Q&As 7/17

Allie and Iris fight the wheel barrows during today's Chassis Integrity circuit.
Allie and Iris fight the wheel barrows during today’s Chassis Integrity circuit.

Questions include: Is a GHD absolutely necessary for a garage gym? Is ‘ruck-running’ safe? How to train for the Army OCS? Best Program for Losing Weight and Gaining Upper Body Strength? Diet advice for bulking in a healthy way? What do I get with the new subscription? What program to use to prepare for a 14,500 ft summit in less than 10 weeks? 


You and I have spoken on multiple occasions about different events(GORUCK Challenges), SFAS prep and just over all training. I’ve even trained briefly at your affiliate in Colorado Springs last year before deploying. I am not special operations (far from it) but wanted to reach out and tell you the impact your programming has had on my team.

My team consists of a 39 year old, 34 year old and myself, 28. I’ve been lifting off and on since I was 14 due to high school football. I found Crossfit in my early 20’s and later MA and have dabbled in it and other training methods. My co-workers on the other hand have never lifted in their lives outside of the extreme basics and even that was some what of a challenge in the beginning. The men I work with are both 6’1″ like myself but one weighed(when we started) 134lbs soaking wet with rocks in his pockets and the other 155lbs. I’ve always been between 200-215lbs depending on my eating habits that month.

We started Rat6 back in May. Both of them could barely bench 115lbs and squat 135lbs. I won’t get into all or the lift numbers but I wanted to tell you it’s max week and these are the results.

39 year old-165#

Starting bench: 125#

Starting Squat: 135#

Post RAT6 Bench: 190#

Post RAT6 Squat: 235#
34 year old-160#

Starting bench:105#

Starting squat:135#

Post RAT6 bench :195#

Post RAT6 squat: 250#
28 year old-205#

Starting bench: 245

Starting squat: 385

RAT6 bench: 275

RAT6 squat: 405(for two, dropped 410)
Needless to say your programming works! We’re starting the next phase of the strength packet soon and are excited to see where we go next!


I recently came across your article, “CrossFit is Awesome. How We’re Different” and I really appreciated your honesty and enjoyed your input. I started CrossFit in 2011 and had great success; but I enjoyed the focus on strength and military specific training when I was introduced to your programs last year. From an active duty Marine Bomb Technician, thanks for all your hard work on your awesome programming. I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.
I’m an avid follower of your research and I have been using your programming to recover from a lower back injury and a torn MCL.  I recently read your article on chassis integrity and I have a couple questions.

  1. You had stated that in a real world application “there are few, if any, flexion movements.”  Now, knowing this, would you begin to substitute flexion movements such as the GHD sit up in training for another exercise? If so what substitutions would you recommend.
  1. I am building a garage gym, is a GHD machine completely necessary for anything else besides core function or could I do without it.


1) Yes – a couple options – Sandbag Getups, Kneeling Sandbag Halfmoons.
2) Save your money. GHD stands for “Glute Ham Developer” and the machine has been used for this, but the exercise done properly is tricky. We like the Nordic Hamstring and Russian Hammer exercises, as well as the Hinge Lift.

I’m completing Valor today…very impressed. I was once a subscriber and got away from your programming for a while. It felt good to crush it again.
I did have a training question though. I’m not the one with the website, fitness methodology, or lab rats but I must ask…ruck running?
As I did Valor I will admit I ignored the prescribed training method for ruck running. I’ve had to ruck run (pt competitions, schools, Afghanistan) and it’s something you have to suck up and do period. But never have I come across or believed it is a good idea to practice it. It’s a lot of impact on your knees and it’s hurt more than helped me as an infantryman.
I know obviously I did what I felt what right and certainly can’t besmirch the whole program over a difference in opinion. But I have to ask how did that come about as a policy in your methodology? Is their something I’m missing about MA programming with regards to strength/preparation to negate the downside of ruck runs?
As I’ve stated you have to do it as part of the job. I’ve just been taught to fast walk in training…go hard as hell for the event. Again, Valor was amazing and I feel like a million bucks after completing it…more of question about procedure.

