Q&As 7/24/15

Cooper and Hannah work through barbell in-place lunges from part (1).
Cooper and Hannah work through barbell in-place lunges.

Questions include: The Best Plan for SFAS? Where to start training for the Scott Firefighter Challenge? What are the minimum pieces of equipment needed for a home gym? How to train cardio while stuck at the firehouse? Can I use your Foundation Bodyweight Program with my team? Where did the “Curtis P” Exercise come from? How to accommodate altitude hikes in the Peak Bagger Program?

I climbed Mt. Elbert in Colorado last week! I used your Peak Bagger Training Plan to prepare for it. It helped me in a way I hadn’t expected. After the long day I was tired, of course, but I was not sore at all. My body doesn’t recover like it used to, and even in my younger years a climb like this would have wiped me out. But I didn’t feel sore whatsoever. I credit those leg blasters.
Thanks for the great training. I’m excited to get to the Big Mountain Plan for my Rainier climb next summer.

I recently used a hybrid of your ruck based selection program and big game hunting program to prepare for a 48 hour endurance race in Vermont.  I can’t say enough thank yous for how much your programming has helped me.  The step ups were huge for me being that I live in Nebraska, at no point did I have issues with the elevation gain and descent. Second, all of the sandbag get ups and core worked proved to be a life saver because instead of having us use rucks, they told us we had to carry all of our gear in 27″ or larger suitcases by either carrying them by your side or putting them on your shoulders. 100 miles with 50 pounds on your shoulder is miserable! Last but not least, the “mini-events” in the Big Game plan helped my mental grind so much.  I’ve done races like this before and I’ve never felt more willing to grind out through the crappier moments as I did for this race.  I credit that to the training.

Rob way back in 2007 you gave some advice for my deployment to Afghanistan, well I followed it and feel it save my life, I didn’t last long, three months after I deployed I was wounded (IED,  I was a EOD, zigged when I should have zagged). I was too old and didn’t belong there, but your training really helped. Anyways. I just wanted you to know.


I am interested in becoming a Green Beret. I have done many Gorucks including HCL. I have been told by a few cadre that they think I could do it if I did not quit on myself. I am planning on joining the military in December/January. I was wondering what plan I should use to be ahead of the game before I join.
We’ve build a specific train up many have used successfully for SFAS. I’d recommend you do this program – the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ruck-based-selection-training-program/).
This plan is overkill for boot camp, but I’d still recommend it now. It’s intense, and it will give you a good idea of what you’ll face at SFAS selection.
I am a firefighter/paramedic looking to really compete in the Scott Firefighter Challenge (http://www.firefighterchallenge.com). And by “really compete” I mean, just as you train our SOCOM members, train to win. I was wondering what your suggestion for the best plan would be, or if you were planning on putting one together any time soon. Thanks!
We don’t have a specific plan for this challenge – I can add it to the list, but likely won’t be able to develop super soon. We’d have to first figure out what equipment we could use to replicate some of the specific events.
One plan which we recently created, and is similar, is the USMC CFT Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/usmc-combat-fitness-test-cft-training-plan/). This would be a great place for you to start.
I’m thinking about subscribing to your mountain athlete program. I have a small extra bedroom that is going to be my workout space. I’ve looked over your list of recommended equipment for a home gym. Money is really tight right now so i’m wondering what would be the minimum equipment that would get me started.
The “Base Fitness” Mountain Athlete programming includes climbing-focuses sessions, and I built the programming to be completed at a climbing gym which also has a general fitness training area.
The issue for many who have home gyms is the climbing stuff.
For the general fitness stuff, with some creativity and exercise substitution you could get away with some 15, 25, 35# dumbbells, 40 and 60# sandbag, Barbell, bench, and rack (with a pull up bar) and plates to start. The issue will be the climbing stuff.
Thanks for the program, I downloaded it the other day to train for my heavy I’m sept. My questions is about certain workouts and being stuck at a fire station for 24 hours. Would a treadmill substitute for the rucks? I plan on getting up early those days to fit in work but know with kids and other items I won’t be able to fit the full workouts in. Any suggestions would be great, I’m trying to stick to the plan as close as possible.
Yes on the treadmill.
I am interested in testing out the program. I am fairly out of shape and gained roughly 45 lbs over the last 4 years. My “fight weight” is about 215-220lb.
I have tried other programs like fit2fat2fit, but to no avail.
The guide says start with the “bodyweight program”, but which one? Bodyweight 1pr 2? Is 2 just an updated version? If both, $80 seems pretty steep for an 8-week plan.
Begin with our Bodyweight Foundation training plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/).
As well – 80-90% of weight loss is diet related. You can’t outwork a shitty diet. Click here for our nutritional guidelines: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition
I am on staff at a disaster relief training program in East Texas. We are a non-profit organization that is looking to train young men in disaster relief/emergency services and give them the background and skills to be very successful wherever they go afterwards. Lately we have been reevaluating the way we do PT and have found that there are a lot of improvements that could be made. The three things that we would like to specifically work on are:

