Sapper Leaders Course Training Plan
• 8 Week, 6 day/week Training Plan, with multiple 2-a-days
• Ruck and Run Intensive
• Includes focused SPFT work, 12-mile Ruck Work, distance running and long Saturday “mini events”
• Short (10-20 minute) mulit-modal work capacity events
• Intense core, mobility, and stabilzer strength training for durability
• 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
The following is a sport-specific 8-week program is specifically designed to prepare athletes for the Sapper Leader Course. The plan includes a 1-week taper, and is designed to be completed the 8 weeks directly prior to your course start week.
This program gets progressively harder each week, until week 8, when the training tapers down into the start of selection. Don’t skip ahead!! The plan is designed to build upon itself. If you have to miss a training day, start up back where you left off.
This is a 6 day/week training program with many 2-a-Day training sessions.
To successfully complete this program you’ll need to make training for selection a priority during your work day.
This is Version 2 of the plan, updated January 2020.
Ruck & Run Intensive
This plan is “sport specific” to the specific fitness demands you’ll face the Sapper Leader Course – specifically rucking, running, calesthenic-based “smokers,” upper body strength endurance, etc. The plan includes:
- Extensive rucking and running
- Testing and progressive training for the SPFT (Sapper Physical Fitness Test)
- Testing and progressive training for the 12 mile Ruck, and a 6 mile run
- Short (10-20 minute) mulit-modal work capacity events
- Intense core, mobility, and stabilzer strength training for durability
- Long, intense, Saturday “mini events” lasting from 2 to 4.5 hours designed to prepare you physically and mentally for the long days you’ll face during the Sapper Leader Course
The plan includes 48 Total Training Sessions. It is intended that you’ll train Monday – Saturday, and take Sunday’s off. Sessions 1, 7, 13, 19, 25, 31, 37, and 43, are Mondays and the beginning of each training week.
Here is the general training Schedule:
- Monday: AM – SPFT Work & PM – Ruck intervals (2-a-day)
- Tuesday: Short Work Capacity, Core Strength, Durability
- Wednesday: AM – Sandbag Get up Intervals & PM – Running Intervals
- Thursday: AM – SPFT Work & PM – Ruck intervals (2-a-day)
- Friday: Work Capacity, Low Back Fitness
- Saturday: Mini-Event
The plan deploys 4 specific assessments, and follow-on progressions based on your assessment results. This way the plan automatically “scales” to your incoming fitness level.
You’ll take these assessments 2x times over the 8 weeks – during Weeks 1 and 4:
- SPFT – Max Hand Release Push Ups (2 minutes), Max Leg Tuck (2 minutes) and 3 Mile Run
- 10 min Sandbag Getups @ 60# for reps
- 12 Mile Heavy Ruck for Time – 35# Ruck, 10lb Rubber Rifle or Sledge Hammer, or Dumbbell
- 6 Mile Run for Time
Exercise progressions for the assessments are based on your most recent assessment results for the SPFT, 10 minute Sandbag Get Ups for Reps, 6-Mile Run, and 12 Mile Ruck.
Example 1 – SPFT Hand Release Push Ups
Athlete Performs 60x Hand Release Push Ups on initial SPFT during Session 1.
Session 7 from the plan calls for:
5 Rounds, Every 90 Seconds
35% of your Max Rep Hand Release Push Ups
35% of 60x Hand Release Push Ups is 21(.35 x 60 = 21). Set a repeating timer for 90 seconds. On Round one, do 21x Hand Release Push Ups as fast as possible, then rest for the remaining time left in the interval. When the Round 1‘s 90 seconds is up, sprint through 21x Hand Release Push Ups again for Round 2, rest the remainder of the interval, etc. through 5 Rounds.
Note – the push up progressions are tough. You can break sets as needed to get in your reps during the 60 second interval. You may need to go to your knees to complete the reps.
Example 2 – SPFT 3-Mile Run:
Athlete completes the Session 1 SPFT 3-Mile run in 24:00
Session 4 from the plan calls for:
Run 1-Mile at Interval Pace based on 3-Mile Run time
Rest 8 Minutes between runs
Go to the “Exercises” tab on the website and click “Running Calculator.” Chose the 3-Mile assessment distance and input the finish time of 24:00
The Running Calculator (see below) spits out the interval paces for various interval distances. You’ll see the 1-Mile Interval Pace is between 07:02 and 07:12.