The reality is for many selections and other events guys will need to ruck run. Certainly loading plays and issue, and at Ranger School loads, soldiers are walking, but at other events, they need to run.
We haven’t seen the impact to joints from running others have described. Note our loading tops out at 60# – so this may be why. In Valor, your loading was 45# plus a 10# sledge/rubber rifle.
Overall we’ve come to really enjoy ruck running – we’ve found it seems to “tighten” everything up, make our lower legs bomber, and really push work capacity. The 1-mile Ruck Run intervals in Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/) are one of my favorite 10 minute (or so) work capacity events.

How’s it going? I just had a few questions on choosing the right program.

I’m currently a Sgt in the Marine Corps. I’m in fairly decent shape as most Marines are. I run in average a 250 PFT (maxing out in pullups and crunches) running is a weakness of mine. I run a 300 CFT, I feel I’m better built for CFTs. I’m fairly strong squatting 335#, Deadlifting 430# and benching roughly 270# at 200 body weight. My only issue is wanting to be way more conditioned for the next chapter in my career, EOD. I’ve been given the opportunity to “tryout”. Since these opportunities rarely come in the Marine Corps I want to CRUSH my physical screening in August. Which program would you recommend to help me out? Thanks for your help in advanced.

I’d recommend Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/), with one change. For the rucking in the program, use a 90 pound ruck, and fast walk/shuffle. Do this plan the 6 weeks directly before you tryout.
Valor is work capacity focused – and includes a 3-mile run, bodyweight work, and gym-based multi-modal efforts.
I start 0 Phase of Army OCS in October and go to Accelerated in January and I want to start training now.  I saw your Army OCS program is six weeks.  Can I do that program twice or is there another program I can front load with?
Start with Bodyweight Foundation: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/
Then move to the Army OCS Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/army-ocs-training-plan/

I’m new to all of your programs, but I do Crossfit workouts and military-style PT frequently. I really like all that I have gathered so far from your website and other recommendations, but I am trying to decide how to approach the workout selections.

I do not have a specific goal that I am working toward as of now, but I value being fit all of the time and may have some PT tests arise in the future. I am torn between doing the Bodyweight programs or subscribing to the monthly base fitness. I want a general fitness workout, but I need to improve my running and shed some weight. Not sure how much running is in the monthly package. Any suggestions?

A great introduction to our programming would be Valor: http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/
Another would be the SSD for Crossfitters Program:http://mtntactical.com/shop/ssd-for-crossfitters/
Do one of these – and if you like our stuff, subscribe.

Finished your program and summited mount Rainier with ease.  Great program!

I want to continue training but more focused on losing more weight and gaining upper body strength.  Can you recommend a program for me?


Start with our Fat Loss Training Plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/fat-loss-training-program/

My older brother was recently introduced to training.  He stands at between 6′ and 6’1″ and is about 145 lbs, needless to say he is looking to add a significant amount of mass and strength onto his frame.  Though he isn’t looking to add useless mass. He is currently doing the bodyweight foundation plan; moving onto the mil on ramp program, to RAT 6, to hypertrophy for skinny guys.  Would you recommend a different series of plans? We were also looking for dieting advice for a healthy bulk following your nutritional guidelines.  Any bit of insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

I’d recommend the Hypertrophy Plan for Skinny Guys (http://mtntactical.com/shop/hypertrophy-program-for-skinny-guys/) after Bodyweight Foundation, then OnRamp, then Rat 6.
Diet – the one thing you could add is a whey protein shake after training.

When pressed for time, and I need to cut my workout short, better to scale back the number of rounds, number of repetitions or split the workout into two sessions?

It’s best to scale back the number of rounds for each circuit.

First off, thank you for your awesome programing. What a gift  it is that you can make these plans and that we have access to them.

