Discover how to create an effective workout that requires minimal equipment and time.
Listen to a Great Podcast on this topic (click below).
The last few months have left many people scrambling to figure out different workout options. Gyms have been open, then closed, now open with restrictions. Fire house workout rooms have also been restricted to not let any off-duty personnel use the equipment. All these restrictions have probably made an impact on your workouts.
Never fear, you can still get a great workout from home and/or any station that does not have a lot of equipment. You just need remember these 5 steps and follow this guide. This is the same guide I have used to help train pro athletes and thousands of firefighters.
Step 1. Choose 3-5 exercises to actively warm-up your body. This is one of the most overlooked components of working out. Walking on the treadmill is a great start but it does not improve the mobility of your hips and shoulders. Choose some exercises that help to get your blood flowing and will get you moving in all planes of motion (twisting, squatting, reaching). Perform 5 or 6 reps of each exercise and perform them in a circuit or two if you need to work on your flexibility. Please note that you don't want to hold these stretches for more than 2 or 3 seconds. Try to improve your range of motion with each rep.
Some great exercise options are the full-body chop, spiderman stretch and knees side to side. If you have a foam roller, you should incorporate that in this step for 3 minutes.
Step 2. Choose three core exercises that will strengthen and challenge your shoulders, abs, and glutes. As a first responder, you need to focus on working the muscles of the low back, shoulders, hips, knees, and glutes as these are the areas that are more susceptible to injury on the fire/ rescue scene. Perform 10-15 reps of each exercise and perform them in a circuit. Perform two circuits of these exercises if you have a high level of fitness. Rotational plank, glute bridges and bent over arm “y” raises are great exercise options.
Step 3. Choose 4-5 full body strength exercises that work all your major muscle groups. When we are performing tasks on the fire/rescue scene, we never isolate muscles. Every movement requires multiple muscle groups to work together to accomplish the task: hose advance, search, patient carry. For this reason, at some point in your training you need to also focus on exercises that challenge your entire body. Some great options are push-ups, body weight rows or pull-ups, squats, lunges and carries. To perform any pulling exercises, you can use webbing or straps and fix them over a door or tie them to a handle on the engine. Perform 10 to 15 reps of each exercise in a circuit. Repeat the circuit another time or two depending on your level of fitness.
Step 4. I like to call this part of the workout the “afterburner.” So far you have worked mobility, core, strength and now its time to work your heart. Choose two exercises that will get your heart rate going and perform them each for 30 seconds back to back. Go as hard as you can for the minute then rest a minute and repeat. Two great exercises are burpees and mountain climbers. Try to perform this circuit a total of 2 to 3 times.
Step 5. Time to cool down and stretch. Hopefully at this point you are tired and sweaty. Before you finish take a couple of minutes to stretch your muscles and bring your heart rate back down to normal. This is an easy step. Perform the same exercises that you did in step one instead of holding them for 2-3 seconds (like you did in the beginning), for this step you need to hold them for 30 seconds each. Take deep breathes and feel the stretch of each movement. Do not over stretch!
That is, it! You just created and completed (hopefully) a very efficient and effective workout. The key is to stay consistent and perform workouts like this three times a week (at least). Remember, you are not only working out for yourself but to help serve your community, your crew, and your family.
Please reach out with any questions and comments. I am here to help!
-Aaron “Zam” Zamzow