Q&As 6/11/15


Questions include: Using the Big Mountain Training Plan to reach goals that more similarly match the Peakbagger Plan, Bodyweight Plan for non-athletes, Department Fitness Programming Strategy, How much prep is required before starting the APFT Training Plan, SWAT Operator fitness, How to Taper Training to Run the Matterhorn, Training for a Marathon with a Hurt Shoulder and more…



Thanks for the direction here.  We are really excited about the trip, and I know I’m much stronger and fit than I was back in January when I started the [Big Mountain Training] program.   It’s been fun to compare the times/weights now with what I did previously.  The improvement is obvious.

My 16 yr old son is a national-level, mid-distance, year-round swimmer (200m and 500m events).  He’s big and strong with a lung capacity and fitness level that won’t quit.  Your program is a God-send for me since I’m an engineer with accounting tendencies.  Without your training program I simply would not be able to keep up.  



Just a quick email to let you know that your training programs have virtually changed my whole life.  I am a Correctional Supervisor with the Tasmania Prison Service. I am in the Tactical Response Group which just recently introduced annual fitness assessments.  I have always been strong but not cardiovascular fit, I am 183 cm tall and was weighing in at around 113kgs.  I spoke to a friend of mine in our Fed Pol international deployment group (fittest guy I know) about the best way to start and he told me that he had done your 4 week bodyweight program as part of his program to go through SASR selection. So I gave it a go and have not stopped with that! I am now down to about 95kg I can run 10 km in 45 minutes, get to 8 on the beep test Avon C50 respirator on  I can do 50 push ups in 60 seconds. I am as strong and fit as I have ever been in my life!

I am coming to the states in July to do a 3 week course for work (Close Quarter Riot Control) so I am focused for the next seven weeks to absolutely smash the fitness so I am in peak condition! I will have a look at the new program though I am very interested in it.  I really liked the FBI Hostage Rescue Program but due to family (read 2 year old that doesn’t like sleep) and work (full time job in the prison service and we own a  pharmacy) commitments I struggled to get time for the amount of work outs I needed to do during the week – so It dropped off but I incorporate components of the work out in to my normal routine.  I will check out the SASR  package and maybe plan to start it when I get back from the states in August – we have just employed another person in your business to do a lot of the paper work stuff I am currently doing!

Any way keep up the good work  – I have told all my mates (male and female) about you when they ask about what I am doing and how I lost weight etc.  I don’t think a lot of them believe me when  is say ‘exercise and sensible eating – and it started with a 4 week bodyweight program’.





I’m just completing week 9 of Rat 6. I’m looking at the fortitude plan next and have a question about the sessions.


Majority of the strength sessions call for bench press and hinge lift in the same round, I’m working out of my own garage gym and I have 1 Olympic barbell and 150kg of weights. Does the time allotted for these sessions account for switching the weights around between bench and hinge or do you use two separate barbells?


I’m thinking about how best to complete these two moves back to back?

Should I :


  1. A) complete as prescribed and change the weights and do bench and hinge lift each round.


  1. B) any other suggested method you can think of?


Really enjoying the programs, and your nutritional guidelines really helped me.


It’s amazing how shit I feel after a cheat day on a weekend. The stomach ache keeps me focused on clean eating during the week. Thanks for your time.



Way too much time and work to switch plates back and forth between 1 barbell.




1) Do the exercises independently – All hinge reps first, then all Bench Reps.


2) Substitute loaded walking lunges for the hinge lift – and use dumbbells/kettlebells or sandbags for it, and stick with the bench press.


I’m glad the nutritional guidelines worked for you.



I had previously purchased your Big Mountain Training Plan (potentially before you had the Peak Bagger Plan) but the description of the PB more closely matches my endeavors in the mountains. Is there any reason that I can’t use the BM Plan to reach similar goals as those in the PB plan? Or are they training different competencies?


Appreciate any insights you can provide.


Also any recommendations for in season maintenance for mountain biking (more all mountain/trail riding) (similar to in season maintenance for skiing)?


Thanks for  your help.



You don’t need to purchase the Peak Bagger Plan.


