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Thread: CPAT: Beating the Step Mill Advice & Facts

  1. #1
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    Default CPAT: Beating the Step Mill Advice & Facts

    I helped with the final details of designing Washington DCFD's CPAT testing facility and ended up running that program along with the recruit training for a few years. I've seen hundreds of applicants & recruits through the testing process and recruit school.

    The CPAT is a Physcial Test agreed upon between the IAFC & the IAFF. The agreed upon prep time between the two entities for the CPAT test is 5 weeks from the CPAT introduction in which they show you the video and tell you about how that particular department runs their process. The IAFC & IAFF agreed that in those 5 weeks you are allotted at LEAST 2 practice runs and one test at the end of the 5 weeks. It's the departments discretion how many workout sessions they want to host during those 5 weeks. If you miss the practice tests the department is not required to make others available to you. All of that being said SOME departments only allow you to take the test one time where as others allow the tester to count the practice run as a test if you pass and others allow the tester to retake the test multiple times. (I'll save my opinion on that matter for another day). The testing parameters for each departments should be laid out during the introduction. Each testing facility is required to have a license and has the option to make their site available to other departments. If the department informs only certain testers and NOT inform ALL of the testers of the parameters (ie. how many time they can test) they leave them self vulnerable to law suits.

    Any of the Stairmaster (brand) Stepmill's will have the CPAT program build into the programs. Choose "other programs", back twice and CPAT program should pop up. Stairmaster is the only brand that has the program built into it. The stepmill is programed to have a warmup rate (speed) of 50 steps/min for the first 20 sec. The machine then increases the speed to 60 steps/min for 3 min. The point of this exercise is to test your muscle endurance, not your cardio capacity. Which is why you're not allowed to use the rails. The physical steps/treat on the stepmill varies - some are a tooth type groove that you seen in escalators and others are on a hinge which you see on a door. The depth of the treat is more shallow then a regular steps depth. Most people will be forced to be up on your toes.

    All of that being said; Lets break this down to 3 different types of training: Strength (the amount of weight you can push), Endurance (how long you can maintain said workout for at a set pace), & Cardio ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_exercise)

    Running stairs is a great way to increase your cardio but is NOT going to be optimal training for the stairmill event. Running stairs is going to increase the amount of stress on your knees by about 150-200% (estimate). Running stairs with weights on is going to be way above that and can cause damage rather then good.(ie pain in your patella, shin splints, arch pain, plantar fasciitis etc.). Walking stairs with weight on your shoulders will give you the muscle endurance and strength training that is ideal for building a muscular foundation. You want to feel the "burn" which is lactic acid breaking down your muscles. If you feel the "burn" quickly then your goal is to build up your lactic acid threshold. Basically, workout with a goal of making it through that burn and/or feeling the burn later on in the workout. If you "overdo it" starting out you will strain and or pull a muscle (won't be able to work out, train or sit on the toilet). Because you are going at a slower pace, you will need to work on your balance (especially due to the fact you'll have 75 lbs on your shoulders) The 75 lbs will be pushing DOWN on your shoulders, chest & back which in turn make it more difficult to fill your lungs up with oxygen. Due to the excess weight, your body will be burning calories & trying to release heat. The weighted vest, inability fil your lungs up as you normally would, the extra heat and weight from pants and helmet, you have the potential to overheat. If you're not used to being warm while you workout it could also contribute to your lack of energy. The CPAT facility temperature is regulated which is why CPAT test are not given outside.

    Starting off, should work on body weight squats & lunges (always pushing up through you heel not your toes). Walking stairs at a high school gym or track is a good way to start training. If those two workouts have no effect on you, increase your weight by carring weights, vests, rocks in a backpack, sandbag etc.. Another tool you can use is a metronome (beeps/chimes to a set pace) set the metronome to a beep every second (60 steps/min) which will mimic your stepmill test. Every second you should step up then step down alternating which foot goes up first.

    If you're in the DC area and looking for a personal trainer who knows the CPAT test very well feel free to check me out and see some fof the videos past recruit classes have posted of our training at the academy. www.wildfireadventures.com

    Hope this helps some of you in your quest. Best of luck to you and be safe.
    Last edited by AFoster; 06-23-2012 at 05:36 PM. Reason: more facts...

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    Great advice Bud. I have a qyestion though. What precautions should i take going down stairs with the weight on my shoulders? Obviously im not going to run or bounce down .. but should i take care to go extra slow down to avoid extra pressure on knees? Should i land on toe or entire foot when descending stairs? Ideally i would like to go up 20 flights then take an elevator down but ive only got school bleachers around.

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobjenkins View Post
    Great advice Bud. I have a qyestion though. What precautions should i take going down stairs with the weight on my shoulders? Obviously im not going to run or bounce down .. but should i take care to go extra slow down to avoid extra pressure on knees? Should i land on toe or entire foot when descending stairs? Ideally i would like to go up 20 flights then take an elevator down but ive only got school bleachers around.

