Q&As 6/18/2015


Questions include: Strength Training to Supplement Fire Academy Training, Fitness for a Federal LEO Applying for a Special Team, Recovery for SFODD Program, Airborne School Prep, The Difference Between Military Athlete and Mountain Athlete Bodyweight Programs, Keeping Up with Younger Recruits, Female Programming For Ranger School, Best Plan for Trekking to Everest Base Camp and more…


First off, thanks a million for all your programming and advice.  I took your recommendation of completing the Meathead, 369 WC, and Fortitude programs after a few weeks of complete rest following Ranger School.  Aside from a half dose of the Bodyweight Program to get back into things initially, I have followed your recommended sequence to the letter, and couldn’t be happier.  The Meathead program especially was exactly what I was looking for post-school and I got my old strength back (and more) faster than I could have ever imagined.


Rob, first thank you on behalf of the men at FFD that have used this plan and other plans thru your site. I got the FR plan shortly after it came out and followed it to a T. For one to change my fitness regimen and as a professional firefighter conduct fitness training oriented to fire. We have since used this  as an avenue for new hires to start coming up to speed. The following is my assessments;


30/30 sandbag keg lift – 20

Max rep mixed grip pull ups – 11

Dumbbell to overhead @ 30# – 38

In-place dumbbell lunges @ 30# – 31

Seated military press@ 30# – 30

Sandbag clean and step over – 36

10 minute step ups with 35# SCBA  on 18” bench – 157

Post training plan

30/30 sandbag keg lift – 26

Max rep mixed grip pull ups – 15

Dumbbell to overhead @ 30# – 40

In-place dumbbell lunges @ 30# – 34

Seated military press@ 30# – 32

Sandbag clean and step over – 36

10 minute step ups with 35# SCBA  on 18” bench – 211

As you can tell that is an increase on almost all events. I am a 44 year old male at 185 pounds if that helps your data. Again Thank you for the plans.



I live in London, just start roller skiing with the aim to train for x country skiing, at the end of the year and then the Engadin half marathon in March 2016.

After an injury I put on a lot of weight currently 16 stone from normal weight 11 to 11.7 stones.

Can you help point me in the right direction with my training maybe one on two of your programmes would be helpful, any advice would be appreciated.


We don’t have a cross country ski-specific training plan. In general, I’d recommend beginning with 60 minutes of your roller skiing, 3-4 days/week at an easy pace, and complementing this with some strength training, 2x days/week.

For strength training, I’d recommend you begin with bodyweight work. We’re publishing a Bodyweight Foundations plan this week and that’s what I’d recommend.

Extra weight. 80% of weight loss is diet-driven. You can’t outwork a crappy diet. See our nutritional guidelines here: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition


Firstly, let me say thank you for providing incredibly insightful programming. I have been prepping for the Dallas Fire Rescue Academy with the Mil Athlete Valor program and have seen nothing but positive results.

I am just about 4 weeks out from starting the academy, and was wondering if you could recommend a program to lead me into it. I was considering starting valor over, but wanted to know if you thought there was something else I could do. Like many schools like it, I will have 1.5 mile timed runs, tower climbs in bunker gear, and bodyweight PT.


I’d recommend the Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/sandbagweight-vestdumbbell-training-plan/


  1. Do you recommend a strength training plan to supplement 5 days a week of fire academy training? We do high rep body weight exercises and 1.5 mile timed runs (once a week) alongside tower climbs and other evolutions in full ppe with scba. I don’t want to lose strength/muscle mass over the next 6 months.
  1. We will be taking a break for 1.5 months of emt school and I will not be at the academy doing our daily pt, what do you recommend as far as staying in condition so I don’t lose my endurance/work capacity?


1) No. Lots will be going on in addition to the daily PT – firegrounds work, etc.. Put your focus/energy on your academy performance. You can build back muscle and strength after.

2) 369 Work Capacity would be a good choice to maintain: http://mtntactical.com/shop/369-work-capacity-cycle/


I am a Federal LEO looking to maintain my level of fitness and in the near future   apply for a Special Team at my agency. I am looking for a pull up beginners program. I was wondering if you can recommend any. I need to progress from an  actual 2 pull up base line to a 10 + goal needed.   I was looking at the strongswiftdurable site and was interested on the training programs you have there. My goal is in a year apply for SRT on my agency similar to BORTAC. First I need to have the base line of the sit-up, pushup and 1.5 mile run with the Coopers Physical Training guide add a Pull up program and then start the specialized SRT training program. Any advice and/or recommendations?


