the website.

Equipment Limitations? … You should be pretty good. Any of our exercises which calls for a Kettlebell can be completed with a dumbbell. For the oly lifts which require bumpers in our plans (won’t be too many) – do “hang” versions and you wont’ need bumpers.

2) Shoulder – You didn’t mention any issues with squats/cleans/hinge/pulls etc. For the pressing exercises you come across – complete with just one arm (good arm) until your shoulder is healed. Quicker Recovery – we’ve had pretty good luck with the Crossover Symmetry system.

– Rob



I am a 37 year old candidate for an elite U.K. armed forces group. I need to be able to do the below in November this year.

8 miles in 2 hours carrying a bergan (50lb for males, 39lb for females), rubber rifle and water (rifle and water not included in the weight).  The PTI will come in at around 1hr 55 mins , if you are with him then great, but as long as you come in within the 2 hours then you will pass.  If you fail this test you will be RTUd from the BC that day.

PFA (Personal Fitness Assessment)

Male – 60 press ups (in 2 mins), 70 sit ups (in 2 mins), 1.5 mile run in trainers (under 09 mins 30 secs if

Swim Test – (all phases – wearing MTP uniform shirt and trousers with jungle boots)

Ph1 – jump off a 10m diving board

Ph 2 – 30m swim with 18lb webbing and rubber rifle

Ph 3 – 200m swim In under 10 minutes

Ph 4 -10m underwater swim to retrieve a brick from the floor of the pool

(Again, not RTU from the BC if you fail any of these elements of the test but you will not be loaded onto Main Selection until you have completed the 10m jump)

I am relatively fit but my one and half mile time varies so much day to day it’s difficult to predict.(from 08:28 to 10:30)

Would any of your stock training plans help, if so what would you recommend or would you make a custom one up for me?

My training time is limited as I am a reservist.


I don’t have a perfect plan for you, but our Air Assault Training (http://mtntactical.com/shop/air-assault-school-training-plan/) is very close. I’d recommend this plan with the following changes.

1) Change the 2 mile run in the APFT assessment to 1.5 miles. Use the Run Interval Calculator (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/running-calculator/) and your 1.5 mile assessment time to get the interval paces for your 400m and 800m follow-on intervals.

2) Change the Wednesday Ruck Assessment to 8 miles and increase the load to 50#. Use the Ruck Interval Calculator (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/ruck-interval-calculator/) to find your follow-on 2-mile ruck interval times.

3) Change Saturday’s long ruck to 2-mile ruck intervals based on your 8-mile Ruck Assessment Time. Rest 5 minutes between intervals. See below for the # of intervals to run:

Week     # of 2-Mile Ruck Intervals

1            2

2            3

3            2

4            3

5            4


4) Change Session 14 (Tuesday, Week 3) to another 8-mile Ruck Assessment, and use your new assessment time for your intervals for weeks 3-5.

5) Change Session 31 to a final APFT and Session 32 to a final 8-mile Ruck Assessment. Make Session 36 total rest.

6) Swimming …. This plan does not include swimming, but the swimming you describe seems more a test to see if you can swim, rather than measure your swimming fitness. I’d recommend you get into the pool a couple times over the course of this plan and complete these tests …. make sure you are familiar with the tests and can easily complete them in the time allowed.

Complete this plan the 6-weeks directly before your event.

Good luck!

– Rob



I’m looking for your recommendation for a plan to prep for starting the SF Q course early next spring March/April while maintaining and maybe improving my rock climbing.  (I’m focusing on lower commitment bouldering and sport climbing right now).  I’ve been debating between something like the mountain guide program or doing a hybrid climbing specific and military program.

I have completed several of your plans in the past (Apollo, ruck based selection)  and have a relatively high general level of fitness, some baselines are below.  My weakest area is raw strength and strongest is maintaining a quick pace over longer distances both loaded and unloaded.  Right now my stamina/recovery is quite a bit lower than it has been due to my focus on mostly climbing specific training lately, most of my loaded training has been hiking a crashpad/pack (20-35#) into Colorado alpine climbing areas.


Boulder V8 usually within one session

Sport- consistently onsight 5.12c

5mi run- average around 31 minutes

Squat 1RM- 245lbs

Deadlift 1RM- 315lbs

Clean 1RM- 195lbs

What are your thoughts? Let me know if you would like anymore info, and thanks a bunch for any advice you can swing my way.