-Maintaining Cardio

-Mobility/Injury Prevention/Movement Quality
First off some background on the actual program: It starts out with a 9 week military-style Basic Training. Daily routine varies but usually includes a 90 minute PT, consisting of warmup run, stretches, and then a bunch of bodyweight exercises including dips and pullups. We also do a Physical Fitness Test with 2 min max pushups, 2 min max situps and 2 mile timed run. Passing is 42 Pushups, 52Situps, and 15:54on the 2-mile run, with Physical Training Excellence at 82, 92, and 12:54.

Basic does great with conditioning but it doesn’t really build a lot of strength. Most of the guys are around 18-19 years old coming in and do not have a lot of sports background but Basic gets them in decently fit.
After Basic is a 10 week Second phase where the students learn a bunch of emergency response skills such as First Aid, Special Response Diving, Wildland, basic Structural and Wildland firefighting, High Angle Rescue, etc… From there they go onto a skill-specific Third Phase, such as EMT-Paramedic, Firefighting, or Law Enforcement etc. Most third phases run from 20-30 weeks and have a morning PT that are around 45 mins -1 hr long.

In the Second and Third Phase training, we currently have a culture of just “working out”, instead of actually training for something. Most students will see some general improvement but those of us in leadership would like to develop a training program and get guys excited about progress, instead of just going out and doing a bunch of boring burnout sets and mindless repetitions.

Basically we want to help a large groups of guys (25-50) develop more strength, while not totally losing the cardio. We have some dedicated strength guys who know what they are doing and can help coach, but our gym has a very limited number of barbells and dumbbells. The idea of scrapping morning PT and letting guys do strength work on their own has been tossed around but we feel that daily PTs together are much better for unit morale. I am hoping that you could help us maximize the equipment that we already have, such as pullup bars, dip bars, dip rings, tires and ropes. We are willing to look into getting some more gear such as atlas stones, sandbags or bigger tires but our budget is very limited.  If you have a program that you feel would benefit us that would be awesome, otherwise we would be interested in working with you to develop something specifically for our training.
I built our Squat PT Training Cycle specifically for situations similar to yours. You’ll need to build some sandbag, and maybe pick up some dumbbells, but it could be a good fit with a little creativity and a place to start. Here is a the link to the plan – it is 8 weeks long: http://mtntactical.com/shop/squad-pt-training-cycle/
I’m in the national guard and have had a crossfit background.  I’m debating signing up for the general athlete package but as of right now I don’t have the money to set up a home gym. Through this package will I be able to access the bodyweight programs, or am I better off purchasing the programs separately until I have full time access to a gym.
With a subscription you get access to the daily training sessions and archives for all of our ongoing programming (Military, LE, Mountain, SSD), as well as 30+ training plans, including Bodyweight Foundation, the APFT training plan and several other military PT training plans that are bodyweight focused.
A subscription is a better value.
I used your Bodyweight plan one year ago and was sold on it.