Skip the first 4 weeks of Big Mountain and just complete the final 6 weeks. Note – this stuff is intense and initially will fatigue you and leave you sore for weekend excursions. So if you’re in the middle of it now – or are hitting the hills on the weekends, you can still do the plan, just take Friday’s off for sure, and Thursdays if needed. In general, you don’t want gym-based training to hurt your mountain fun and performance.


Don’t skip ahead in the plan, however, when you return to train, start again where you left off. The programming is progressive – and builds upon itself.


In-Season maintenance for Mountain Biking? I’d recommend the In-Season Strength Training Plan for Endurance Athletes: http://mtntactical.com/shop/in-season-strength-training-plan-for-endurance-athletes/



I just started the bodyweight training yesterday and loved the workout!  I’m really sore today but I love it!  My question is about one of today’s movements, the EO, what counts as a rep?  Also my wife is looking to start working out again and I was wondering if you have a beginner bodyweight for a non athlete?

Thanks for the program and your help.



EO – 1x swivel each way is one rep, so 5x EO’s = 5x to the right, 5x back to the left = 10x total.


I’m currently building a Bodyweight Foundation Plan – hope to have it done this week or next – for athletes like your wife.



Our department is working to develop a physical fitness program. A chief officer has written a draft policy to guide the program, and given company officers a chance to review it and offer feedback. I have attached a PDF copy of the draft policy to this email.


Would it be possible for you to look over the policy and provide your opinion on it, and any advice for establishing a physical fitness program?



Before I comment specifically on your Department’s proposal – Below are the steps and considerations I’d recommend for Fire/Rescue units wanting to establish physical fitness programs.


1) Identify the Fitness Demands of the Job

To get buy in, and address potential legal issues, a fitness program, and especially fitness assessments, must demonstrate correlation to the fitness demands of the actual job. Fitness training must transfer to job performance. You don’t need to do this in isolation, the NFPA documents 1582 and 1583 have done the work already, and there are several other studies that support firefighter fitness demands of aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition and flexibility.


2) Require Two Annual Fitness Assessments: One Fitness Based and one Job-Based.

NFPA 1582 has very specific recommendations on the assessments required for the fitness based assessment – i.e. a 12-minute run test for aerobic capacity, 1RM Bench Press for muscular strength, 60 second push ups and sit ups for muscular endurance and a skin fold test for body composition. Additionally, the Cooper Institute recommends specific assessments for each of these attributes. I would also recommend a Job Specific Performance Assessment, or “Firefighter Ability Test” in turnout gear to include charged hose pulling, stair climbing, ladder hauling and raising, dummy drag and equipment shuttle. Two studies in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research identify on-the job fitness demands of firefighters and the usefulness of a grinder-style job-specific performance assessment like to to asses these demands. I’d recommend each assessment be required annually, 6 months apart.


NFPA 1582 recommends these assessments not have jeopardy – i.e. could lead to discipline, termination, or promotion prevention. I disagree, and feel the assessments should carry jeopardy. Two reasons – jeopardy gives the program teeth and signals that leadership takes fitness seriously. Second, chances are, the best department performers are already professional about their fitness, and fitness assessments without jeopardy can lead to dissension from this important group, and send the wrong signal to younger, newer athletes.


One issue is the older athletes. This can be addressed by developing scaled fitness assessment standards based on age. This would be appropriate for the fitness-based assessment, but not the job-based assessment – where standards should be uniform.


3) Required Medical Exam

Most the Departments I researched which had required fitness assessments also had required annual medical exams or physicals. This is important for firefighters simply because it verifies they are healthy enough to take the assessments, as well as acknowledging many are older – in their 50’s – and that half of all fire-ground related deaths are caused by cardiovascular disease.


4) Time and Equipment To Train on Duty, and At the Station

The bigger goal here is to create a strong “culture of fitness” at the department, and if the department is going to require fitness assessments, it should also give firefighters time and equipment to train on duty – 1.5 hours each day to accommodate clothes changes. Equipment can be cheap and easy – basic would be a couple sets of dumbbells, a pull-up/dip station, and some sandbags. You can get more fancy from there, but keep it functional – racks, barbells, medicine balls, kettlebells, etc. and stowable. Avoid universal machines, treadmills, etc.


