After learning that his wife bought him a trip to Bora Bora for his 40th birthday, MTNTOUGH trainer Jimmy Alsobrook decided to cut some weight. Using his knowledge and experience as a coach, he went to work devising a plan. Now, you get to reap the benefits of his hard work.
Alsobrook’s plan was so successful that he dropped from about 212 lbs to 180 over 8 weeks. You can achieve similar results but be warned that it takes dedication and mental fortitude to make it through the program. Backcountry athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike can use his plan to cut weight. If you’re heading into the wilderness anytime soon and are worried that you’re carrying a few extra pounds, it might be time to give this plan a try. Shedding some weight can help you last longer in the backcountry.
The great thing about Alsobrook’s plan is that it’s not simply meant for weight loss. It fits with the rest of the MTNTOUGH ethos of making you a better backcountry athlete. You’re going to get more athletic if you do these workouts, which isn’t the case with many weight loss programs.
We believe in this program so much that we’ve released it for free. You can see a video walk-through below.
The Secret Weight Loss Workout: An Overview
Jimmy Alsobrook, the creator of this workout, is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He’s been coaching mountain athletes for well over a decade, helping them reach goals as daunting as climbing Mt. Everest. An avid hunter and fisherman, he knows how to prepare for the backcountry better than most, meaning there are few coaches better suited to walk you through a program to help you cut weight.
His "Bora Bora” weight loss workout consists of two parts, and each part has two exercises. The first portion pairs running with power cleans. The second combines the VersaClimber and toes-to-bar. Your goal is to do this workout daily. Jimmy would swap the power cleans and toes-to-bar for similar exercises as he saw fit, but the treadmill and climber stayed the same.
The secret ingredient that helps you burn fat is heart rate. Your goal is to keep it at around 80-89% of your max heart rate throughout. Doing so ensures that your intensity stays high, making you burn the maximum amount of fat possible. Your max heart range can be estimated by subtracting your age by 220. Your heart rate during the workout should stay between 80-90% of that number. Make sense?
You don’t need a ton of equipment for this workout, but there are some essentials. For cardio you’ll need access to a treadmill to run, or an area outdoors that you know is 0.25 miles. For the cleans, you’ll need a barbell and plates. The VersaClimber is recommended for the second part, but that may not always be an option for you, so feel free to swap it out with a Stair-Master as needed. For the toes-to-bar, you’ll need a pull-up bar.
While this workout is free, MTNTOUGH is filled with hundreds of other carefully crafted and purpose-driven workouts. You might find that you love the format along the way and you're wanting more already, in that case, jump right into the 14-day free trial to see the year-round training programs designed for athletes like you. Keep reading to learn more about each exercise, how to do them with the correct form, and some tips for swapping them out for different movements if you need to.
Part 1: Treadmill and Power Cleans
Sprinting on a treadmill and picking heavy weights up from the floor are two of the hardest things you can do in the gym. Running burns a lot of calories, as do power cleans because they’re a full-body movement. Pairing them together will keep your heart rate in the 80% range so that you can shred fat and build muscle.
Treadmill Hacks for Peak Performance
Anyone can run on a treadmill. But to get Bora Bora results, you need to run with purpose. You’re going to do one mile total on the treadmill in the first part of this workout, broken into 4 sprints. Here are several pointers to help you make sure each one counts:
- Tip 1 - Find the right combination of speed and incline: To keep your heart rate in the 80% range, you’ll need to find a balance between speed and incline. A good place to start is 6-speed and 3-incline. From there, you can adjust each as you see fit. Once you’ve found your sweet spot, keep the treadmill running if possible so that you can hop off and hop on after the cleans.
- Tip 2 - Don’t run flat. Running on the treadmill is likely softer than concrete, but it can still create a lot of impact forces on your joints. To minimize the impact on each footfall, keep the treadmill at a slight incline at all times. This could be as small as a 1.0 incline, but it should be above 0 if possible. If you’re having trouble getting your heart rate up, raising the incline can be just as effective as increasing speed.
