Firefighter Workout Tip- Unilateral Training

Unilateral training (one weight) is very beneficial for firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. The fire-ground can be very unstable– icing conditions, high steps, inclines, all create challenges for the fire rescue athlete. To combat these unstable conditions you should be using unilateral training exercises. While training with both sides can be better for the ego by lifting heavy weights, unilateral training will balance your muscles and help you perform better on the fire-ground.   Here is a great video explaining how easy it is to incorporate unilateral training into your firefighter workout program.  Take a look.

A great way to incorporate a functional exercise is to use a foam bucket (filled with water) and carry it for a prescribed distance or up stairs.  This unilateral carry with a full bucket really requires some great core stability and balance.20141226_132041

Give unilateral training a try, substitute certain traditional exercises with their unilateral counter part and watch your overall firelighter functional strength increase.

Unilateral training is great to do in the gym because you know you will be doing it on the fire-ground.

Let me know if you have questions or feedback.

Stay safe and healthy,

Aaron Zamzow


Have you been doing unilateral training? If not, here is a great firefighter workout program that will show you how…

CLICK HERE for more information.


  1. Dave Trainor on April 8, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    I’m 45 now and I haven’t done the Chest & Tri’s and Back & Bi’s workouts in MANY years. At station 1 I do something similar to the weighted stairs exercise…I do a circuit that includes carrying either 60 lb. dumb bells from the basement to the 3rd floor (They are heavy, so I carry them with arms down). This is a great grip work out. I also change it up and carry 40 lb. dumb bells with my biceps flexed in a fixed hammer curl flex, like you were carrying a ladder. This really burns out your fore arms, biceps, shoulders and even your upper back. It is an absolute relevant exercise for carrying a ladder by yourself. I do 20 push ups at the 3rd floor and go back down. I never get used to these exercises, they kick my ass every time and they are 100% fireground related. Thanx for all your exercise examples, I use some in my circuit.

    FF Dave Trainor 1C

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