Q&As 8/07/15


Questions include: How to work out your upper body with a lower leg injury? What are the mini-events standards for the Backcountry Game Hunting Plan? Best plan for improving olympic lifts? Why beans and rice are left out of ‘the diet’? Best plan for improving screener events? What ruck distances are most beneficial? 

I haven’t had a chance to take the Fire Rescue Athlete Assessment, but I have started with the CPAT training and am currently on Session 4.  I have been telling everyone how great this workout is and how I can’t wait to buy more.  The concept behind the base fitness training then moving to sport specific training is perfect and in my opinion is how everyone should train.  I will definitely let you know how everything turns out as I take the CPAT test on September 16th.  Thanks again!!!

“Hands down the best programming I’ve tried, and I’ve done just about everything from crossfit to powerlifting. These guys over at Military Athlete know their sh*t. After just one 60 min strength/work capacity session I am completely humbled and beat to sh*t but feeling good. Exciting to see how the endurance work plays out.”
About the Valor Plan…

Thank you for your efforts helping our service men and women stay fit & strong!    I’d be honored if you could provide some brief guidance for this civilian…

I’m 52 years old, 5’9 and 160 lbs.  A former endurance athlete that has run a marathon, bicycle raced, ski’d Tuckerman’s Ravine in NH.      Family obligations have been priority for the last decade and I am now just getting back into shape with some walking, stretching, yoga, etc.   Muscle mass and strength is probably half of what it was at my peak.

Unfortunately I was sidelined just 2 weeks ago with a major back episode.   First in my life.   Was visiting family and could barely get in the car for the 4 hour ride home.   I’m working with a P.T.  who is focusing on my SI joint.   I am taking brief walks and stretching.   I am optimistic I will heal and return to more vigorous exercise, though may not ever be able to lift ‘heavy’ again.  More concerned with being able to rebuild the core, do pushups and chin-ups,  bike, ski with my family, etc.

I’m thinking of purchasing your Low Back Fitness Training Plan.   Your thoughts?   Other programs or plans you offer that may be more appropriate?
Sorry about your back. I just recently wrote an article about low back issues and our low back fitness training plan here: http://mtntactical.com/all-articles/plan-focus-8-week-low-back-fitness-training-plan/
This would be a good plan for you to come back to – but just two weeks out may be a little soon. We have a bodyweight core strength plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/core-strength-bodyweight-only/) that I’d recommend now – in addition to your light running/swimming, etc. Then graduate to the low back fitness plan.
I used one of your work capacity programs a few years ago. I’m in a unique situation where I have passed the prep/selection course for TACP, however I incurred a mild tibia/ankle injury that I’m still trying to get sorted out.

I have a month of physical therapy but want to make the most of my time between training classes. I was wondering what you would suggest both to continue to build my upper body for the schoolhouse and also to help prevent my running and rucking abilities from dropping off dramatically.

The injury is mostly impact related and although walking, running, and rucking hurt squatting, front squatting, oly squats, and deadlifts in moderation haven’t caused any pain. I want the most intense upper body work possible for the next 4 weeks, but I also want it to be geared towards a military selection or school.

Wasn’t sure if any of your SOF prep programs were very heavy into the upper body work and would allow my PT to substitute for the lower body dominant days. If not maybe an operator subscription for a month and just try to sub the lower body exercises that are high impact. Thank you in advance for your help Sir, your stuff is definitely appreciated here and throughout the community.

Couple Options –
1) Upper Body Round Robin Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/upper-body-round-robin-training-plan/) Designed specifically to prepare guys for the UBRR – it’s upper body exercises include an 80% bodyweight bench press for reps, Push Ups, Pull Ups, Dips, and a rope climb. The lower body work in the plan is running or rucking based – so you’d need to come up with something for that.
2) Ultimate Meathead Cycle (http://mtntactical.com/shop/ultimate-meathead-cycle/) Gym and barbell based, UMC deploys hypertrophy-volume upper body work and strength based (low volume) lower body work. This would be perfect for you – but the upper body stuff includes bunches of bench presses, military presses, curls, etc – designed to build mass, not calisthenic strength endurance in the military mode.