Bottom line, an injury has led to me having 2 APFTs this coming fall once school starts up. These APFTs determine if I will be chosen for the early ranger program and will also determine my army post (101st, or 82nd basically) so I need to do well. I also need to maintain and build the “brute force” that the Courage program provides. So, I am thinking of mixing the APFT improvement plan and the Courage plan. Any advise or guidance on how to best mix the two programs? Im worried that mixing the two programs without any thought might lead to injury or negate the effects of each program.

Best would be to do Courage (http://mtntactical.com/shop/courage-strongman-endurance-cycle/) until 4 weeks out from your APFT’s, then stop and complete the APFT Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/apft-plan/) into your assessments.
Know also that now the APFT plan and many others are included in a monthly subscription.

All of the new web sites look great. You have come a long way since the times that I used to get free workouts off of your Mountain Athlete page!!
Am I correct in reading that a standard subscription gives me access to all of the programs and current resources? I just left the U.S. Border Patrol in April and will be working towards an ATF program later this year. Is there a specific plan you would follow or just the general programming?
Currently I am in a VERY limited gym and have up to 50lb dumbbells, dip bar, some benches, pull up station and a cable machine.
I look forward to your response and congrats again on the growth.

Not all of our programs, but many.
Click here for a list: http://info.strongswiftdurable.com/new-subscription-with-plans?utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fstrongswiftdurable.com%2F%3Fs%3Dapft

Hope this finds you well. Been years since I contacted you…i believe last time was in 2008 when things were just beginning for mil-athlete. I am forward in East Africa right now…most of time in Somalia. I am interested in your “Squad PT Training Cycle.” Old boss is taking over a general purpose unit and wants a good program to use and I love this one. How can I get the program? Cheers.

Somalia – interesting and exciting! Good for you!
Here’s a link to the Squad PT Cycle: http://mtntactical.com/shop/squad-pt-training-cycle/
Another option is the Bodyweight Foundation training plan: http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/

Hey rob I was wondering if there is any meal plans that you know of that I could go on to help gain weight and muscle mass while using the Maximus strength and power lifting plan.

Eat clean – don’t eat crap. Eating clean = meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts. Lots of it – especially meat.
Drink milk. Whole milk – tall glass with each meal.
Drink a Whey Protein Shake before and after training.
Be patient.
I have purchased many of your programs in the past and really enjoyed them.  However I have been in a line infantry unit for almost 8 years now and feel like a very old man even though I’m only 28.  I have had two shoulder surgeries in the past 3 years (SLAP repair and Biceps tenodesis) and still cannot perform pull ups, dips, overhead presses, etc.  I can perform and have done well with TGU, landmine presses, and pretty much any kind of horizontal rowing.
Just wondering if you had any programs you would suggest for transitioning back to the more stressful movements I listed earlier.  Or if you happen to have any future “joint friendly” programs coming out in the near future for athletes with shoulder/elbow/knee issues.
Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.
Seems you can still press horizontally – so you could balance rows with push ups/bench, etc. Our Scotty Bob exercise may work well for you (http://mtntactical.com/exercises/mnt311-scotty-bob/).
From our plans – I’d recommend the Bodyweight Foundation plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/). You’ll need to avoid the dips in the plan and replace the pull ups with horizontal pull ups.
You may want to try crossover symmetry (http://crossoversymmetry.com/) … some have had luck with that system to build shoulder durability. We have the system but haven’t committed to it so I can’t fully endorse it yet.
I used your five-week GRC plan last year with great success.
My next big goal is a one-day Mount Whitney summit on 9/13.  I’ve done multiple 8000+ altitude hikes and up to 16 miles in a day since getting our permits a couple of months ago.  I‘m wondering if you have a training program to get conditioned for a 22-mile, 14,500 summit or something comparable in less than 10 weeks.  I work out in the gym 4X week, but may not be maximizing my time there.
I’d recommend our Peak Bagger Training Plan.  .
I designed this plan specifically for peak bagging efforts like your Mt. Whitney climb.
The Peak Bagger Training Plan is 6 weeks long, and designed to be completed directly before your climb.
You could train on your own for 4 weeks then purchase the plan 6 weeks out and complete it.
Or, you get access to the plan with a monthly subscription to the website and you could complete the Mountain Base Alpha Training Sessions for 4 weeks, then complete the Peak Bagger Plan.
To purchase the plan individually click here: (http://mtntactical.com/shop/peak-bagger-training-plan/).
To subscribe click here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/master-subscription-plan/
Recently found out my transition from civilian to military career is going to happen 4-5 months later than I thought it would. I was planning on a ship date of Jan-Feb 2016, but now it won’t be until June-July 2016.