- Tip 3 - Hit the Ground Running: This is a fast superset and, to keep your heart rate high, you shouldn’t rest between cleans and running. To save time, leave the treadmill running and hop onto it while it’s moving. To do this safely, straddle the sides of the treadmill and put your hands on the sides. Take a few practice swipes with one foot to get a feel for the speed, then hop onto the treadmill and run for a few steps holding onto the sides until you feel comfortable to let go.
- Tip 4 - Don’t Jog: Running for 0.25 miles is roughly equivalent to one lap around a track. If you’ve ever seen a 400-meter race in track and field, you know that the athletes aren’t holding back. To hit the 80% heart rate range, you’re going to need to run faster than a distance jogging pace. Over time, you should be able to run faster at the same heart rate.
Mastering the Power Clean
As a backcountry athlete, you need to be able to generate explosive power. You never know when you’ll have to leap across a creek or take a big, powerful step over a log. Cleans develop that full-body athletic ability.
To keep the exercise fast, start with a lighter weight and increase 5-10 pounds every set. Since the first round is 20 reps, that's another reason to go light on the first set. You’ll decrease by 5 reps every set, so you’ll want to increase the weight to keep things challenging. Here's a play-by-play for mastering the power clean.
- Step 1: Start with a barbell on the ground and place bumper plates on either side
- Step 2: Walk up to the bar until your shins are almost touching it
- Step 3: Place your feet hip-width apart
- Step 4: Push your hips back, bend your knees, and grab the bar with both hands
- Step 5: With a flat back, lift the bar from the ground and begin standing up
- Step 6: When the bar passes your knees, jump into the air and shrug your shoulders
- Step 7: Let the bar fly up towards your shoulders as you land from the jumping motion
- Step 8: Pull the bar towards your collarbone and throw your elbows forwards, catching the bar near your collarbone with arms underneath
- Step 9: As you catch the bar, squat under it
- Step 10: Stand up to complete the rep
- Step 11: Lower the bar by dropping your elbows and pushing your hips back
- Step 12: Place the bar back on the ground and repeat
Muscles Worked: Power cleans are a full-body movement. The deadlift portion works your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, lower back, and upper back muscles. As you throw the bar up in the clean portion you use the glute muscles and hamstrings, along with the lower back and abdominal muscles. Your biceps and deltoid (shoulder) muscles also contribute.
This is one of the toughest pairings of exercises you’ll find in MTNTOUGH. It’s intense, which makes it perfect for burning fat quickly. However, your workout is only halfway done. At this point, you should drink some water and get focused on part 2. Next, you’ll learn some tips for mastering the second half of the Bora Bora workout. It’s similar to the first half but there are new exercises, which you might not have seen before.
Part 2: Versa-Climber and Toes-to-Bar
You have to wear a lot of hats in backcountry hunting - depending on the year and how remote you're needing to go, you may have to cross-country ski, hike, and sidehill in the same afternoon. Even if you’re not planning on trekking up or traversing the side of a steep mountain, climbing is one of the best calorie-burning exercises you can do. When paired with one of the best core exercises out there (toes-to-bar) this second part of the workout is guaranteed to cut fat and get you ready for any beach vacation.
How Fitness Pros Use the VersaClimber
Even if you're in good shape, after a certain distance and altitude, hiking uphill can be a challenge. Further compounded by a weighted pack, you'll find yourself needing a break more often than you like. The best solution is to train for this type of physical fatigue, and one way to do this is through the VersaClimber, which mimics an almost-vertical climb, without the risk of falling backward.
This machine may look new to you but think of a more challenging version of the Stair-Master, which earns this advanced reputation from working both your arms and legs. For your intervals, you’re going to “climb” 0.25 miles on the VersaClimber. Do this as fast as possible while keeping your heart rate between 80-90%. You’ll quickly feel fatigued in your legs and back muscles. Keep in mind that you can substitute this exercise with the Stair-Master, rowing machine, or other form of cardio. After each 0.25-mile interval, you’ll switch exercises and go right into the toes-to-bar.
