Fat Loss Tips for Firefighters....

Would you agree that a leaner athlete is a better athlete?  I know this is a "loaded" question.  A lot of the answer has to deal with the sport in which the athlete is participating.  One thing that research shows is that a leaner athlete is a "more efficient" athlete.  When it comes to firefighters, this is a valid finding.  

Efficiency in general terms, describes the extent to which time, effort or cost is well used for the intended task or purpose. So, a more efficient Fire Rescue Athlete will be able to do more work with less physical effort.  This is especially important since most of our "more intense" work as Fire Rescue Athletes comes when breathing air via an SCBA.  Are you Fit for Duty?  This is a common question you should ask yourself everyday as a fire rescue athlete.  Are you a leaner, more efficient athlete, better yet, do you make strides everyday to be a better fire rescue athlete...?

Today's blog lists ten (ok, maybe 11) tips that will help you  become a leaner, more efficient, Fire Rescue Athlete (or any athlete). Try to incorporate then into your daily routine.

1.           Consume whole foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar, such as lean protein sources (lean beef, chicken, fish, and whey protein), fruits & vegetables (oranges, apples, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, carrots, nuts (almonds, cashews, & walnuts), and whole grains.
2.           Follow a consistent and effective EXERCISE program! Yes, you can lose weight and fat just by changing your eating habits. Fire Rescue Athletes need to be ready for any situation, a well planned fitness program is essential. But, very few fitness programs prepare Fire Rescue Athletes to be "fit for duty" and help decimate fat.....until now.  Click here to get your 28-day Fire Rescue Fitness QuickstartProgram for FREE Also, check out these programs (Click HERE) that will get you in the shape of your life.   
3.           Eat low-glycemic carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole-wheat

products and oatmeal instead of refined processed carbohydrates which usually come in a box or a bag.

4.           Eat some type of lean protein at each meal. Protein helps to satisfy hunger and provide the necessary building blocks to maintain lean body mass while losing body fat.
5.           Eat 4-6 small meals day a day instead of the usual 2-3 large meals. Eating frequently will help regulate and boost your metabolism to burn more calories.
6.           Remember fat is not bad.  Consume adequate amounts of healthy fat foods such as olive oil, walnuts, almonds, Omega-3 fortified eggs, or other Omega-3 products.  Healthy fats are great antioxidants as well as help with brain function and many other essential processes that take place in the body on a daily basis. Essential Fatty Acids, according to clinical studies, could also help prevent certain diseases. To guarantee you’re consuming enough Omega-3 supplement your diet with EFA Icon.
7.           Consume Green Tea or Water instead of calorie-filled drinks such as soft drinks.  Green Tea has many health benefits and you should be drinking at least 1ml of non-caffeinated fluid for every calorie that you consume. This works out between (8-12) 8oz glasses of Green Tea or Water a day.
8.           Consistent fat loss requires good habits. If you want to create good habits, then you need plan. Therefore, map out your meals every day and follow them. If you follow your plan everyday for 2-3 weeks, you will form habits that become part of your daily routine and part of your life.  Click HERE to get your FREE guide, The Standard Operating Procedures to Eating Healthy. 
9.           Incorporate “superfoods” into your meal plan on a daily basis. Some examples are salmon, low-fat plain yogurt, tomatoes, spinach, mixed berries, whole oats, mixed nuts, olive oil, flax seeds(or flax meal), green tea, and various beans.
10.        Keep total fat intake under 30% for the day.  This can easily be accomplished by avoiding “extra” fats (and common items found around the firehouse) such as butter, sour cream, mayonnaise… This doesn't mean you have to completely eliminate these items, just use them sparingly and avoid adding them to foods whenever possible.

Bonus:  Follow the 85% rule. If you can follow your plan 85% of the time, you will soon see unwanted fat melt off your body. However, if you find yourself breaking these rules more than 85% of the time, your chances of failing increase significantly. 

Stay Safe and Make each day a "healthier" one.
A. Zamzow

Firefighter Workout Tip- The Importance of a Proper Warm-up...

Flexibility is often the most overlooked aspect of a an effective firefighter workout. Participating in an appropriate warm-up and cool down and stretching program has shown to help firefighter performance by:
  • Increasing physical efficiency and performance
    Can you do this?
  • Increasing neuromuscular coordination
  • Decreasing risk of severity of injury
  • Decreasing risk of lower back pain
  • Decreasing delayed onset muscle soreness
  • Decreasing stress and tension

What are the best ways, types and times to stretch (very important)?