I just finished the first part of the SFAS 9 month packet (I’m at the end of the rest week after the 4 week bodyweight plan now). A big struggle for me as mentioned earlier is putting on weight and upper body strength (I’m 6’5” 188lbs, 27 years old).

Therefor my question is: with the additional time before ship date, should I throw in a mass/strength focus program now and then restart/jump back in to the 9 month SFAS packet this fall?

That is my first hunch but wanted to hear your take on it. Other options would be throwing a different program somewhere in between SFAS packet stuff to make it end before the June/July ship date window – I know it’s important to finish with the SFAS specific 2-month plan.

NOTE: I do have one intense Goruck weekend coming up on October 9th: HCL event – 24hr heavy, 12hr challenge, and 6hr light events all back to back.

3 hour sleep/eat breaks in between each segment, mileage could be 40-70+ for the whole 48 hours. I’d assume it would be a good idea to keep durability exercises up in preparation for this. I’ve done several similar events in the past year including a Heavy, was fine for those with 2-3x week crossfit. (Except I failed push up standard by 4 reps)

Thanks again for the great resources and happy independence day!
I’d recommend you add in the Hypertrophy Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/hypertrophy-program-for-skinny-guys/) after Bodyweight, and then repeat the Rat 6 and Ruck Improvement complex to add in 12 weeks.
I’m interested in this workout to prepare for the Richmond Marathon in mid November. I would like to keep lifting while I prepare for the run. I see this plan is for 8 weeks. If I purchase this plan could u give me any advice on how to make it work if I started training 16 weeks out? Or could u suggest another plan?
I don’t have a 16-week marathon plan – though there are plenty out there – what you could do is purchase this plan and repeat it back to back, or repeat each session.
Another option is to purchase the Rat 6 Strength Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/) and do some evening running on your own, or go full on and combine it with our Running Improvement Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/run-improvement-plan/)
I never got the chance to thank you, but you got me on the right path before I went to OCS, and I was more than ready for it. Needless to say I am an officer in Germany now. But I wonder where to go from here, I do a mixture of Cardio Strength training and a full body workout 3 days a week. Then, I usually do so some sort of crossfit and running the other days of the week. I am kind of finished with the full body rotuine I am on (it was a six week) program. I am looking for somehting new. My overall goal is to be in the best shape possible b/c I would like to go to Ranger School at some point, but I don’t want to be just good at doing the APFT or Army PT. I am not a combat arms MOS, so I have to be the best at everything if I ever want a chance at Ranger School. (I know it is kind of scatter brained). Any advice you have, or programs you reccommend would be greatly appreciated.
Subscribe to the website and follow the Operator Sessions. These are designed as day-to-day training for special forces guys and others who aspire to that level of fitness. Start at the beginning of the most recent cycle.
I’ve read some of your online stuff and liked it plus I heard you have some of the best prep for SFAS out there. I’m 33 and I signed a REP63 contract with the National Guard I begin the pipeline on Nov. 2 between now and then I’d like to get in the best peak shape possible. With this much time I figured that would give a lot of build up time to get into that shape. Currently my best 2 min pushup and sit-ups are 68 pushups and 52 sit-ups with a 2 mile run time of 15:18 so those numbers need some serious work. What do you recommend to help me achieve what I’ll need to in order to be successful at SFAS.
By my count you have 16 weeks.
Here’s what I’d recommend.
First – Rat 6 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/) exclusively for 4 weeks, then the last 4 weeks, double up with the Ruck Improvement Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/4-week-ruck-improvement-program/).
Second, the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/) – the 8 weeks directly before selection.