We don’t have a specific pull up improvement plan, but several plans include pull ups as either part of a PFT or an overall bodyweight training plan.

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

This is a great place to start our programming, as well as increase your overall fitness – including cardio.

As well, I’d recommend you follow our nutritional guidelines here: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition

Losing excess weight will also increase pull up performance.


I am currently s military athlete and have been following the sfodd program since January.

Do you have any advice to recovery post workouts? Any supplements or diet specific guidance to help ease sore muscles and aid is quick recovery?

I am also following the nutrition guidance on the site. 6 days clean and one day I’m eating whatever I want.

By the way I am in the U.S. Army and am in the best shape of my 11 year career so far. I have been following your programming strict.


Recovery options –

– Ice for knees and legs. This will really help with recovery from the volume in the plan.

– Foam Roll – cheap man’s massage. It won’t hurt.

– Supplements? You should be starving most the time. Post-training drinking a recovery shake with 2:1 carbs to protein is a standard option. I’m not sure it will help with soreness, but will help with improvement. You can also do the same with regular food – for example eat a baked sweet potato with some almond butter and a chicken thigh.

– One option for soreness is Sport Legs (http://www.sportlegs.com/about/welcome.asp) – you can buy this in stores and through amazon also, but sometimes it’s worked for me.


I’m in the Army and looking for a plan that will get me ready for Airborne School and then some.  My job entails going out with conventional/SOF units in a tactical environment and I want a regimen that will ensure I’m ready and able.  Here are some stats about me:

Age: 31

Height: 67 inches

Weight: 191 lbs.  I’d like to get down to between 175-180 before jump school

Current APFT score: 260; 78 PU’s, 72 SU’s, 16:07 run

4-mile run time: between 34-35 minutes depending on the day

I’d like to drop my run time for the APFT as well to 14 minutes or under.  Overall running goal is to be able to run a 7 minute pace for the APFT, 9 minute pace for 5 miles.  I’m running the Army Ten Miler in the fall and hope to complete it with a 10 minute or faster pace.

I hope this is enough info to go with.  I was thinking the SFOD-D plan or Ranger plan might work but wanted to see what you thought.


I’d recommend the Ranger School Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ranger-school-training-plan/).

This plan includes focused running and specific training for the APFT.




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


I am a former Infantry Marine and was wondering the difference in body weight programs on mountain athlete and military athlete. Many of my recon buddies follow military athlete religiously and I would love to get on as well. What do you recommend? I love the operator workouts from what I saw on the samples but I would like some sort of online coaching and individual scaling like what the body weight program I saw was showing. Is there a way after getting the monthly military athlete sessions to pay and have individual coaching via email or something of the sort? Thank you for your time.


I’d recommend you begin with our Bodyweight Foundation Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/

This plan uses assessments and self-scales to the individual athlete.

I’m sorry, but we currently only offer individual coaching for special situations – usually event specific. For example, we worked with a team to prepare to climb Fitz Roy last winter.


Which plan would you recommend for Rainier 3 day climb 2 months out?


I build the Big Mountain Training Plan specifically for climbs like Rainier: http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-mountain-training-program/


I’m a once force recon now MARSOC operator and I love mil athlete. Been doing it for a while. Operator sessions state side and usually one of your other programs deployed. I’m now an instructor and train a lot of Combatives so I don’t have the same schedule I used to on the team. Out of all of your programs, except valor which is new, the operator sessions I feel keep me in the best shape. Busy operator and rat6 combined with ruck and my own pool work tend work well also but nothing like the daily sessions with a dedicated day in the pool to keep my dive skills up. Time being my restraint how do you feel about scaling the time to fit my PT like instead of 8 rounds of an exercise scale back to 5 or 6 to hit all groups of the session to prevent “jumping around” and still getting the majority of what ever cycle in the operator session. Thanks a lot and take care.


Thanks for much for the feedback and kind words.

Scaling the rounds down to meet your time demands is a great way to go.


Unfortunately, training requirements immediately following Ranger (3 weeks) put me right back into the fight without proper recovery time from my extended (3.5 month) stay in Ranger.  I experienced Bursitis, Patellar Tendonitis, and a Sprained hamstring in/around my right knee, which has made getting back to the standard in running quite difficult to say the least.  I am now finishing the final two weeks of Fortitude and am at or above the listed strength standards.  I feel that I am definitely ready to start moving into some serious running again, but obviously want to maintain strength, build work capacity, and not over-stress my knee in the process. I have just about two months before I report to my next duty station and would like to be in good all around shape when I arrive.  While we all want to keep our ‘gains’, I understand that it may be necessary to sacrifice some near-term strength and mass to get my run time down.