Fatigue can quickly lead to poor form, and poor form begets either ineffective results or injury. To keep both problems at bay, try to keep the following 4 tips in mind on your VersaClimber interval:
- Tip 1 - Set up correctly: If you haven’t seen the VersaClimber before, the setup might not be intuitive. You have to set the handles on the machine to an appropriate height. You shouldn’t be reaching out with your arms fully extended as you reach the bottom of each step. You also shouldn’t feel restricted by short movements.
- Tip 2 - Sit back into the movement: It might feel natural to lean forwards into the machine and bob up and down as you do the movement. Instead, sit back a little and let your arms and legs do the work. Your hips and torso should stay in the same place as your limbs move.
- Tip 3 - Keep an even pace: One of the great things about the treadmill is that it doesn’t slow down when you get tired. It forces you to move at a continuous pace. The VersaClimber is entirely self-propelled, so you’ll have to pay attention to your cadence and make sure you’re moving at a steady rhythm.
- Tip 4 - Use your entire body: Since you have handles for your hands and pedals for your feet, you can use the VersaClimber as a full-body workout. Make sure you’re not favoring your arms or legs. Use them to push and pull simultaneously, maximizing your speed and heart rate.
Don't Cheat the Toes-to-Bar
You’ve probably heard of sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts, planks, and other standard core exercises. Pretty tough, right? Now imagine doing something like that while hanging from a pull-up bar. if you can picture that, then you've essentially imagined what the toes-to-bar entails.
We're all familiar with motion in a sit-up or a crunch, one where you bring your torso up to your legs. In the toes-to-bar exercise, the motion is opposite of that. Instead, you'll lift your toes toward the pull-up bar and force your abs to lift the weight of your lower body, all while you use your arms to hang.
The rep scheme is the same as the power cleans, following a 20-15-10-5 rep pattern.
- Step 1: Jump up and hang onto a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart
- Step 2: Your palms should be facing forwards and your knuckles facing back
- Step 3: Keeping your elbows straight, tuck your knees up towards your chest and lean back slightly
- Step 4: Continue lifting your knees up and extend your feet towards the bar, bringing your toes as close to it as possible
- Step 5: Slowly, and with control, roll your body back down so that you’re hanging straight in a pull-up position
- Step 6: Repeat the exercise
Muscles Worked: The primary muscles used in the toes-to-bar are the abdominal and forearm muscles. Your rectus abdominis, internal oblique, and external obliques are the ab muscles that lift your legs. You’ll also use your hip flexors to raise your knees towards your chest.
Your forearms work to hold your grip, and your back muscles keep your shoulders intact. That includes the latissimus dorsi, teres major, rotator cuff muscles, and rhomboids in the back.
This circuit builds your core and continues the fat-burning intensity that you built in the first half of the workout. You can modify the VersaClimber by switching to another cardio machine or running up and down a staircase. If you need to modify the toes-to-bar, you can simply do knee tucks from a hanging position or reverse crunches on the ground.
As with the first part of this workout, make sure you’re monitoring your heart rate. Keep the intensity high and minimize the time between exercises. After this part, you’re done with the workout for the day and you can focus on recovery. You should be exhausted. If you’re wondering how you’ll survive this workout every day, don’t worry - we'll walk you through that next. We'll show you how to modify the components to fit your current fitness level.
Adapting the Workout for Different Fitness Levels
Everyone is truly different, so there’s no single workout that’s a perfect fit for everyone. That's a strong reason that MTNTOUGH programs and workouts offer different tiers. We recognize that although everyone wants to train at an elite level, an elite level looks different for each athlete.
Even outside of physical capability, not every athlete has the same access to equipment and gear as others. The best workouts need to be flexible and offer accessibility to a wide range of scenarios. Whether you've got a full gym in the basement or you're limited to bodyweight workouts while traveling, or you need the on-ramp to train instead of the elite tier of training, we've got you covered in every program at MTNTOUGH.