I’d like to buy the Foundation Bodyweight plan to train with my team, does it inflate the price ?
Thank you for asking.
You need to respect copyright, which means each copy requires a separate purchase.
So, if you intended to purchase the plan once, and make copies for everyone on your team, that’s a violation of copyright.
If you train together as a team, and you as the team leader buy one copy of the plan and lead your team in the training, – this is okay.
I’m interested in the swimming improvement plan on SSD. But I’m wondering how it will do as a companion to my triathlon training (doing Xterra in September). I’m looking for a structured overall swim training program. But i notice on your site that this is specifically for finning and underwater swimming. I nee a program that improves my freestyle more than anything.
You should do a fully integrated triathlon plan rather than piece together the different components. Our swimming plan is solid, but really built for military applications.
We don’t have a triathlon/Xterra training plan built yet, but there are several available from tri-only coaches.
Good morning, I am curious what the origin of the “Curtis P” exercise is. I program it on occasion for my athletes, and am looking to host a military themed event, and was hoping to know where the name came from. Thanks!
“Curtis P” is a real person – a super strong, intense oilfield welder who was an old workout partner of mine. We’d do sets of 10x Curtis P’s at time. During these sufferfest, sweat flying all over and everyone else in the gym looking at us two maniacs, Curtis would yell “I love this fuckin’ exercise!!”
So I named the exercise after him and now he’s famous.
I am emailing to enquire if you would recommend me using the SASR prep program for 2 commando selection. Is there a prerequisite fitness level to begin the program? In regards to SFET I can do 50 cadence push ups, 7 cadence heaves, 18:35min 3.2km run, 9.5km ruck in 90mins and the swim test in 13mins. I was following the 17 week program but have injured my foot during week 4 and require 3 weeks no rucking or running. I’m still conducting strength, swimming and non-impact cardio(rowing, spin bike etc.) sessions as per the program however reading your sample training program it is a lot more specific in regards to muscular endurance and longer sessions with back to back rucking days. Would it be beneficial to continue the training on my program and move to yours 10 weeks out? How much swimming is in the program? 2 commando is a very amphibious heavy unit and conduct a lot of pool sessions to put candidates under stress whilst preventing physically breaking them. Thanks for your time.
No – I’d recommend the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/) beginning 10 weeks out from your selection.
I am interested in coming back to the gym.  I am a competitive rower and I train three days per week on the water and three days per week in the gym.  Although you state not to jump around with the Military Athlete program, I feel it is better suited than the Mountain Athlete program.  Thoughts on this?
Also, do you publish the workouts for the entire week or do you post them every day?
I’m not sure you should mix the Operator Sessions with your rowing. I feel the work cap/endurance stuff in the Operator Sessions will negatively impact your row training. I would recommend your gym training be strength focused – and would recommend our Rat 6 Strength Training Plan during your “gym days.”
You can purchase the plan individually here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/.
However, Rat 6, as well as 30+ other individual training plans are also available with a monthly subscription.
We post the operator sessions daily, but a week ahead.
I’ve followed your site for sometime. I’ve been a pro cyclist on/off since 1996. I haven’t raced (seriously) in years but as the Cyclocross National Championships are in my home state of NC this January, I am planning to race and hopefully carry that fitness to the Road National Championships next May 2016… coincidently also in NC.
I would race Elite Masters. I feel the cycling/endurance part I know well and have old coaching plans for on bike ‘cross specific workouts. As you know, ‘cross is maximum 60 min (Masters is 45 min), intense power specific race. Lots of short bursts in/out of corners, explosive speed running a barrier section or hill, picking the bike up/down in various positions throughout the race. Gains and gaps can be made during these moments and these have been my strengths over the years (along with the mental strength to push through a ‘cross race).
I think your programs would really help me now that I’m older (mid 40s) develop more core and explosive strength. Are there options for monthly coaching via email or something else to develop a plan to coincide with on bike training leading up to a peak in January 2016?
One plan of ours which you could pair with your riding would be the strength and work capacity sessions from Bodyweight I (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-training-program-i/).
The lower body, core, upper body and sprinting (work capacity) stuff would transfer well to your on-foot sprints during the cyclecross.
This plan also includes some distance running – which you would replace with your cycling.
I’d recommend adding these sessions to your current training 3 days/week, then taper back to 1-2x as you get closer to the event. The leg stuff, especially, is no joke – and could make you fairly sore at the start, so plan on some recover after until your legs catch up.