On Round 1, run 1-Mile between 07:02 and 07:12. Rest 8 minutes, then repeat 1 more times
Example 3 – Sandbag Get Ups
Athlete Performs 75 Sandbag Getups @ 60# in Session 3.
Session 9 (AM) from the plan calls for:
10 Rounds – Every 90 Seconds, 10% of Max Sandbag Getups (Round Up)
10% of 75 Sandbag Getups is 7.5 (.1 x 75 = 7.5). Set a repeating timer for 90 seconds. On Round 1, do 8x Sandbag Getups (Round up from 7.5) as fast as possible, then rest for the remaining time left in the interval. Repeat this 9 more times for a total of 10 Rounds
Example 3 – 12 Mile Ruck Intervals
Athlete completes the Session 2 12-mile ruck assessment @35# plus 10# sledge/dumbbell/rubber rifle in 1:30:00 (12 min, 30 sec mile pace).
Session 4 from the plan calls for:
3 Mile Ruck at Interval Pace based on SESSION 2 Heavy Ruck time, Flat Course.
Rest 10 minutes between Rucks
Load – 35# plus 10# sledge/dumbbell/rubber rifle
Go to the Exercise tab on the website and click the “Ruck Calculator.” (See below).
On Round 1, you’ll run 3 miles at a per-mile pace of between 10:30 and 11:33, or under 34:39 total. Then rest 10 minutes, and do it again for Round 2.
Example 4 – 6 Mile Run Intervals
Athlete completes the 6-mile Run assessment in 42:15 in Session 3
Session 9 (PM) from the plan calls for:
2 Mile Run at Interval Pace based on SESSION 3, 6-Mile Run Time
Rest 10 Minutes between runs
Go to the “Exercises” tab on the website and click “Running Calculator.” Chose the 6-Mile assessment distance and input the finish time of 42:15
The Running Calculator (see below) spits out the interval paces for various interval distances. You’ll see the “Per Mile” Interval Pace is between 06:18 and 06:46.
On Round 1, run 2 miles at a per-mile pace no slower than 06:46 (13:32 total). Rest 10 minutes, then repeat.
HEAVY RUCK RUCK, IBA RUN, RUN, UNIFORMS
- 12 Mile Ruck Assessment and 3-Mile Repeats – Full cammies, boots, helmet, 10 pound rubber rifle, sledge hammer, or dumbbell, 35# ruck plus water
- 3 Mile run and repeats: Shorts, t-Shirt, sneakers
- 6-Mile Run, 2-Mile Run and their interval repeats – Shorts, t-shirt, sneakers
- Long Saturday Mini Events – Cammie pants, t-shirt, boots, 10 pound rubber rifle, sledge hammer, or dumbbell, 35# ruck for any rucking.
Use this training plan to get your rucking dialed – including boots, pack loading (weight high instead of low seems to help), pacing, nutrition, and hydration dialed. Ruck in the same boots you’ll take to selection. Refuel the same way you’ll refuel at selection, etc. One tip for the Rucks – a run/walk split will help you cover ground, for example, Run 3 Minutes, Walk 1 Minutes. Also, work to increase the frequency of short strides to increase speed, rather than stretching out your stride.
- Stop Watch with Repeating Countdown Timer – Smartphone will work.
- 60# Sandbag
- Ruck – same ruck you will use at selection, 35# of filler, 10# Rubber Rifle (No rifle? Use a 10 lb sledge hammer or a 10# dumbbell)
- Pull up Bar
- Climbing Rope
- Foam Roller
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 then 8 weeks before I start the Selection 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 Selection course. If you can’t handle the training volume at first, its 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. Push ups – it’s not unusual to have to break sets and/or go to your knees to make your prescribed reps.
How do you count reps for Sandbag Getups?
Sandbag Getups – The prescribed rep count is total reps, so 50x Sandbag Getups at 60# sandbag = 50x total reps, 25x each shoulder.
Unfamiliar Exercises? Questions?
Go to www.mtntactical.com and click the “Exercises” link to see unfamiliar exercises.
Rob Shaul, MTI
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.
- Stop Watch with Repeating Countdown Timer – Smarthphone will work
- 60# Sandbag
- Ruck - same ruck you will use at selection, 35# of filler, 10# Rubber Rifle (No rifle? Use a 10 lb sledge hammer or a 10# dumbbell)
- Pull up Bar
- Climbing Rope
- Foam Roller
Sample TrainingShow More
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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.
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→ 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.
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Our stuff works. Weekly we receive unsolicited reviews of our programming and testimonials to its effectiveness.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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– 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.
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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?
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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.
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