Mountain Warfare School Training Plan


  • 6-Week, 5 Day/week Training Plan specifically designed to prepare athletes for the US Army and USMC Mountain Warfare Schools
  • Train legs, lungs and chassis for loaded uphill and downhill movements under load
  • Includes Focused PFT Work (Both Army and USMC)
  • This training plan is one of the 200+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.



This program is designed to build your legs and lungs in preparation for training exercises or individual schools at the US Army and US Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Schools. These schools encompass a wide range of military-based mountain skills, but all require a high level of fitness for loaded, uphill movement. This plan has a heavy emphasis on developing the legs and combat chassis for physical requirements of the course.

The plan requires little equipment and would be appropriate for an individual preparing for a course, or for small unit leaders preparing for a unit deployment to the Mountain Warfare School.

This is a 6-week, 5 day/week training program designed to be completed the 6-weeks directly prior to your Mountain Warfare School training date.

The plan is built around the following exercises and activities:

DOT Drill – The DOT drill is a basic-level plyometric drill used in collegiate and high school weight rooms across the country. It serves as a great warm up. Also, it helps build ankle and knee joint strength, key for hiking and rucking over uneven terrain.

Leg Blasters – Leg Blasters are an intense, body weight only, lower body complex of exercises which builds incredible leg strength, and lactate tolerance. Also, we’ve found it key to building eccentric leg strength. You’ll be climbing plenty of steep hills, but you’ll also be hiking down them. Coming down forces your legs to work eccentrically, and can lead to crippling soreness in the early weeks. Leg Blasters will help you prepare for this.

Step Ups – Step ups are a basic, butt-kicking single mode exercise used to build sport-specific climbing leg strength and cardio in a controlled, gym environment. During this program, expect to do thousands of step ups with a 40# pack. This is the primary exercise I’ll use to get your legs and lungs ready.

Sandbag Getup – We’ve found that core strength is a huge determinate of performance. Even more important, a strong mid section protects vulnerable limbs. I’m using this exercise to make you not only strong, but durable. The sandbag getup is an old school, basic exercise which builds core strength like no other, plus it makes you breathe like a mother. Expect to do hundreds of these with an 80# sandbag.

Tabata Calf Raises – One of the first muscles to fatigue when hiking steep hills is the calf muscles. We use the Tabata interval protocol and calf raises to help strengthen your calves. The Tabata protocol is a 4-minute long interval of 8 rounds, 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest. Tabata Calf Raises are 20 seconds continuous, rapid calf raises, un loaded, for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds in a holding “rest” position up on your toes (it’s really not a “rest.”)

1/4 Tabata Calf Raises would be just 1-minute long, or 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest.

1/2 Tabata Calf Raise would be 2-minutes long, or 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, 20 sec. work, 10 sec. rest, etc.

Rucking – You’ll be doing bunches of rucking down range, and nothing will prepare you for rucking like rucking. On the other hand, too much rucking can lead to nagging joint and other overuse injuries. You’ll ruck once a week on this program at a 55# load. When possible, ruck over broken, uneven, hilly terrain.

PFT Prep – Individual training courses at both Mountain Warfare schools have an initial PFT that you must pass. Keep in mind that there is a significant elevation at each location, so showing up overly prepared for the PFT is critical. You’ll assess your PFT in Week 1, 3, and 6 and a percentage based progression to automatically scale to your current level of fitness.

Important Note: No matter if you are Army or USMC, you will assess for both Pull Ups and Push Ups, and complete all follow on progressions for both exercises.

Soldiers will use Sit Ups and the 2-mile run for the PFT assessments. Marines will use Crunches and the 3-mile run.


