We workout to protect our own health and enhance performance at operations, thereby protecting the lives and property of others.
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."
- Albert Einstein
Fitness is defined as the capability of the body to distribute inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased physical effort. That's an oversimplified, straightforward explanation of incredibly complicated science.
Going by the above definition, it seems to be all about breath, but let's break it down.
Run 10 miles or bench press 200 pounds. Both call for an increased effort, but represent totally different physical and biological responses.
Volumes have been written about how to accomplish both so I won't bore you with a lecture on VO2 Max or how to build up mitochondria. But who actually possesses more fitness, the runner or weight lifter, and how does the typical firefighter rate?
That depends on why - or the real reason you train. As firefighters, the answer is simple. We workout to protect our own health and enhance performance at operations, thereby protecting the lives and property of others.
To improve performance, you need to mimic the conditions you'll face.
So it seems that "fitness" becomes a calculated decision rather than a simple definition. Let me define firefighter fitness for you, click here.
Most Common Reasons People Workout
- Weight Loss and Body Fat Reduction
- Increase Strength and Power
- Increase Endurance and Energy
- Improve Muscle Tone and Body Shaping
- Improve General Health
- Prepare for a Specific Sport, Event, or Activity
It's been compared to running with weights, sequenced timed sets (STS) addresses real-life demands, where a combination of extreme strength and extreme endurance are infinitely connected. Learning how to master this system and customize it to your exact needs will deliver unprecedented gains, regardless of the reasons behind your training.
After years of training one-on-one with hundreds of firefighters, and thousands more via group sessions and the internet, I can say with utmost confidence that training for only strength or only endurance works in very few scenarios.
Combining the two into strength-endurance training is the illusive approach most have missed. Pure strength and pure endurance have their place, and a touch of each can dramatically enhance an otherwise pure strength-endurance regimen, but it should rarely be the meat of any firefighter's program.
Sequenced Timed Sets Methodology
You'll need a watch with a second hand (a stopwatch is even better) or a timer. Select anywhere from 3 to 10 exercises that form a logical progression of movements that mostly involve the entire body.
Or you can simply follow your workout protocol as outlined in my Firefighter Custom or Firefighter Classic Program. For more information, please click here.
Take a trial run through each move at 30 seconds per move with the lightest weight possible. The entire sequence should take no longer than about five minutes (at 30 seconds per move allowing for changing stations).
Allow yourself little or no rest between movements unless absolutely necessary. Work at an even pace and note the number or reps performed. Next, perform a second set while you adjust resistance and or pace up or down to enable you complete at least 30 seconds per exercise. Record everything.
As per your current workout protocol or physical goals, add weight, increase pace (reps per minute), or add time to each set. You should be following a logical progression that addresses all three issues (weight, reps, time).
Remember, ALL exercises are performed in a series with little or no rest. This necessitates keeping weight light. At the beginning, movements will alternate between full body high-intensity, and somewhat easier, low-intensity moves (kind of an active rest between the more intense sets). The goal won't be to push the limits of the easier moves, but only the full body high-intensity work.