Tag Archives: rob shaul

Rob Shaul’s Initial thoughts on a Strong Swift Durable Fitness Assessment

I was recently asked by a journalist for my opinion of some basic fitness standards for an “Adventure Athlete” – which I understand is a driven recreational athlete who has many interests and wants a base level of fitness for fun, performance and health. Sounds like the type of person who uses our Strong Swift Durable training sessions.

I’ve put a little thought into this, and this would be my start for an assessment. The events would be run back to back, with short breaks between. Overall, the assessment would be completed in 2 hours.

We’ll look to run this assessment in upcoming programming.

Event 1: Relative Strength Test

(a) 1RM Front Squat (b) 1RM Bench Press (c) 1RM Power Clean

Sum total and divide by bodyweight.

Standard: Men – 4.0+ Women – 3.75+

Event 2: Max Reps Strict Pull Ups

Standard: Men – 12+ Women – 6+

Event 3: 300m Shuttle Sprint for Time

Standard: Less than 60 Seconds

Event 4: 10 Minute Sandbag Getups for Reps @ 60/80#

Standard: 60+ Reps

Event 5: 8 Mile Run for Time

Standard: Less than 60 minutes (7:30 min/miles)

Q&A 7-11-2014


I have a question on which program to follow.  I have been doing the LE Athlete sessions (they are legit!) as I am preparing for a career in EMS and Law Enforcement (I am in the hiring process of a sheriff’s department who deputizes medics for flight and tactical operations).

I am also transitioning over to the Army Reserves from Active duty Infantry and will be going into an Infantry slot.  From what I have been told, the unit trains deploying reserve and national guard units that aren’t in combat arms jobs.  I will know more when I report.

I was going to drop into the  APFT plan 6 weeks out of my report date unless I find out when the first APFT will be.  While doing this should I do anything else?  Perhaps strength work?

I had also thought of just sticking with the LE Sessions if you think they would be enough to maintain a good APFT score.  I know you have mentioned that the APFT is a sport specific event so I wasn’t sure.

Also, should I keep my focus on the LE Sessions after the APFT or would the Operator Sessions be a better fit?


You should cancel your subscription (See how in the FAQ) and either do the APFT Plan (http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=101&cart_ID=30), or if you want a more comprehensive plan, the OCS (ARMY) Training plan which includes dedicated APFT work plus general work capacity, running and rucking. Here’s the link: http://militaryathlete.com/page.php?page_ID=12&cart_category_ID=101&cart_ID=131

If you do the APFT Plan, you could do some extra lifting – but I’d probably limit it to legs. You’ll be surprised at how intense the push up protocols are…..



What is the difference between a regular subscription and the trainer/ coach packages?


Noting, but the Coach/Trainer Subscription is designed for professional trainers/coaches who use our training sessions with their paying clients. It’s an honor system.



You have great programs….I am currently in week 3 of your Bodyweight program and enjoying it immensely.  Noticed the difference on a quick Colo Fourteener hike over the weekend.  I have occasional low back issues (not shocking for a 49 year old guy, I guess), but have not had any issues with your Bodyweight program and indeed have felt much better than usual.  That said, I did something unrelated last week that torqued my low back.  I can do all the exercises in the program, but my PT is urging me not to do the situps for a while…..any substitute?


Substitute a 20/20/20 Bridge Complex …. 20 second side bridge, directly to 20 second front bridge, directly to 20 second side bridge (other side).



Question about the sessions, I noticed that there are sometimes 3 to 4 days off between some of the sessions. Is this part of the programming or do I need to start at an earlier date and work up from there?


Most weeks are 4 days on, 3 days off. In general, I don’t want guys training on their off days. Here I have the lab rats go Mon-Thurs.



Just finished reading over your LE article about fitness tests for law enforcement, I like what you are suggesting.  It would require limited space, equipment and time to conduct, all issues admin and unions will complain about.  What are you thinking for scoring? Would your scoring differ for SWAT and Patrol (I am assuming so, but curious what you would consider good scores for either).

As a side note, I recently switched to leathlete from military athlete and immediately noticed an emphasis on explosive power, this I like and seems practical to me (although I do miss the rucking and vest work).  My only question regarding programming is that we do quarterly PT tests that mimic academy entrance testing where we do a mile and a half run for time (cooper standards).  Should I be supplementing in some runs occasionally to make sure my times stay up or do you think they really will not be effected?


Don’t assume the LE Athlete Officer Sessions will prepare you to perform your best on the run. These sessions are designed to prepare Officers for the day to day demands of their work – which doesn’t include a timed 1.5 mile run.

