Operator Ugly Train Up


• 3 weeks, 5 days/week
• Improve Operator Ugly score
• Focus on: bench press, front squat, dead lift, sprinting, pull ups and IBA runs
• This training plan is one of the 182+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.


Three-Week, 15-session training plan designed specifically to improve your score on the Military Athlete Operator Ugly Fitness Test.

This training plan focusses on the Bench Press, Front Squat, and Dead Lift at Operator Ugly loads. It also includes sprinting, pull ups and IBA Runs.

It’s no joke, but our lab rats all improved their OU scores 10-16% following this plan.

This training plan begins with the assessment, then uses the athlete’s assessment results for the following 3 weeks of progressions. This way the following sessions automatically scales to the initial fitness level of the athlete.

After the 3 week work up, the athlete re-assesses Operator Ugly.

See below for the Operator Ugly fitness test events and explanation.


“Operator Ugly” is a Fitness test we designed for Military Operators and other high-achieving military athletes.. There are five parts plus a warm up. The test is designed to be completed in 90-105 minutes.

Warm up:
4 Rounds
8x Front Squat @ 45#
8x Push Ups
8x Sit ups
Instep Stretch

(1) Max Reps Front Squat @ 185# (men), 95# (women)
Protocol: Do one warm up set of 10 reps @ 135# (men), 45# (women). Then do a second warm up set of 5 reps @ 165# (men), 65# (women). Then load up 185# (men), 95# (women)  and do as many reps as possible. You can “rest” in the standing position, holding the barbell on your chest in the “rack” position. I sprinted through the first 7 reps, then started doing singles with a pause at the top to rest and psych up for the next rep.

The athlete must lower the barbell until his thighs are at parallel or below. If you have a dynamax medicine ball, place it below the athlete, and have him touch the ball with is butt for the “bottom” position. The top of the range of motion is standing with the hips locked out at full extension.
The athlete may hold the barbell on his chest which his hands and arms in the “clean” position, or crossed in the “body building” front squat position. Clean position is preferred, but not required.

(2) Max Reps Bench Press @ 185# (men), 95# (women)
Protocol: Do one warm up set of 10 reps @ 135# (men), 65# (women). Then do a second warm up set of 5 reps @ 165# (men), 65# (women). Then load up 185# (men), 95# (women) and do as many reps as possible.  You can “rest” holding the barbell up, off your chest in the elbows locked out position as you fight for more reps. For example, I sprinted through the first 5 reps, then started doing singles with a pause at the top to rest and psych up for the next rep.

The barbell must touch the athlete’s chest for each rep, and finish with the elbows locked out. Feet must remain on the floor, and the athlete’s butt cannot lose contact with the bench – no excessive arching!

(3) Max Reps Dead Stop Hinge Lift @ 225# (men), 135# (women) in 60 seconds
Protocol: Do one warm up set of 10 reps @ 135# (men) 65# (women). Then do a second warm up set of 5 reps @ 185# (men), 95# (women). Then load up 225# (men), 135# (women) and do as many reps as possible in 60 seconds. NOTE THAT THESE ARE DEAD STOP HINGE LIFTS – NO BOUNCING! The barbell must stop completely on the floor after each rep. Watch the clock, and when the second hand hits 60 seconds, stop.

Range of motion starts with the barbell resting on the floor and ends at the top of the lift with the hips fully extended. The athlete may rest by setting the barbell on the floor and standing up without it.
Safety – Each athlete is responsible for his safety and proper lifting technique. If you feel your lower back beginning to “break” it set, I strongly advise you set the barbell down and rest before attempting another rep. However, a full range of motion determines whether or not a rep counts. “Ugly” lifts count, but expect to have a very sore lower back the next day.

(4) 4 Rounds for total Reps
60 second 25m sprint
60 second rest

Protocol: Each full length counts as 1 rep. Each full round trip counts as 2 reps. No partials! The athlete has to sprint a full length to get the point for the rep. On each of my 4 rounds, I ran out of time just a step or two from finishing the last rep – they didn’t count.