I was wondering if [Hypertrophy For Skinny Guys] has any endurance training in the program because  I’m trying  to do a half marathon  in September but I’m also  a skinny  guy looking to get bigger and stronger and for some reason  I don’t seem to be gaining very fast. I just got back from Afghanistan  where I worked out every day and I still only gained  like 10 lbs  over 9 months. I’m eating healthy

Over all I’m not the fastest or strongest my pft  is in the 240s. Any suggestions  on plans that would be good for me?
No – the focus of the Hypertrophy Plan is mass gain (http://mtntactical.com/shop/hypertrophy-program-for-skinny-guys/).
The plan I’d recommend for you is the Meathead Marathon Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/meathead-marathon-training-plan/). This plan combines heavy strength and hypertrophy work in the gym, with progressive running.
My trainer suggest your site.  My biggest issue is I am 51 with bad knees.  My PT has told me no lunges, squats, jumping or running for six to eight weeks.  I’m 6’5’ 265 pounds and would like to drop some weight.  Decent upper body strength at this point as that is all I have had a chance to work on.  Can you suggest a package that might work for my old bones without doing any more damage?
We have a Fat Loss Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fat-loss-training-program/) but the plan includes lots of leg work.
What I’d recommend for you from our stuff is our Swimming Improvement Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/swim-improvement-plan/).
As well – 90% of fat is diet related. You can’t out work a shitty diet. Fix your diet. Here are our nutritional guidelines: http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition
I’m interested in your USAF CCT training plan, but I’m not sure I’m in good enough shape to jump right in. Do you have a recommended baseline of fitness for starting the program, and do you have any plans you’d suggest to start out with and work up to the 9 week plan? Thanks for your time.
We’ve put together a USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Training Packet of plans here (http://mtntactical.com/shop/cctpjcro-training-packet/) which includes a progression of training plans prior to the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Selection Plan.
I’m not too sure how far out you are from selection – but following these plans in order is one option. Another is to subscribe to the website, and begin with Valor (which comes with the subscription) then move to the Operator Sessions prior to beginning the selection plan. One thing though – we don’t regularly swim for the Operator Sessions – so you’d want to work in some pool time.

I’m a recently transitioned veteran and a big fan of the military
athlete routines and site. About 3 years ago I injured my lower back
in Iraq and for quite awhile afterwards I was very lax with my
fitness. About a year later during another deployment, I became
serious with my fitness again and saw huge improvements in my strength
and fitness and considered myself cured of my injury only to re-injure
my back dead lifting. Once again I became lax with my fitness and now
I experience little back pain, but have what I would consider to be
significant pain through my hip and down my leg when I attempt to
perform exercises under load when hinging at the waist. I also feel
very in-flexible and tight through my hips and hamstrings and overall
just stiff. I’ve seen physical therapists and chiropractors, but I’m
convinced the pain now has more to do with atrophe and lack of
activity than with an injury. I want to get back into strength
training, but have little confidence in my back and hips when it comes
to anything related to bending at the waist and now more than anything
would just like to feel mobile again. Would the 8 week low back rehab
plan be worth my while or do you have a better recommendation?

