Kettlebell Strength – TLU Progression


• 4 weeks, 5 days/week
• Focuses on TLU-Strength; contains work capacity and working strength components
• Employs kettlebells only
• This training plan is one of 200+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.



Strength Focused program for kettlebell enthusiasts using our classic strength progression. TLU stands for Total Body, Lower Body, and Upper Body. Within a TLU strength session, each component is trained (total, lower, upper)  but with a differing intensity (loading) and volume (reps to per set and total reps per exercise).  We’ve deployed TLU progression for years, and it continues to be our favorite for hybrid athletes like tactical and mountain athletes.

In this plan, we apply our strength programming philosophy kettlebells and bodyweight. You’ll train five days/week for 4 weeks (20x total sessions), performing an assessment at the end of Week 1 and Week 4.

The plan’s focus is Strength, but you’ll also train Work Capacity and Working Strength throughout the cycle.

To complete the program, you’ll need to be familiar with higher level kettlebell exercises including 2-Handed Snatches and 2-Handed cleans.



You’ll need two kettlebells of each of the following loads:
Men: 12 kg 16 kg 20 kg 24 kg 28 kg

Women: 8 kg 12 kg 16 kg 20 kg

In cases of strong athletes, males may need 32 kg and females 24 kg.

Additional Equipment:
Pull-up Bar
20-inch Plyo Box
5-Foot piece of PVC or Broomstick



How long should the training sessions take?
Each session should take 45-60 minutes. Unless indicated, the circuits aren’t “for time.” Work briskly, not frantically through the training sessions.

What about Stretching?
Each session includes mobility and other durability drills. No additional stretching is necessary.

How do reps count for unilateral and 1-direction exercises?
The prescribed rep count is the count for one limb, so …..
5x Lunges = 5x Lunges each leg, or 10x Total
5x KB Floor Presses = 5x KB Floor Presses each arm or 10x Total 5x Slasher to Halo = 5x each direction or 10x total

What about Swings, Snatches, Cleans and other Kettle Exercises which can be either 1 or 2 hands?
The program indicates if the exercise is 1 or 2-handed. For the purposes of this program, for Swings use 1x kettlebell, and for Front Squats, use 2 kettlebells.

How do you find the prescribed rep count for Friday’s Assessment Progression?
We use Fridays during this cycle to train “Working Strength. The first and last Friday of the program you’ll actually take an assessment. The second and third Friday you’ll complete density training based on your initial assessment numbers. Here’s an example.

Part (1) of the Assessment is Max Reps in 1 Minute of Kettlebell Front Squats. Let’s say you scored 23x Front Squats in 60 seconds at 20kg.

Here is Part (1) from Session 10 (second Friday in the plan):

(1) 5 Rounds every 90 Seconds
35% KB Front Squat Reps @ assessment loading, then Max Reps KB Front Squat in 60 seconds

35% of 23x reps = .35×23 = 8.05. Round to the nearest hole number = 8.

So you’ll set a repeating timer for 90 seconds, and every time the timer goes off, for 5 rounds, you’ll do 8x Front Squats at 20kg. For the 6th Round, when the timer goes off, you’ll do as many front squats as possible in 60 seconds. You can rest – and even put the kettlebells down if needed, but keep going the full 60 seconds.

Use the same methodology for the remaining assessment events.

What if I miss a day?
Begin where you left off when you return to training. This program is progressed – each session builds upon the prior session – so don’t skip a session or skip around. Follow the training sessions in order, regardless.

Where do I find unfamiliar exercises?
See our Exercise Library HERE. The Run/Ruck Calculator is listed as an exercise.

What about nutrition?
See our Nutritional Guidelines HERE.

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? Pdf? Online? App?
You can access the plan through our website or app (Mtn Tactical Fitness), both via username and password.

Can I print out sessions to take to the gym?
Yes – you can print a week of programming at a time.

More Questions?

Good Luck!
Rob Shaul
Mountain Tactical Institute
Jackson, WY

Required Equipment

You'll need two kettlebells of each ....

Men      Women
12 kg      8 kg
16 kg      12 kg
20 kg      16 kg
24 kg      20 kg
28 kg

In cases of strong athletes, males may need 32 kg and females 24 kg.

Additional Equipment:
- Pull-up Bar
- 20-inch Plyo Box
- 5-Foot piece of PVC or Broomstick

Sample Training


Obj: Strength

Warm up:
4 Rounds
6x 2-Handed KB Snatch @ 8/12kg
6x KB Front Squat @ 8/12kg
6x Push ups
Instep Stretch
Lat + Pec Stretch

(1) 8 Rounds
3x 2-Handed Kettlebell Snatch
- increase load each round until
3x is hard, but doable, then immediately ….
1x Burpee (Be explosive!!)
Hip Flexor Stretch

(2) 6 Rounds
5x Walking Lunge holding
Kettlebells - increase load each
round until 5x is hard, but
doable, then immediately …
1x Jumping Lunge (Be explosive!)
Pigeon Stretch

(3) 10-8-6-4-2
2-Handed KB Snatch @ 8/12kg
Jumping Lunges

(4) 4 Rounds
10x Ankles to Bar
10x Poor Man's Leg Curl
5x Slasher to Halo @ 8/12kg
60 Second Farmers Carry @ 24/28kg

(4) 3 Rounds
3x Floor Slide
Frog Stretch
5x Shoulder Dislocate with

Obj: Work Capacity/Core

Warm up:
Air Squat

(1) 10 Rounds
10x Kettlebell Front Squat @ 12/20kg
Run 200m or 25x Step ups @ 20” Box
30 Seconds Rest (Sprint to the rest each round)

(2) 5 Rounds
5x Kneeling Slasher to Halo @ 8/12kg
20/20 Standing Founder
60 sec Farmer’s Carry 24/28kg
10x Seated Russian Twist @ 8/12kg

(3) 2 Rounds
30 Second Jane Fonda
50x Shoulder Handjob,unloaded

Obj: Assessment

Warm up:
3 Rounds
10x KB Front squat @ 8/12kg
10x KB Floor Press @ 8/12kg
10x Swings @ 16/20 kg
Instep Stretch
Lat + Pec Stretch

(1) Max Reps in 1 Minute ….
Kettlebell Front Squat
*** Rest 3-5 minutes *******

(2) Max Reps in 1 Minute …
Kettlebell Floor Press
**** Rest 3-5 Minutes ***

(3) Max reps in 1 Minute
Kettlebell Swings
**** Rest 3-5 Mintues *****

(4) Max reps in 1 Minute
Situps holding kettlebell to
your chest @ 8/12kg

Men under 180# use 20kg
Men over 180# use 24kg
Women 90-110# use 12kg
Women 110+ use 16kg


Show 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 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?

Athlete’s Subscription Package

Sign Up

This Plan is one of 200+ plans included in the Athlete’s Subscription.