By: Fire Rescue Fitness
With all the various fitness advice floating around the internet it can be extremely hard to decipher what you should and should not being doing with your workouts.
As firefighters, EMTs and medics we need to look at our fitness a little differently than the general population. We are athletes and need to be able to physically perform tasks (hose line advance, patient lifts, extrication, compressions) to do our jobs. Therefore, our workout programs need to incorporate components that will help us do just that. What are the best workout components for firefighters, EMTs and medics? Here are my top three:
#1. Cardiovascular Conditioning (Intervals)
Every firefighter 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 have ever lugged a “charged” hose line up some stairs or dragged a victim or axed a ventilation hole on a roof, 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 ways to simulate the high level of fitness required on the fire ground (click here for a great interval program).
#2. Full-body Functional Strength
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 training is in essence is a full-body approach to core training and are effective in athletic injury rehab and prevention. Functional strength movements like the push-up, goblet squat, lunge, pull-up strengthen all joints of the body in numerous planes.
#3. Mobility and Flexibility
Every firefighter workout program needs to incorporate active warm-ups 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 give you enough information to help decide and understand what you need to include with your workouts. Work your heart, include full-body functional exercises, and do not skip your warm-ups and stretching. This will help you make progress and improve your performance on (and off) the fire/ rescue scene.