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Burn the Ships: August Edition

Burn the Ships: August Edition

2% partnered with MTNTOUGH to bring you this mountain-inspired workout. It’ll improve your health and performance and help you not break Rule 2. Do the workout every Friday.

Why it matters: Doing one challenging workout a week has physical and mental upsides. And doing it on Friday (or over the weekend) is a great way to wipe the work week off the books.


  • Want a Burn the Ships ruck patch and/or other 2% gear? Go here. (Thanks to Fernando Delaserna, a tattooer based in Las Vegas, for the epic Burn the Ships design).

  • If you want access to this workout (and the epic comment section that goes along with it), become a Member. Members get fit, have fun, and don’t die.

  • Did you check out the GORUCK x 2% Misogi in Costa Rica?

  • A reminder to Members: The audio/podcast version of this post is at the bottom.

Monday’s post focused on six pillars of outdoor fitness.

That post explains why I think outdoor-focused training has the most bang for buck for general health and longevity compared to other types of focused training.

This month’s Burn the Ships is based on those ideas, and we partnered with MTNTOUGH to bring it to you.

MTNTOUGH is a fitness lab in Bozeman, Montana, that specializes in fitness for backcountry hunters, mountain search and rescue teams, and all other mountain athletes (readers of 2% can get 90 days of MTNTOUGH for free here).

If you’re a regular participant in Burn the Ships and know why we do this workout, scroll down to “This Month’s Workout” to get the details.

If you’re new (or want a refresher), start here so you understand the origins of Burn the Ships and the case for doing one tough workout a week.

The Case for One Tough Weekly Workout

I started doing one tough workout every Friday after my time reporting inside Gym Jones roughly 12 years ago. I’ve maintained the practice.

That’s because there’s an upside to pushing it once a week. Specifically, it makes me less insane.

Scientists at King’s College in London analyzed 53 studies on how intense exercise impacts mental health. They found that it led to “improvements in mental wellbeing, depression severity, and perceived stress compared to non-active controls, and small improvements in mental wellbeing compared to active controls.”

But it also—obviously!—comes with physical upsides.

Intense exercise also seems to have a slight edge over less intense exercise for increasing VO2 max, which is associated with all sorts of good physical outcomes. A rule of thumb: the higher your VO2 max, the farther you are from death and disease.

In other words, all exercise helps. But it makes sense to go hard sometimes.

What’s “sometimes?”

The smartest trainers I regularly speak with suggest that one tough workout a week is the sweet spot for health and performance. More than that, and we tend to get burned out and beat down. Less than that, and we miss out on some health and performance upsides.

Enter Burn the Ships.

Burn the Ships: How it works

On the first Friday of every month, we publish a new workout for Members only on 2%.

Our task is to do the workout every Friday for the rest of the month. (Don’t sweat if you can’t do it Friday—just try to do it sometime each week.)

These workouts are safe and effective, and they improve your strength, cardio, movement quality, and—in turn—your life.

We’ve provided scaled versions and exercise swaps, so anyone and everyone can do them.

  • In other words, we’re pushing edges and improving safely. It’s easy to be hard but hard to be smart.

This Month’s Workout: Mutiny

Why the name?

  • Subscribers to the MTNTOUGH app/community will also be doing this workout with us.
  • Sarah Maschino, who’s with MTNTOUGH and created this workout, took the Burn the Ships theme and rolled with it. Hence, Mutiny.

Why it works

  • As I wrote Monday, the fall is the best season to be outdoors. Temperatures are falling, leaves are turning, trails are dry. Hunting season, in particular, is in full swing. Training for epic hunts deep in the backcountry is where MTNTOUGH shines.
  • Even if you have no interest in doing anything in the backcountry, the outdoors provides an ideal lens to view training. Training for the outdoors hits the skills humans need for general health and performance.
  • This workout is no exception. It includes carrying, single-leg strength and mobility, asymmetrical loading (a fancy word for having more weight at one side), covering ground, being able to rise from the ground with weight (something we rarely do anymore!), lateral movement (moving side to side), and more.
  • In short: It makes you physically useful, whether the most challenging thing you do is stalking elk in the mountains of Montana or stalking a box of cereal featuring Tony the Tiger at a Walmart on Staten Island.

Equipment needed

  • A ruck
    Load as much weight as you’d like (we prescribe anywhere from 10 to 45 pounds, but please use whatever weight feels “right”).
  • A box, step, or cooler
    You’ll use this to do stepups. Yeti and similarly overbuilt coolers are great for stepups.
  • Optional: Something you can hold in one hand that weighs 5 to 30 pounds.
    E.g., a dumbbell, kettlebell, gallon of water, tote or duffel bag filled with books, etc.

Suggested weights

Note: These are suggestions, not requirements.

Please use a weight that feels challenging and allows you to complete the workout—but doesn’t crush your soul.


  • Beginner ruck weight: 25 lb
  • Intermediate ruck weight: 35 lb
  • I like to party ruck weight: 45 lb +


  • Beginner ruck weight: 10 lb
  • Intermediate ruck weight: 25 lb
  • I like to party ruck weight: 35 lb +

Time commitment

  • This should take you between 40 and 75 minutes.

Song I’m listening to while doing this workout

If this workout were an animal, it would be a:

  • A mountain goat (MTNTOUGH’s logo is a mountain goat).
  • Mountain goats are the best mountain climbers in the mammal world. Their ability to climb higher, faster, into dangerous terrain is how they defend themselves.

How to do it