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! 

Fight Fire not the Flu....

Its that time of the year again, football season...and the cold and flu season too. Each year the common cold affects the average person two times, and can affect the fire rescue athlete even more. The sneezing, coughing, aching, stuff head, sore throat, and runny nose leave you wanting to curl up under the bed covers. To avoid this misery, prevention is the best cure. So with over 200 mutating cold-causing viruses floating around, what’s a fire rescue athlete to do to avoid getting sick? 

While in our profession it can be hard to dodge every germ, there are proactive ways to boost your immune system and help prevent catching a cold or the flu. Take a look at these 5 ways and stay healthy:

1. Drink Plenty of Fluids. General good health practices keep your body strong and ready to fend off cold germs and the flu virus and this especially includes drinking plenty of water. In fact, one recent study found that staying hydrated may boost a particular immune response to enable your body to better fight the viruses. Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of fluids, especially water, and by avoiding caffeinated drinks. Shoot for six to eight glasses of water per day, more if you consume caffeinated beverages.

2. Exercise to Strengthen Your Immunity. Exercise not only makes you perform your job better as a fire rescue athlete, but it also boosts your immune system. Additionally, warding off extra weight is important for overall health, particularly when it comes to preventing colds and flu. A recent study found that overweight and obese people were more likely to fall ill or be injured. Not only does exercise (need a good workout, click here) improve the circulation of white blood cells throughout your body, but it has been shown to increase the production of natural killer T cells, which are essential for maintaining an optimum immune response. The amount of exercise required to obtain an immune boost is relatively low, 20 minutes of brisk walking 4-5 times per week (which is basically a warm-up) has been shown to significantly improve the body’s immune response. This is also a good opportunity to get a little bit of sunshine to stimulate Vitamin D production.

3. Get Plenty of Sleep. This can be difficult for the fire rescue athlete especially when the tones go off numerous times throughout the night. It is important to get as much sleep as possible especially on those days away from the firehouse. Studies have found that getting enough sleep is essential for healthy immune function and that insufficient sleep or poor sleep quality is associated with lowered immune function. Ultimately you want to get at least 8 hours each night. There is hope for those of us that can’t sleep through the night, recent research shows that napping can boost health and the immune system.

4. Put down the sugar. When it comes to fighting cold and flu, it is essential to decrease your amount of sugar intake. Sugar has devastating effects on the immune system, and the fact that Americans consume an average of 2-3 pounds of sugar per person every year spells bad news come cold and flu season. Not only does sugar increase the production of hormones that suppress the immune system, refined sugar needs micronutrients to be metabolized. This requires your body to use stored vitamins and minerals, further harming your defences. Instead of eating high sugar foods try eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This will make sure that your body is getting all of the vitamins and minerals that are essential to fighting of the cold and flu. Each and every fruit and vegetable is packed with thousands of phytochemicals. No supplement could ever match the power of eating a whole food.

5. Chicken Soup, Mom and laughing. I know that these things aren’t backed with research but chicken soup warms the spirit, TLC from Mom is always helpful and laughing can’t hurt (see the quote below).

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.”
 -Irish Proverb

Stay Safe and Healthy,
Aaron Zamzow