The Best Firefighter Workout?

This topic is near and dear to mine and your hearts and careers--Workouts for Firefighters and Fire Rescue Athletes. Over the last couple of months I've been researching, talking, tweaking and writing about some of the more popular workouts seen in firehouses across the world. 

You can read about them here and here or listen to a great radio interview about this topic HERE

I've received a ton of feedback about those articles both good and bad (please keep it coming) and used all of this information to create one of the BEST Workouts for Firefighters.  The Ultimate Fire Rescue Workout is one of the most effective and efficient workouts for firefighters.  Why?  Because it contains these five vital components that are essential for the Fire Rescue Athlete.  Does your program include these components?

1.   The program must be planned using sound periodization and science. The program must be planned using sound periodization and science. Training should follow a developmental approach or progression. This means there should be a hierarchy of training. First it is essential for the fire rescue athlete to develop a training base that should increase the body’s functional capacity. Once this is accomplished, the intensity of the exercise is increased to emphasize strength and muscular development. In more general terms, we can also say we develop stability, then strength, and finally power. Regardless of what the training program looks like, it cannot violate this developmental approach. This is one variable that CrossFit does not do, people are getting injured from performing too many presses or pulls or jumps without having a sound base.

2.    The Fire Rescue workout program MUST place a large amount of focus on Core Strength and Balance. Low back pain is the number one reason firefighters retire early. In order for a program to be effective, it must utilize exercises that focus on the developing the glutes, shoulder girdle, hamstrings, hips and abs. 

3.    The program needs to focus on cardiovascular conditioning and recovery.  When you think of cardiovascular conditioning most people think of running or biking, which in most cases emphasizes aerobic conditioning.  Fire Rescue athletes need to have a good level of aerobic fitness but cannot overlook the value of challenging the anaerobic systems.  If you've ever humped a "charged" hose line up some stairs or dragged a victim or axed a roof open you realized the importance of anaerobic fitness.  An effective Fire Rescue fitness program will set a good cardiovascular base then challenge the cardiovascular system with intervals.  Intervals are one of the best way to simulate the high level of fitness required on the fire ground.  

4. The program must (at some point) contain full-body functional strength exercises. Functional strength exercises increase balance around the joints and helps prevent injuries by stimulating stabilizing muscles. Functional strength movements like the push-up, goblet squat, lunge, pull-up strengthen all joints of the body in numerous planes.

5. THIS IS ESSENTIAL!   Programs must include an Active warm-up and flexibility training.
The warm-ups prepare the body for movement, boosts heart rate, blood flow to the muscles, and core temperature. These movements also improve the function of your nervous system. Think of this component as taking a few minutes to warm-up a car that has been sitting outside in cold temperatures all night. The main goal of this the active warm-up and flexibility component is to improve the long-term mobility and flexibility of your muscles. The more flexible the muscle and joint around the muscle; the better the fire rescue athlete recovers and the less chance of injury.
This is not an all encompassing list but it will definitely give you enough information to help decide if a program has what it takes to be effective for the fire rescue athlete. I truly do believe that the Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete Workout is the most effective and efficient workout for firefighters....dont take my word for it, take other (click here).  If you're looking for the best program for firefighters...try the Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete. 

Here are some reviews of the program.  It' guaranteed to give you results...

"So far, I LOVE IT!  Lost 8 pounds in the first month and my core is stronger than ever. I feel more flexible and move faster.  The interval overhauls are a great idea and an easy way to incorporate "real" fire ground movements.  Looking forward to the next 8 weeks....."
-R.  Heltsrtun (Wisconsin)

"Great stuff! Since I incorporated your workouts into my training, my ability on the fire ground has skyrocketed.   That cardio spike can be felt at nearly every fire I ever fight." 
-A Willis (Tennessee)

"Finally someone gets it! I'm a professional firefighter searching for a fitness program that understands the demands of my job.  Aaron's program not only makes you a more efficient firefighter but a leaner, stronger athlete.   The program is written for athletes yet is practical and easy to follow.  I use the workouts with my crew, we are all seeing great progress.  I HIGHLY recommend this program to anyone who is serious about being the best Fire Rescue Athlete they can be.  ...losing weight and reaching their fitness goals."
-C. Gaylord (Minnesota)

Firefighter Cardio Interval Workouts

Cardiovascular fitness is obviously a very important concern for the fire rescue athlete (firefighters, paramedics and EMTs).  Lately I've been researching, creating, and  then performing a lot of 10-minute interval overhauls and wanted to share them with you today.  You can do one of these separately after a strength workout or combine all three for a good cardiovascular workout.  These only take 10-minutes but you sweat (and burn calories) a lot longer than that.  Give these a try.

1.  The Uphill Grind.  This is a great treadmill interval, if your just getting started with a fitness program (click here for a great workout to establish your FRF Foundation) you want to decrease the speed and incline to a level that is a little more obtainable.

Start minutes 0-2 with a warm-up at 3.5mph and 3.5% incline
next 30 seconds crank it up to 8.0 mph at 8.0% incline
rest 30 seconds (I stand on the side rails of the treadmill)
repeat 7 more times for a total of 10 minutes

**My goal is to be able to perform this interval with a weighted vest on....eventually.

2. Bottle Shock.  This purpose of this interval is to help you control you breathing, like you were on air.  You need to find area in your gym or firehouse where you can sprint for 10 yards.  Once you've covered the distance, pause just long enough to inhale and exhale once through you nose.  Sprint back and pause, this time inhaling and exhaling twice through your nose.  Continue with the drill- breathing normally as you sprint and adding an additional nose inhalation and exhalation when you pause--until you can no longer breathe through your nose.  At that point, rest 30 seconds then start over.  Continue the exercise for 10 minutes total.  You will be surprised how much more effort it takes to focus on your breathing.

3. The Cardio Pyramid.  You can substitute any exercise you like as long as it gets your heart going.  Personally, I like to do the first pyramid with jump rope, the second with mountain climbers and the third with stairs.  Here is how it works, do as many reps as you can in 10 seconds (or do reps instead of seconds) then rest for an equal amount of time.  Next do as many reps as you can in 20 seconds then rest 20 seconds.  Then do 30 seconds of rest followed by 30 seconds of rest.  Now work your way back down the pyramid with 20 seconds then 10.  Once you finish the final 10 seconds rest, add another 30 seconds of rest and repeat again with the same exercise or a different one.  You will perform a total of 3 pyramids (10, 10, 20, 20, 30, 30, 20, 20, 10, 10) with 30 seconds in between them for a total of 10 minutes.  ENJOY this one.

Give these a try, please leave some comments about how you LOVE or HATE these intervals.

Stay Safe and Healthy,
Aaron Zamzow

PS- Want a great Fire Rescue Workout Program that is guaranteed to take your fitness to the Ultimate Level?  (Click Here)

Firefighter Workout- Progressive Bodyweight Challenge

I get a lot of requests for workouts that require a minimal amount of equipment.  Here is a great Firefighter Bodyweight workout that doesn't require a lot of equipment and is very efficient (like you need to be on a fire/rescue scene).
Click on the video below for a recap.

Please like, comment and share this video!

Here is a recap of the workout (you can change the exercises based on your available equipment)...
5 burpees
10 Pull-ups (or body rows)
15 Push-ups
20 Prisoner Squats
25 Biker crunches (25 each side)
30 seconds plank
1 minute of running stairs
Repeat for time a total of 5 rounds (if your just starting out, aim for 3 or 4 rounds). 

Looking for more great challenge workouts?  Check out the Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete Workout Program, a comprehensive 12-week Firefighter Workout Program designed to get you in the shape of your life!