Thank you for everything you and the SSD Team do, your advice and training is excellent. I am planning to enlist as an 18X early in 2016. I have been doing CF mixed with barbell strength training for about a year now and want to start more focused training. I have the Ruck Based Selection Plan and will begin that 8 weeks from when I ship. To prepare I plan to complete Fortitude, then Valor. Do I need any break period between these 3 plans? I know there is a taper at the end of the Selection plan before I go to OSUT. My biggest concern at this point is the bench press portion of the training. I workout at a CF box and do not have many people to spot bench work unless I go during open gym which generally doesn’t work with my schedule. Is there a pattern to the bench work in these programs that will give me the ability to “schedule” a spotter? Any other suggestion?
1) Take one week rest (total) between training plans.
2) When you bench, don’t put collars on the barbell – that way if you can get stuck, you can dump the plates. Unfortunately, my eyes are often bigger than my muscles and I’ve had to do this many times …..
I own and operate a NW crossfit gym and recently stumbled upon your site. I took advantage of an offer you had for an introductory SSD course and brought it into my gym. I’ve had to modify the workouts a little due to 60 min class sessions, but it’s still quite a full hour of work, strength or endurance depending upon the day. I’m just finishing up the 2nd week of programming and my members love it, as do I.  I was planning on running the 6 week SSD program and then purchase and run the 3 week core program right after that. So that gives me a 9 week cycle. Would you do this?
If I want to continue using your programming what would be the best way for me to do that? The SSD program that I’m currently using is 6 weeks. What then? Do you have a program to follow the progression of movements from the 6 week introductory program?
I’ve been programming for my gym for 7 years now. Your programming doesn’t look that  different from mine except at the end of a week WE are are feeling much different. Not so sore and tired, so I love the combinations and how you alternate the work, strength and endurance.
I’m not sure what core strength training plan you’re referring to Kathy – but know that those core-focused plans only have core circuits and are generally shorter sessions – you’ll want to supplement them with additional work.
Another plan you might consider is 357 Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/357-strength/).
Moving forward, several coaches, crossfit and other, use our programming for their clients. We do this through a Coaches/Trainers Subscription to the Website (http://mtntactical.com/shop/trainers-coaches-subscription/). Cost is $49/month.
This gives you access to all our daily programming (SSD, LE, Military, Mountain) as well as 30+ training plans. Long run, best would be to follow the daily SSD sessions. As well – with this subscription you can email coach-focused questions to me and it gives you access to coach and programming-focused articles and videos we create.
I am just starting the 357 strength training plan. For the Wednesday work outs I was going to keep the runs shorter and supplement them with swimming (I have two bad knees which prevent me from doing much more than a mile of running at a time without being in pain for days).  I was wondering what your opinion on distance would be. I am a strong swimmer and could do mile per mile but I was curious to see what your thoughts are. Thank you for your help.
Think time, not distance. Substitute swim for the running time – so if it would take you 27 minutes to run 3 miles, (9 min/miles), swim 27 minutes.
Valor, Fortitude, Humility – What is the end goal of these three programs together? And How do they individually help each other?  I believe I read that they all go together?
Fortitude, Valor and Humility represent the furthest evolution of our military-focused programming. All were developed from specific cycles we “lab ratted” with our athletes here in Wyoming as part of the Operator Sessions.
No specific end goal – i.e. these are not specific selection or school train up programs. Rather they are focused on a Military Athlete’s “Base Fitness” and will help with improvement and gains gains across the board – strength, strength-endurance, work-capacity, and endurance (both running and rucking).
The plans can be deployed individually for specific gains, or used together, in this order:

  1. Humility (http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/)
  2. Fortitude (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fortitude/)
  3. Valor (http://mtntactical.com/shop/valor/)

Note that with an Athlete’s Subscription to the website, you get access to both Fortitude and Valor.
I’ve got a few questions for you if you have a few minutes at some point to peruse below.