  • Monday – PFT Assessment or PFT Progression
  • Tuesday – Loaded Step Ups
  • Wednesday – Leg Blasters, Sandbag Get Ups, Calf Tabata
  • Thursday – PFT Progression
  • Friday – 5-9 Mile Ruck @ 55#


How do I know if I’m fit enough to begin this plan?
If your fitness is suspect, complete a max rep effort of 30 minutes of step ups, at a 16-18-inch bench or step. If you score 400x or less reps in your effort, we recommend completing the 4-week Mountaineering & Hiking Prep Plan prior to beginning this plan.

What equipment is needed to complete this program?

  • Stop Watch with Repeating Countdown Timer – smart phone app will work.
  • Pair of Dumbbells – 25# men, 15# women.
  • Sandbag (60# for Women, 80# for Men)
  • 16-19” Box, bench, stool or whatever for step ups
  • ALICE Ruck or same ruck you will use during your course, 55# of filler, 10# Rubber Rifle (No rifle? Use a 10 lb sledge hammer or a 10# dumbbell)
  • Pull up Bar
  • Highly Recommended – GPS-enabled Stop Watch with repeating countdown timer (Garmin Forerunner 10 is recommended ) A GPS enabled watch will make measuring run and ruck distances much easier.

What if I miss a day?
Don’t skip ahead. Start where you left off. The plan is progressive, and its training sessions designed to be completed in order.

What if I have less than 6 weeks before I start the my Mountain Warfare Course?
Still start at the beginning of this training plan anyway. Don’t skip ahead.

What if I can’t handle the training volume at first?
Building stamina and resilience is a key training goal of this plan, and physical and mental stamina is also key to completing the course. If you can’t handle the training volume at first, it is better to cut training sessions short, rather than take unscheduled rest days.

What if I can’t make the prescribed reps for the bodyweight exercises, or the prescribed interval times for the rucks or runs?
Do your best, and be sure to do the total number of rounds, even if you can’t make the reps or the time. Don’t quit.

Unfamiliar Exercises?
CLICK HERE to see unfamiliar exercises.

More Questions? Email


Before beginning any exercise program, consult with your physician to ensure that you are in proper health. Physical training contains inherent risks including, but not limited to, muscle strains, tears, physical and bodily injury up to and including death. This training program is not meant to provide medical advice; you should obtain medical advice from your private health care practitioner. If you are unable to assume these risks then you should not engage in this training program. No liability is assumed by Mountain Tactical Institute, Inc, its owners or employees, and you train at your own risk. Mountain Tactical Institute makes no warranty, express or implied, of any kind in connection with this training program.

Required Equipment

  • 25# Dumbbells - men, 15# dumbbells - women.

  • 80# Sandbag - Men, 60# - women).

  • Ruck with 55# Filler plus 10# rubber rifle, sledge hammer or dumbbell

  • 16-19” Box, bench, stool or whatever for step ups

  • Watch with second hand or countdown timer- smartphone app will work

Sample Training

Obj: PFT Prep

Warm up:
4 Rounds

200m Run
8x Push-Ups
10x Sit-Ups
Instep Stretch


(1) Max Pull Ups

(2) 2 min. Max Push Ups

Rest 10 Minutes

(3) 2 min. Max Crunches (USMC) or Sit Ups (Army)

Rest 10 Minutes

(4) 3 Mile Run (USMC) or 2 Mile Run (Army)


Soldiers and Marines will all assess the Pull Ups and Push Ups. Soldiers will use Sit Ups and the 2-mile distance. Marines will use Crunches and the 3-mile distance. 

