Mountain Base Helen: Balanced Base Fitness


  • 7-week, 5 day/week
  • This is a balanced training plan that concurrently trains strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, climbing fitness (rock), and mountain endurance.
  • Helen is the 1st plan in our “Greek Heroine” Series of Mountain Base plans
  • This training plan is one of the 250+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription


Helen is the 1st Plan in our Greek Heroine Packet of “base fitness” programming for all-around mountain athletes. Helen is a 7-week, 5-day/week training cycle with balanced programming to concurrently train strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, climbing fitness (rock), and mountain endurance.

This is Version 3 of this training plan, updated in October 2019.


Helen deploys MTI’s Density Strength programming for six exercises: Front Squat, Bench Press, Hinge Lift, Push Press, Pull Ups, and Chin Ups. The plan deploys an initial assessment and follow-on progressions based on the assessment results. In this way, the plan automatically “scales” top incoming strength of the athlete, and continues to push him/her throughout the plan.

Work Capacity
Helen’s work capacity efforts are 10-20 minutes long, gym-based and multi-modal

Chassis Integrity
Trained 1-2 times per week via a TRE and a Low Back Circuit. Each TRE Circuit deploys a Total Body, Rotation, and Extension exercise. Each Low Back Circuit deploys 3 low back/extension exercises.

Trained twice per week, via unloaded a 4-mile run assessment or 1-mile intervals, and moderate-paced step ups from 600-800 wearing a 25# pack.

Trained 1 day/week via a Bouldering V-Sum. Mountain Athletes who don’t have access to a climbing gym, bouldering wall, Moon Board, and/or don’t climb will complete a Work Capacity + Chassis Integrity Session instead.


  • Monday – Strength, Work Capacity
  • Tuesday – Endurance (4-mile run assessment or intervals)
  • Wednesday – Strength, Chassis Integrity
  • Thursday – Bouldering V-Sum or Work Capacity + Chassis Integrity
  • Friday – Endurance – Step Ups


Fully Equipped Functional Fitness Gym including racks, barbells, bumper plates, benches, plyo boxes, sandbags, dumbbells and/or kettlebells, 40# sandbag (women), 60# sandbag (men), Backpack with 25-pounds of loading.


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

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:



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

Fully Equipped Functional Fitness Gym including racks, barbells, bumper plates, benches, plyo boxes, sandbags, dumbbells and/or kettlebells, 40# sandbag (women), 60# sandbag (men), Backpack with 25-pounds of loading.

Sample Training

Below is the entire first week of the plan:



Obj: Strength Assessment

Warm Up:

3 Rounds
Bronc Complex @ 45/65#
Instep Stretch
Lat + Pec Stretch


(1) Work up to 1RM Front Squat

(2) Work up to 1RM Push Press

(3) Max Rep Strict Pull Ups (no kipping, bucking, jerking, etc.)


(4) 15 Minute AMRAP (As Many Rounds as Possible)
8x Hinge Lift @ 85/125#
30x Step Ups
Rest 15 Seconds

(5) 2 Rounds
Instep Stretch
5x Shoulder Dislocates


How to work up to 1RM (1 Repetition Maximum) for today's Front Squat and Push Press ...

Put a light load on the barbell and complete 5 Reps. Add weight. Complete 3 Reps, then Add weight and start doing singles (1 rep). Add weight as appropriate with the aim to get to your 1RM by your 5th or 6th single.



Obj: Endurance

Warm Up: 

4 Rounds
5x In-Place Lunges
5x Push Ups
10x Squats
Run 100m
Instep Stretch


(1) Run 4 Miles for Time




Obj: Strength, Chassis Integrity

Warm up:

3 Rounds
Bronc Complex @ 45/65#
Instep Stretch
Lat + Pec Stretch


(1) 4x Front Squat @ 50% 1RM, then...4x Front Squat @ 75% 1RM, then...
5 Rounds, Every 90 Seconds...
4x Front Squat @ 80% 1RM