I have been replacing the majority of the runs in Fortitude with unit PT runs from 2-4 miles or with swim workouts from your swim improvement plan in order to reduce impact on my knee.  My current plan is to move on to Valor after Fortitude, but was curious if you had a better recommendation to get back after the endurance in order to meet my fitness goals in the next two months.

My most solid stats as of now are:

Weight- 177 lbs

~15:20 2 mile run

~8:15+ minute/mile pace for 4+ mile runs

27 Deadhang Pullups

285# Bench

245# Front Squat

205# Push Press

195# Hang Clean

405# Hinge Lift

I apologize for the long winded message, but would greatly appreciate any advice.


Valor’s endurance work is shorter, but more intense – and includes both running and rucking. There is one longish run a week – but overall the volume is down from Fortitude.

What I’d really recommend you consider is replacing all the distance running and rucking in the plan for the first 3 weeks in the plan with stationary biking, or actual biking. This will be transfer to running much better than swimming – it will allow you train both legs and lungs while at the same time unloading and rehabbing your knee.

When you make the conversion, think time, not distance. For example, if the plan calls for 1-mile ruck run intervals, think 3x 10-12 minute hard bike intervals.

Give your knee some time to recover, then go back to the plan’s prescriptions.


I’m heading to a tactical bomb technician selection course. The course is 2 weeks in length and I will be expected to complete various physical activities during the assessment such as:

forced March (@100lbs) load

Work for long durations in kit @70lbs total

move, climb, and work (swat/tactical environment) in kit carrying additional gear.

There will also be stress indoctrination that uses running and physical activity to diminish fine motor skills prior to being expected to complete tasks associated with ied defeat.

My question to you is can you recommend the best program to follow to prepare for this selection course.


I’d recommend the Ruck-Based Selection Training Program (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/).

Begin this plan the 8 weeks directly before selection.

If you haven’t been rucking – I’d recommend Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/) prior to beginning the Ruck Based Selection Training Program.


I have two connected questions about operator longevity.  Reading about a study of SF soldiers from 5th Group (citation):

the “study revealed that physical training caused 50% of all injuries, and 30% were linked to running.​”


“back/neck (31%), ankle (10%), shoulder (10%), and knee (10%)”

“…over 40% of all clinical diagnoses in the 5th Group Clinic were for musculoskeletal problems.”

As a 6’4″ fit dude, my sit-ups suck.  My question is about whether I should be practicing to improve my numbers for the PAST test or whether I’m risking my lower back integrity and blowing out my disks.

Should I be doing somemething like overspeed KB swings or just sucking it up and doing situps?  Is there a safe way?

Part two: I’m 26 and just beginning my military career; my biggest fear is not being durable enough to keep up with the 18-year-olds.  Watching your video on it broke me of yoga-as-answer, and my question is: how would you program the last 20% after strength is accounted for (stabilizers and proper movement)?

You mentioned shoulder handjobs, Y&Ls, scarecrows, Jane Fondas, slides, instep & 3rd world stretches, squat to stand, and toe touch complex.  How would you do your daily maintenance to make a super-durable Airman?


1) Without a good PAST score, there is no AF SOF career for you. The best way to improve situps is to do sit ups. Sorry.

2) Durability – here is my durability equation:

Durability = 80% Relative Strength + 10% stabilizer strength + 10% mobility.

In general, by far, the best thing you can do for your durability is increase your relative strength.

Stabilizer Strength = Y+L, Shoulder Scarecrow, Jane Fonda, etc.

Yoga? If it works for you, do it.

My theory is currently evolving and beginning next week we’ll begin testing out some new direction on what I call “Chassis Integrity.” More to follow in our newsletter.


I am a climber and skier and also a trainer, from the Netherlands, and have been following you online for some time.

I was wondering whether you are open for start partnerships, for example in form of a franchise with trainers abroad?

Looking forward to hearing from you!


We’ve been asked this many times and not at this time. The issue for me is quality control, and staying current on our most recent theory. With our push

If I do open other locations, we will staff them.

I would recommend you attend one of our programming seminars – these are a full peak behind the curtain into our programming approach.

We have done these in Europe before …. we just need a facility to host it and at least 10 students.

As well, beginning this week we are greatly enhancing our Coach/Trainer Subscription to include a subscriber-only articles/video area, and coach/trainer-only Q&As.