5) Provide Sport-Specific Training Plans for the Fitness Assessments

If the fitness assessments are required, and have jeopardy, the department should provide 6-8 week specific training plans just for the assessments, and require firefighters to follow the plans leading up to the assessments. Put your people in position to succeed.


6) Provide and Require Department-wide Transferable Programming and Daily Training Sessions

It’s too much for Departments to expect firefighters to design their own training programs. As well, it’s too much to expect “Peer Fitness Counselors” to do this. Finally, I believe there is no such thing as “Big Boy” Rules for fitness – either at the individual or station level. What happens is athletes end up doing what they like to do or are have always done. Allowing Captains or crew chiefs to program for their stations/crews also doesn’t work. The Captains and crew chiefs will also program what they are good at, or what they’ve always done. Daily firefighting programming must train the fitness attributes which are transferable to the fire grounds, be efficient, periodized (not random) and address the “Burden of Constant Fitness” – i.e. have enough variety and progressions to keep athletes engaged. This means seeking outside professional strength and conditioning programming support. Requiring every station to do the same training session daily sets a department-wide standard, and also builds department-wide camaraderie.


7) Address Nutrition and Lifestyle

Firefighters are professional athletes, and professional athletes don’t eat crap. At a minimum, station meals should be clean – meat, veggies, fruit, no sugar, etc. It’s difficult to mandate what athletes eat away from the station, but if the annual fitness assessment includes a body composition test and has jeopardy, athletes will get the message. As well, pro athletes don’t smoke, chew, etc. The goal here is to create a culture of health, along with fitness.



Addressing blowback – implementing a fitness program could be met with resistance from union leadership and veteran firefighters. I’m not an authority on how to address these concerns – my only advice would be to not reinvent the wheel. Other departments have faced this resistance and prevailed. Learn from them. One recent example is the Colorado Springs Police Department. In general, there may be less resistance in a Fire Department because fitness assessments and programs seem to be much more prevalent than with law enforcement.


Legal Concerns – The main  comes with jeopardy. If fitness assessments and medical exams can lead to discipline or termination, lawsuit potential increases. Again, I’m not the authority here, but in general, fitness assessments must be job-related and scientifically based to prevail.


Now own to your Departments proposed plan ….


What I like about it –

– Provide time on duty to train and requires it


What I don’t like about it –

– No fitness assessments

– No required programming support – leaves it up to the individual

– Peer Fitness Trainers – These individuals are put in impossible positions – being asked to program without learning how. Personal trainer and other course don’t teach this in general, and especially for firefighters. The NSCA’s TSAC program also avoids this. We teach programming at our seminars, but have found that when back at the unit, individual operators find they simply have too much to do to follow through and program. We are currently developing daily programming for firefighters which we hope to have up and running this Summer as a resource.

– No required medical exam

– Doesn’t provide uniform at-station equipment

– Emphasis on “safe” training. There is a disconnect here with the nature of the profession. There are very few things firefighters can do in the weight room or while fitness training that are as dangerous as fighting fires. You can’t expect firefighters to trail like Jane Fonda at the station, then turn in on and perform with the physical intensity demanded by the most dangerous situations at the fire. Fighting fires can get intense, physical and anaerobic fast. Fire situations can demand strength and stamina. Fitness training should include this level of intensity, or department leaders are sending their firefighters into fires unprepared physically. As well, we’ve found intense physical training events can build and maintain mental fitness.


Sorry for the book in response!



I’ve got a friend of mine that I’m stationed with that I showed the Fundamental Four program to and he really liked the split. He’s on the bulky side as a gym rat and is also a prime candidate for the SF45 methods of lifting. While we were barbecuing after work he had mentioned to me that he was doing endurance work 3-4x week and strength twice and thus I showed him your article on the fundamental four.


I’ve got a question though, that has to do more with how our gym is laid out. It’s on the small/cramped side so doing bench and hinge lift isn’t as feasible as you laid out. Is it kosher to pair the upper body press and upper body pull and lower body press and lower body pull off then?



