Firefighter Cardio Interval Workouts

Cardiovascular fitness is obviously a very important concern for the fire rescue athlete (firefighters, paramedics and EMTs).  Lately I’ve been researching, creating, and  then performing a lot of 10-minute interval overhauls and wanted to share them with you today.  You can do one of these separately after a strength workout or combine all three for a good cardiovascular workout.  These only take 10-minutes but you sweat (and burn calories) a lot longer than that.  Give these a try.

1.  The Uphill Grind.  This is a great treadmill interval, if your just getting started with a fitness program (click here for a great workout to establish your FRF Foundation) you want to decrease the speed and incline to a level that is a little more obtainable.

Start minutes 0-2 with a warm-up at 3.5mph and 3.5% incline
next 30 seconds crank it up to 8.0 mph at 8.0% incline
rest 30 seconds (I stand on the side rails of the treadmill)
repeat 7 more times for a total of 10 minutes

**My goal is to be able to perform this interval with a weighted vest on….eventually.

2. Bottle Shock.  This purpose of this interval is to help you control you breathing, like you were on air.  You need to find area in your gym or firehouse where you can sprint for 10 yards.  Once you’ve covered the distance, pause just long enough to inhale and exhale once through you nose.  Sprint back and pause, this time inhaling and exhaling twice through your nose.  Continue with the drill- breathing normally as you sprint and adding an additional nose inhalation and exhalation when you pause–until you can no longer breathe through your nose.  At that point, rest 30 seconds then start over.  Continue the exercise for 10 minutes total.  You will be surprised how much more effort it takes to focus on your breathing.

3. The Cardio Pyramid.  You can substitute any exercise you like as long as it gets your heart going.  Personally, I like to do the first pyramid with jump rope, the second with mountain climbers and the third with stairs.  Here is how it works, do as many reps as you can in 10 seconds (or do reps instead of seconds) then rest for an equal amount of time.  Next do as many reps as you can in 20 seconds then rest 20 seconds.  Then do 30 seconds of rest followed by 30 seconds of rest.  Now work your way back down the pyramid with 20 seconds then 10.  Once you finish the final 10 seconds rest, add another 30 seconds of rest and repeat again with the same exercise or a different one.  You will perform a total of 3 pyramids (10, 10, 20, 20, 30, 30, 20, 20, 10, 10) with 30 seconds in between them for a total of 10 minutes.  ENJOY this one.

Give these a try, please leave some comments about how you LOVE or HATE these intervals.

Stay Safe and Healthy,
Aaron Zamzow

PS- Want a great Fire Rescue Workout Program that is guaranteed to take your fitness to the Ultimate Level?  (Click Here)


  1. Casey Taylor on March 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Thank you for putting all this information together as a resource. I look forward to utilizing the site to help become more fit, and sharing it with my crew to help prolong our careers.

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