Like all our programming, the closer to the event (your assessment) the more sport-specifically you should be training. This means 2-3 weeks out from your assessment, you should be training the events in the assessment.



I work for Colorado Springs PD. So far it’s been a mixed pot of feelings on the fit test.  As you know by dealing with cops, our type A personalities and absolute hatred of change has made some of the older guys a little grumpy.

However, the test is so easy and manageable that it is almost impossible not to pass unless you are completely useless.

Anyways, as far as your idea for the LE Athlete fit test, what are you thinking as far as rep ranges and what is your ideas on percentage for passing (i.e. X amount of bench based on weight = 75% out of 100%). Are you going to go off of cooper standards or a different method?

I think overall the programming is good; it gives a solid balance of everything. As someone who is partial to oly lifting naturally I would like to see some of that in there (maybe cleans or even deads) nothing insane like snatches or heavy OH squats. But overall I dig it.

I’m getting ready to start taking on your programming and am excited to try. I have been searching for so long for LEO specific training and I am glad that you guys have figured out a good balance for strength, endurance, and explosive strength.

You need anything down here in Springs or need anything period don’t hesitate to get ahold of me, I support this programming and ideas 1000% and would be happy to promote and support LE athlete.


If I had to chose right now here’s the events I’d use for the LE Fitness Test –

Upper Body –

Bodyweight Bench Press for Reps (Women at 75% Bodyweight)

Strict Pull ups for Reps

Lower Body

Bodyweight Front Squats in 1 Minute for Reps  (Women at 75% Bodyweight)


Box Jumps in 30 Seconds for Reps @ 20/24″ (Women 20″)

Work Capacity

2 Rounds, 60/60 25m Shuttle Sprint for Time

1 mile IBA Run for Time

From your note ….

Oly Lifts – The current strength cycle includes Hang Power Cleans, and the Hang Squat Clean is my favorite total body lift. I do program these for the LE athletes. We’ll also do Hinge Lifts – my version of the Romanian Dead Lift …. but I’ve moved away from snatches and jerks (I prefer the push press).

LE Athlete Fitness Test – Initial Thoughts

By Rob Shaul

I’ve been programming for Law Enforcement Athletes for about 5 months now and my thoughts on an LE Athlete-appropriate fitness assessment are starting to come together. 

Before describing the events, some administrative stuff …. First, this assessment reflects what I feel are appropriate for the potential fitness demands of LE Athletes. I understand some departments and agencies currently have fitness assessments, and many are built around push ups, situps, 1.5 mile run, etc. My goal here isn’t to incorporate what is currently being done, but what I feel is appropriate. 

Second, I need to consider the application of the assessment – how long it will take to run, complexity of the exercises, etc. The exercises in my assessment are more technical than the typical assessment, for sure, but certainly not beyond the ability of a LE Athlete who is professional about his or her fitness and is training that way already.

Finally – this is an initial cut. I would appreciate your feedback/suggestions.  

Upper Body Events

  1. Bodyweight Bench Press for Reps (Women at 60% Bodyweight)

     Minimum Standard: 12 Reps for both Men and Women


  1. Strict Pull ups for Reps

      Minimum Standard: Men – 12 Reps

                                      Women – 6 Reps

For the LE Athlete, I’m less interested in absolute upper body strength, then upper body power, and to some extent, mass. Ideally a male LE Athlete should be able to get 12+ reps of bodyweight bench press – which tells me he has some upper body mass. The last time I tried this, in March, I scored 18 reps. 

Pull ups – Not only are pull ups a test of pulling strength, but to some extend, bodyweight. It would be pretty darn hard to be 30# overweight and be able to get 12 strict pull ups. 

Lower Body Event

Bodyweight Front Squats for Reps  (Women at 75% Bodyweight)

Minimum Standard: 12 Reps for both Men and Women

LE Athletes don’t need the lower body strength military athletes do – but they need some. Bodyweight front squats are not only a great assessment of basic lower body strength, they also can be compared to the individual athlete’s bodyweight bench press number for a test of upper/lower body strength balance. The numbers should be close. In March, I scored 21 bodyweight front squats – and 18 bodyweight bench presses. 

Why the front squat? It’s safer than the back squat and hinge/dead lift – and it can be compared to the bench press for upper/lower strength balance. 

Power Event

Box Jumps in 60 Seconds for Reps @ 20/24″ (Women 20″)

Minimum Standard: 20 Reps

Simple power assessment. Athlete must stand to full hip extension on top of the box and step down each rep. 

Work Capacity Event

300m Shuttle for time in IBA

Minimum Standard: 70 Seconds

The 300m shuttle is a test of sprinting speed and overall work capacity. Adding an IBA brings a strength component and real-world application. 