I just wrapped up week three of Backcountry Big Game and while I’d love to use this time to tell you all the ways I despise you, I have a specific question.
I am missing the times you have listed for the mini-events, sometimes by a lot. Also, while your weekly sessions do not have times listed, they are often lasting past the 1hr that is standard for your programming.
I don’t know if it is my lack of mountain/endurance background, but going any faster is honestly not an option. This is my best effort, so I have adopted the attitude that this is simply a mountain of work that I have to grind down from start to finish, regardless of pace or interruption. Adam seemed to agree with that philosophy but admitted that it was not his programming. So from you, is my approach sound or should I be shaving off some volume so I can pick up the pace and finish on time?

Shave volume to keep the daily sessions to 60-75 minutes, and the mini events to the duration prescribed.
For the Daily Sessions – shave volume from everything but the Sandbag Getups and Step ups – try to get all those reps in. If you haven’t already, get a hand counter for your step ups.
The mini events are progressive – so you’ll be going longer and doing more work every week, regardless. Keep them to the prescribed duration.

I am headed to a special operations unit, but I will not be an operator. I do not know what the future holds for me, but I know that I want to be prepared for everything. So with that focus in mind, I feel like I need to improve my strength. I score high on the army apft and run a 12:20 2 mile but at a weight of 200 lbs, I am not that strong. I was looking at the military athlete strength standards and I am pretty sure that I cannot deadlift twice my bodyweight and I certainly cannot bench press 1.5 times my bodyweight. I am in good shape but those faster olympic lifts are not my strong suit. I am much better at endurance training. Should I sign up for operator sessions or is there a plan that is best for someone who wants to improve on these olympic lifts? Should I even be focused on these things? I want to just think in the long term and I do not want to be in a position where, though I am in good shape, I am put in an embarrassing situation in a gym setting.

You’re question reminds me of something I learned long ago – there is a lot of jeopardy in the weightroom for men. No one wants to look weak.
True story – I’d always been somewhat of a gym rat – even without a gym – and at 12-13 I would go running on my own, and do push ups and sit ups, etc. But my first intro to serious strength training came at 14, when the high school had before-school training for the football team.
I’d played football in middle school, but at about 115 pounds and 5’3″ or so, I knew high school football would get me killed. But I loved to train and eagerly signed up for this before-school lifting  – which was open to anybody. First day we did strength tests, and while I was ok on the squat, my max bench press was 95# – weakest of all the boys. There were two girls – both upper classmen – training, and sure enough, for the next 6 weeks or so, every bench day, I had to share a bench with them.
I was so embarrassed I convinced my single mom to drop $100 on an sand-filled, plastic plate cheapo weight training set up for my bedroom. I bench pressed every day – usually 2x/day – for that 6 weeks.
Next time we tested I maxed at 135# – highest increase of anyone – and nailed 15 bar dips.
Here in Jackson we often work with climbers and others new to weight training, and I’m always careful to protect male egos and work hard to make the weightroom welcoming for men. I understand the jeopardy.
Back to you – I wouldn’t get caught up too much on the oly lifts, but instead focus simply on getting stronger. From our stuff, I’d recommend the Rat 6 Strength plan. It deploys classic strength training exercises and a simple, proven progression – for both upper and lower body. It’s a great place to start.
You can purchase the plan individually here: http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/.
As well, this plan is included along with 30+ others with a subscription to the website.
Be patient when you start. Work hard and you’ll gain strength fast.

I have a quick question on your diet plan. Why do you take beans and rice away from the 6 days a week diet?
Whenever I lift and am following any program I get stronger but not any bigger. I have done several of your programs and also your RAT 6 program and I noticed about a 30 to 35 lb increase in the weight that I was lifting but I will only put on about 5 lb total. When I was doing some research I found that other lifters and bodybuilders recommended rice and beans as a source for carbs and in order to put on weight as you need to eat them along with your meat. Is there a specific reason why u pull them from your diet?