The Bora Bora workout is no exception either, and it's amazingly customizable. You're able to swap or adjust exercises without sacrificing effectiveness, be it lack of equipment access or difficulty level. If you need to do this, make sure the alternative you choose is similar to the original exercise - here are a few alternatives to consider.
Some of the exercises in this workout are quite advanced, meaning not everyone may have the right skill or strength to complete them. For instance, maybe you currently don't have the needed flexibility for the power clean or you need a few more months of training to handle the treadmill components. And just because you're great at cleans doesn't mean you're a great runner. This program is extremely well-rounded, so you'll be tested in a variety of ways - even if you've been training for a while, it wouldn't be a shock if you aced some but struggled at another.
Whether you're just getting started in the gym or you've been going at it consistently, if you hit a wall on any of the exercises, don't stress about it, and certainly don't dwell on it. Focus on staying optimistic here, push your ego to the side, and channel your energy on the action you're taking - completing what you can while still pushing yourself. On your path to domination, reference the following tips if you need to modify any exercises giving you trouble until you can move up to the next level:
- Treadmill: Running can be exhausting and tough on the joints. If you’re not ready to run the 0.25 miles, start by walking them. If you’re on a treadmill, add more incline to make the walking portion more challenging. If you’re walking outside, see how fast you can walk.
- Power Cleans: This movement is tricky to learn. Start with a squat jump if you’re having trouble because it works similar muscles and builds explosive power.
- VersaClimber: Try mountain climbers if you don’t have cardio equipment or if the VersaClimber is too challenging. Get into a push-up position and pump your knees up like you’re running to mimic the climbing motion.
- Toes-to-Bar: Hanging from a bar is tough on your upper body, and adding an ab exercise on top of that can be too much. Start with a reverse crunch, lying on your back and lifting your knees towards your chest.
If you find the original exercises a little too challenging or if you simply need a break from them during the week, the intermediate modifications are a good place to get some ideas. Remember, it’s normal to feel a little sore and rundown when you’re following an intense workout like this, so when you need some motivation or a bit of encouragement to keep your discipline high, mix it up a bit.
- Treadmill: If walking is getting too easy, try a run/walk. You can run for 0.05 miles, then walk, and repeat until you’ve hit 0.25.
- Power Cleans: If you’re ready to add some weight but don’t feel comfortable with the barbell, mimic the power cleans with a dumbbell in each hand. Start by performing a Romanian deadlift, then, as you stand up, swing the weights up to your shoulders.
- VersaClimber: Use a row machine, Stair-Master, spin bike, or elliptical for the cardio portion instead of a VersaClimber if you don’t have one or feel like it’s too tough. Just make sure you pick a low-impact cardio alternative after the high-impact running.
- Toes-to-Bar: If reverse crunches are too easy but toes-to-bar is too hard, try holding onto a pull-up bar and doing straight leg lifts. With straight knees, lift your legs in front of you until they’re about hip height.
As you get used to the Bora Bora workout, it might start to feel easy. If you hit that point, take a second to revel in your progress, then throw your ego back down again and look at making things more challenging. This is when you should begin swapping more advanced exercises in for the ones in the program.
- Treadmill: To make the treadmill run more advanced, wear a light weighted vest or pack on your back. That’ll make your heart rate climb higher.
- Power Cleans: Make the power clean harder by adding a push press at the top of the movement, pressing the bar overhead, and incorporating your shoulder muscles.
- Versa-Climber: To increase the difficulty of the VersaClimber, make each repetition smaller and aim to complete the 0.25 miles in as little time as possible.
- Toes-to-Bar: Even though the toes-to-bar is tough, you might need a more advanced alternative. Add light ankle weights around your ankles to increase the difficulty.
Don't Forget to Listen to Your Body
If you follow this workout for 8 weeks you’re going to be in better shape. That’s why you shouldn’t worry about how advanced you are in the beginning. Match each exercise with the variation that you’re comfortable with at first. Then, when things get easier or it’s hard to keep your heart rate high enough, you can try something more advanced.