I’ve been a fan of your plans for a while. Took me from soft to 100/100/13:20 on my PFT when I was a cadet. Anyways, I just commissioned and I am very interested in training specifically for the endurance necessary for Ranger school. My weakness is rucking and running. I was wondering if you all have been looking into a Ranger specific training plan for women? I am also a pretty small person so I am not sure how that effects progressing in ruck training. I had a brief stint with the ruck based selection program, but didn’t give myself enough time to finish it. I just purchased the Valor program and bodyweight programs. I’ll be in fort sill in about two months, but I’ll have plenty of time to train there during BOLC. Any advice for a female who wants to be in Ranger shape? I have my ruck pack with me, and a membership to a small club fitness. Thanks a lot!


We worked with a few women aiming for the first shot at Ranger last fall/winter.

Directly prior to Ranger School – I prescribed our Ranger School Plan – same one used for men.

But – the weeks until this plan were spend on total body strength, rucking, and upper body strength, especially pulling. I’ve been meaning to put all this together into a plan but just haven’t gotten to it.

By far, pulling strength seemed to be the most difficult to improve – simple pull ups to meet the Ranger minimum. We’re currently testing three different pull up protocols and on the other side hope to test and prove a pull up protocol specifically for women.

Next, after pulling, as you know, was rucking. We’re also testing rucking as part of our Mountain Tactical Institute Ruck Deep Dive study. The goal here is test and identify the most efficient and effective ruck training protocol.

For you now …. Fortitude (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/) then, Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/.

Keep dinging me about the Pre-Ranger stuff for women. If you’re a subscriber to our Tactical newsletter, we’ll be putting in updates on our pull up research.

I’m excited for you!


A while back on Facebook you posted a video regarding your thoughts on mobility. I was curious (read: hoping) if you would be developing a mobility focused program? Perhaps one that could be used in conjunction with your other programs? I know you have some mobility worked into the programs but was wondering if you had an exclusive mobility program in the pipeline. I really appreciated your approach to the subject.


That was our intention. We developed some assessments, then even had a “mobility cycle” but on the other side, nothing came out conclusive.

So we’re back to the drawing board.

Overall, the goal isn’t “mobility” but increased durability.

Mobility gurus claim mobility = added durability, and each has their own geeky exercises and formula to get there.

We’ve tried nearly every formula out there … and none have proven out.

We’ll keep thinking, reading, testing and grinding.


I spoke with you just about a year and half ago about using your programs to train for a trip to the mountains in Bolivia.  I wasn’t able to make the trip due to surgery, but am headed to Nepal this year.  I’ve been running for the last couple months and training (cardio) dragging tires up long hills, etc.  I started feathering in your program today and I loved the workout.  Very challenging.  That said, I plan to continue my running campaign to get full benefit from my cardio workouts before I leave in late August.  You program has many running workouts as well.  The FAQ says to do the workouts in order, but I don’t want to do a morning 4 mile run on your program AND 3-4 miles of intervals in the afternoon.  Do you have any recommendations?  I’m running 4-5x per week for 1-1.5 hours per workout.  It’s a mix of intervals, threshold running, and low impact cardio (slow but long).  Any tips are appreciated and I love your plan!


I’d recommend you alternate days between the Big Mountain Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-mountain-training-program/) sessions and your own running schedule.

Still do the Big Mountain plan sessions in order, just alternate back and forth. Be sure to take at least 1 day off, total rest, each week.


Quick question for you guys: how would you add valour, fortitude, and bodyweight foundation into the on ramp training if you had more time (if at all)?


I’d do them in this order:

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

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

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

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


I recently completed on-ramp, then falcon, then decided to do on-ramp again because I scaled it the first time by lowering a couple of weights and an extra rest day here and there, this time I wanted to RX the plan and have so far.

Since beginning your programming I have lost 27 kilograms (60 pounds), more than halved some of the work capacity “for time” rounds (some even less than one third), and put more than 25 percent on most of my lifts.  Plus dropped 23% off my 3 mile run time.

I’ve got a week of on-ramp left and already own 357 strength so am keen to do that because I am nowhere near your strength standards yet (front squats are my biggest weakness, I suspect my core is a problem with this).  I was thinking of pairing 357 with your core strength plan for the first four weeks (dropping the core work already in the plan) then pairing it with the run improvement training plan for the last two weeks (dropping the running already in the plan).

I was Australian Army and left after back injury a few years ago (all fixed now), but your programming has been the kick in the ass I needed so I’m keen to become a reservist.  I’m aiming for February next year and will be likely be put straight into a command position so need to be top notch.  Still have about another 27kg (60lbs) to hit my goal weight.  I will need to be good at the Army BFA (2.4km/1.5m run, situps, pushups).  I will also need the generalised combat fitness required of all soldiers.

