Attention Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics!
Without proper planning, your fitness program may actually be setting you up for failure. Read the article below…how does your current fitness program measure up?
This blog topic is one near and dear to my heart and your career–Workouts for Fire Rescue Athletes. I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 20 years and in the fire service for over 12. This experience has given me the opportunity to write for some of the best trade magazines and present at big conferences (you can/ see read my story here). The most common question I get (either via email or at these conferences) is “What is the best workout for Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics (Fire Rescue Athletes)? And, more importantly what are the components of the best Fire Rescue Athlete Workouts?
Read below to find the answer (drum roll please)..
First of all, there is no single perfect program for every fire rescue athlete (there is one that is close though… click here to find out). We all know that, as fire rescue athletes, we work in very uncertain situations and circumstances and have to be ready for almost anything… We can also agree that fitness is very important for performance on the fire/ rescue scene. Here are the 5 common components that all firefighters, EMTs and medics need to address and include in their fitness programs.
1. The program must be planned using sound periodization and science. Training should follow a developmental approach or progression. This means there should be a hierarchy of training. First, it is essential for the fire rescue athlete to develop a training base that should increase the body’s functional capacity. Once this is accomplished, the intensity of the exercise is increased to emphasize strength and muscular development. In more general terms, we can also say we develop stability, then strength, and finally power. Regardless of what the training program looks like, it cannot violate this developmental approach. This is one variable that CrossFit does not do, people are getting injured from performing too many presses or pulls or jumps without having a sound base.
2. The program MUST place a large amount of focus on core strength and balance. During the course of their career, almost 50% of all fire rescue athletes will hurt their back while on duty. Low back pain is the number one reason firefighters retire early. In order for a program to be effective, it must utilize exercises that focus on the developing the glutes, shoulder girdle, hamstrings, hips and abs. Notice that I didn’t say anything about a “six pack” of abs. That is one of the cons of P90X; the program is more concerned about beach muscle than core strength.
3. The program needs to focus on cardiovascular conditioning and recovery. When you think of cardiovascular conditioning most people think of running or biking, which in most cases emphasizes aerobic conditioning. Fire Rescue athletes need to have a good level of aerobic fitness but cannot overlook the value of challenging the anaerobic systems. If you’ve ever humped a “charged” hose line up some stairs or dragged a victim or axed a roof open you realized the importance of anaerobic fitness. An effective Fire Rescue fitness program will set a good cardiovascular base then challenge the cardiovascular system with intervals. Intervals are one of the best ways to simulate the high level of fitness required on the fire ground.
4. The program must (at some point) contain full-body functional strength exercises. Functional strength exercises increase balance around the joints and helps prevent injuries by stimulating stabilizing muscles. There are no isolating movements on the fire ground, therefore, functional training for the fire rescue athlete must take a full-body approach. And, functional, full-body training stimulates the core and are effective in athletic injury rehab and prevention. Functional strength movements like the push-up, goblet squat, lunge, pull-up strengthen all joints of the body in numerous planes and should be staples in any fire rescue workout.
5. Programs must include an active warm-up and flexibility training. The warm-ups prepare the body for movement, boosts heart rate, blood flow to the muscles, and core temperature. These movements also improve the function of your nervous system. Think of this component as taking a few minutes to warm-up a car that has been sitting outside in cold temperatures all night. The main goal of this the active warm-up and flexibility component is to improve the long-term mobility and flexibility of your muscles. The more flexible the muscle and joint around the muscle; the better the fire rescue athlete recovers and the less chance of injury.
This is not an all encompassing list but it will definitely give you enough information to help decide if a program has what it takes to be effective for the fire rescue athlete. Take a look at your current program and see if it contains these components?
Please Share, Like and Comment if you agree. Need a workout, we can help…keep reading!
Fire Rescue Fitness is dedicated to getting firefighters, EMTs and medics “fit for duty.” Each one of the FRF workouts include the above components and are guaranteed to get you stronger, leaner and moving better on the fire ground. Take a look at the results other Fire Rescue Athletes are getting with the FRF Ultimate Fire Rescue Workout…
“I happened to be on Facebook one day and Fire Rescue Fitness popped up in my newsfeed, I followed the link and found a wall full of different workouts. I followed the page and began trying anything new that was posted. I then saw “The Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete” program and after doing some reading about it I was hooked.
I started the challenge on January 1, 2016 at 118 lbs. I am now 121 lbs. The numbers don’t really speak volumes compared to my success in my appearance and my abilities. My biceps gained one inch of muscle, which I really notice when I raise my arms to put my hair into a pony tail. My abdomen muscles are more defined now, than ever before.
I really enjoyed the combination exercises; these are nothing like I have ever done before. I notice my endurance in just walking up large sets of stairs is no problem (even when carrying heavy things). I don’t notice the extra weight of my gear and carrying a pack on my back to be a big deal anymore. I also can work harder and longer before losing my breath and feeling fatigued. This workout changed my life, I look forward to doing it again with alternative movements, I won’t be caught exercising anymore because I now know that training is what I would rather be doing always changing, always improving. “
Thanks Aaron and FRF! –Lisa Charbonneau
Take a look at the results Doug Franklin achieved using the FRF Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete Workout..
“Last summer, at the age of 43, while training for my fourth marathon I experience pain in my knee that sidelined me. After visiting the with my doctor I was told that I no longer had a meniscus in my right knee and that arthritis was so severe that I needed to stop running. This was tough for me to handle. First, the pain was an issue. Second how was I going to stay fit for duty? Running, at the level that I was running burnt a lot of calories. Not running at all caused me to put on weight as well. I saw my weight climb to almost 200 lbs in just a few months.
I came across the Ultimate Fire Athlete Workout and thought I would give it a try. I began the program on January 11th at 198 lbs. I had a 34 in waist. I just finished the 12 week program and I am now 170 lbs and have a 30 in. waist! 28 lbs weight loss and 4 inches!
I am in as good a shape as I ever was while running marathons and have added muscle in my arms, chest and abs that running never gave me. I have gained the strength and core balance that I need to do my job as a firefighter as well restored my cardiovascular fitness level.
I would also add that my knee is feeling wonderful. I did most of my cardio days on a bike or elliptical, I am able to do the sprint challenges and all of the overhauls no problem. The workout worked well for and with my knee pain issues. It also worked great with my schedule. I could get in and out and was also able to work it in while on shift.”
Thanks Aaron for an Awesome Program! –Doug Franklin
Look at the amazing results Josh Fulk got with this effective workout program and eating guide!