I think you could get away pairing the Fundamental Four (http://mtntactical.com/strong-swift-durable-articles/the-fundamental-four-strength-cycle-front-squat-weighted-pull-up-hinge-lift-bench-press-2-daysweek/) Bench Press and Weighted Pull up in the same circuit, but not the Hinge (lower body pull) and Front Squat (lower body press). These lower body lifts are just too full-body intense, especially as the programming progresses.


One substitute you could make is to sub loaded walking lunges for the Hinge Lift – increase the reps to 5x – so do 8 rounds of 5x Walking Lunges. While doing walking lunges you’ll feel your quads, but the next day it’s your butt/hamstrings that will be sore. For this reason, I consider walking lunges a lower body pull/posterior chain exercise.



I have just been introduced by one of my Soldiers to your webpage and I watched the About our training programs vid on YouTube.


To be honest. When you stated that all military are professional athletes and must take on their fitness with professionalism, I knew you couldn’t be more right! As a military serviceman (currently NG) I know I have to step my game up a notch, and take it as serious as I have any of my training and schools.


Brings me to my question for you. We are starting the APFT 6 week program. It states that “this is an intense program, and if we’ve not been completing Military Athlete programming for several weeks prior, do not be surprised if we are unable to finish these sessions.”


Obviously, since just being introduced to your work, we have not. In order to attain the best APFT score, should we just give all we got each session and get as far as we can? Should we scale it back a notch? Are we setting ourselves up for injury?


I love your work Rob, and look forward to following more of your training programs!



Jump in … and see how you do. There may not be an issue.


Good luck!



Thank you for the fast responses to my emails, it is great to see this rare—nowadays—customer service.  In any case, my brother suggested your fitness plans/programming and admittedly I was reticent to check out the site, as he mentioned it has it was and wasn’t like Crossfit.  The reason for this—in short—I explored Crossfit in Las Vegas back in ’06 and was stole away by Mark Philippi and joined his gym.  I wasn’t very knowledgeable about “real” training—but learned there—at least what is good and not good.  So here I am working with SSD programming, this is really good stuff!

Thank you in advance should you choose to answer all my questions, there are a few.

  • What are your thoughts for supplementation with the current recommendations for athletes Pre and Post workout (i.e. creatine, beta-alanine, BCAA’s, Beet juice (?) and Glutamine for pre/post workout)?  Good, bad, too much of a crutch?
  • I have been following the Body Weight I plan and I have observed that my pushups and pull-ups haven’t really improved much.   What would one, at 45 and reasonably fit, expect to see in the last week for pushups and pull-up numbers during the complexes?  BTW, my leg fitness is improved; I have no problems with full leg blasters now!
  • When I see 12x EO’s I don’t really know what constitutes an EO. Is it a certain distance traveled or more or less 12 movements or wriggles if you will?  I’ve been doing meters in distance, realistic or missing the mark?
  • I see a need to substitute, at times, a need to row or do something else for the running activities for security and safety.  What could I do to get something reasonably equivalent?



  1. No strong recommendation either way. Every once in a while I’ll drink a whey protein shake after training, but not often now. The science and data seem sometimes influenced by supplement sponsors.
  2. Everyone is different and it depends somewhat on your “training age” in that attribute. For example, if you had done a bazillion pushups and pull ups before starting the plan, your increases would be much less than if you had avoided these exercises. However, sometimes endurance guys with little upper body training suck no matter what.
  3. 12x EO’s = 12x to the right, then 12x back to the left, 24x total.
  4. You can sub in other exercises – row, bike, step ups, etc. Think time, not distance. So a 4 mile run at 9 min/miles takes 36 minutes. Row for 36 minutes at a moderate pace.



I have just recovered from a re-injured back problem and have been under both an orthopedic and chiropractic doctors care so no medical questions for you. That was 1.5 months ago and I am back to some running (1-3 miles) and rucking (4-5 miles under 35-45#). So I am looking for some direction and your Valor (Work Capacity, Running, Rucking) program caught my interest. The time frame for it seems to work for me as well. So here is my question. I plan to use this program – Valor (Work Capacity, Running, Rucking) Then at the completion if it do the APFT program as the timing for the completion of the APFT program works right into…guess what.. my APFT..