(2) 3x Push Press @ 50% 1RM, then...3x Push Press @ 75% 1RM, then...
5 Rounds, every 90 Seconds...
3x Push Press @ 80% 1RM

(3) 6 Rounds every 90 seconds
30% Max Rep Pull Ups

(4) 15 Minute Grind ...
5x Sandbag Getup @ 40/60#
5x Keg Lift @ 40/60# Sandbag
10x Sandbag Good Morning @ 40/60#

"Grind" = work steadily, not frantically through the exercises in this circuit for 15 minutes

(5) 2 Rounds
Hip Flexor Stretch
5x Shoulder Dislocates


Use SESSION 1's Strength Assessment Results to calculate loading for today's efforts.



Obj: Climbing Strength/Work Capacity

Warm Up: 

3 Rounds
15x Move Wall Traverse
5x Push-ups
10x Sit-ups


(1) 50 Minute Bouldering V-SUM
Send 8 different boulder problems of increasing difficulty according to your ability. Add up the 8 highest V-numbers for your score.
Count V-plusses (V-2+) as half points


V1+V2+V2+V2.5+V3+V3+ V2.5+V2 = 18.



>>>>>> No Climbing Gym, Bouldering Gym or Moon Board? Do This: 

Obj: Work Capacity, Chassis Integrity

Warm Up:

3 Rounds
5x Power Clean @ 45/75#
10x Squats
10x Push Ups
Instep Stretch
Lat + Pec Stretch


(1) 6 Rounds for Time
6x Power Clean @ 65/95#
6x Burpees
6x Sit Ups


***** Rest 5 Minutes

(2) 6 Rounds
150m Shuttle every 1:15

(3) 15 Round Grind ....
10x Hinge Lift @ 65/95#
15/15 Standing Founder
15/15 Kneeling Founder

"Grind" = work steadily, not frantically through the exercises in this circuit for 15 minutes

(4) Foam Roll Legs, Low Back



Obj: Endurance


(1) 600x Step Ups @ 25#, moderate pace

"Moderate" = 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 am 48 years old. Been hiking for 10 years. On and off with Crossfit and other gym classes. Generally healthy and in decent shape.

Covid hit. Got out of shape. We had set up a gym for my wife, I didn't use it much as I've never been able to follow programming as well as being in a class.

Really wasn't comfortable going back to the gym. I started with a 4 week strength class through the Peleton app. Got me moving, but wanted something better.

I researched your programming and tried the one week sample of Mountain base Helen. I was able to follow along and understand. I would look ahead the night before and study any videos of unfamiliar movements. So easy.

I finished week 3 last week and did my assessment Monday and today.

Front Squat was 125#, is now 150#

Push Press was 115#, is now 130#

Pull ups were 6, now 8. (8.5 really, but couldn't quite get 9)

4 mile run was 35:26, now 33:28.

I am really happy and love the programming. I had a question about the verbage in the workouts, I emailed, and rec'd an answer the next day. There was a misprint, which you fixed across all the platforms. AWESOME.

I plan to finish Helen and move through the rest of the Greek Heroine plans.

Thank you for all you do.


Wow. I'm three weeks into Mountain Base Helen, and the thoughtfulness with which this program was built is apparent. With the exception of the long cardio day, every workout takes about an hour, which is ideal since I workout at 6AM. You've even built in stretching and MFR. As I mentioned to my girlfriend, "they've really done all the thinking for me."

More importantly in my case, Helen is hammering what was my weakest area during my last big climb: my quads. I know my efforts on that muscle group will pay huge dividends - not to mention the extra attention to my lower back, which forces me to stay mindful of core engagement throughout the day.

All in all I'm enjoying Helen because it feels like I'm training to be a pack mule - which is frankly how I want to train. When I go to the garage in the AM, it feels like I'm out there working. Not just performing some exercises, but doing real work. As a result, my mental engagement is high.

Next on the slate is the Alpine Fitness Assessment, which I'll begin mid February after one week of Helen recovery. After the AFA, I'll complete the actual Rainier program prior to my glacier course/climb. Kudos on a great program.
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