CLICK HERE for the MTI Running Calculator


Obj: Loaded Step Ups

Warm up:
5 Rounds
2x DOT Drill
30/5/30 Sean Special
HUG - Hip Mobility Drill

(1) 6 Rounds
Run 400m
50x Step Ups @ 40# Ruck


Obj: Low Body Strength, Chassis Integrity

Warm up:
4 Rounds
5x Push Ups
5x Squats
5x Sit Ups
Instep Stretch


(1) 10 minute Sandbag Getup @ 60/80#


(2) 10 Rounds
Mini Leg Blaster
5x Ankles-to-Bar

(2) 3 Rounds
1/4 Calf Tabata
HUG - Hip Mobility Drill

(4) 3 Rounds
15/15 Low Back Lunge
15/15 Kneeling Founder
10x Dumbbell Good Mornings @ 15/25#

Note: 1/4 Calf Tabata = 20 sec. unloaded calf raises, 10 sec. hold at top position , for 1 minute


Obj: PFT Prep

Warm up:
4 Rounds
200m Run
8x Push-Ups
10x Sit-Ups
Instep Stretch

(1) 6 Rounds every 75 sec.
Pull-Ups @ 30% of your Max Reps Scored on Session 1’s PFT

Example: You performed 10x Pull-Ups on your PFT. Number of Pull-Ups each Interval: 30% of 10 = 3 Pull Ups every 75 seconds

(2) 6 Rounds every 75 sec.
Push Ups @ 30% of your Max Reps Scored on Session 1’s PFT

Example: You performed 50 Push Ups on your PFT. 30% of 50 Push Ups  = 15 Push Ups every 75 seconds

(3) 6 Rounds every 75 sec.
Crunches/Sit Ups @ 30% of your Max Reps Scored on SESSION 1’s PFT

Example: You performed 46x Crunches on your PFT. Number of Crunches each Interval: 30% of 46 = 13.8 round to 14. Marines will do crunches, Soldiers will do sit ups.

(4) 6 Rounds
800m Run @ Interval Pace using the MTI Running Calculator and results from SESSION 1’s PFT
Rest 4 minutes between efforts

CLICK HERE for the MTI Running Calculator


Obj: Ruck


(1) Ruck 5 miles @ Moderate Pace

Moderate Pace = Comfortable, but not easy

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1)  Mission Direct

Gym numbers mean nothing. All that matters is mission performance. 

To this end, MTI’s fitness solutions and programming are not boxed in by convention, tradition, orthodoxy, public opinion or any other artificial constraint driven by inside or outside forces.

We begin with the raw fitness demands of the mission and build a fitness solution which directly prepares the athlete for those demands.


2) Fitness Solutions Built from the Ground Up

MTI’s programming is not “re-tread” bodybuilding, football, CrossFit, kettlebell, strength or general fitness programming. We’ve built our fitness programming for mountain and tactical athletes from the ground up.

The Fluid Periodization methodology we deploy to concurrently train multiple fitness attributes is completely original and has continued to evolve and improve over the years.

Our mid-section training methodology, Chassis Integrity, is also original, as is our endurance programming, 7 strength training progressions, tactical agility, and work capacity programming.

Our mountain sports pre-season training plans, tactical PFT, selection, school, course, and fitness improvement training plans across military, LE and Fire Rescue are MTI-developed, tested and athlete-proven.

Over the years hundreds of athletes and coaches have taken our advanced programming and unit fitness leader programming courses and MTI is widely recognized within the mountain and tactical professions and fitness media as a thought leader in fitness programming for military and tactical athletes.


3) The MTI Method

→ Research: MTI begins program design with extensive research of the fitness demands of the mission, sport or event, identifies the exercises and progressions which sport-specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the training plan.

→ Deploy & Assess: We deploy the training plan “Lab Rats” at our Wyoming facility. Training session and cycle issues are identified and fixed as we work through the training plan. Post cycle we assess the programming’s effectiveness and efficiency. We keep the stuff that works, and fix or toss the stuff that doesn’t.

→ Publish & Assess Again: Plan is published for purchase as an individual training plan and made available to our subscribers. Feedback/results are assessed.

→ Iterate: We take what we learn from lab rats and athletes, re-visit, update and improve already published training plans. Several of our individual training plans are on their 4th or 5th version.


