In part one of this series, we spoke about the "3 Fs" of firefighter conditioning: fitness, fat loss and function. The "3 Fs" system is a way for you to achieve optimal health, body composition and performance as a firefighter. This installment will remind you of the impact fitness has on...
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The next step in creating your plan is the self-assessment. This will establish where your body's at now, giving you a benchmark for progress. Table 3 provides a guide for your self-assessment. Your self-assessment can be done every four weeks to see if you're on the right track
The final step in creating your program is defining the program variables. Variables are aspects of your program that can be altered for the desired results. The variables are shown in Table 4.
Putting It All Together
The final step is to combine everything you've learned thus far into your plan of attack. You'll have to consider the fitness variables, your goals, work schedule and accessible equipment. Since we take a performance-based approach, we use an integrated form that focuses on movements, not just muscles (since you don't just use one muscle at a time on the fireground). Table 5 shows you which movements target your large and stabilizing muscles throughout your body.
The circuit shown in Table 6 can easily fit it into your schedule, no matter how many hours you work in a week. Regardless of your weekly schedule, make sure at least two days in your week are designated non-training days to aid in recovery, keep your mind fresh, and enjoy time with your family and friends. Make sure you leave at least one day in between the three training days for light activity (aerobic only).
Very little equipment is needed for an effective program. We recommend having dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, exercise bands, a bench, step or box, and stability balls. These items are reasonably priced and can be purchased at many sports or fitness stores and on the Internet.
You are free to choose exercises which correlate to the movements. If exercises become boring, you can experiment by changing your stance from normal, hip-width to a staggered stance (left foot in front of right and vice-versa). You can also change other variables, such as the speed of movement, number of repetitions or weight.
You'll be able to customize your own program according to your fitness goals by using the template in Table 6.
In the next article, we will discuss how you can train to maximize muscle gain and fat loss to improve your health.
Rich Meyer, CSCS, USAW, is a firefighter and rescue technician with the Bloomfield, NJ, Volunteer Fire Rescue Company. He is the founder of FASTBODIES Fitness and Performance and creator of FAST Responders Functional Fire Fitness program. Meyer is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA. For more information or to sign up for a free online training journal, go to www.functionalfirefitness.com.