Human Performance Program Development


By, Robert Montz, OTD, CSCS


So, you want to implement a human performance program for your unit, department, or organization Where do you start?

Great question! When we stood up the Ranger-Athlete-Warrior (RAW) Program for the 75th Ranger Regiment, these were the questions we faced. Our commander gave of the guidance to have one program that improved performance and controlled injury rates in order to ensure Rangers were able to effectively and efficiently perform their mission.  

We knew the science of performance. We knew what energy systems needed to be trained and the different pillars we wanted to focus on: Functional Fitness, Sports Medicine, Sports Nutrition, and Mental Toughness. The challenge was how do you convince an organization that was already performing at a high level (so they thought), to buy in and adapt a new training philosophy and program?  

We decided we needed to do three things, Assess, Assimilate, and Act (A3).

The first step to develop the program was to assess the current environment. This consisted of collecting the following information:

1. Talk with leaders at all levels to learn about the demands, the missions, and the needs of the unit.
2. Learn about the cognitive demands and stress surrounding training, deployment, and family dynamics.
3. What is the nutrition and fueling requirements to conduct those missions and deployments.

4. What type of injuries (physical and mental) were leaders and providers seeing in their fellow Rangers.  



The second step was to Assimilate. Remember, we were three medical professionals that did not grow up in the Ranger community and did not inherently appreciate the culture of the unit despite all the research we conducted prior to coming to the unit. We all had the scientific, human performance, and medical credentials, hell, we had so many credentials after our names in our signature block, it was alphabet soup. Yet, all this was Greek to our Rangers and did not mean anything. What we did not have was the street credentials within the Ranger Regiment. We had been deployed, but not with the Ranger Regiment. This may be minor to some, but something major to others.

With this information in mind, we implemented a plan to attend Ranger School, deploy to support Rangers in a combat setting, and participate in as many training events as possible. We ensured we were manifested on any and all airborne operations and we ensured we were visible during all physical training events. We were constantly refining our messaging to all leaders at echelon.  Leadership turnover was high, so educating leaders on our capabilities and programs and the ability to increase their readiness and lethality was paramount.

To begin building that trust, we went out of our way to visit all the human performance organizations and professionals. We visited establishments like the University of Georgia, the Olympic Training Center, the National Strength and Conditioning Center, the Israeli Defense Force, CrossFit, Gym Jones, and consulted with numerous U.S. military units such as the Navy Seals, the U.S. Army Fitness School, and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The third step was Act. We did this by applying the FAS principle; Feasibility, Acceptability, and Suitability. Was the program feasible; could it be done given the time, space, and equipment of the unit. Would the program acceptable given the cultural factors. Lastly, was the program suitable in meeting the initial intent of improving performance and decreasing injury rates.

With all that said, we developed a training curriculum for the primary leaders; the Team Leaders, Squad Leaders, and Platoon Sergeants. This was not a “train-the-trainer” program, implemented by so many other Army programs, but instead, a better way to train our Rangers with the ability for leaders to seek us out to answer any humanperformance questions. We ensure we were at ready to assist whenever needed. We also leveraged other expert organizations in the human performance arena to be a part of our training curriculum. This improved the transparency of our program and demonstrated our willingness to bring in the requisite professionals that could enhanceour program. The interesting thing was that it validated our training program approach. After a few iterations of sending our Rangers to other human performance entities, we received feedback that while the training was great, it really just re-iterated the education and training we had already provided.

I think the biggest success for the RAW Program was the ability to recruit some early adapters to the program. These Rangers were instrumental in beating the human performance drum. They were the best resources to get other Rangers on board. Obviously, the key is to get the most respected leaders to “buy-in” to the vision of the RAW Program.

Bottom Line to implementing a successful human performance program is a using the A3 principle; Assess, Act, and implement.  

1. Assess everything about the organization; the leaders and people, the space and equipment, and the time available.
2. Take time to immerse yourself in the unit. Learn their customs and culture. Participate in any and all of their training events.
3. Listen to and incorporate the unit’s feedback into program design and unit policy.After all, it is their program and they should be a part of it.
4. Be willing to change, modify, and even delete programming or services if not obtaining the desired effect.

At the end of the day, the intent of the RAW Program was to optimize Rangers’ ability to hit their targets and thrive in whatever environment they were in. This led to our ability to assist U.S. Army Special Operations Command with establishing their foundation to their Tactical Human Optimization Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning (THOR3)Program. We continued our efforts across the Army and marketed these capabilities which eventually led to the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) Program. Whatever 1% change Rangers, Soldiers, and Operators can achieve, is 1% closer to ensuring they are ready to perform the mission their country asks them to perform, to secure our Nation’s freedom.


About O2X Specialist Rob Montz:

Dr. Robert (Rob) Montz is an O2X Lead Instructor and Sleep & Fatigue Management Specialist who has served in the Army for over 35 years. Rob served in the 75th Ranger Regiment and previously served as the Director of the U.S. Special Operation Command’s Preservation of the Force and Family, a holistic and integrated human performance program aimed at optimizing performance and increasing readiness. Rob received his undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Health Science from the University of Florida, and his doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. He also received a Master in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.

About O2X Human Performance:

O2X Human Performance provides comprehensive, science-backed programs to hundreds of public safety departments, federal agencies, and the military. O2X works with clients to elevate culture, improve mental and physical wellbeing, support healthy lifestyles, and reduce healthcare costs associated with injuries and illnesses. Driven by results and cutting edge research, O2X programs are designed and delivered by a team of Special Operations veterans, high level athletes, and hundreds of leading experts in their respective fields of human performance.