4) Mission-Direct Research

MTI exists to “Improve Mountain and Tactical Athletes mission performance and keep them safe.” To that end, we have developed a unique research methodology aimed at identifying real world areas of improvement and identifying immediately deployable mission-direct solutions. Click HERE to learn more about MTI’s Mission-Direct Research methodology, and Here to read about just few of our research efforts.

5) Field Proven

Our stuff works. Weekly we receive unsolicited reviews of our programming and testimonials to its effectiveness.


6) Programming Breadth

MTI’s library of 200+ sport-specific fitness plans for mountain and tactical athletes is unmatched. Resources range from specific programming for tactical special forces selections, to specific plans for climbing Rainier and Denali, to general fitness solutions such as running improvement, to post-rehab from injury.

Over the past decade, MTI has partnered with hundreds of athletes throughout their individual mountain and tactical careers, and provided fitness solutions as they face new mountain objectives, tactical schools, selections, PFTs and deployments, and came back from injury.


7) Worldwide Influence

Our work is not limited to US Athletes.

We’ve developed selection-specific training plans for Canadian, UK, Australian and German Special Forces Selections and worked with individual military personnel from Scandinavia, South, and Central America.

Canadian, Australian, UK and western European law enforcement and fire/rescue athletes have used MTI programming for mission-direct fitness.

On the mountain side, Alpinists from Japan to Slovakia have consulted with MTI and used MTI’s programming to prepare for mountain objectives.


8) Mission Performance beyond Fitness

MTI’s exists is to improve Mission Performance for mountain and tactical athletes and keep them safe. 

This focus on “mission direct” solutions, enhancements and improvements drives our work and research and extends beyond fitness solutions to include training, leadership, gear, team culture, and safety. 

Fitness is just one area of our work.

Our non-fitness research has included tactical cultures, combat uniforms, and gore-tex performance, and effect of stress on marksmanship.

Our work on defining what it means to be a Quiet Professional has had penetrating influence and driven healthy conversations with both mountain and tactical professionals.


9) Direct, Honest, Clear Answers

Since 2007 we’ve taken and answered dozens of questions weekly from mountain and tactical athletes. We’ve saved these individual Q&A’s and now thousands are archived on our site.

We’re not salesmen, and our answers are noted for their directness, honesty, and clarity. Our stuff isn’t for everyone. If we can help, we’ll let you know. If we can’t, we’ll let you know that, too.

– Rob Shaul, Founder


All of the Above is Backed Up By Our Promise: Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.

Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.

By Rob Shaul

I received notes frequently from athletes hesitant to purchase a subscription or training plans asking me to sell them on why they should make the purchase.

While I understand the question, I’m not a salesman – so I can’t put a hard sale on anyone for our programming.

I can tell them the process we go through to design our programming.

We begin with extensive research on the fitness demands of the event, identify the exercises and progressions which sport specifically meet those demands, chose end-of-cycle goals, and program backward to design the plan.

Then we test the cycle on ourselves and our lab rats here in Wyoming. We document, note what works and doesn’t work, re-assess, and make changes and modifications.

Then we publish the programming in the form of one of our plans or as part of our subscription daily training sessions for tactical and mountain athletes.
We don’t stop there – our daily programming is the “tip of the spear” for our programming evolution. We use these sessions to learn and make continuous improvement.

As we learn more and improve, we go back, and update the sport-specific training plans on the website. For example, we’re currently on Version 5 of our Ruck Based Selection Training Plan and Version 3 of our Dryland Ski Training Plan and Version 4 of our Big Game Back Country Hunting Training Plan.

We understand our programing isn’t cheap, but we believe it’s a great value. The $79 for the Ruck Based Selection Training Plan, and $39 for the Dryland Ski Training Plan reflect the, research, work, innovative theory, iteration, testing and feedback we’ve put in and received to make these plans effective.

All that matters for us is outside performance, and we feel strongly that Our Stuff Works in the real world.