I’d begin with the Bodyweight Foundation training plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/bodyweight-foundation-training-plan/) just to kick start your fitness. Then move to the Low Back Fitness Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/8-week-lower-back-fitness-training-program/).

I’m preparing for the PST for the Navy and have your 6-week program,
but I was curious if this is the only programming we are to do? Is
extra work recommended or not advised?
I am following it currently and was unsure if doing more would be
detrimental to the program.
If more sessions etc. are OK then what would you say would be best?
Any help will be much appreciated.

Best to do the program in isolation for the first 4 -weeks – through the first re-assessment. If you are making all the progressions and improve significantly, then you can add in extra heavy strength training 1-2  days/week.
I just purchased the Peak Bagger plan and have a few more questions:

1) What if I’m unable to complete even a single pull-up at this point?

2) My training includes long, altitude hikes every other weekend.  How do I adapt my PB plan those weeks?

3) I’m heading to Mt. Whitney on Friday 11 September for a 13 September summit.  I don’t see a taper week in your program.  Do you suggest starting it the first week of August (6 weeks out) or the week before to give myself a taper?
1) Do negative pull ups for the prescribed reps – or get a band to assist.

2) Do the training sessions in the plan in order – but don’t train on Fridays. You’ll need to start the plan farther out to accommodate this.

3) 2-3 days total rest is fine – you won’t need a taper.
Is this Fat Loss Program included in the monthly subscription or need to be bought seperatly?
We’re putting up the plan to be included with the subscription this week
My boyfriend and I just started your fat loss plan and we are worried about losing strength while we complete it. Do you think we should be concerned?

My 3RM for squat/deadlift/bench is 235/255/115.

His plan is to incorporate the following training to ensure he doesn’t lose strength:

His plan is to incorporate the following training:

Wednesday adding 6 rds of:

4x back squat

8x pull-ups (Max rep pull-ups was 18 last test)

Hip flexor stretch
Friday adding 6 rds of:

4x deadlift

4x military press

Lat and pec stretch
Just want to add we’ve been cycling through a variety of your plans for two years – and I started off last year barely doing a 30lb deadlift. I’ve come so far & so much of that I have you and your plans to thank!
You can add is the programming you describe – just be careful for overtraining. Make sure you’re making the progressions prescribed in the Fat Loss Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fat-loss-training-program/).
I’m a 56 year old expert telemark skier that does 95% of my skiing lift served.  I ski between 50 and 60 days per years. I’m in good overall shape and adhere to my own ad hoc weightcardiostretchcordination exercise program.  I’m looking for something a bit more structured to get ready for this ski season.  Do you recommend the Dryland, Monster Factory or one of the other programs?
I recommend the Dryland Ski Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/dryland-ski-training-program/)  the 7 weeks directly before your ski area opens.
Between now and then – a couple options:
1) Monster Factory Strength (http://mtntactical.com/shop/monster-factory-strength/)
2) A subscription to the website and follow the Mountain Base Alpha sessions. With a subscription, you also get access to the Dryland Ski Cycle mentioned above.