  • I’m a career, structural firefighter at Fayetteville Fire Department (AR)
  • I’ve been selected to go out for a new Tactical Medic team that our FD is standing up
  • I’m coming off of a serious ankle injury from snowboarding in March  (in an air boot/off duty for 6 weeks and then light duty for awhile)
  • I’m heading to CO the first of Sept for annual self-supported, backpacking bow hunt (elk)
  • I worked out with a guy on duty last year using your Mtn Athlete Backcountry Hunter program to prep for our annual elk hunt (most prepared I had been for that hunt thus far- thanks!)
  • I recently purchased your LE On-Ramp, SWAT Kickstart & SWAT Selection (Order #49433).
  • I’m on week 3 of the LE On-Ramp (feeling good, no real ankle pain, not needing my brace this week)
  • I’ve got tons of time to work out given my job- would like to capitalize as much as possible on getting back into prime shape post-injury and for hunt/SWAT.
  • SWAT PT Test/Selection likely won’t be until December or March at latest


    • I want to maximize my cardio/endurance and shed some pounds of fat
  • I’m curious about combining some of the cardio stuff from Hunt Program to augment my LE On-Ramp (step ups, running, rucking, etc.)
  • I want to train as much/hard as possible but I am aware of diminishing returns of over-training
  • Curious if you have any thoughts/suggestions on training given the above and/or warning signs of over doing it

Congrats on the Tactical Medic team!
Answers –
Add in the extra endurance (running, rucking, step ups) on the rest day in the LE On-Ramp Program. When it goes to 5 days/week in week 5, add the extra endurance to Saturday.
Pay attention to the progressions in the plan. If you’re making the progressions, do the added endurance. If not, get the rest.
I recently finished your DEA PTT workout plan and was very successful with the fitness test of a similar agency. I’m now preparing for FLETC and wanted to know what plan you recommend. To give you an idea, I’m skinny 5’10” 150lbs, I can run my 1.5 in just under10:00, 70 push-ups in 1 min, 25 pull ups untimed and 63 sit ups in 1 min.
It will be overkill, but I’d recommend the SWAT Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/swat-selection-training-plan/). The plan has a strong strength component, obstacle course work, running, and overall, is a great plan for you now. Eat clean, but eat lots during the plan. I’d recommend a whey protein shake after every training session and another before you go to sleep at night. At 5-10″ I’d like you around 180# …. so you’ve got some weight to gain!
First off, thanks for all the info, programs, and videos, that you and your staff produce.
I had a quick question in regards to what training program you would recommend. I have your LE fat-loss program, running improvement, body weight i, and rookie training packet.
My question is, I found the running improvement to lack the strength / calisthenics I need and the body weight i lacks the running. And the rookie training packet too slow for progression.
For someone, who isn’t the best runner (4mi timed 39min), has a 3.8 on your strength scale, and needs calisthenics, what program would you recommend to this particular recruit
Focus first on bodyweight and running first.
You could do this with our Bodyweight Foundation Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/).
Or, you could combine Bodyweight I and the Running Improvement plan you already have and save some money.  Substitute the work capacity and running in Bodyweight I with the work in the Running Improvement Plan.
The Doc wants me to continue to focus on bodyweight or light weight exercise for a while.  Should I repeat the Navy PST program, proceed to Bodyweight assessment or maybe try the Humility program?
Again, I’m seeing the Doc for a low back injury (facet joint-extension) sustained in a door breach in late April.
Proceed to Humility: http://mtntactical.com/shop/humility/

I am interested in one of your program plans for a cyclist (road). What would you recommend?
We don’t have a specific program for a road cyclist.
What I would recommend is one of our bodyweight strength plans – specifically Bodyweight Foundation (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/).
This plan has assessment-based upper, lower and core bodyweight strength training, and also includes running. You could replace the running in the plan with your cycling. As well – you would want to do the bodyweight sessions 2-3 days/week around your cycling work.
You can purchase this plan individually, or it is also included with a subscription to the website.

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