MTI’s Top 5 Exercises for Law Enforcement Athletes

By Rob Shaul

These are our top 5 exercises we’re using in our programming for law enforcement athletes.


1. Standing Sandbag Halfmoon

This one exercise trains the legs, core and lungs (Tactical Chassis), plus grip strength and total body power and explosion. Perfect for a Law Enforcement Athlete. 


2. Walking Lunge

Loaded walking lunges train legs, butt, and core. I like them better than squats for Law Enforcement Athletes because I believe they transfer better to sprinting speed. LE Athletes need to be able to sprint.


3. Bench Press

A classic upper body pressing movement, I prefer the Bench Press for LE Athletes because it can be used to train upper body explosive power, strength and mass. Using the dynamic method (low weight, fast/explosive reps) the Bench Press can train upper body power. With heavy loads and few reps, the Bench Press trains upper body strength. Finally, with moderate loading and relatively high-rep sets (sets of 8+) I can us the Bench Press to put mass on an officer.  A big chest and arms can act as a deterrent for criminals.


4. 150m Shuttle Sprints

Law Enforcement Officer need to be able to sprint – both in a speed/strength capacity, and also from a work capacity perspective – without getting gassed prematurely. 150m Shuttle Sprint Repeats trains both. 



5. Power Curl

A pulling movement to balance the bench press, the Power Curl not only trains the back and biceps, but also include a hip explosion power movement. It can simply get Officers big and strong.



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By Rob Shaul

We’ve had some questions about “Strong. Swift. Durable.” as athletes have seen this programming on mountainathlete.com, and also this name at the leathlete.com website store.

To explain, I need to start with some history.

I founded and opened Mountain Athlete in Jackson, Wyoming in early 2007, with the clear focus of programming for mountain athletes and mountain sports. I posted our training sessions online and soon began getting questions and emails from deployed US and NATO soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan who were following the programming.

The questions led to more and more requests for military-specific programming, and I responded in early 2008 with Military Athlete and militaryathlete.com. “Strong, Swift, Durable” is the original tagline for Military Athlete, and these three words distinctly represent they fitness attributes we aim to build into all of the athletes we work with.

After a couple years SWAT and SRT guys on the law enforcement side found Military Athlete and began following those sessions. The law enforcement interest grew slowly, but steadily, and last year I began receiving more and more requests for LE-specific programming. And we responded this past January with LE Athlete, and leathlete.com.

For several years, dedicated firefighters have followed along with military athlete, and now, LE Athlete. All along I’ve received requests to begin programming specifically for firefighters. We’ve staffed up and hope to begin programming for professional fire and rescue athletes late this Summer and Fall.

Back to Mountain Athlete …. our programming is constantly evolving and last winter we began programming climbing cycles into our “Base Fitness” training sessions. Several athletes were following the Base Fitness training sessions not for mountain sports, but rather for general fitness. And they had no interest in actually climbing or joining a climbing gym. At the same time, we decided to consolidate the administrative, and business sides of the different companies.

So Strong Swift Durable will soon serve two functions – we’re creating another company just for general fitness under this name. The Strong Swift Durable website will go live July 1, and we will move the Strong Swift Durable training sessions currently on Mountain Athlete to that website.

Second, we’ll consolidate the business and administrative functions of all the different companies under the Strong Swift Durable umbrella.

Email me, rob@militaryathlete.com

One Officer at a Time

HF Box Jumps 1

By Rob Shaul


I’ve been working primarily with military athletes for almost a decade now. During those years isolated law enforcement officers and departments found us, started asking questions and providing feedback and jumped in to start doing our stuff.

Unlike the military, there is no established tradition for fitness in the law enforcement world. Once officers get through the academy, fitness is often forgotten or downright avoided.

In the military, frequent, performance-influencing fitness tests and ongoing special selections and schools drive much of the attention to fitness. As well, commands give their guys dedicated time for PT in the mornings.

Things are different in the law enforcement world. Public unions have fought performance-influencing fitness tests, and many agencies and departments not only don’t set aside work time for physical training but don’t offer any facilities or equipment at all.

Still, law enforcement athletes use their bodies to make a living. And being fit can keep them alive.

I realized early on the fitness demands and challenges for LE guys are different than soldiers. And eventually, I started getting so many requests for law enforcement officer programming that I build the Patrol Officer Training Plan and sold it through our military site.

This plan attracted more and more LE officers with requests for more event-specific training plans (FBI HRT, DEA PTT) and a full site focused on fitness for law enforcement athletes.

In December 2014, we spent one month in El Paso, coaching soldiers at Fort Bliss in the morning, and coaching Border Patrol and DEA agents in the evening.

