I like the idea of fitness apps. You get a workout plan in the palm of your hand that, in theory, provides motivation and eliminates the guesswork from your training session. The problem is a lot of fitness apps aren’t designed for people who actually want to push themselves in the gym. At best, they offer watered down workouts that might help you burn a few calories. At worst, they’re a complete waste of time. Then there’s MTNTOUGH+, a new app developed by the Bozeman-based gym of the same name that’s designed to address overall fitness holistically—addressing everything from mental toughness to nutrition. Yes, it’s loaded with burly workouts that’ll leave you sweat-drenched. I spent a month testing every aspect of the app to see if it’s worth the $29.99 monthly subscription fee. The result? I got my ass kicked—in the best sense.
The brick and mortar MTNTOUGH made a name for itself by developing full-body workouts for mountain athletes and military personnel (think backcountry hunters who need to hike for miles with a deer on their back or soldiers who want to stay in shape for their next deployment). The workouts themselves, however, have an appeal that’s far broader than that niche market. The company has always designed programs focused on building strength and endurance that anyone can purchase à la carte through their website. We covered their heavy pack workout last spring.
This new app puts all of the workout programs in one place—along with nutrition guidance and bonus content like podcasts, interviews, and tutorials on mental toughness. It’s broken down into four types of workouts: Bodyweight, Backcountry Hunter Series, Military Specific, and Minimal Gear programs. Each of those courses are divided further; for instance, Minimal Gear program has one series of workouts that uses kettlebells and another series that uses a heavy backpack. The Backcountry Hunter program has a preseason prep workout track, along with a spring training camp and postseason strength track.
While this all may sound confusing, it basically means you have a lot of different workout options within the app. Some of them will have you burpeeing into oblivion. Others rely on classic lifts like squats and cleans. But notice I used the word “program.” Instead of single workouts, MTNTOUGH+ is designed to guide you through entire fitness phases (building strength, building endurance, maintaining strength, etc.), with specific programs you’ll follow for up to four months. You choose a program—like No Gear 60—then follow it for 60 days as one workout builds into the next.
From a fitness perspective, the principals are solid. You’re strengthening multiple muscle groups and systems, and constantly challenging yourself day after day. It also eliminates the fickle nature of our human brains. I work out several days a week, but before I started following MTNTOUGH+, I’d simply do the exercises I wanted to on any given day based on how I felt. Working through something like the four-week kettlebell-dominant KB20 provides guidance on the reg and helps me progress toward my fitness goals because the program has me either add weight or reps while diversifying the work I’m doing at the gym. In other words, I’m not basing my conditioning on how I feel. I’m following set guidelines that are proven to lead to results.
And the workouts are hard. I can’t stress that enough. I had trouble getting through some of them at first. Most training sessions will take about an hour and typically hinge on supersets, so you’re constantly moving and pushing yourself without much rest. Personally, I enjoy the variety built into each program. Choose the Backcountry Spring Training Camp program, for example, and you’ll be supersetting bench press and deadlifts one day, and burning through box jumps, farmer carries, and spin bike laps the next. It keeps you engaged and delivers results—if you can keep up.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s used to doing bench presses every other day (like me), you might get frustrated with the lack of routine. There’s no “leg day” or “back day” and you won’t repeat the same exercises three days a week. This app isn’t designed to build a big chest. It’s designed to build overall strength, endurance, and mobility for athletes who have to perform, so every day is a full-body workout.
I spent four weeks bouncing around the app and sampling the different programs—but the best way to use MTNTOUGH+ is to pick one program and stick with it from beginning to end. After you’ve finished one, move on to the next. There’s a solid variety of programs to choose from. If you only have 30 minutes a day and can’t get to the gym, do the 30-30 bodyweight program. If you love kettlebells, knock out KB20. If you’re a gym rat that likes to throw heavy weight, Backcountry Hunter Postseason Strength is your jam.
And the workouts aren’t the only value in MTNTOUGH+. I’m not really into the motivational videos, but I became mildly addicted to the mobility tutorials and worked them into my nightly TV-watching routine. I thought the nutritional plan was helpful, too. It wasn’t groundbreaking (e.g. eliminate processed foods and focus on proteins and healthy fats) but it made me think about every calorie I put into my body and made me realize I haven’t been eating enough protein to support my training.
After 30 days, I’m encouraged by the results. I’m leaner and stronger and eager to see where the app can take me. Curious about checking it out for yourself? Here’s a sample workout taken from the Backcountry Hunter Postseason Strength series.
- Row x 500 meters
- High knees x30 seconds
- Butt kicks x 30 seconds
- World’s greatest stretch x 30 seconds
- Overhead lunge x 30 seconds
- Walkout/inchworm pushups x 30 seconds
- Lateral lunge x 30 seconds
- Floor wipers x 30 seconds
1. Half-mile sprint: On treadmill or outside—as fast as you can maintain for that distance.
2. Superset ball squats and release pushups ladder: For the squat, focus on form—dropping your butt until it touches the top of a medicine ball or low bench. For release pushups, do a standard pushup, but at the bottom, rest your chest on the floor and release your arms to the side before pushing back to the top. You’ll complete a ladder in the following sequence:
- 20 ball squats + 2 release pushups
- 18 ball squats + 4 release pushups
- 16 ball squats + 6 release pushups
*Continue until you finish with a set of 2 ball squats + 20 release pushups
3. Half-mile sprint
4. Superset forward lunge and barbell military press ladder: You can do lunges with bodyweight or use dumbbells to increase the challenge. You’ll complete a ladder using the same sequence as above.
- 20 forward lunges, 2 barbell military presses
- 18 forward lunges, 4 barbell military presses
- 16 ball squats + 6 release pushups
*Continue until you finish a set of 2 forward lunges + 20 barbell military presses
5. Half-mile sprint
6. Core finisher
- Plank x 1 minute
- Left side plank x 30 seconds
- Right side plank x 30 seconds
- Plank x 1 minute
Want to try MTNTOUGH+ for yourself? Right now, you can save 15% on MTNTOUGH+ with promo code “LAUNCH” for monthly or “LAUNCHYEAR” for annual savings. You can purchase videos individually, or pay $29.99 monthly subscription fee.
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