Plan sound good or bad?

My goal?

Primarily looking to keep the 51 year old combat chassis in shape to serve 2 more years before I retire..



Solid plan …. but note Valor is no joke. Don’t be afraid to take extra days rest to recover. You can also drop the loading some on the work cap events if needed.



I’ve been following your Ruck Based Selection program plus the step up routine and mini events from your “Backcountry Big Game” plan to prepare for an upcoming endurance race. I have a few questions that I was wondering if you could help me with.


  1. Step ups.  This may sound like a stupid question but I was watching your video on how to properly perform them and you guys explain how you need to alternate steps while doing them. I was wondering if doing long stretches of the same leg takes away from the sport specificity of the exercise? I’ve been alternating them but I’ve found that I could better keep accurate count of how many I’ve done by doing them in single leg stretches. (Example: 50 step ups right leg, 50 step ups left leg, etc…)


  1. Due to some unexpected personal events, I had to start the programs 6 week out instead of 8 weeks out.  As far as tapering is concerned, do you suggest I do the first 4 weeks, then skip to the last two weeks of tapering? Or do 5 weeks of the program and one week of the taper?


How far out do you suggest I stop doing high volume step ups? My race starts on June 26th at 1am and will most likely end at some point Sunday.



1) Alternate feet Adam. We’ll use hand clickers or pennies in the pocket to keep count.


2) Do 5 weeks, then skip to the last week of the taper.


3) 2x days total rest before your race.


Good luck!



I am a Soldier in my country’s army and have just discovered your site. I purchased the body weight Plan 1 and it is a really good plan. I plan on subscribing, but unfortunately i do not have access to a gym very often. A limited equipment or body weight option for the subscription would be awesome. I have read in your Q&A that you’d be releasing a bodyweight foundation plan this week. I am really interested in that for my wife. We just got a baby and she wants to start with sport again. If there will be no such plan, is there an other option for her you would recommend? Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany!!



I’d hoped to have the foundation plan out this week but wasn’t able too. It will be out next week and is the best plan for your wife.



I am a recently commissioned 2LT. We used a plan you designed for our Ranger Challenge team to prepare for Sandhurst. Im now on tdy before I start medical service BOLC in a few months but am hoping to pick up a Ranger School slot after BOLC but before heading off to my unit, estimating a start date in November. I’ve been drinking beer and living the celebratory life so my fitness has slipped and I am hesitant to jump right in and get an over-training injury so before I bought any of the plans y’all have I wanted to see if you had any suggestions for working to a base I could really begin cranking out the harder stuff.



I’d recommend you use the Military Athlete OnRamp Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/on-ramp-training-plan/) to get back up to speed, then roll into the Ranger School Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/



I’m sure you are a busy guy but I’m hoping you can point me in the best direction before I make a purchase. SWAT testing with my department is in 5 months and I’ve basically got a spot as long as I perform which should be no issue. My fitness is strong but I really want to be over the top ready.


Can you recommend a plan to purchase to help prep for the test and that will build ideal fitness/performance attributes for success as a SWAT operator long term?  The test is a lot endurance running, timed 1.5 mile, push-ups, sit-ups. But I want to maintain mass and strength, and some strength endurance for the long term also.



We’re currently at work to develop a SWAT Selection Training Plan – we’ve done quite a bit of research and are requesting input from departments about their selection’s fitness demands.


You – now I’d recommend you subscribe the website and follow the LE Officer Sessions and start at the beginning of the most recent training cycle: 5.25.15


6 weeks prior to SWAT Selection, cancel your subscription (you can cx at any time) and complete our SWAT Selection Training – which should be completed by then.


If you’re hesitant to subscribe, Start now with the SWAT/SRT Kickstart Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/swatsrt-kickstart-training-program/


It’s an awesome plan.



Prior to going to Afghanistan I tried a program you guys designed and it really helped us out.

I am hoping to attend our SF selection this Sept/ Oct. It’s similar to your green beret selection and assessment two weeker.

I have a pretty solid strength, power and speed base after training with the local provincial rugby team all winter.