    Thanks
    Bob,
    I don't know what your physical capacity is, but generally speaking, be careful when walking down the steps with extra weight. If you don't feel comfortable walking down steps then you should consider getting a metronome (you can download an app for free on a smart phone) and step up/down alternating which foot steps up first. You should be pushing up through your heel to force your upper leg muscles to work harder. If you are constantly walking or running on your toes it can cause knee and shin pain. Anyone training should build a firm foundation of fitness or muscle before they move onto trying to gain size or speed. If you jump in the ocean when you can only doggy paddle you won't last long...
    Regards

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    Quote Originally Posted by AFoster View Post
    Bob,
    I don't know what your physical capacity is, but generally speaking, be careful when walking down the steps with extra weight. If you don't feel comfortable walking down steps then you should consider getting a metronome (you can download an app for free on a smart phone) and step up/down alternating which foot steps up first. You should be pushing up through your heel to force your upper leg muscles to work harder. If you are constantly walking or running on your toes it can cause knee and shin pain. Anyone training should build a firm foundation of fitness or muscle before they move onto trying to gain size or speed. If you jump in the ocean when you can only doggy paddle you won't last long...
    Regards
    Thanks for the advice!

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    Sorry...didn't read the thread...too long for my poor eyes..


    1. buy a weight vest.
    2. go to gym.
    3. hit stairmaster.
    4. repeat.
    5. destroy CPAT

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    Just to share my insight, I just had my first practice, with the second coming this weekend. I'm by no means in shape. I simply got out and started walking with the occasional run. I hit the stepper a few times just plain with nothing on me. I passed my clay practice with 2:07 to go. I think you can prepare all you want. But when it comes down to it, I believe the cost is strictly mental. Yes if your a turd with no strength about you as in sitting the controller down and trying to do cpat it'll kick your butt. I've been a volly for 3+ years so I knew what was coming. Just put it in your head that its 10 minutes and 20 seconds. Anybody can do anything for 10:20. It's all about had bad you want it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drakemmiller View Post
    Sorry...didn't read the thread...too long for my poor eyes..


    1. buy a weight vest.
    2. go to gym.
    3. hit stairmaster.
    4. repeat.
    5. destroy CPAT
    This. If you have to scheme to "beat" the CPAT, you're most likely in really sh*tty shape.
    ffbam24, SVTxDUDE and SVTxDUDE like this.

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    I get emails every few weeks from people asking for me to train them for their CPAT test that's "soon". (in the range of a few weeks to a month). If you can't motivate yourself to complete the task it would behoove you to hire a trainer. Don't waste your money on an incompetent trainer that will give you false hope just to take your money. Hire a trainer that understands exactly what you need to accomplish and what it will take to achieve that task. If you can't last on the stairmill, or you're not strong enough to drag the dummy than a few weeks of training 1 or 2 times a week isn't going to be enough for you to pass. Trainers, like fireman are not all created equally.

    As the guy who was too lazy to read the thread above stated, get a plan and follow it. BUT make sure that plan is pertinent to the task you're trying to complete. A linebacker does't train like an endurance runner, a gymnast doesn't train like a wrestler, a fitness model doesn't train like a power lifter and you shouldn't train for anything other than to pass the test and be a competent firefighter/EMT.

    Fitness has many branches. I've trained and trained with athletes that range from highschool to 3 times Olympians and the way each one trains is starkly different.

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    Two parts to pasing the stairmill, cardio training if your heart rate skyrockets and your too "winded". Strength and endurance training is what you need to do if your legs are "burning out". You need to train your properly for whatever your deficiency is. If your legs are "burning out" its because you need to raise your lactic acid threshold. The burning sensation you feel is acidosis. Its the acid that's breaking down your muscles. As your legs get used to the longer endurance type of training they'll e less prone to "burning out". If you're too winded to continue - dizzy, lightheaded, eleveated HR. its because your cardio needs to be improved upon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drakemmiller View Post
    Sorry...didn't read the thread...too long for my poor eyes..


    1. buy a weight vest.
    2. go to gym.
    3. hit stairmaster.
    4. repeat.
    5. destroy CPAT

    It is not a stairmaster that you need to hit, it is a stepmill. They are 2 different pieces of equipment.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
    member since 1969
    challenge competitor since 1993

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitguy51 View Post
    It is not a stairmaster that you need to hit, it is a stepmill. They are 2 different pieces of equipment.
    A schooner IS a sailboat!

    Stairmaster is a brand that makes, among other things, step mills. But Stairmaster is synonymous with the step mill. Stairmaster is to stepmills as Xerox is to photocopies. But you're obviously referring to the difference between a stairclimber and a stepmill, in which case, you are correct about needing to hit the stepmill instead.
    AFoster and SL425 like this.

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