(5) Max Strict Pull Ups
Protocol: These are dead hang and strict, chin above bar pull ups. No kipping, no chicken necking, no bullshit. The athlete can “rest” while hanging on the bar with both hands in the bottom position. There is no set warm up for this test. The athlete may do a couple warm up pull ups if he likes. I didn’t.

(6) 80# (men) or 60# (women) Sandbag Get up, max reps in 10 minutes
Protocol: Start standing with the sandbag on one shoulder. Lay all the way down, then “get up” any way you want. The “finish” position is full sanding position, knees and hips at full extension, feet shoulder width apart. The athlete may or may not switch shoulders with the sandbag as he wishes. I switched shoulders every 5 reps to help me keep count. Do as many reps as you can in 10 minutes.

(7) 3 Mile Run wearing Body Armor or 25# Weight Vest within 30 minutes.
Protocol: Start within 10 minutes of finishing the Sandbag Getups. Time the run. You have to finish within 30 minutes.

Test Notes and Explanation:
Reps vs. Max Effort Strength – An issue I struggled with in designing this test was how to test strength. The obvious way was to do a 1 rep max strength test. Issues arise with this – safety for one. Also, standardizing how to score the result is difficult. I’ve been intrigued by the 225# for reps bench press test the NFL uses at its combine for the draft, but knew that 225# for reps was too heavy for military athletes. Thus – I chose 185# for loading. A military athlete should be able to bench press 185# for reps.

Why bench press and front squat? – One of the most interesting things about strength is when an athlete is balanced, his front squat and bench press 1 rep max will be very close together. The same is true for max reps, like this test. With the front squat test, I’m not only testing leg strength, but also strength balance between upper and lower body. I got 10 reps for both the bench and front squat.

Hinge Lifts – The hinge lift is a great test of overall, full body strength. I chose not to test a 1 rep max because of time constraints. I found 60 seconds to be about right for time.

Sprints – The 60/60 25m sprint for reps tests anaerobic endurance and the athlete’s ability to recover metabolically. I chose sprints as the “mode” to test anaerobic endurance and recovery over other means because I feel sprinting is a key fitness attribute for military athletes. Plus, no special equipment is needed for this test.

Pull ups – This is one carryover from typical military fitness tests. Pulling power is another needed attribute for military athletes. We don’t do kipping pull ups in my gym or programming. I much prefer strict pull ups.

Sandbag get up: This is a great, functional exercise for building and testing core strength. Doing the sandbag getup for reps over a relatively long interval, 10 minutes, also test the athlete’s work capacity. The sandbag getup is a full body exercise, which when done in high reps for time, will make you breath like a mother.

Loaded 3-mile Run: This event pushes Operator Ugly into a stamina event. Running 3 miles within 30 minutes in a 25# weight vest or body armor is not difficult as a single event, but after a solid hour of intense work leading up to the run, finishing in 30 minutes is no joke.

Rest between sets and exercises – Work through the test briskly enough so you can complete it in 60 minutes. For the bench press, front squat, and dead lift, there is no set rest period between sets. Rather, perform the test with a partner, or pretend that you are. By the time each guy does the set, plus weight changes, you’ll be getting enough rest for these tests. Also, use the same barbell for each lift. The time it takes to unload the plates, re-set the racks for the front squat, and or, take off the barbell for the dead lift, etc, will give you the right amount of rest before starting the next exercise.

After the dead lifts, the athlete can take time to get a drink and catch his or her breath before starting the sprints. After the sprints, rest 3-5 minutes before doing the pull ups. You can take another couple of minutes between the pull ups and the sand bag get ups. Start the run within 10 minutes of finishing the sandbag getups.