I was wondering if you guys had a training program that could help me out for the next few months. I still have requirements to practice and play rugby Tuesday, Thursday and games most Saturdays.

Any advice would be greatly helpful.



8 Weeks Prior to Selection I recommend you complete our Ruck-Based Selection Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/


Between now and then – the issue now is your Rugby practice and games and avoiding overtraining.


What I’d recommend is training heavy strength now to compliment the work capacity training you’re getting through Rugby. Strength now will help build durability for Selection.


The Plan I’d recommend is Rat 6 Strength: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/


Follow the sessions in this plan in order – don’t skip ahead, and do them Monday, Wed and Friday. Take Sunday’s off, total rest. If you have problems recovering, also take Friday completely off for rest.


We’re currently researching to build Selection Specific plans for CSOR and JTF2. Guys have used the Ruck Based Selection Plan successfully before, but we want to get even more specific. I build the Ruck Plan with a focus on the US SFAS.


Good luck!



I am working through your Big Mountain Training Program in preparation for a run at the Matterhorn in August with a team arranged by Christian Santelices (Exum/Arial Boundaries).  I started the program in January, completed it, and am now back in Week 5 for a second 10 week program.  This means I complete week 10 on 7/3.  I love the program/work and am definitely stronger.  For a 49 year-old this is some good stuff, and I even make many of the weight recommendations.

My question is in regards to tapering.  We fly to Europe on 7/22 and do our first climb 7/27 after a few days to get on local time.  I have a couple of extra weeks after completing the 10 week program on 7/3 and flying on 7/22.  I’ve thought about re-doing the first few weeks of the program or going back to week five.  I don’t want to lose the fitness I’ve built, but I also want to make sure I’m recovered before climbing proper. I am wondering what sort of thoughts you have or guidance you can offer regarding tapering.  I want to be fully rested when we start climbing, but at my age the fitness drops rapidly.

Any suggestions you can offer will be very much appreciated.  Thanks in advance for your help!



Your 7/22-7/27 rest to fly and acclimate is enough. You can train hard up to 7/22 – don’t need a taper.


Repeat weeks 7&8 in the plan, then finish week 10 on 7/17. Do an easy run on the Monday and Tuesday before you depart.


Good luck and have fun! Christian is awesome!



What packet style progression would you recommend to someone looking to complete RASP?



Here’s are the plans and order I’d recommend:


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

2) Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/

3) Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/

4) RASP I&II Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rasp-12-training-plan/



I’ve tried a couple of your plans and love your programming. I was wondering if you could make a recommendation; I’m headed to USMC Field Radio Operator school (where I’ll basically be an infantryman with a radio strapped to me). I have a pretty good fitness level, I’m looking for something that will keep me well rounded in my performance, but I’d also like to try and get into a little better shape (not like a bodybuilder, but I’ve gained a little weight and want to tone/cut up a little.) I’ve completed your Hypertrophy & Bodyweight programs and enjoyed them and I’ve tried the sample workouts from the Ultimate meathead cycle, 357 strength and Valor plans and really enjoy all 3 of those. I am just trying to figure out what might be the best to go with (or even a different plan). Thanks for any recommendations



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



I want to start training for the marathon, but I hurt my shoulder (rotator cuff that I can’t afford to fix) several months ago and it really hinders my upper body core and strength training. I’m a solid runner but I want the full body workout.


I’ve never heard of your gym until today and really like what you have going, do you think you can get me on a program that will help me?



I’d recommend our Training Program for Athletes Suffering Arm Injury: http://mtntactical.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-arm-injury/


This isn’t a rehab program for your injured shoulder, but trains the rest of your body around the injury.



I’ve followed your organization off and on for years.  I’m 6’4, 240 pounds, 59 years old and recovering from a partial knee replacement done in September.  I’ve always been very active; backpacked/long day hikes, played competitive basketball and did boot camp workouts until I was about 56 when I let the arthritis in my knee bring me to a grinding halt.  I want to improve my fitness so I can get back to long day hikes and backpacking, but I don’t have a lot of time each day for workouts.  Where do you suggest I start?  I have Olympic weights, kettlebells, medicine balls, boxes and a sand bag sitting in my garage.  I need a plan and a kick in the ass.



