Discover the Best Functional Chest Exercise for First Responders.

Move over bench press. This exercise has you beat.

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, and 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 Alternate Arm DB Chest Press.  This is a great exercise for hypertrophy, strength, balance, and stability, of the chest and shoulder.  This exercise will also help improve core strength through the transverse (twisting) plain which will transfer to better performance on the fire/ rescue scene.   Substitute this exercise for the bench press during your next workout and feel the difference.


Exercise overview:  This is a great option to work the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps.  It will improve balance and stability in the shoulders and can add aesthetics to your chest.  This movement can be done with a flat and/or incline bench.   

Muscle Groups Involved:  Chest, shoulders, triceps, core 

Coaching Tips:  Set up the dumbbells at the end of the flat or incline bench.  Brace the core and pick the dumbbells off the floor. You should maintain a neutral grip with your palms facing inwards. Place the dumbbells on the edge of your quads and then push the dumbbells with your legs to lift them up.  Lie with your back on the bench. The weights must be straight above your chest with your arms extended.  Keeping one weight extended, slowly lower the weight on the other side so that your elbow is bent and the dumbbell lowers to the side of the outer chest.  Don’t go too wide or too narrow.  Slowly push the dumbbell upward,  under control, as far as you can without locking the elbow.  Repeat the same motion on the other arm.  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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