Mini Study Results: Apex Lab Rats Increase Strength, Strength Endurance, Run and Ruck Times


By Rob Shaul, Founder


Remote lab rats were able to increase both 1RM Strength Back Squat Strength, Max Rep Push Ups and Pull Ups, and 1-Mile Run and 6-Mile Ruck Times concurrently while completing a focused, 3.5 week training cycle.

Background and Study Design

We conducted a 3.5-week Mini-Study using remote lab rats to test potential improvement toward MTI’s new “Apex” Fitness Standards”:

  1.  2x Bodyweight (men), 1.5x Bodyweight (women) Back Squat
  2. 15x (women) / 25x Max Rep Pull Ups (men)
  3. 5:30 (men) / 6:00 (women) 1-Mile Run Time
  4. 72 min (women) / 60 min (men) 6-Mile Ruck at 45#
  5. 50x Push Ups (women) / 80x Push Ups (men) in 2 Minutes

Five remote lab rats completed this 6 day/week, 3.5 week mini-study. All the lab rats completed the same assessment-based, training cycle focused only on improving the specific elements in the Apex fitness standards.

Below are the programming methods used for each event in this cycle:

  • 1RM Back Squat – Rat 6 Strength Progresson
  • Max Rep Push Ups and Max Rep Pull Ups – MTI Bodyweight Density Progression
  • 1-Mile Run and 6-Mile Ruck – MTI’s Assessment-Based, threshold Interval Programming

Below was the weekly schedule:

  • Mon: Back Squat, Push Ups, Pull Ups
  • Tue: 400m Repeats based on 1-Mile Run time
  • Wed: 2-Mile Ruck Repeats based on 6-Mile Ruck time
  • Thurs: Back Squat, Push Ups, Pull Ups
  • Fri: 800m Repeats based on 1-Mile Run time
  • Sat: 2-Mile Ruck Repeats based on 6-Mile Ruck time
  • Sun: Total Rest

Max effort assessments were completed at the beginning and end of the cycle for these exercises/events:

(1) 1 Repetition Maximum (1RM) Back Squat

(2) Max Rep Pull Ups

(3) 1 Mile Run for Time

(4) Max Rep Push Ups

          (5) 6-Mile Ruck for Time

The lab rats were not allowed to complete any other fitness training during the 3-week study period. They were allowed to complete active recreation on Sunday.

At the end of the 3 weeks, the lab rats re-completed the 1RM and Bodyweight Strength efforts.  The results from the pre and post cycle assessments were then compared.


Results and Discussion

Below are the individual lab rat results:

With a singular exception for one event, all athletes who completed the cycle saw improvement across all the events.

In terms of reaching the “Apex” Fitness Standards, Karl and Steve came closest.

Karl met the 1RM Back Squat, and Push Up standards, but narrowly missed the Pull Up, 1-mile run and 6-mile Ruck Standards.

Steve met the 1RM Back Squat, Push Up and pull up and Ruck standards, but missed the 1-mile run standard.

Understand, these are high-level, multi-modal fitness standards and all these athletes are very fit.

The attrition for this study was significant. five lab rats completed the programming, but 11 did not. Generally, we’ll see a 40-50% attrition rate. We’re not sure why the attrition rate for this mini-study was higher than average. It could be as simple as the busy summer recreation and continued opening across the county which may have caused people to take time off from training, but we’re not sure. This was a very intense, demanding, 6-day/week cycle.

Next Steps?

We were pleased to see the overall dual across all standards from this cycle. Generally we’ll deploy our Density strength methodology for this type of 1RM assessment-based (back squat) cycle, but went with Rat 6 this time and saw strong results.

Perhaps a next step would be to change from the 1RM Back Squat to a 1RM Dead/Hinge Lift and repeat the cycle.

Questions? Email

Comments? Please comment below.



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