I’m not sure if your knee will be able to take it, but a great place to start would be the Busy Operator Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/busy-operator-training-plan/).


What might help with your knee is to sub biking for any endurance running or rucking. Think time – not miles. So if the plan calls for a 4 mile run, and you’d run 10 min/miles, bike for 40 minutes.



In regards to your article about the Fundamental Four Lifts for strength training I have one question/suggestion.  Instead of the Front Squat, maybe the Squat Clean.  That way, you are throwing in that explosive lift while still completing that front squat.  I know you’re not going to be lifting as much as you would if you were Front Squatting only, but I feel that power clean or hang clean aspect gives you that explosive power that, for me at least, would be longing for.  And I think that explosive power is very useful for all athletes, even us tac athletes.  But it’s just a thought.  Thanks.



I’m somewhat biased by my creaky old knees!


But as well, often technique can get in the way of training and this is an issue with all cleans – I’ve found this especially with senior tactical athletes in their 30-40’s.


I’ve found the easiest clean variation for athletes to learn is the Hang Squat Clean.


My favorite, total body exercise is the “Craig Special” (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/mnt438-craig-special/), which is a Hang Squat Clean plus a Front Squat.


You could sub this in for the Front Squats in the Fundamental 4.



I’ve been a huge fan of your training philosophy for years now. As a member of the Australian Army I used several of your programs for general training and specific training for deployments to the Middle East.


I have recently joined Australian Customs with a work cycle of 28 days on board a vessel and then 28 days off work. While on board we have extremely limited facilities (sandbags, weight vest and possibly a kettlebell or pair of dumbbells etc.) but access to full training facilities when home.


I was hoping to get some advice on the best way to train around this cycle. I was thinking maybe one of your body weight or minimal hear programs while on the vessel with strength/work capacity/run improvement programs during the weeks at home?


Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. This cycle has led to a lot of guys losing fitness or injuring themselves during time off to try and regain fitness and strength too quickly when at home so any advice will be greatly appreciated.



Options for the Ship:


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


2) Stuck in A Motel Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/stuck-in-a-motel-training-plan/


On Shore –


A great plan which includes solid strength, work capacity and outdoor running and rucking is Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/



I’m currently using the mountain guide preseason plan.  Is it common for guides using this to still be guiding on a daily basis?  Just curious.  The volume is good, not overwhelming, and high quality.


Also, I’m coming out to jackson Hole for about 6 weeks this summer to work for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.  Can I stop in and check out the gym?



No – this is a pre-season plan. During the guiding season, my most busy guides make it to the gym 1-2x/week at most, and we train heavy strength (low volume) and core for durability.


Stop by? Sure. Rob Hess is one of our most committed guides.



I’ve been using your programs for quite some time. I truly love the changes and variations in your programs. I’m looking to run SFAS in 8-9 months from now. However a few months back, I pulled something in my low back. I work as a police officer and thus spend hours in the car. A therapist told me my hams are super tight, I’ve also always had a weak core. After 11 years of rucking in the Corps I’m not sure my body will hold up during selection.


My question, I currently drill once a month carrying 75+ lbs packs over long distances, also running to maintain cardio. Should I run the lower back rehab program. Stopping my rucking, and running? I notice that running also causes low back pain post run, same spot every time. Low left back. Like L3L4 region just outside the spine.  I have to maintain a standard in order to lead my guys however it’s truly weighing on my body. To the point that during a class I was giving my back just went out, and stiffened right up.


Any suggestions when you have time would be greatly appreciated.


As always, thank you for everything you do for us, and others.



You’re asking medical questions I can’t answer.


In general, low back issues are very individualized, and super complicated. A bazillion “gurus” out there have different theories on the causes and fixes. At one end, on the medical side, is an MRI and surgery. On the other, there is a theory I’ve read that low back issues are caused by stress.


Our Low Back Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/8-week-lower-back-fitness-training-program/) takes a strength and conditioning approach to the issue. The idea is to build the athlete’s core strength and fitness, and in the process help build back their confidence. I’ve found low back sufferers also suffer from confidence issues in their backs.