This is the first of a couple of posts about flexibility.  Today I want to talk about the Active Warm-up.  If you are like most of us, you were taught how to stretch in your high school weight lifting class and you've likely continued with pretty much the same routine ever since.  Science, however, has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the old school workout warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually pose potential risk. This "old school" warm-up routine of starting your workout with a brisk walk or jog, then perform some simple body part stretches and hold them for 20 to 30 seconds (static stretching) can actually harm your body and weaken muscles. In a recent study conducted and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching (holding stretches for over 10 seconds) than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 %.

A warm-up should do two things: loosen muscles and tendons to increase the range of motion of various joints, and literally warm up the body. When you are at rest, like when you hold a stretch, there is less blood flow to muscle and tendons and they stiffen up.

Dynamic Stretching (active warm-ups or movement prep exercises) are movements through a range of motion without holding at an end point. Dynamic stretching avoids bouncing motions and tends to incorporate more sport-specific movements. This form of stretching prepares the body for physical exertion and sports performance. Dynamic stretching increases range of motion through movement and increases blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to exertion. I feel that out of all of the various components of a workout (core work, strength training, intervals) the dynamic warm-up is the most important.  Firefighters that consistently incorporate this components see great performance improvement and injury reduction.  

Active Warm-up, only hold for a few seconds

How do you do the movement? Rather than have you hold your stretches, as in traditional stretching, you move your body into position just for a few seconds and then go back to your starting position. The warm-up routine wakes up your muscles and not just for your workout, they remain flexible for the rest of the day. Here's why that's important: let's say you're walking on a winter day, and your foot slips on the ice. How well your body reacts to that slip on the ice depends on your muscle efficiency and balance.  Active warm-ups, switch on your body's small muscles, which helps with balance and increases muscle efficiency. It prepares your body for random, quick movements found on the fire ground by fine-tuning its nerves and feedback mechanisms. Generally, I recommend to do 5 to 10 repetitions of each of the warm-up exercises; not only will it feel like part of your workout, at first it might feel like a workout itself.  I listed an example of one of the active warm-ups from workout #3 from  The Ultimate Fire Athlete Workout Program.  Give these a try, you'll be better prepared for not only your workout but for whatever challenges your daily activities bring.

Click Here for a video demonstration of thoracic rotations, one of the best dynamic warm-up 
 (movement prep) exercises.

Click Here for a Video of a 4 exercise Active Warm-up routine that you should incorporate into your workout warm-up:

-Knees side to side (6-10 reps each side)
-Straight leg raises (6-10 reps each side)
-Cross-overs (6-10 reps each side)
-Step back, reach and twist (6-10 reps each side)

I feel that incorporating an Active Warm-up into your workout will increase your flexibility, speed recovery, increase your strength and ultimately prolong your career as a Fire Rescue Athlete.
Stay Safe and Healthy,
A. Zamzow

Firefighter On-shift Interval Workout

I get a lot of emails asking for good workout options for the firehouse when on-shift.  Working out on-shift is a major concern, you want to make sure you keep your body in good "fit for duty" condition but also want to make sure you have enough "left in the tank" to respond and perform in an actual response.  Over the last couple of years I have toyed with various workouts on shift; high intensity, heavy lifting, stretching only, and even some yoga.  I have found that interval workouts are not only the most effective but a great way to incorporate fireground movements (steps, crawls, sledges, drags, lifts, carries, and some core).

Here is an example of a "Sunday Funday" workout that I did with my crew.

Active Warm-up
Perform 2 circuits.  Set an interval timer for 35 seconds of movement with 5 seconds between to transition.

  1. Chops
  2. Step back twist and reach
  3. Spidermans
  4. On floor knees side to side
  5. X-overs
Fireground Interval Circuit
After completing the 2 active warm-up circuits perform the below exercises in a circuit 4 times.
I like to set the interval timer for 35 seconds of work with 25 seconds of rest.  If you are just beginning intervals you may want to set the timer for 30 seconds of work with 30 seconds of rest.

  1. Aerodyne (if you don't have an aerodyne you can use row machine or battling hoselines)
  2. Weighted Jump Rope
  3. Stair Crawling  (bear crawl up the stairs then run back down)
  4. Sledges on a tire (overhead and side sledges)
  5. Core Exercise (plank, bird-dog)
  6. Mountain Climbers  (or burpees)
Perform this circuit 4x for a total of 24 minutes.
Total workout time with the active warm-up is approximately 33 minutes.

Feel free to interchange the circuits with your favorite active warm-up or fireground exercises (please let me know if you do).

Stay safe and healthy,
A. Zamzow