Does your SFOD-D (DELTA) Selection Course Training Plan have a swimming routine
No John –
Look at the USAF CCT/PJ/CRO Selection Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/usaf-cctpjcro-selection-training-plan/).
I have a question regarding my brother he’s been trying to cut weight and fat for some time now he works out with me sometimes but nothing consistent. He told me he’s wanting to enlist he talked with a recruiter they told him he needs to be at under 20 percent body fat to enlist right now he is somewhere in the ranger of about 37 percent weight about 375lbs height 6 foot 2 inch. What course of action do you recommend for him to take to cut the weight. He’s fat but not barrel fat if that makes sense just a big guy, I’m guessing he would be under 20 percent somewhere in the 250’s
We have a Fat Loss Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/fat-loss-training-program/) which includes dietary recommendations and fitness training, but I’m concerned the fitness programming even in this training plan would be too intense for a guy at 375#.
80-90% of fat loss is diet related. Your brother can’t outwork a shitty diet. He has to start there. Chances are he’s been heavy for a while, however, and making this change will be a struggle.
What I’d recommend from our stuff is he begin with our nutritional guidelines (http://mtntactical.com/inside-strong-swift-durable/frequently-asked-questions/#nutrition). Fitness-wise, I’d recommend he pursue a couple strategies.
First – get him in the weight room doing some strength training – our Rat 6 Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/) would be an option. This strength training isn’t designed to cut his weight, but rather get him charged up about fitness. I’ve yet to see a man come in the weightroom, and begin to get stronger who didn’t get a little hooked and start to feel better about himself.
Next – on the fitness side – get him walking/slow jogging in the evenings – 30-60 minutes. I’d also recommend one of the new fitness bands so he can start to count daily steps.
Be patient with him.
What is the average time requirement for an average athlete per session?
It depends on the programming. Gym sessions which are part of our Base Fitness programming across the different athlete catagories are generally designed to last 60 minutes. This includes the daily programming available through a subscription as well as many of or individual plans such as 357 Strength.
Sport/Mission-specific training sessions which involve endurance work (running/rucking/step ups) can reach into the hours – depending upon the programming.
What drives our programming is the fitness demands of the mission/event/climb/athlete.
Email back if you have a specific program in mind.

I wanted to let you know the Command staff of my Department

really liked this article.  We are working very hard to create this

type of culture.  I wanted to let you know we are eagerly awaiting

your fitness measurement tool.  This is our biggest struggle, a

universally recognized and accepted fitness assessment.  We like the

CPAT, but it is written for candidates not incumbents.  I don’t

understand why it is that way, seems it would be great to just

continue with the CPAT and adjust for age.  Again though we are

looking forward to what you guys come up with.
Thanks for the note!
We’ve designed a fire/rescue-specific “Culture of Fitness” Survey we hope to offer to anyone this week. We’ve set up a scoring system so it can provide individuals and departments with a baseline of where they are.
Next week we’re traveling to a mid-west department to do job task observation, interviews, etc.
From that work will come specific recommendations to the department to improve it’s culture of fitness, as well as a department-specific assessment and training program based on what we learn in the job task analysis. Around 75% of this department’s workload is paramedic related – not fire.
As well, we’ve created 3 firefighter/rescue focused plans (OnRamp, Build and Tactical I) which will be up on the site this week.
Ultimately we hope to offer departments specific recommendations to improve their culture, and follow-on programming appropriately based on their job tasks.
We have a booth at the Firehouse Expo in Baltimore set up beginning tomorrow to learn more.
Work to do!
Can you give me an equipment list needed for the dryland ski training program? I have a small home gym and want to add the necessary equipment so I can complete the program in the fall.
This program is designed to be completed in any commercial gym which includes basic free weights, plyo boxes, and medicine balls. You’ll also need this special equipment:

– Medium Mini Band (blue or green) from www.performbetter.com

– 2x sandbags or similar obstacles for the Double Horizontal Hop exercise

– Stopwatch with programmable, countdown interval (Timex 100-lap Ironman is Best)
This is also available at the product page for the Dryland Ski plan here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/dryland-ski-training-program/
I’ve been following the Operator Sessions for quite some time now, and have started coming off them to taper for my final OCS phase, Phase III, for which I ship out next Friday. It’s 16 days, and I don’t expect it to be too intense, just long days in the field. My question is what do you recommend jumping into when I get back. I’m looking to pick the training back up Monday, 10AUG. For once, I won’t have anything specific to train for, just overall fitness. I feel the operator sessions may be too much after a nearly three week break. Which cycle do you recommend I jump into?
I’d recommend jumping back in the Operator Sessions – but just starting at 3 days/week for the first week. It will come back fast.

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