1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Vancouver, BC

    Default So I thought I was in good shape until..

    I went through the physical test for my local volunteer department.

    This is the type of training I've been doing for the last 4 months:

    day 1: 30 minutes at 75% (area I run is all flat)

    day 3: 40 minutes at 70%

    day 5: 30 minutes at 80%

    day 7: 35 minutes at 75% with stair training in between


    I stretch for about 10 minutes after my runs and do sit-ups & push-ups after a run usually once a week. This has been in preparation for a fitness test that alot of our departments use


    My 2.4 km run was last timed at 9:15 which I'm proud of and my sit-ups/push-ups are pretty good as well.

    HOWEVER...when I finished my physical test at the vollie dept., I was dead! out of breath and muscles were throbbing. I thought I was in shape, but after that test, I knew I had to change things.

    I signed up at my local gym yesterday and want to start a program. I know this has been asked a hundred times, but does anyone have any advice/links for a workout that will satisfy the above fitness test and other future fitness tests I will be taking which are similiar to the Combat Challenge?

    Thanks alot!

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Default Physical Agility, CPAT, Biddle What Ever

    Physical Agility

    Often, candidates don’t realize that it’s not just strength in the physical agility. The “Nugget “ is technique, momentum and grip. If you are uncertain or having problems in the physical, take advantage of any college or academy programs to learn the techniques to practice pulling hose, throwing a ladder, dragging a dummy (not you), etc. Many departments offer practice “run-through” sessions for their physical test prior to the actual date of testing. Don’t pass up this opportunity.

    You don’t want any surprises during the physical agility. You need to have practiced hands on with every segment of the agility. Too many candidates think they are in great shape. One who did not take advantage of the practice session told me, “Hey, that 75 pound hose pack was heavy. Humping that hose bundle up the tower, hosting and other manipulative skills, then back down the tower steps made my lungs burn (they were still burning days later) and caused the loss of valuable seconds.” The best way to train for this event is to up the cardio by going up and down bleachers with a backpack with weights or a weighted vest from http://www.weightvest.com

    In those areas of concern, work with a trainer at a gym in those fields of motion that would improve your ability. Often fire training divisions know the exercises that would apply to those areas. When ice skaters were trying to break the record for a triple lux, they found by working on upper body strength was the secret. You can learn more about physical agility training from http://www.firefightersworkout.com

    Check in with your local area department and arrange to go by for a little coaching. What firefighter wouldn’t want to puff out their chest showing his or her special techniques that got them their job or help on the fire ground. One of our candidates was losing sleep over the uncertainty of not being able to throw a ladder. These fears were put to rest after visiting a local fire department that showed the needed technique.

    The dummy from my son’s department disappeared from the training center. Two days later a 911 call came in from a pay phone asking for help. When units arrived at the scene, here was the dummy standing up in the phone booth with the phone receiver to his ear. Case closed.

    Many candidates feel if they set some kind of a record it will help in hiring. Not true! It is pass or fail. The secret “Nugget” here is to pace yourself. You don’t have to break the record. If you would have no problem in passing the physical, then, why would you want to try and impress the training staff, the other candidates and tout that you set a new record? In your haste, you might injure yourself or fall down the stairs in the tower . . . and, you don’t even pass. Now, you not only didn’t pass the PT, you’re out of the hiring process. How would you feel McFly?

    You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter and
    Conquer Fire Department Oral Boards


  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    When you are taking the physical ability tests, are you only performing at 70-80% of your maximum effort? My guess is that you're not. Usually during the tests, you're going all out as quickly as you possibly can to get a top time. If this is true, why only train between 70-80%? Captain Bob makes a great point about using proper technique, because technique will keep your movements efficient and save you some energy.

    I think a lot of people are a bit under-informed about aerobic training. For your body to perform a function or movement, it needs energy. There are three systems which provide necessary energy for a given task. Two are anaerobic (without oxygen) and one is aerobic (with oxygen). Anaerobic systems derive energy from ATP-PC or glycolysis (breakdown of glucose) within 0-30s. or between 20-80s., respectively, of intense and fast exercise. Aerobic energy is derived from the oxidative system at a slower rate (+ 3 mins.) and lesser intensity. The intensity and duration with which you work determine which system dominates the energy production.

    In terms of preparing for the physical test, you must have an idea of what is being tested, what the approximate time between stations will be, and the total time of the test. Aerobic training can be accomplished by shortening rest periods between intense training, and anaerobic training can be done by using intervals of work and rest. As you get closer to the test date, timed stations with similar movements and rest periods will be helpful.

    Your program should be periodized so you're peaking at the appropriate time. Your plan should start with the test date, and then work backwards. At the end of your prep cycle, you should be training at 100% of your maximum effort. I would give at least 12 weeks for 3 cycles (4 weeks each) of a program. If you don't have that amount of time, then you should train anaerobically.
    Yours in health & safety,
    Rich Meyer, Strength Coach
    Author of FAST Responders: The Ultimate Guide to Firefighter Conditioning
    *Sign up for FREE training journal

  4. #4
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2004


    I would have to disagree with Capt Bob about your performance on the agility test. Perhaps with a very large test, like LAFD or FDNY, the efforts of the candidate are never known to the rest of the dept.
    However, most depts being much smaller, the odds are that the personnel present at the testing process will likely be involved in the hiring process. It is unreasonable to think that test proctors don't notice candidates that are far above average, and those that barely pass in the allotted time.
    As a test proctor, I certainly notice when a candidate turns in an outstanding time, gives 110%, and has a good attitude. We often tell our candidates that the hiring process never stops, that they are ALWAYS being observed. Our Chief often comes to the agility tests in plain clothes, and walks around watching the evolutions.

    Always remember that people are watching every thing you do on the testing ground. Push yourself to the best time you can without committing errors! Leave everything you have on the drill ground, it WILL be noticed.
    "Don't just do something, stand there!!!"

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Austin, TX


    Rich has some really great advice. The only thing that I would throw in is that you should be doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Basically, it is mixing short bursts of going near 100% with sub-maximal exercise. There are some great websites for it and some good books.

    Rich hit the nail right on the head with training the correct system. When in a fire are you going to go at 70% for 30 minutes? Never. More realistically, you will go at about 90% for 10-15 minutes, rest for five, then repeat. Even then, you're workload will vary. Picture a high rise fire on the 8th floor: you'll go about 80% for 4 minutes, rest and put the hose in place for a minute, get on the line and fight for 5-10 minutes, and then swap out. Interval training just makes sense for firefighters.


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