Surfing Pre-Season Training Plan


• 8 week, 5 days per week
• Designed for the land-locked surfer to prepare for trips/vacations
• This training plan is one of the 200+ Plans included with an Athlete’s Subscription.


This 8-week training program is designed to prepare land-locked recreational surfers for a surf trip,
or serious and professional surfers for for the competitive surfing season if they’ve spent time away

from the water during the offseason.

Our goals with this program are three fold:

(1) Develop the strength, power, and strength endurance of your upper body and core.
Upper body pressing and pulling strength, power and strength endurance are the primary drivers of paddling performance during surfing. This program will help you develop the strength and endurance to do the paddling needed to ride more waves.
(2) Train your paddling-specific work capacity/energy system (lungs and heart).
Your lungs and heart are the drivers behind your paddling muscles, and must also be trained. We train these sport specifically during the pool sessions where you will increase your capacity and efficiency to perform in your element, water.
(3) Increase your overall strength and durability.
We understand the danger of surfing and other ocean sports. In our experience, stronger athletes are simply harder to injure. Increased strength alone – upper body and core – will make you more durable. This plan also specifically targets shoulder durability.
The major fitness demand of surfing is not riding the waves, it’s paddling for them. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compiled an activity profile of 42 heats during professional competitive men’s surfing event. Here are the results:
Activity                                                         Percent of Time
Paddling                                                        52%
Stationary (waiting for waves)                   42%
Wave Riding                                                 4%

Misc                                                         2%

These preliminary heats lasted 20 minutes each, and included several max paddling efforts of 1-20 second from surfers as they paddled to catch raves, or paddled back to the start zone after riding a wave.
This plan acknowledges this study’s findings, and focuses on developing the paddling, work capacity, upper body strength and core strength needed by surfers to paddle out and catch waves. The goal is to have you paddling-fit when you get to the surf beach, so you can catch more waves, and surf longer before fatiguing.
This is a progressive, very intense, 8-week, gym and pool-based training program. You will train 5 days/week for a total of 40 training sessions. The intention is that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are are training days. Saturday and Sunday are rest days. This program is designed to be completed the 8 weeks prior to getting into the surf.
The first 2 weeks of this program are designed to build a level of base fitness through general, gym-based strength and conditioning.
The following 6 weeks combine sport specific (paddling) conditioning with a continued build of base fitness.
This will be your training week:
Monday – Pool-Based, Sport-specific
Tuesday – Gym-Based Total Body Strength
Wednesday – Pool-Based Work Capacity
Thursday – Gym-Based Work Capacity and Core

Friday – Gym & Pool-Based Stamina Sessions

Each Monday during this program, you will be undergoing progressive swimming sessions designed to improve your paddling work capacity and better your performance and efficiency in the water.
You will progressively swim with your head over the water mimicking the position you would be in on a surf board.
There is also an emphasis on swimming with a pull buoy (no legs) since using your legs is not an option when in the ocean on a surf board.
Finally there is an underwater swim component designed to improve athletes durability during big wave rides when there is a risk factor of being held under water for long periods of time.
Swim PT
Wednesday’s Pool Sessions are designed to train work capacity combining hard swim efforts with onland (out of water) exercises.
Every Tuesday during this cycle you’ll train strength. Through this cycle you will progress through a pull up, push up, and back extension ladder to strengthen the upper body and core muscles associated with paddling on a surf board.

Every Tuesday during this cycle you’ll train work capacity.

Every Friday you’ll train stamina. Essentially, these sessions are to train recovery and the mental fitness and attitude stamina of the athlete. These are long sessions and either incorporate long runs, swims, or a combination of both.
Throughout this program you will train durability targeting common issues associated with high volume paddling. You will perform soft tissue work, mobility/stretching, patterning exercises, and stabilizer muscle strengthening exercises to ensure proper functional movement of the shoulder girdle.
How long should the training sessions take?

Most training sessions are designed to be completed in 60-75 minutes.

What if I can’t keep up the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Training Schedule?
Do not skip a training session. Rather, complete all the training sessions in succession. Whatever the schedule, always take two days a week, ideally together, as total rest.

For this plan, Training Sessions 1, 6, 11, 16, 21, 26, 31, and 36 are Mondays.

What if I can’t complete the exercises using the prescribed loads?
Drop, or “scale” the load or load as necessary to meet the prescribed number of reps or intervals. For example, if the training session calls for 5x Mr. Spectacular’s at 25# dumbbells and these are to heavy for you, drop to 20# dumbbells – whatever is required, to get 5 reps.
What if I’ve never trained in a gym before?
This training program is going to be quite an adventure in athletic training for you! Our strength training is built primarily around classic barbell exercises such as the front squat, dead lift, power clean, push press and bench press. These are not complicated exercises, but they can be awkward at first. If needed, you can seek exercise instruction from a local coach or personal trainer. You can also teach yourself these exercises by being patient, using lighter loads, and sticking with it. Practice helps! There are many web-based sites and resources to find information on performing these common exercises. You’re not helpless. Be resourceful.
What about exercises unique to Mountain Athlete?