Congrats on SFAS!

Q-Course? I’d recommend our Q-Course Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/special-forces-qualification-course-training-plan/

Focused climbing work? Rock Climbing Pre-Season Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/pre-season-rock-climb-training-plan/

You could run these concurrently – either on alternate days and/or by doing the Q-Course plan in the AM and climbing in the PM. Just watch for overtraining.

You’ll want to complete the Q-Course plan directly before the course. Between now and then? I’d recommend our Mountain Base “Greek Heroine” series. Start with Helen: http://mtntactical.com/shop/mountain-base-helen/

These cycles include climbing fitness.

– Rob



Little background,

·         I had shoulder surgery on 4 March

·         Once medically cleared, I completed your one-armed injury plan

·         Afterwards I did a strength cycle (starting strength) to rebalance the muscle in the injured shoulder (10 weeks)

·         I’m just finishing the on-ramp training plan this week

·         I’m still not up to the strength standards, specially lacking in bench and push press

I’m now looking to improve my rucking endurance, specifically targeting the new Canadian FORCEcombat test (attached)

I think my best bet would be the Operator Ulysses, but I’m looking for some confirmation.

What would you recommend?


Your plan is solid. I’d recommend Operator Ulysses (http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-ulysses/) – it’s a great fit – with one change.

As I read this assessment, your ruck load is 30kg = 66#.

Increase the loading for the Session 2 assessment, and all the follow-on Tuesday intervals to 30kg or 66#.

Replace the prescribed follow-on 400 and 800m intervals with 3 Rounds of 1 mile intervals.

Use the Ruck Calculator (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/ruck-interval-calculator/) and your 3 mile assessment time to determine your 1 mile interval times.

So Tuesdays will be:

3 Rounds

Ruck Run 1 Mile @ Interval Pace based on your most recent 3 mile assessment, @ 30kg Ruck

Rest 5 minutes between efforts.

– Rob



if the “357 Strength” and the “Run Improvement” plans are conducted simultaneously, will they contradict or hamper each other?

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Probably. You don’t increase fitness by training. You increase fitness by recovery after training. Doubling up will reduce your recovery time for each plan.

It also depends somewhat on your incoming fitness. The more fit you are, the less you’ll have to recover.

Options …

1) Do 2-a-days, 357 in the AM, Run at night.

2) Alternate Sessions – i.e. 357 Monday, Run Improve Tuesday, 357 Wednesday, etc.

3) Complete Fortitude which combines strength and military endurance (running and ruck running). http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/

– Rob



First off, awesome site and newsletter.  I got hooked on the North Face Mountain Athlete App and really enjoyed the general fitness and ultra running plans.  I’m feeling a little rudderless at the moment and I’m looking for a plan.  Here’s my profile:

38/M 6’2 195# (used to be 260)

Police Sergeant/SWAT Sniper in Eastern PA

Ultra Runner (50K level) and Adventure Racer (24hr+ races) I’m not very fast but I have good endurance

Father of 3, Scoutmaster of my son’s troop.  I work every other weekend and have a Scout trip once a month.  We do 12 hr shifts switching from days to nights every 2 weeks. 

For 2017 I’m registered for Georgia Death Race (68miles, 40K elevation gain, 24 hrs) and looking for a 3-day adventure race.  Will definitely be racing 24+ races mostly in PA/MD/WV/NY.   

I will be starting a new plan in mid-October after I race the US Adventure Racing National Championship.   

I want to maximize my training time because of my busy schedule.  I’m thinking of starting with the Ultra preseason plan then moving to the 50 miler plan.  But I want  to make sure that the plan is flexible enough. 

Also, when I buy a plan, what is the format?  PDF? daily e-mail? app?

Thanks for helping me out, and thanks for all the awesome shit you guys do!


I’m not sure your race schedule, but in general, the further you are from your event or season, the more general your training should be. As a ultra/endurance athlete, to me this means here in the early offseason, I’d like to see you pull back on your endurance and spend some time working on strength using our Offseason Strength Plan for Endurance Athletes: http://mtntactical.com/shop/off-season-strength-for-endurance-athletes/

I’m careful to tell the endurance athletes that strength training may not improve their race performance. I tell them it will increase their durability.

This plan not only includes strength training, but also a great reduction in running/endurance – this reduction in volume plus the strength training can combat overuse injuries.