I’m careful to tell athletes the plan has worked to bring athletes back from low back issues, but completing it is no guarantee another issue won’t happen again. Low back issues are mysteries – and my hope is by recovering once, athletes know they can come back again and it’s not such a big deal.


Is this plan right for you right now? I’m not sure …. but with SFAS Looming – you need to go into selection confident.


It could be a good place to start.



I am in a unique situation. I am currently deployed and looking to cross

train sometime next year into Spec Ops. There is a lot still up in the air

about what will be available to me, what with my being a female and all.


That aside, the FOB I’m at doesn’t have a pool for me to practice my swim. I

know that the swim/water confidence is a huge part of the PAST, but it’s

just not something I can practice out here. If I were to purchase this

program would there be something else I could do to substitute the swim day

on Thursday? If not, is there another program you would suggest?


Any information you have would be much appreciated.



The USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/) has the swimming assessments, and also, 2 days/week during the training session focused on swimming.


Given your location – I’d recommend holding on this plan until you can get to a pool.


Now…. I’d recommend Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/


This plan includes heavy strength in the weightroom and endurance distance rucking and running. It lays a great foundation for the more intense training you’ll face in the selection plan.



This summer I will enjoy three months in the mountains of Idaho with lots of time to train and enjoy the wilderness.


With or without a plan, I will want to spend an hour a day in the gym and several hours every day running or hiking in the mountains with a pack. I have a long history of training 10-15 hours per week and am confident that I can sustain the workload. Leading into the summer I am doing strength five days per week along with your wonderful peak bagger program. Other than the pure enjoyment of exercise, my performance goal is to improve rucking and climbing performance with a twenty-five pound pack.


Is there a ruck-oriented selection program you would recommend to provide structure to a summer of wilderness adventure?



I’d recommend you start with Fortitude: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/, and after a week off, drop into the Ruck Based Selection Training Program: http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/



Hope all is well. Curious to what you think the best plan you have would be for a turn around trip up to camp muir (4.5 mile hike and 4,660 feet of elevation gain).


I used the big mnt plan to summit rainier with great success, but I would like to do camp muir with my wife, and was looking for a plan to train up. We have about 10 weeks. Would the rainier plan suffice (maybe even the second 6 week cycle) or would something like peak bagger, or ruck improvement plan be better?



You don’t need to buy another plan. Do the last 6 weeks of the Big Mountain Training Plan.



At 51, I can ruck, lift heavy, run slow, but quick limber hips for sprints and lateral movement are more difficult.

Any suggestions?






1) Keep working on it. Guys our age (I’m 47) don’t do sprints/lateral movement, etc. regularly – and we’ve stiffened up. It doesn’t mean we can’t. Use it or lose it, right?


2) Sub in intense rows or airdyne/bike work.



Hope all is well in Jackson.  I have two questions, both relatively short.


1) I just finished the last SSD 6 week session (the hybrid) and, almost every Tuesday, my legs would be cooked during the 800 meter repeats.  halfway through the 3rd repeat, it would be hard to find the gas to push through on the remainder.  I would generally hit the time prescribed in the interval chart/tracker, but there would be absolutely nothing left.  Does the lack of not being able to find that 5/6th gear have something to do with not hitting other work capacity hard enough?


2) I am climbing the grand August 18th/19th, which is ~10 weeks out (not counting this wee).  I am behind on the SSD due to a week I had to take off, and the peak bagging plan is 6 weeks.  How do you recommend me utilizing these next 4 weeks prior to starting the peak bagging plan?


Thanks for your continued help and programming.



1) No ….. 800m repeats are just hard.


2) Continue with SSD until 6 weeks out.



I wanna start training for a course, where I need to do more of “PT” style workouts (bodyweight). Might be a dumb question. I saw you have bodyweight program 1 and 2. Do you suggest starting with program 1 than possibly moving into program number 2? Or does it matter with which one you start with? And also do these workouts have running built into them?  Thanks in advance for the response.



I’d recommend you complete the APFT Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/apft-plan/).

The Bodyweight plans on the site include running, but it’s not scaled and progressed like in the APFT plan.



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