With the exception of the Hypertrophy Plan for Skinny Guys, my programming is specifically designed to increase strength with minimal mass gain.
Strength and mass aren’t one in the same. From a strength and conditioning perspective – the difference is volume. Heavy loads, and low volume – for example, 8 rounds of 3 reps, will build strength. Light loads and high volume – say 4 rounds of 15 reps, will build mass.
For most athletes we work with – soldiers/mountain – excess mass which isn’t helping performance is just more weight to carry up a mountain or under a ruck. We do specifically train mass for LE Athletes – a big arms and chest can dissuade bad guys from confrontation.
If you’re after mass, I’d recommend the Hypertrophy Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/hypertrophy-program-for-skinny-guys/), and drinking whole milk – not eating rice and beans. Protein builds muscle.

I have a quick question about combining plans. I just finished the 369 Work Capacity program and saw huge improvements in my overall fitness. Now I am moving on to APFT improvement to prepare for BOLC. I am a female and I usually come close to maxing the male standards on the APFT. My question is, what plans can I combine with APFT Improvement to continue to train for the APFT and meet my goal of maxing the male standards, and continue to improve my work capacity at the same time? What days would I train for what?

If you’re goal is to max overall APFT scores, do the APFT plan alone. It’s no joke. With the running intervals, it also has a solid work capacity component.
If you want to add anything, I’d recommend some heavy strength training – think an 8X3 set/rep scheme. You don’t need volume in the weight room – but heavy weight and few reps. I’d recommend 2 days/week
Day 1

Front Squat

Bench Press

Rope Climb
Day 2

Back Squat

Walking Lunge

Push Press
As well, I’d recommend a ruck run on the weekend. 35#, 5 miles.
However – if you find you aren’t making the APFT plan progressions, stop the additional training.

I was  wondering how you recommend doing the Rat6 along with the Ruck

improvement plan. Morning/Evening set up? Rat 6 mon-fri/Ruck improve

tues/thurs/sat? Just curious on the best way to combin these two without

over training or not getting the full benefits of the rucks from being tired

from the lifting. Any help would be awesome, thanks.

First – I’d recommend doing Rat 6 in isolation for 2-3 weeks. This will help you accommodate to the lifting.
Options to bring in Ruck Improvement:
1) Begin with 2-a-Days. Lift first in the am. Ruck in the pm. If you stop making the progressions on either the lifting or rucking, go to …
2) Alternate days. Lift on Monday, Ruck on Tuesday, Lift on Wednesday, etc.

I just signed up for online training through Strong Swift Durable.  I am a reasonably good athlete who has just come back from an extended time off (due to injury).  I have rehabbed well and have been working out for a couple months now.  I am a hunter, skier, hiker, farmer, and general outdoorsman.  I wish to be in great all-around shape, and I really need to lose the 30 pounds I put on while injured.  I thought the SSD workouts were probably where I should start.  I can get sport-specific later on, but right now my body really just needs to get back in overall condition.  Would you agree that SSD is the program for me?  If so, where should I start?  Should I just jump in on today’s workout, or do I need to start at the beginning of a block?
Thanks for your help and I look forward to getting back at it!

With your subscription you also get access to the Fat Loss Training Plan. Start there.
Email if you can’t find it or have any questions.

Hey there, I am about to undergo the DEVGRU screening program that I purchased from y’all a while ago.  I just had one question on the verbiage for a few of the workouts.  In doing, for example, 5 rounds of pushups at 35% of max number, then max reps in 60 seconds, am I doing the 35% and then as many as I can get within that 60 seconds, or 35%, then 60 second clock starts for max reps?
Also, same sort of question on the weighted legacy test workouts.  Is the athlete expected to be able to bodyweight bench, or 40# pullup for that matter, the entire 60 seconds, or do you move to a lower weight after % of reps are completed?
These might be stupid simple answers, but I would appreciate any clarification.  Thank you for your time

At Round 5, you have 60 seconds to get in your 35% reps. Faster you finish, more rest you get. Say you finish Round 5 and get 15 seconds rest.
Then, at the beginning of the last 60 second interval, do as many reps as possible. You can stop and rest … just keep working for the entire 60 seconds.
You end up doing 6 rounds total, round 6 is the max reps in the 60 seconds.
Use BW for bench press and 40# for pull ups. Again, you can stop and rest during the last 60 seconds, just try to get in as many reps as you can.