Unfamiliar exercises can be found under the “Exercises” link at

What equipment do I need?

This plan requires access to an olympic swimming pool.

The only gym-based equipment needed to complete this program not common in commercial gyms is a sandbag. Male athletes will need a 60# sandbag, female athletes a 40# sandbag. Sandbags can be made from duffle bags, old army gear bags, or purchased through our online store. Be resourceful.
Several of the training sessions call for kettlebells. If you don’t have access to kettlebells, don’t worry about it. Dumbbells can be used in place of kettlebells for all the prescribed exercises.
What if I have more questions?

Sample Training


Obj: Pool Session

Warm Up: Swim 400m (freestyle, not a sprint - warm up)

(1) 5 Rounds

  • 50m Swim (head over water freestyle)

  • 60 Seconds Rest

(2) 5 Rounds every 2:30

  • Swim 100m (freestyle with pull buoy - no legs)

(2) 2 Rounds

  • Swim 25m (underwater, if unable to complete

  • 25m, swim as far as you can underwater)

  • 60 Seconds Rest

(4) 2 Rounds

  • 200m Swim (freestyle, easy - cool down)

  • 30 Seconds Rest



Obj: Strength

Warm Up:

  • 4 Rounds

  • Barbell Complex (Men - #65, Women - #45)

  • Instep Stretch

(1) Work up to 1 Rep Max Squat Clean

(2) 5 Rounds

  • 2x Squat Clean at 85% 1 Rep Max

  • 5x Shoulder Dislocates

(3) 6 Rounds

  • 5x Walking Lunges (increasing weight each round until 5x is hard but doable) then immediately...

  • 2x Jumping Lunges

  • 5x Y+L @ 2.5

(4) 6 Rounds

  • 1-2-3-2-1

  • Pull Ups

  • Push Ups x2

  • Face Down Back Extension x3



Obj: Pool Session - Swim PT

Warm Up:

2 Rounds

  • 15 Burpees then…

  • Swim 200m (freestyle, easy - warm up)

(1) As Many Rounds as Possible in 20 minutes

  • 50m Swim (freestyle, sprint)

  • 5x Clapping Push Ups

  • 5x 10x Sit Ups

  • 5x Squat Jumps

  • 30 Second Superman Hold

(2) 4 Rounds

  • 15/15 Standing Founder

  • 15/15 Low Back Lunge

  • 15/15 Kneeling Founder

  • 10x Face Down Back Extensions

  • 20x Toes To Sky

(3) 2 Rounds

  • 20 Second Lat + Pec Stretch (10 seconds on lats, 10 seconds on pecs)

  • 15 Seconds Shoulder Soup Cans (unloaded)

  • 15 Seconds Shoulder Sweeps (15 seconds each arm)

  • 15 Seconds Shoulder Scarecrow (unloaded)



Objective: Work Capacity

Warm Up:

  • 10 Minute Kettlebell Complex (Men - 12kg or #25, Women - 8kg or #15)

(1) 10 - 1 (10, 9, 8, 7….1)

  • Back Squat (Men - #105, Women - #85)

  • Kettlebell/Dumbbell Push Press (Men - 16kg or

  • #35, Women - 12kg or #25)

  • Box Jumps (Men - 24" Women - 20")

  • Burpees

  • Sit Ups x2 (instead of 10, 9, 8… it would be 20, 18, 16…)

1st Round looks like:

  • 10x Back Squat (Men - #105, Women - #85)

  • 10x Kettlebell/Dumbbell Push Press (Men - 16kg

  • or #35, Women - 12kg or #25)

  • 10x Box Jumps

  • 10x Burpees

  • 20x Sit Ups

2nd Round looks like:

  • 9x Back Squat (Men - #105, Women - #85)

  • 9x Kettlebell/Dumbbell Push Press (Men - 16kg or

  • #35, Women - 12kg or #25)

  • 9x Box Jumps

  • 9x Burpees

  • 18x Sit Ups

All the way down to…

  • 1x Back Squat (Men - #105, Women - #85)

  • 1x Kettlebell/Dumbbell Push Press (Men - 16kg or

  • #35, Women - 12kg or #25)

  • 1x Box Jumps

  • 1x Burpees

  • 2x Sit Ups

(2) 4 Rounds

  • 5x Barbell Rollouts

  • 15 Second Superman Hold

  • 10x Seated Russian Twist (#25)

(3) 2 Rounds

  • 15 Seconds Shoulder Dislocates

  • 15 Seconds Shoulder Hand Job @ #2.5

  • 15 Seonds Wall Slides

  • 15 Seconds Y+L @ #2.5



Obj: Stamina

  • (1) Run for 30 minutes at moderate pace

  • (2) Swim for 30 minutes (any stroke, at a moderate pace)

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.
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  • 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?

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