There’s absolutely no denying that Firefighters are athletes. As a firefighter you have to be in absolute top shape if you want a chance to do your job well in life threatening situations. Being out of shape is not something you want to have to deal with when being commissioned to retrieve someone from a burning building. You also don’t want to have to deal with heavy breathing from the lack of cardio when you should be focused on breathing control in your SCBA.
If you are going to be in premier shape as a firefighter, you need to train like it. Firefighters that stay in top condition are not only more likely to be more capable at their jobs, but they will also be more likely to be able to handle all of the physical and mental stresses that firefighters face on a daily basis. As a result of needing to be in top shape, I’m using my fitness background to help put together a good sample workout of what you can do to get yourself into top shape for your role. Let’s face it – strength training 5 days a week is something that professional athletes do. 3 days a week is a little more realistic, so here is a good basic workout to get you started in strength training and keep you strong for saving lives.
Personally I believe in doing 3 full body workouts every week, instead of splitting into a split routine. As long as you are doing these workouts, the set/rep combination is your choice.
Monday Strength Training:
- Bench Press
- Pull Ups
- Power Cleans
- Military Press
- Sit Ups
- Box Jumps
- Kettle Bell Exercises
- Any Upper Body Exercises while using a Yoga Ball for Balance
Friday HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Bodyweight Training:
- Leg Press
- Standing Military Press
- Push Ups
- Barbell Rows
This is a good baseline workout and it isn’t all inclusive. I usually do this work out to keep my body in top conditioning shape when I’m not trying to really focus on adding muscle. You can accomplish adding muscle by varying the amount of weight and reps you do, and of course you can always repeat Monday’s strength training on Friday if you are looking to add some mass and get stronger.
Do not neglect your back and your core. These are two of the most highly used areas as a firefighter. When you are saving someone from a life threatening situation, you are generally carrying, pulling or lifting them along with you making your core and back some of the most important parts of your body to work extensively so you are in top condition. It’s also extremely important in my opinion to do sprints so that you are in top cardiovascular shape as well. Sprints not only help build short twitch muscle fibers that help you race into burning building, but they also build muscle because of the explosive movements behind them.
Some other great exercises like sprints that help you build fast twitch muscle fibers are:
- Isometric Exercises
- Up-Tempo Heavy Squats
- Medicine Ball Training
- Explosive Rows
If you are wondering what HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training is, it’s basically consistent faced paced movements that you do with minimal rest, varying the degree of difficulty. The reason I classify my Friday example as HIIT is because I do it with minimal rest in between sets. Usually my Monday workout would be more focused on strength and power, while I work to build stamina and endurance on my Friday workout by limiting the amount of rest between sets thus keeping up my heart rate. Doing so will not only help you burn fat faster, but it will help you become more adept at your job. HIIT helps your endurance so you can better handle higher heart rates and the mental stress that comes with working as a firefighter.