Job Specific Training

Firefighters are elite athletes. They show up, at the toughest of times, when the chips are down, to save lives. They dig deep into their hearts to make the difference that may save the life of our loved ones.


In creating a training plan, I look at the job that needs to be done and tasks within it that need to be done repeatedly and frequently. The movements that are done on the job can be imitated, and then resistance added. This can be done via weight or gravity. Every activity that needs to be performed by a firefighter can be evaluated this way. Let's talk, for instance, about the ceiling breach and pull. It is the last exercise done in the CPAT. This task is not very difficult in and of itself. But, it must be performed when the candidate is already winded and tired. So, I leave this exercise group to the very end of the workout on that day. The 2 exercises used are the bicep upper-cut and the one handed rope pull.

Bicep Upper-Cut
Start with a dumbbell that is the same weight with which you would do hammer curls. Hold it in your non-dominant hand, palm facing you at shoulder height - the same position as the top of your bicep curl. Thrust up quickly until your elbow is almost straight. Be careful, jamming your elbow into full extension here can cause injury. This motion would be very similar to an upper-cut a boxer would use if their opponent was very close. The first set, do 12 reps on the non-dominant arm, and the same on the dominant arm. The second, third, and fourth sets, you'll go to failure (or max 25 reps) on your non-dominant, and follow immediately with the same number on the dominant arm. If you reach 25 reps, and you are still not struggling, go up in weight the next workout. If you don't make it to four sets of 25 reps, keep working at it until you can do all four sets. Then you can increase your weight.

Rest Period
There is no rest period in this sequence. Move quickly to the other exercise, back, and so on. As soon as you are done with a set of bicep uppercuts, and put the weight on the floor, begin the next exercise within five seconds. This pace will be continued for four super-sets.

One-Handed Rope Pulls
Use the rope handle set up on the tricep pushdown machine. (See under Event #6: Ceiling Breach and Pull here.) Sit on the floor in front of the machine, facing it. Set the pin for half your body weight. Grasp the rope in your non-dominant hand. Work that side, then your strong side. Pull the rope down quickly, and release slowly up so the weight almost touches the stack. The first set should be 25 reps and be pretty easy. Each successive set, add 10 pounds. The number you do should not exceed 20, the last rep very difficult. Since each set is with a heavier weight, the number done will decrease. If you are able to do 20 on all sets, increase your start weight next workout. Move swiftly after each set, back up to a standing position for the bicep upper cut.

Number of Super Sets
Do these two exercises for four super-sets for a month. Then add a fifth super set and month later a sixth super set. These exercises will significantly increase your ability to perform the ceiling breach and pull, both on the test and on the job. 

DR. JEN MILUS is the author Fire it Up Agility Training