The Benefits of This Workout for Backcountry Hunters and Mountain Athletes
It’s hard to put the Bora Bora workout into a single, specific category. Even though you can count the exercises involved on one hand, it's an effective routine for building multi-dimensional fitness. Within the Bora Bora workout, you have short, intense bursts of cardio, but you also have weight lifting and core exercise. It doesn't look anything like your average gym workout, one where you lift weights and take a break, but it also doesn't look like your average cardio workout either.
It's safe to say the Bora Bora workout is a unique breed of training, it's for a functional generalist of sorts. And that's by design. A MTNTOUGH athlete, like Jimmy, is the ultimate functional generalist. To be the best backcountry athlete, you need a combination of fitness qualities that make you prepare you for anything, otherwise, the odds of a successful hunt dwindle with every step.
While Jimmy designed this workout to get ready for a well-deserved milestone, he can't escape the fact that he's a mountain athlete, so to meet his goal of cutting without losing everything else he's worked on to excel in the mountains, you'll find his workout reaches his immediate goals without compromising hunting season.
- Endurance: In the Bora Bora workout, the treadmill and VersaClimber sprints will improve your endurance. They’re short and intense, which is just as effective at boosting your aerobic fitness as longer endurance workouts. Plus, it’s more time-efficient.
- Power: The power clean is a multi-phase movement that’s designed to increase hip power. It not only builds strength in your back and legs, it makes you faster. As a mountain athlete, you never know when you’ll need to move quickly or take a big, powerful step to navigate tough terrain.
- Stability: Finally, the toes-to-bar builds your core strength like none other. You need a strong core to stabilize yourself if you’re shooting, or to keep an upright posture when there’s a lot of weight on your back. This exercise also builds your forearm strength, which is essential for lifting and carrying heavy things out in the backcountry.
The MTNTOUGH Philosophy
When you train with MTNTOUGH, you’re benefiting from thousands of hours of training and deliberation, stemming from innovative research and an engaged community. Each workout has been tested on real people who’ve achieved real results. Jimmy put the Bora Bora to the test, losing over 30 lbs in 8 weeks. But if you join any program on MTNTOUGH, you're immediately in good company because every coach that builds the program has run it through numerous physical challenges, including military service, and backcountry hunting.
Specific to backcountry hunting, we've created a year-round training curriculum that emphasizes seasonal fitness, which makes it unique and extraordinarily effective. The programs are designed to build specific qualities based on the time of year, with the ultimate goal of achieving peak performance during hunting season. Another benefit is the scalable workouts, with different options based on your fitness level.
But you don’t have to be a hunter or mountaineer to train with these programs. You can use them to get ready for boot camp, firefighter training, the police academy, etc. They’ll also prepare you for high-altitude climbing and hiking, adventure racing, and mountain biking. Or, you can use these programs to stay in shape year-round.
Anyone who’s looking to challenge themselves can benefit from MTNTOUGH workouts. Even if you have no intention of setting foot outdoors, but just want to see how tough you truly are and what your body can achieve when pushed to the limits, you'll love MTNTOUGH. You can compete with yourself in each workout to continue improving your body and mind.
Mental toughness is one of the cornerstones of MTNTOUGH training. Where most fitness programs exclusively take care of your body, we think unlocking your physical potential starts with training the mind.
You’ll even learn special techniques to boost your mental well-being and focus, helping you achieve more in all aspects of life. If you decide to work with us, you'll hear "mental toughness" or some derivative of it used a lot. It's a big concept, but at the end of the day, it ultimately means overcoming any challenge faced. We help you build this with every rep in every set, and even have courses dedicated to teaching it outright. As a hunter, the clarity offered by a high degree of mental toughness is invaluable.
We've been fortunate enough to meet some of the world's greatest mountain athletes and mentally tough individuals and learn from how they approach life and hunting. Take Remi Warren for instance. At one point Remi, who’s a well-known bowhunter, hurt his wrist. Instead of giving up on hunting season, he adapted and overcame the injury by using a mouth tab to draw his bow.