I have begun the Valor program as per your suggestion (just started week 2), to be followed-on with the OCS prep program.  As of today, I am now in a predicament as my OSO called me this morning and informed me that I have been selected for OCC 220, in which I will ship this September.  This was completely unexpected and has undermined my training by almost 4 months of time.  Currently, PFT is looking okay at about a 265-270/300.  Best run time was 22:58 on the 3 mile.  Crunches and pull-ups are maxed.  My question to you is what should I do as far as the programming?  Should I hop off the Valor program and immediately get on the OCS prep program, or continue with the blend of work capacity/strength and endurance in Valor for the remainder of the month.  My OSO and SSgt both feel I am good to go physically for September, but obviously the run time is bothering me in my mind, and is playing with my confidence a bit.  I know I will still get a weekly long run in on the Valor program, along with the mile intervals, so please let me know what you think the best option would be for me at this time.

Go right to the OCS plan now.

I’m entering my second year at the Naval Academy and am aspiring to enter the Special Warfare Community.  To do that through the Academy I have to do well on a 36 hour screener in October of my junior year.  My plan was going to be to work towards the strength goals you have listed, as well as swimming, throughout this fall, winter, and early spring.  Then I plan to cut down on lifting, focusing more on running, PT, swimming, rucking, and lighter lifting.  My question is what type of program or programs are best for reaching those strength goals?  Furthermore, does your 8 week V2 BUD/s program contain an adequate amount of swimming, running, and PT to perform well on the PST (sub 8 swim, 100+push ups/sit ups, 25+ pull ups, and sub 9 run)?  Also, is there a decent amount of rucking in that program because the screener consists of a significant amount of rucking, including a timed 2 mile ruck?  Thanks for your time and for all the helpful information on your webpage.

Strength – My two go-two strength training plans for you are Rat 6 (http://mtntactical.com/shop/rat-6-strength/) and Big 24 (http://mtntactical.com/shop/big-24-strength-training-program-v3/).
In general, heavy loading and low volume (reps per set and total reps) are key for strength gains. Both these plans deploy this approach.
I’m not sure what your screener will involve, but my guess is it will begin with the PST, and then follow on with a bunch of other stuff. You’re goal should be to prepare for the entire effort, not get focused just on the PST.
BUD/s V2 Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/buds-training-program/) does include focused calisthenic, running, swimming and rucking assessments, and follow on progressions, as well as long “mini events” on the weekends which will help prepare you physically, and especially mentally, for the 36 hour push.
Specifically to the PST, the BUD/s V2 plan’s Session 1 Assessment includes 2 min. push ups, 2 min sit ups, max rep pull ups and a 500m swim. It also includes a 4 mile run for time in boots – which isn’t exactly like the 1.5 mile run in the PST, but will be more like what you’ll face during the screener.
The BUD/s V2 plan also assesses a 1200m combat side stroke, and 6-mile ruck at 45#. In addition, the plan includes long slow distance work for recovery and aerobic base, water treading and underwater swims, hypoxic swims, a weekly hard work capacity effort, as as mentioned above, mini events. This thing is full on.

I currently serve as a vehicle technician in the Canadian armed Forces. I really love your training regimen but I’m always really tired after a couple of weeks of your training. I’m training before going at work at 5h30 am. We have pt at 7h30 am 3 times a week at my unit. In pt, we’re doing some circuit training and sports like soccer. I’ve ask for pt on my own time but my unit have not accept my request.

If I do bodybuilding, i’m not tired so is it because your training hits more the metabolism ?
I eat as healthy as I can and I sleep 7 hours at night. I’m 5 foot 6 and my weight is 187 lbs. I’m do not know exactly my fat percentage but I’m not fat. I can see my abs if I flex hard.
Should I take more food intake or supplements like whey protein and maybe some other recovery supplement like L-glutamine ?
Should I just not do your programming before pt or should I reduce it ?