Exercise Substitutions:
3-Mile IBA Run – run is prefered, but if weather/conditions don’t allow, substitute 700x stepups in IBA at 16″ bench or box.
25m Shuttle Sprints – Sprints are prefered, but if weather/conditions don’t allow, substitute 8 Rounds of 30-second 40-Foot Shuttle 30-Second Rest, for reps. Each length counts as one rep. Divide total reps by .66 for final score.

Bench Press reps x1
Front Squat reps x1
Dead Lift reps x1
Sprints x1
Strict Pull ups x1
SBGU /2.
3 Mile Run within 30 minutes (Pass/Fail)

Here’s an example on how to score the test:
Bench Press – 10 reps = 10 points
Front Squat – 10 reps = 10 points
Dead Lift – 18 reps = 18 points
Sprints – 36 total = 36 points
Pull ups – 18 reps = 18 points
SBGU – 52 reps/2 = 26 points
TOTAL: 10+10+18+36+18+26 = 118 points

Minimum passing score is 100, and finishing the run within 30 minutes.

For male athletes less then 160#
– 110 is a respectable score
– 115 is a good score
– 125+ is a great score
For male athletes between 160# and 200#
– 125 is a respectable score
– 140 is a good score
– 150+ is a great score
For male athletes greater than 200#
– 145 is a respectable score
– 160 is a good score
– 170+ is a great score
For female athletes 125# and under
– 110 is the standard
For female athletes between 126# and 150#
– 130 is the standard
For female athletes 151# and over
– 150 is the standard


Required Equipment

  • Rack, bench, barbell and plates for bench press and front squats

  • Barbell and plates for Hinge Lift

  • Sandbag - 60# for women, 80# for men

  • Cones to mark and space to run 25m shuttle sprints. This can be outside.

  • Individual Body Armor or 25# Weightvest, plus known 3-mile distance

  • Stopwatch with interval timer


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.

Email: rob@mtntactical.com


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 coach@mtntactical.com.

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?
Email rob@mtntactical.com


"Wanted to share some kudos and pictures with you. Last week my unit did a Competition for the TACPs currently deployed in Kuwait. I had the fortunate opportunity to run the 3 day event. I wanted to pass along our PT testing we did. Day one I started everyone with Operator Ugly, slightly modified due to equipment and time constraints (details below), the next morning they had to do a 6 mile ruck @ 55#, the final morning they had to conduct the Air Force PT test and pass. Everyone enjoyed Operator Ugly. Like I said before I had to slightly modify it for a couple of reasons: (1) we didn't have Sand Bags so I substituted with 62# kettlebells, which I found to be equally difficult on the core and legs but some added upper body while holding the KB to the chest. (2) due to time constraints, space available and heat I removed the 3 mile run. (3) each event had to be worth a total maximum of 100 points. So I put caps on the exercises: Bench, Squat and Deadlift were worth 1pt/rep max of 15pts; Sprints were worth 1/2pt/length max of 20pts; pull ups were worth 1pt/rep max of 15; Kettlebell Get Ups were worth 1/2pt/rep max of 20pts. Nobody was able to get 100% on the test, there was a 97 & 96 though. My operators averaged a 79%.

We all just wanted to send you our thanks for the awesome PT session! There is a group of us here that have been doing the operator sessions for the past 5 months of our 9 month deployment. We plan to conduct the full Op Ugly before we depart back home. Please find some attached pictures of the 82 EASOS TACPs doing Operator Ugly last week Wednesday 31 July 2013 (pictures will be broken up over several e-mails do to size)

Thanks for the sessions!"




"Just wanted to thank you for the Operator Ugly Train Up. Had my tryout this past week and all my numbers went up over the course of 3 weeks. +2 Front Squats, +1 Bench, +3 Deadlifts, +5 Pull Ups, and most of all went from 34 sand bag get ups to 72. Additionally, I got my mile and a half done in under 10 minutes. Looking forward to starting your gun maker series next. Thanks again."
Show More

Athlete’s Subscription Package

Sign Up

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