The fortitude of hunters like Remi Warren can be built by pushing through challenges. The workouts in the MTNTOUGH program are tough, but the more you do them the tougher you become. Iron sharpens iron, right? The approach is to make your training so tough that going into the woods feels easy. It's at that point you can truly enjoy the experience of backcountry hunting, and underscores the importance of investing in yourself, as you're the best asset when you're hunting.
You Are Your Greatest Asset
The ultimate backcountry athlete should be able to rely on themselves. Your training should build confidence in your mind and body, giving you the belief that you can handle any obstacle.
The MTNTOUGH programs are designed to build your strength, endurance, and mental toughness to the point where you feel confident in your body and mind. Then, you can go into the backcountry without worrying about injury or fatigue. Keep reading to learn how the programs do that.
To give you a quick taste of the variety of programs we offer, we've pulled three from very distant areas of the training spectrum. This includes our famous backcountry hunter program which offers year-round training for mountain athletes. We'll also touch on our 10-day mental toughness course, as well as how each workout incorporates mental toughness training. And lastly, we'll hit on our prehab program that keeps your joints safe so you can remain injury-free. By no means are these three programs everything we offer, but we hope you'll get a solid idea of how detailed yet vast MTNTOUGH truly is.
Backcountry Hunting Program
Each phase of the year-round backcountry hunting program is designed to make you a better athlete. In the offseason, you’ll build back the strength and muscle that hunters commonly lose after days in the wilderness. In spring training you’ll build endurance, then you’ll spend preseason fine-tuning your fitness to have the best hunting season of your life.
During hunting season you’ll focus on maintaining the strength and endurance that you worked so hard to build during the ramp-up to hunting season. This year-round approach to training is similar to the way athletes train for their sport.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to start training. You need at least 12 weeks before hunting season to improve your fitness. If you prepare your body correctly, you’ll perform at your best while avoiding costly injuries.
As a backcountry athlete, it’s probably hard to find mental toughness programs that are geared toward you. That’s why there are specific programs and exercises to sharpen your mind as part of MTNTOUGH. You’ll join Phil Kornachuk, a former Special Operations soldier, who knows how to get your mind ready for the backcountry.
You know that you need to train your body using a workout program to build qualities like strength and endurance. You can train your mind in the same way, with a structured program and specific exercises. Phil shows you how to build healthy habits, a positive mindset, and overcome adversity as part of MTNTOUGH.
Some traits are stable, which means that they don’t change. For example, some people are introverted or extroverted. It’s a myth that mental toughness is a stable trait. You can train it over time to become more mentally tough, so even if you've got the pain threshold of a leaf, with enough discipline and motivation, you can build great mental toughness.
Strength and endurance training help prevent injuries, but you need to do more to make sure your joints are healthy. That’s why the MTNTOUGH team created MTNTPT 2.0, a prehab program that aims to prevent injuries.
Tom Walters, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, brings his expertise to this program that covers specific injuries and pain issues. He gives you recommendations for each condition, including exercises to do daily that will help you avoid or get out of pain.
As a backcountry athlete, you’re going to be asking a lot from your body. It’s not uncommon to get injured while you’re hunting or running. The worst thing you can do is ignore the pain. A simple, daily practice from MTNPT is all it takes to get on the path toward recovery.
Make MTNTOUGH a Habit
Use the Bora Bora workout to burn fat for your next beach vacation or to get in shape for your next outdoor adventure. It’s designed with the same care and consideration as the other MTNTOUGH workouts. Just know that your journey doesn’t end after this two-month program.
You can build a strong and resilient body and mind by following a year-round program. However, you have to do workouts that are designed for someone like you. As a backcountry athlete or fitness enthusiast, your average cookie-cutter workout isn’t enough.
If you’ve never used a year-round program, you’re in for a treat. Check out the 14-day free trial to explore the programs and content that make MTNTOUGH unique. The amount of information and experience passed down through videos and articles will make you a better backcountry athlete. To keep learning and growing, join our newsletter.