Backpacking Preseason Training Plan
- 7-Week Plan, 5 days/week
- Laser focused on fitness attributes required by backpacking.
- Prepares you for a 7-14 day trip, hiking 7-12 miles/day with a 50# pack
- This training plan is one of the 200+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.
- Required Equipment
- Sample Training
- Why MTI?
- Our Stuff Works. Guaranteed.
- Common Questions
This 7-week, 6 day/week program is specifically designed to prepare a recreational backpacker for a 7-14 day wilderness backpacking trip. It’s assumed the backpacker will travel 7-12 miles/day, and carry a 50-pound pack during his or her trip in the backcountry.
Week 7 in the plan is an unload/taper week. For the best results, complete this plan the 7 weeks directly before your backpacking trip.
This is Version 2 of the Backpacking Preseason Training Plan, Updated March 2019.
This training program has a strong mountain aerobic endurance emphasis – uphill hiking under load, rucking (hiking/walking with loaded pack), and running – which reflects the major fitness demands of an extended wilderness backpacking trip. This plan also trains eccentric leg strength and strength endurance, calf strength and strength endurance, core strength and strength endurance, and upper body strength endurance.
The mountain endurance training in this plan is built around 3 exercise modes:
(1) Step Ups train uphill hiking under load. 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 for hiking uphill. You can use any box, or bench, 15-18” high, for step ups.
(2) Rucking (hiking/walking with a pack) trains for the miles of flat and/or rolling trail. “Rucking” is a military term which is simply fast walking with a pack. In this program you’ll ruck wearing a 50# pack – the same load you’ll expect to carry into the mountains. When possible, ruck on a trail over hilly terrain, but without significant elevation gain/loss.
(3) Running trains overall leg-based, mountain-endurance. When possible, run hilly terrain, but without significant elevation gain/loss.
Mountain Endurance training makes up the bulk of the training in this plan. You’ll do step ups, run or ruck, multiple days per week while completing this plan.
The Backpacking Preseason Training Plan includes focused strength training for eccentric leg strength, calf strength and strength endurance, core strength and strength endurance, and upper body strength
Eccentric Leg Strength is trained using MTI’s proven Leg Blaster progression. 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. During your trip, you’ll be gaining elevation hiking uphill, but you’ll also be hiking downhill. Hiking downhill forces your legs to work eccentrically and can lead to crippling soreness in the next day. Leg Blasters will help you prepare for this.
Calf Strength & Strength Endurance – Often calves are the first to fail on steep hiking efforts. This training plan deploys calf raise intervals to build calf strength and strength endurance.
Core Strength – Mid-section strength plays a hidden, but key roll in backpacking fitness and durability. This training plan deploys a MTI’s proven “Chassis Integrity” core strength training methodology, two days per week.
Upper Body Strength – Trained via a simple, effective circuit using a dumbbell exercise called Scotty Bobs.
This is a limited equipment training plan. Below is the equipment required:
- Pair of Dumbbells – 25# men, 15# women.
- Sandbag – 60# Men, 40# women. You can purchase a sandbag from the mtntactical.com website store, or build your own out of an old duffle bag.
- 15-18” Box, bench, stool or whatever for step ups. We build our own step up benches.
- Backpack for step ups and rucking, and 50# of load. Any filler can be used for weight. For step ups you’ll use a 40# of load. For rucking you’ll use 50# of load.
- Foam Roller
- Monday – Step Ups, Calve Raise Intervals
- Tuesday – 2-a-Day: AM – Leg Strength, Upper Body Strength, Core ; PM – Running
- Wednesday – Rucking
- Thursday – Step Ups, Calve Raise Intervals
- Friday – 2-a-Day: AM – Leg Strength, Upper Body Strength, Core ; PM – Running
- Saturday – Rucking
How long should the training sessions take?
Training Sessions run 45 – 180 minutes long, depending upon the day. Tuesday’s and Thursdays are 2-a-Days, with gym-based training in the AM, and running in the PM. Wednesdays and Saturdays are rucking endurance work. Each training session has a listed estimated completion time objective.
What if I can’t keep up the Monday through Saturday Training Schedule?
If for any reason you cannot keep training schedule, do not skip a training session. Rather, complete all the training sessions in order. Whatever the schedule, always take one day per week, as total rest.
Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE.
What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.
What does “40/60#” mean? How about “3/5x”?
“40/60# = women use 40#, men use 60#. 3/5x = women do 3x reps, men do 5 reps.
Can I see sample training?
Yes. Click the “Sample Training” tab to see the entire first week of programming.
How do I access the plan?
You can access the plan via username and password either through our website or through our app (Mtn Tactical Fitness) available for IOS and Android.
Can I print out sessions to take to the gym?
Yes – you can print a week of programming at a time.
More questions? Email email@example.com
Pair of Dumbbells - 25# men, 15# women.
Sandbag - 60# Men, 40# women. You can purchase a sandbag from the mtntactical.com gear store, or build your own out of an old duffle bag.
15-18” Box, bench, stool or whatever for step ups. We build our own step up benches.
Backpack for step ups and rucking, and 50# of load. Any filler can be used for weight. For step ups you'll use a 40# of load. For rucking you'll use 50# of load.
Sample TrainingShow More
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 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.
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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
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Is it true you guarantee your stuff works?
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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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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?
Athlete’s Subscription Package
This Plan is one of 200+ plans included in the Athlete’s Subscription.