Improve Upper Body Strength and Performance with this Movement

Lift, hoist, and carry more efficiently with this training technique. This will improve shoulder and upper body strength.

What makes an exercise "functional" for firefighters, EMTs, and medics?  In order to answer this question, we must first define what functional training means.   The definitions can be varied and broad and often the term functional training is abused and over-used.  The best definition that I found and one that I think really pertains to the fire service comes from the Mayo clinic.  They define functional training as: “Training the body for the activities performed in daily life”.


In the context of first responders, our daily life or shift requires us to lift heavy patients, drag heavy firehose, climb stairs with heavy gear, carry equipment, lift and hoist ladders overhead, all of which require good core strength and mobility.   Therefore, for an exercise to be "functional' for a first responder, it must help us perform one if not all of those activities.

FRF Functional Exercise of the month.

To help you and your crew understand how to create and determine functional exercises, I will be creating special monthly posts.  Each month I will break down an exercise and explain why it is functional for us as firefighters, EMTs, and medics.

This month's exercise is the kneeling one-arm shoulder press.  The single-arm half-kneeling shoulder press is a great exercise to develop strength and stability in the shoulder core and hips. Balance can be a challenge, which is one reason why this movement is generally trained lighter than a traditional shoulder press.

Muscle Groups Involved: Core, shoulders, triceps, and hips

Coaching Tips: Grab a dumbbell or a kettlebell and drop down to a half-kneeling position on the floor. Your right knee should be down, and your left knee up; take the weight with your right hand. Move the DB or KB to your shoulder, using both hands if necessary. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and your spine neutral. Extend the arm, flexing and abducting the shoulder to rotate the arm as you press above your head. Pause at the top of the motion before reversing the movement to return to the starting position. Watch your posture and maintain control through the entire rep. It is important NOT to let your back arch at any time during the movement. If you have any shoulder impingement, restrict the motion to accommodate or find an alternative exercise. Repeat as directed by your FRF workout and your level of fitness. Perform each rep with control.

Click here for a PDF to print and put in your department workout room.

Let me know if you have any questions.  You can reach me via the "contact FRF" tab.  Please share this information with your crew and print out the exercise and place it in your workout rooms.

Stay safe and #GETFRF,

Zam (Aaron Zamzow)

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