Do you think this is a good plan?  What program do you think I should follow 357 up with bearing in mind I’d still be doing the run improvement for two weeks?  Then what’s your recommendation moving forward to February 2016 for re-appointment?


Plan is solid – the only change I’d recommend is pairing 357 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/357-strength/) with the Running Improvement Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/run-improvement-plan/) from the beginning. No need to double up 357 and Core Strength.

Post 357 I’d recommend Fortitude (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/) to introduce rucking and continue to build endurance.

Post Fortitude I’d recommend a subscription to the Website and that you follow the Operator Sessions.


Greetings.  Looking over the TACP Training Program for my son, will it

include conditioning to maintain or improve his pushups and pull-ups? Please

advise.  Thank you in advance for time and assistance.


Yes – the USAF TACP Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-tacp-training-plan/)  includes specific training for the PAST – which includes push ups, pull ups, etc.


I have a female co-worker who is recovering from a soft tissue injury in her foot. She’s been out of the running game since a half marathon she did like 3 months ago. Very fit, very motivated but has been unable to train aside from rowing, swimming, and light lifting. It has been tough for her mentally and I want to help her find a program to help her get back into it. Do you have any recommendations or programs to get her back into training hard? My unit has been following military athlete for a few years but I’m not sure if the current endurance cycle would be too much to soon. Thanks again for everything you do.


Couple Options …..

If she’s been cleared by PT to train, but still isn’t comfortable running, I’d recommend our Post Rehab Leg Injury Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/post-rehab-leg-injury-training-plan-ssd/.

If she’s still in PT, can’t put weight on the foot, or isn’t cleared for squats, etc, I’d recommend our Training Program for Athletes Suffering a Leg Injury (http://mtntactical.com/shop/training-program-for-athlete-suffering-from-leg/). This isn’t a rehab plan for her injured leg. Rather it trains the rest of the body hard around her injury while she recovers.


I recently graduated from West Point. I have a week and a half left in your Ranger School Prep program and have loved it, thanks a lot for a great program. I report to Ft. Benning 18 days early for “in processing and weather acclimation,” but started the program in time to finish it before reporting, not knowing what the in-processing time period would be like. After talking to a couple of guys who had the same timeline as me last year, I have learned that this 18 day in-processing period has some low intensity PT in the morning, and allows you to workout on your own in the afternoon.  I was wondering what you recommended for training during this time period, if I should restart the program and repeat the first 3 weeks, or if you had any suggestions?



Congrats on West Point and good luck at Ranger School.


Re-do the last three weeks of the Ranger School Plan – weeks 5, 6 & 7.



I’ve been doing your operator sessions on and off now for a couple of years.  I love them and would love to continue doing them, however, with my most recent move, access to a gym with most of the equipment has become difficult.  I’m thinking about getting in on the run improvement program but would like to integrate a strength training regiment in the afternoons.  Is there one you would suggest that doesn’t require a whole lot of gym equipment and also wouldn’t interfere with the running in the run improvement program? I know it’s a lot but any help you can provide will be appreciated.



Couple Options:


1) Sandbag/Weightvest/Dumbbell Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/sandbagweight-vestdumbbell-training-plan/)


2) Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/)


Both include running – so you wouldn’t need to add unless you wanted to.



My wife and I are looking at doing the trek to Everest Base Camp next spring. Is the Big Mountain Program the one you’d recommend for this?  We’ll both be training for the trip and are trying to make the altitude suck a little less since we pretty much live at sea level. Also, when to I need to switch from the Patrol Officer’s Program to prepping for the mountains?



I’d recommend the Backpacking Pre-Season Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/backpacker-preseason-training-plan/) for your trek.


Yes – you’ll want to do this plan instead of the Patrol officer plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/patrol-officer-training-plan/) in the weeks directly prior to your trip.



Firstly thank you for your programs. I used the APFT program and just passed my entry fitness this morning.  Now that i am progressing on to the basic training component (for me as a reservist Artillery Observer in 35 days continuous plus 3x 14 day blocks spread over a few months). My main question is what would be the best program to go with next? There are several requirements that must completed 40 push ups, 60 situps, 2.4km (1.5 miles) in about 11 minutes, a minimum of 7.5 on the 20 meter beep test and ruck on unknown distance with about 70lbs. There maybe a few other tests that i am not including that I am not aware of.



I’d recommend the Army OCS Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/army-ocs-training-plan/)


This plan meshes focused APFT work with total body smokers, running, rucking, etc. but isn’t quite as intense as our Ranger School or Ruck Based Selection Training Plans.


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