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Firefighter Fitness and Metabolism

Feb 7, 2012

What is Metabolism? You may often here around the firehouse someone say “I have a slow metabolism.”  Usually these individuals are a little on the larger size and often like to joke about their size.  Unfortunately, these people are at a very high risk to keep the trend of heart related Firefighter fatalities in tact.  I’m not saying that larger individuals cannot perform the job, in most cases they are great firefighters.  What I am saying is that there is more to the picture than a “slow metabolism.” There are a large number of individuals that believe the reason they are overweight has nothing to do with their appetite, and/or level of activity. They assume it is an inherent problem with their “metabolism”. So, today I wanted to clear the air around the firehouse (and other houses) about what metabolism really is. Taber’s Medical Dictionary defines Metabolism as: The sum…

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Core Training for Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics

Feb 5, 2012

          Fire Rescue athletes are at a very high risk of back injury.  As a matter of fact almost 50% of all firefighters will experience some type of back injury during their career.  Effective core training brings about a proactive approach to protecting your body and joints (especially your back) from injury. Core strength consists of hip, shoulder, and trunk stability. It is the foundation of efficient movement and vital to optimizing performance and your career as a FireRescue athlete. When should we work our “core” and how often.   In my FRF Workout Programs,  I recommend performing your core  routine after an active warm-up.  This should occur towards the beginning of the workout…Why?  Because its easier to skip these core exercises if you leave it to the end of the workout.  I know, I’ve been there, you do your strength training, maybe a little cardio then ‘promise” that you would do some…

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10-minute Interval Overhauls (Firefighter Skills Training)

Feb 1, 2012

Now, as you probably know from reading my previous blog posts that I think that interval training is very applicable to what we do on the fire ground.  A unique component that I’ve added to my workouts is a 10-minute Interval Overhaul.  These interval Overhauls are a combination of exercises that challenges the total body, allows me to work on firefighter skills and simulates work on the fire ground.    And they really “jack-up” my metabolism too!   I challenge you to try one at the end of your next workout. Here is an example of an Overhaul I did after my strength workout the other day: Sledge o’ matic– For this Overhaul finisher you need a sledge (the heavier, the harder), an old tire, some heavy dumbbells (or saws from the truck) and an interval timer set to 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest for 10 intervals (10…

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Cardiovascular Training for Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics (FireRescue Athletes)

Jan 29, 2012

I heard someone once say running long and slow teaches your body one thing, how to run slow. If that’s all you’re after, you can stop reading; I don’t want you to be late for your water aerobics class.  But in our profession you need to move quickly and with purpose, I’m not saying that long and slow cardio is totally worthless, I’m saying it has its place.  In fact, I recommend performing a lower intensity, longer cardio workout at least once a week to flush the muscles.  But, what I am talking about here is training your body and your heart to function under higher intensity.   The cardio intervals not only prepare you for the fire ground but also blast away a lot of calories and body fat (as an added bonus). The purpose of any firefighter’s cardiovascular program is to help them work more efficiently under the stresses…

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Firefighter Fitness- Should You Exercise While You're Sick?

Jan 23, 2012

It’s that time of the year.  The flu bug is in full affect and is probably making its way through a firehouse near you.  We get exposed to lots of different viruses through EMS responses, hospital transports and via the close confines of the firehouse.  I get a lot of people asking me if they should try to exercise while they are battling the flu or the cold.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the general rule of thumb is that if your symptoms are from the neck up; then “yes” give your workout a go.  If your symptoms are below; then “no.” Here’s what I mean: If you have a common cold, runny nose, sore throat, and/or NO fever, then light to moderate exercise is generally “ok.” If your illness involves body aches, fever, diarrhea, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, and/ or fatigue then it’s best to “REST.”…

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A new weapon for Firefighters war on Heart Disease

Jan 19, 2012

Heart disease kills more on-duty firefighters than anything else — and it is definitely linked to emergency duties, a Harvard study shows. Most people think firefighters’ biggest death threats are fires and collapsing buildings. But over the last 30 years it’s been shown that 45% of firefighters’ on-duty deaths come from heart disease.    Over these last 30 years the actual percentage of fire calls has decreased yet the rate of heart attacks has remained the same.  So why haven’t we (as Firefigthers, Paramedics and EMT’s) done anything to prevent it?  Part of the issue is that firefighters exertion on the fire scene causes an excessive amount of stress on the heart, thus causing heart attacks.  Many of the firefighters that died from a heart related issue had prior “heart health warning signs” like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.  These heart health risks coupled with the extreme exertion are a bad…

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Snacking around the Firehouse

Jan 12, 2012

Everyone (especially around the firehouse) loves a good snack. But what actually is a “good” snack. If you ask some, they will define a good snack as something that tastes great but doesn’t fill you up like a meal.  If your stomach starts rumbling and lunch is still two hours away, you’re going to need a snack to make it through the day. What firefighters/emts/ must remember is that the foods you eat at snack time can make a big difference in your energy level, decision making, performance, and overall health. Choose the wrong snack, and you’ll feel dragged down, tired and cloudy.  Choose wisely, and you’ll get the boost and performance you need. Choose your snacks wisely, you never know when you will need the exra energy.  Before your next snack break, think twice about what you are about to eat and remember the following information when you’re craving a snack!…

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The Importance of a Strong Core for Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics

Dec 18, 2011

Each year, tens of thousands of Firefighters, EMTs and Paramedics are injured while fighting fires, responding to incidents, transporting patients and training for the job. While a majority of the injuries are minor, a significant number are debilitating and career-ending.  Of these debilitating injuries almost 50% have to do with low back pain and a recent survey by the International Association of Fire Fighters determined that about half of all injury retirements were due to back injuries.  The high rate of low back injuries can be attributed to the high-risk activities that we are expected to perform, such as operating charged hoselines, climbing ladders, breaking windows, ventilating structures, performing overhaul and lifting objects greater than 40 lbs.  As you know, these tasks are often accomplished while the body’s posture is ergonomically unsound or on unstable ground. I know I’m not telling you something you don’t already know, but I do…

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Firefighters…the ultimate athlete?

Nov 29, 2011

As a firefighter (paramedic and emt included), you train to mitigate the risks that you are sure to face on the job.  Your fitness cannot be a liability, it must be on par with the skills you have spent so much time learning.  Like an athlete, you must be game ready at all times. What does it mean to be game ready as a firefighter?  To be ready, you must be training like a firefighter. I see too many firefighters training like bodybuilders or like the athletes that they may have been in high school or college. You can’t train like a triathlete to play football nor train like a football player to play hockey.  Training like a firefighter requires that you train in a way to specifically address the physical requirements of the job.  That means working to acquire extreme levels of cardio vascular, muscular and metabolic endurance. You need the…

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