Something that might help is eating after your own training and before your unit’s PT. It could be you’re doing this already.
Two other options ….
1) stick with both …. I’m assuming your fitness will improve as you continue and it won’t affect you as much.

2) Alternate – PT on one day, your own stuff the next day, Unit PT the third day, etc.

I am going to train for the next 12-13 months to prep for SFAS. Would you recommend adding Humility, Fortitude, & Valor to the Ruck Based Training Packet? If yes, where would you add it? If not, what do you suggest to do for the remaining several months?

I’d recommend a subscription to the website for 3-4 months before beginning the Ruck Based Selection Training Packet.
With a subscription comes access to both Valor and Fortitude. I’d begin with Fortitude, then do Valor, then follow the Operator Sessions before beginning the packet 9 months out.

I was looking at your website and think I am in need of some assistance.  I am a peace officer, 40 yrs old, 5’10” 220lbs and I am sure my BMI is super high.  Prior military guy but it has been awhile.  Not a huge fan of running but at this point, I need to due whatever is necessary.  I recently starting lifting again, felt great for about 3wks then got sick.  Been down for about 2wks now with a cold and just about over it.  I have access to a ton of equipment with the exception of kettle bells.  I am not sure which of your programs I should start with.  Should I start with Fat Loss? The On-Ramp?  The Sandbag? or something completely different?

I’d recommend beginning with the LE On Ramp Training Plan (http://mtntactical.com/shop/on-ramp-training-program/). You can purchase this plan individually at the website store at the link above.  You also get access to it and 30+ other plans, plus the daily Officer Sessions with a subscription to the website.

Good morning. I thought I would share some data with you, then ask a few questions. I’ve followed your plans on and off for several years, and I try to keep up with your programming as best I can while still tailoring my workouts to address my weak areas. As you know, I’m supposed to attend SFAS soon, and I just left the Marines after six years. I lean towards the skinny side at 6’1″ and 175, and I’ve lost a few pounds while prepping for selection. I’m finishing out week 8 of my selection training prep and have 4-6 weeks to go before beginning the pipeline.
I followed your general layout for the MARSOC selection plan while also having two or three days of heavy lifting with short sets to retain strength. I’ve lost a bit of strength regardless, but relatively little compared with how much running and rucking I’ve done. I bench my body weight 5-6 times, squat it 5-6 times, and deadlift 2 times my body weight for a max. I’ve focused on those three lifts because they’re simple and familiar, so I don’t feel that I’m running the risk of injury from poor technique. I do various calisthenic circuits to retain my cal numbers as well; I max at 60-65 pushups, 65-70 sit-ups, and 18 pull-ups.
On the endurance side I average 7-8 miles per week in runs, and 8 miles per week on rucks. I typically have one day of interval work for each, never exceeding three miles in total, and having a 5 mile ruck run with 52 pound load in cammies and boots. There is also an unloaded 5 mile run during the week as well. I average around 37:15 for my run and just under 1:00:00 on my ruck. My best to date on the ruck was 58:36, while my worst was 1:02:25. When I first started ruck running seriously a year ago, 1:02:30 was my best 5 miler.
My questions are, have your athletes (other than me) found that their ruck speed increased significantly while doing short interval and medium distance ruck runs? Additionally, do you believe that doing the short and medium distance rather than much longer but slower rucks should be something I include in my programming? Finally, do you believe that working the weights heavy in the weeks before selection is detrimental to performance in other areas during selection-type events? I am concerned about losing too much strength to do well if I stop lifting as much as I am.
I can send you a sample of one week of training if that would help give you an accurate picture of my program and its weak areas. It’s built around a hybrid of your MARSOC and RBS plans. As always, thank you for your input; your coaching has helped me radically improve my fitness base to be ready for SF.

1) Interval work and rucking improvement – Yes. We’ve had great success with this.
2) We like to combine short, fast, interval rucking work with longer, slower LSD rucks. We do both.
3) Strength in weeks before selection? We don’t in the plan I designed for MARSOC (http://mtntactical.com/shop/marsoc-as-training-plan/). Ideally you’ll have built your strength prior to beginning the sport-specific selection plan. Strength will help mostly with durability at selection, but not necessary performance – as you won’t be lifting barbells – you’ll be running, rucking, swimming, PT’ing, etc. Strength training is key in my programming, but as part of the “Base Fitness” for an athlete. Beginning 9 weeks out (for MARSOC) I wan’t athletes focusing on the specific MARSOC fitness elements.