If you’re determined to keep running, the Pre-Season Ultra Plan does include strength training, and the volume is not great for someone like you.

Finally – as a tactical athlete, I believe your job-related fitness demands must take precedence over your recreational fitness demands. Unless you’re a mutant, given your endurance schedule, my sense is you need some strength, sprinting-based work capacity, TAC SEPA, explosiveness and upper body mass for your role as a LE Athlete. Training for these attributes will negatively affect your endurance race performance – but I feel these should take priority.

One way to see where you stack up on the tactical side would be to take our LE Athlete Fitness Assessment: http://mtntactical.com/fitness/le-athlete-fitness-assessment/

Plan access is online only. Not a .pdf download. You’ll receive a username/password, and access to the plan.

Sorry for the lecture and good luck, regardless.

– Rob



My name is R. and I have not signed a contract for the army, yet. I really want to try to get the option 40 in my contract so that I can go to Ranger School. My question for you is, what program/plan should I buy to help me get in the best shape for Ranger School and possibly some other plans for APFT?

Also, do I have to subscribe to get the plans or can I just buy the plans separate?


Many have used our Ranger School Training Plan successfully for Ranger School (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/). But you’d want to do this plan directly before Ranger School.

I have a couple other recommendations for you now:

1) Air Assault School Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/air-assault-school-training-plan/.

This plan includes focused APFT work, as well as rucking, and upper fitness designed to prepare guys for the O-Course and other general work capacity efforts. It’s a great, all around, military-specific training plan.

2) APFT Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/apft-plan/)

This plan is laser-focused on improving your APFT score.

You can purchase both plans individually. The APFT Plan is included with your subscription if you want to subscribe, the Ranger plan isn’t.

– Rob



Just finishing up with the 357 Strength plan. Really liking the results I’m getting!

Do you have any recommendation on what program I should go with next. My overall goal is strength and body re-comp.

Thanks so much! Keep up the good work.


Next I’d recommend Achilles: http://mtntactical.com/shop/operator-achilles/

Achilles deploys my most recent evolution of Fluid Periodization. You’ll train strength, work capacity, TAC SEPA (Tactical Speed, Explosive Power and Agility), Chassis Integrity and Endurance (long unloaded runs this cycle).

On the strength side the focus is on 3x classic lifts – Back Squat, Bench Press and Power Clean. Back Squat and Bench Press deploy “super squats” progression … 20x reps, 3 breaths between each …. at up to 85% 1RM – Killer! Super Squats is one of the most efficient strength progressions we’ve every used.

We use our Big 24 progression for the power cleans in the plan.

The work capacity efforts are short, intense and bodyweight focused.

If you haven’t our Chassis Integrity programming, you’ll get introduced to my latest iteration of functional core strength training. These long circuits not only train the hell our of your mid-section, but also are a fairly intense work capacity effort in their own right.

Achilles is one of the 120+ plans which comes with a subscription. You can also purchase the plan at the link above.

– Rob



I’m a 28 year old male in EMS who was generally well-fit before I had a leg fracture in November 2015.  (My agency didn’t have a standardized test, but I could regularly score around 280 on the APFT before the injury.)  My doctor and physical therapist both cleared me.  I rushed the gun, and wound up re-injuring myself after a two workouts.  When the doctor again cleared me, I decided to use your “Post Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan” to reintroduce myself to my typical workouts.  The plan worked very well for me, and I was back on the horse by July 2016. 

However, this had me thinking about the long term effects of continuous physical fitness.  All of a sudden, the words of wisdom from the old guys in my department keep coming back to me: “listen to your body.”  To be completely honest, I have no idea what that means.  Up until my injury, I had not taken a day off for any reason other than I planned to take the day off (typically on Saturdays).

How can I know whether or not to take a rest day or reduce my workload?


We program in unload/rest weeks between our cycles for our daily programming for tactical athletes. As well, we mostly design 5/2, or 4/3 work/rest training schedules – so tactical athletes get at least 2 full days rest per week.

That being said, I’m 48 and regularly train or am very active 6-7 days/week, and here in Jackson, I’m not alone.

How can you know??? – some coaches like to use resting heart rate as a gauge for over training … – measured when their athletes first wake up.

I’ll use the progressions in our plans/cycles – if athletes aren’t making the progressions, I pull back on their work load.

– Rob


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