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  • Failure

    I hope I don't ramble too much here, but I need to vent a little and ask for any advice.

    Recently my dream dept announced they would be hiring in the near future. Being that I'm wrapping up my fire science degree I anxiously sent in an application and started working out for the CPAT. I followed the 11 week guide on this website down to the letter, and never had any problem with it.

    But this morning when I was taking the CPAT for real, as soon as I got off the step mill I could hardly stand up, my legs felt so rubbery. I wasn't winded or tired at all, my legs just felt like they were dead. I struggled my way through the rest of the events only to run out of time on my third set on the ceiling breach and pull. The rest of the events really weren't hard at all, but my legs never recovered during the test and I think that's what killed me.

    I'm just incredibly disappointed with myself right now. I really didn't consider myself too out of shape to begin with, I'm 5'11" and 175lbs, I really haven't exercised much prior to the 11 week CPAT workout, but I am an active volunteer ff and work on the farm so I'm doing physical labor all the time. I don't have access to a stairmaster to practice with, so I used a weighted vest and just stepped up and down on my bottom step at home. The stairmaster was 100 times harder though.

    I'm looking for any advice on how to better prepare for next time...of course it may be several years before this dept hires again.

  • #2
    which website?

    Hard to say what to do different without knowing what you have done.


    • #3
      I should have explained that better, I was referring to the 11 week guide found here:



      • #4

        Not a bad plan, I would also need to know where you were stating from.

        A few thoughts: I start guys 3-4 months ahead of time as well, they start with general calesthenic/body weight exercises to increase ROM and cardio and to fill in any fitness gaps. Then they move to increasing their cardio base with a variety of cardio/exercise routines, never doing the same movement for more than 5-10 minutes ( such as treadmill with elevation change, hands overhead/ or behind the back or running). At this stage, exercises mimic the events in the test with no rest between going for 30 sec to 1 minute. Then the last stage is to increase weight, use the vest and maybe set up a circuit of 10-15 exercises to be repeated 3-4 cycles. Using a stair machine or even better: stairs is a must. The biomechanics of using stairs vs. a step is like night and day, in theory it should work but its like training for a marathon on a treadmill then going outside it doesn't translate.

        What were you doing for upper body? Cardio?


        • #5
          Sorry to hear of your failure on the CPAT. While you may have good upper and lower body strength, the Stair-Master does not test you in these areas. The test measures your capacity to do anaerobic exercise which is directly related to your capacity to do aerobic exercise.

          Here is a web site that gives a good explanation of anerobic threshold. The feeling you had in your legs after the Stair-Master was most likely caused by a build-up of lactic acid. Training your body to handle the build up of lactic acid during exercise is critical to passing this test.

          My experience as a proctor for CPAT is that most candidates fail either on the stair machine or due to exhaustion from the stair machine.

          A FYI:
          International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) is implementing changes to CPAT:
          -Testing agency to report statistics
          -Three attempts at the station if there is a problem (not sure how this will work in a timed event)
          -Orientation becomes an actual test. CT has a mandatory orientation with (IIRC) a minimum wait of 8 weeks until the test.

          I am not sure how this affects the actual testing process. This information came from the September 2006 minutes of the Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control (CPFC). The CFPC runs the CPAT testing center for the State of Connecticut. A municipality sends candidates to the CPAT testing center to get the card. I do not believe any town in CT runs an actual CPAT test.

          This only applies to agencies that use the licensed CPAT, not their own version.
          "The most mediocre man or woman can suddenly seem dynamic, forceful, and decisive if he or she is mean enough." from "Crazy Bosses"
          Genius has its limits, but stupidity is boundless.


          • #6

            Dear vfd guy,

            I don't blame you for being upset. I am also sorry for your disappointment.
            AND: I am sorry for the misunderstanding.

            That 11 week training plan is specifc for the weight vest only, and is not specific at all as to what else needs to be done. I does not say that this is all that needs to be done. The step mill is a very small portion of what needs to be trained for. It needs to be done with interval weight training and heavy leg (for some people) and upper body weight training... super setting... some workouts lasting up to 1 hour of intense, constant exercise. If you did not do this other stuff, then you might well fail. There is stuff about how to train major muscle groups in this fashion all over my web site.... and all over this web site.

            I agree with Ogomez that the step vs. a step mill is very different. BUT: you should still have been stepping UP 60 times in a minute. Your lead leg stepping up is the one that counts. If you are going up on your right, the left leg is the following leg. It does nothing, and it does not count. You need to step up on your right 60 times in 1 minute pace. That means you would step up right, follow up with the left, then step down with each leg, and you must do that WHOLE thing 60 times in a minute. I suggest doing 20 right lead, 20 left lead, because otherwise, many right legged people with just go up on their right. In the test this will kill you.

            If you did build up to doing 75 lbs. for 6 minutes as the program suggests, at 60 steps per minute, (UP,up, down,down) then the 3 minutes on the step mill in the test should not have been killer for you. If you were training hard on the other days, lifitng heavy weights, you should have been fine with your upper body strength.

            Did you review what the test entailed and go to the practice sessions? Did you read my web site? There are pictures there, of the leg press with six 45 lb. plates on each side. There's the squat Thrust. There are pictures of many kinds of different exercises. That's because lots of other things need to be done. Read here:

            My Fire it up Training Program is much more comprehensive than that brief article. It involves jumping rope, heavy weight training, interval training, and task specific work not mentioned in that article. And it will get the entire job done.

            Again, I am really sorry for the misunderstanding. And I am even more sorry that you are so upset about it.

            Dr. Jen
            Last edited by Drjmilus; 10-29-2006, 09:44 AM.
            Dr. Jen


            • #7
              Content Removed
              Last edited by martz847; 06-07-2010, 06:04 PM.


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