Just wanted to drop a note to say that the programming is spot on. I’ve been using your plans off and on since you had the free daily workouts on mountain athlete years ago.  I have a question, on one of Rob’s videos about future plans I saw xterra written on the board. Do you have any idea when you might release it?  I’m currently doing the SF45, but planning my 2016 season (had 2 surgeries earlier this year).

Thanks for all you guys do.

No timeline for Xterra right now – several plans are in the queue before it. I’d suggest a similar-distance triathlon plan in the mean time.

I have a history of lower back issues (off and on for 7+ years) and looked over the lower-back fitness plan in last week’s email. I am currently doing the chassis strength cycle of the operator sessions. I tweaked my back a little during week one of the cycle doing front squats but took some time off, reduced the loads for a short period, and have recovered. I don’t have any issues with the current loads other than some lower back soreness the morning after the Front Squat / Hinge Lift strength sessions. Given my history, do you recommend stopping the chassis cycle and switching to the lower back fitness plan to rebuild my core from the ground up or keep doing what I’m doing? My initial thoughts are that the chassis cycle is allowing me to build the lower back / core and I should continue but I wanted a second opinion.

Continue with the Operator Sessions. You don’t need the Low Back plan.

I wanted to thank you for your awesome programming and customer service. It’s truly appreciated. Anyway I wanted to ask you what you thought the better sub for ruck runs were. Either loaded step ups as the same load prescribed for the ruck or going on something like an Elliptical at a high resistance for the same amount of time it would take to complete the ruck.

Loaded step ups – but think time. So if you’re doing 1-mile ruck run intervals and each interval will take 11-12 minutes, do 12-minute repeat step up intervals.

I’m aiming for a TACP contract once I am physically prepared enough, or at the latest when my current contract is up(march 2016), Currently doing your USAF PFT to improve my running and Cals(just added in pull ups). Currently running a 11:00 1.5 mile, would like to drop at least a minute off of that time. Hitting 60 push ups and 64 sit ups(in one minute).
Today was day one of the PFT plan, should I stay on it, or switch to your TACP plan? My first goal is be able to dominate the PAST test on any given day, and then obtain a contract and get to work. Any advice you can lend me is appreciated.
(I’ve neglected running until recently, I had been lifting heavy with a powerlifting mindset, so cardio and cals were ignored completely for some time)

Continue with the USAF PFT Plan.
You’ll want to do the TACP plan directly before the schoolhouse – you can do it after the USAF PFT, but you’ll need to repeat it once you get your contract and directly before you report.

I just read your most recent email update about Backcountry Big Game Hunter Training Plan (I am also the fellow in the picture at the top of the article with the Mountain Goat).  I see you have recently updated the training plan.  I use the version before that one do you recommend buying the new one?

The old plan was solid. Save your money for ammo or broad heads!

I have a history of lower back issues (off and on for 7+ years) and looked over the lower-back fitness plan in last week’s email. I am currently doing the chassis strength cycle of the operator sessions. I tweaked my back a little during week one of the cycle doing front squats but took some time off, reduced the loads for a short period, and have recovered. I don’t have any issues with the current loads other than some lower back soreness the morning after the Front Squat / Hinge Lift strength sessions. Given my history, do you recommend stopping the chassis cycle and switching to the lower back fitness plan to rebuild my core from the ground up or keep doing what I’m doing? My initial thoughts are that the chassis cycle is allowing me to build the lower back / core and I should continue but I wanted a second opinion.

Continue with the Operator Sessions. You don’t need the Low Back plan.

I’m about to start your brc package and I don’t have access to an O-course because I’m located in Wisconsin. What should I do to substitute that?

It’s not perfect, but the Devil Dog Circuit is an option: http://mtntactical.com/exercises/devil-dog-circuit/

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