Here’s our guarantee:

1) Individual Training Plan Purchase:
If you purchase an individual training plan, follow it as prescribed before your season/event/pft/selection, and if you don’t feel you were physically ready for your season/event/pft/selection, and/or didn’t see dramatic improvements in your early season performance, we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

2) Athlete’s Subscription
If you purchase an Athletes’ Subscription, follow the training sessions as prescribed, and are not satisfied with the quality of the programming, notify us within 30 days of purchase, and we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.



Do you have any reviews or testimonials from athletes who have used your Athlete’s Subscription
Yes. Click HERE.

Is it true you guarantee your stuff works?
Yes. If you purchase an Athletes’ Subscription, follow the training sessions as prescribed, and are not satisfied with the quality of the programming, notify us within 30 days of purchase, and we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.

How is MTI programming different than CrossFit?
This is a common question. Read our answer HERE.

You have a lot of competitors. Why should I choose MTI?
MTI is driven to improve mountain and tactical athletes’ mission performance and keep them safe. This emphasis and focus on mission performance sets us apart. Read about more that sets us apart HERE.

If I purchase a plan or subscription, how do I access the programming?
All of our plans are online, accessible via username and password.
You can log in through our →Website  or Mobile App →IOS and Android.

Do you have downloadable .pdf’s of the training plans?
No. But you can print the programming, by week, from your browser. You access individual training plans online via a username and password.

Do you have a mobile app?
Yes, we do. Available for IOS and Android.

What is the difference between purchasing an individual training plan, packet of plans or an Athlete’s Subscription?

  • Plan – Like purchasing the DVD of the first Star Wars movie. You own it forever, including any updates we make to the plan.
  • Packet – Like purchasing the DVD’s of all the Star Wars movies. You own them forever, including any updates we make to the plans.
  • Athlete’s Subscription – Like subscribing to Netflix. You get access to all 200+ plan in our library, but lose access if you unsubscribe.

If I purchase an Athletes Subscription Can I cancel on my own, anytime?

Do I have to contact MTI to cancel or can I do it myself?
You can do it yourself. Instructions HERE.

If I purchase a subscription and have questions about where to start or what plans(s) to use for my goals, will you help?
Yes. We answer dozens of training questions from athletes weekly. Email

If you add new plans or update existing plans after I subscribe will I have access to them?
Yes. We are continuously adding training plans and packets (2-5/month) and updating plans. With your subscription you’ll have access to all new plans, new courses and plan updates.

What Equipment is Required?
Click the “Required Equipment” tab to find out what equipment is required for the specific plan you are interested in.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run and Ruck Calculators are listed as exercises.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

Can I see sample training?
Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.
You are encouraged to do it before purchasing.

What if I have more questions?


"I emailed you several months ago as I prepared to attend the USMC's Winter Mountain Leaders Course. I ended up getting pushed to a later class for admin reasons, but I got home this past weekend after graduating and wanted to send my thanks for an outstanding plan that prepared me well for the course.

I had never skied before the course, and I did not pick it up very quickly, so once we put rucks on I fell a LOT. Having a different Marine fall every few minutes during movements dramatically slowed our pace down, and the problem was only compounded after several failed attempts to stand up in the powder resulted in the "victim" having to go through the lengthy process of wiggling out from under his ruck, sometimes removing his skis to get his legs in a better position, removing his sled harness, getting up, and re-donning all his gear. I was so grateful for all the chassis integrity work included in the plan - it allowed me to at least keep our halt time to a minimum whenever I fell because I was always able to get up quickly without removing any gear. I seriously benefited from the endless step-ups included in the plan as well - during individual movements I was able to make up the time lost from having shitty downhill technique and falling a lot by consistently taking long uphills much faster than most other students. Most importantly, I was able to cope with the mental fatigue of operating in very cold weather for extended periods of time because I was never too physically tired to maintain a clear head.

I saw you were in Hawaii right before we graduated, sorry I missed it hopefully you'll come back to MCBH again soon. Thanks again for the work you and your team do."
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