I was curious – how fit would these LE guys be? Would they respond to our programming? They were fit, and they responded.

We learned lots, and upon return, I set out to start programming specifically for Law Enforcement Officers, which led me to start LEathlete.com in January 2015. The site started small, training plans were limited, but soon evolved and grew into a part of MTI. Programming for law enforcement officers has spurred my creativity. It was exciting to move into this new area.

We knew we weren’t going to change police union opposition to fitness tests anytime soon.

Nor would we overnight convince busy law enforcement department and agency CO’s to set aside training time and facilities for their officers.

Indeed, as a concrete signal of where the field is at in training, we invited every officer from local law enforcement agency we could think of – sheriff’s deputies, town police officers, national park rangers, Forest Service enforcement, Homeland Security officers at the airport –  to train for free in our Jackson facility as Lab Rats. None – not a single officer, took advantage of the opportunity.

We did, however, link up with a small city department in California, and a committed handful of its officers and detectives are helping us lab rat the programming.

I believe strongly that Law Enforcement Officers are professional athletes. And the first requirement of a professional athlete is to take responsibility for his or her fitness.

And back then I knew this was gonna be – one officer at a time. We’re plenty happy with that.


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Fitness Tests for LE Athletes

By Rob Shaul

I’m currently developing strategies and ideas to develop a fitness test for LE Athletes, along the lines of what I’ve done for Military Athletes. My initial thoughts include a mid-distance shuttle sprint component, upper body strength, explosive power, and core strength.

The idea of a fitness test for LE Athletes has been fought by public employee unions, who fear tests with jeopardy could cause experienced officers to lose their jobs.

One department which has implemented a test, with some success, is the Colorado Springs Police Department. The CSPD assessment test sit-ups, push up, the Illinois Agility Run, and Beep Test. Here are the details: www.springsgov.com/Page.aspx?NavID=4734

The department and the union came to a compromise where the officers who failed the test weren’t fired, but would be put on an improvement program. The standards were also diluted to the level of a sedentary adult. Also, officers could fail a single part but make up for it on other parts of the test. Finally, SWAT was separated as well due to the fact that they would skew the standards high.

So, many compromises were made to get the test implemented…. but it’s a start.

Here are my initial thoughts about a test for us:

1) 75% Bodyweight Bench Press for reps in 60 seconds (55% for women)

2) Max Reps Strict Pull ups

3) 2 Rounds

    60 sec 25m shuttle for reps

    60 sec rest

    Count total reps from both rounds

4) 60 Second Box Jump for Reps. Men-24”, Women – 20”

5) 2 minute Situps for Reps

I’d appreciate any feedback or suggestions. Please email me, rob@leathlete.com

Finally, here is an article from 2008 on the poor state of fitness amongst law enforcement officers: www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display&article_id=1516&issue_id=62008

– Rob Shaul

The Burden of Constant Fitness


By Rob Shaul

I was first introduced to “The Burden of Constant Fitness” concept by a Green Beret several years ago.

Ben explained that soldiers never had the opportunity to be out of shape. Their work requires that they always be fit, and this “constant” fitness requirement can become a “burden” as soldiers struggle to avoid overuse injuries and staleness due to doing the same training every day.

Stateside, in garrison, a soldier’s “burden of constant fitness” is driven not by combat or deployment fitness demands, but by upcoming PFT, courses, schools, or training evolutions.

Military athletes have no “off season.”

The Burden of Constant Fitness is even worse for first responders. Law Enforcement officer and Firefighters never get garrison time out of harms way. Every day can be “that” day, and every incident, no matter how seemingly benign, can turn violent and dangerous in a heartbeat. There is truly no “off season.”

Certain times of the year can be less busy, but the danger, and thus, fitness demands, are always present.

MTI Base Fitness cycles for tactical athletes are 6-7 weeks long. Each cycle trains the same attributes – strength, work capacity, chassis integrity, tactical agility, endurance – but with varying areas of emphasis, progression methodologies, exercises, and events.

As well, often within each cycle are assessments and re-assessments – which help motivated athletes and clearly demonstrate improvement.

Our lab rats, including myself, do much of the same programming, and constantly assessing their and my motivation to train. While assuring the necessary fitness demands are trained appropriately takes priority, there are many ways to skin a cat and there is plenty of room to add variety without compromising the intent of the programming.

For example, we’ve designed strength progressions within Base Fitness cycles which use only strongman equipment, dumbbells/kettlebells or bodyweight. We’ve had work capacity built around shuttle sprints one cycle followed by another where athletes only competed gym-based multi-mode work capacity.

This attention to detail counts, and is one way we try to address the Tactical Athletes Burden of Constant Fitness.



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