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Cardio or Strength??

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  • Cardio or Strength??

    Since there arent any posts here I would like to see if I can get things started.

    I would like to gather opinions on what members out there think might perhaps be the most important aspect of firefighting physical ability?

    Is it Strength, Cardio, or maybe endurance??

    My opinion is that a combination of all of the above are the best characteristics a firefighter should strive for obtaining and most importantly maintaining.

    With that stated, what do you guys do to physically train your body for the real thing? Everyone knows that Lifting weights and running are the most common approach, but I believe do not truely subject a firefighters body to the added weight and strain that one will encounter during an actual incident? For example, I can lift more than my body weight and run quiet a distance before being exhausted, on the other hand, 15 mins (sometimes less) of fireground activities will eat me alive.

    I know we never forget the dreaded physical agility test when you trying to hire on at a fire department, some of you may have trained like ROCKY preparing for a fight, only to, at some point fail one or more of these test even after doing all you could in the gym to prepare.

    My last question is this, does lifting weights and running truely prepare us for fireground activities??
    Brad Vinson, Asst. Chief
    Crims Chapel VFD
    Rusk Co. TX.

  • #2
    cardio or strength

    I believe both are very important especially in helping you
    perfom on the fireground. I work out regularly but sometimes find it hard to stay on track with a eating plan because of calls. The cardio training helps the body when firefighters are working in extreme temperatures but there is always a need for rest.


    • #3
      I think that all three are important. you need the strength to do your job because it is a very demanding job. you also need the cardio and indurance to stay at your position for a extended period of time I dont eat as well as i should and would like to find a good work out program and meal plan to help any suggestions would be helpful.
      Last edited by raap304; 08-01-2003, 11:06 AM.


      • #4
        cardio and strength

        I believe both cardio and strength training are good. Anyone in emergency services need to be fit because we are dealing with other people lives. If I had to choose one over the other I would have to say that cardio is better. We can't have our firefighters or Medics slowing down because they are out of shape. I believe every fire rescue station should have some implemented workout routine.


        • #5
          Can we really prepare for fireground activities? I dont think that just doing cardio and strength training is enought to prepare us for fireground activity. Its a great start and with out a doubt something is better than nothing if you are pressed for time but I feel that to really be ready for the fire ground you got to train like you are at the fireground.

          I am a firefighter in the Air Force stationed at Ramstein AB Germany. When I first got here last November a group of guys had just got back from the combat firefighters challenge. I was very intersted in trying it so one of the guys started to help me train for this year. I thought I was in shape until I started running the course!! We never even did the full course all at once but just running the stairs then pulling up the hose is a %#@ kicker!!

          Anyways due to the war and other stuff we might not get a team toghter to compete this year but I used what I learned training for the challenge to train for my job. I run stairs, drag the dummie, and pull up the hose roll as about once a week. We also did some circuit train which involves running at a high pase, then two or three lifting exercises all in a row then starting the running again. I will tell you that I feel great and know I am better prepared to do my job than ever before. The circuit dosent take much equpiment nor much time but a lot of effort and will power.

          I think that to be ready for the fireground we have to mimic the activity level as much as possible.


          • #6
            what types of programs do each of you follow? Does your department have specific training programs for each of you or are you on your own?
            D. Hager


            • #7
              Department Program

              My department requires us to complete a minimum of at least one hour of physical training each shift. They do have a exercise program but I follow my own which consists of Monday, Wednesday, Friday completing a full body work out with lifting weights and Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday I complete cardio training. This includes running, biking or swimming. I think think that working out is great but to complete the entire circle one has to eat right as well. I think we all realize this.


              • #8
                We are just working on starting a program here, but I am looking for specifics on how to do this! Do we need to contact a trainer, to set a work out schedule for each person? Or can we adopt a universal workout program for all of us? I am new to the workout concept, so anything would help us out. Thanks
                D. Hager


                • #9
                  This occupation presents some dynamics that you don't find elsewhere. Staying in top physical condition is vital to your safety as well as the safety of your crew.

                  The big question of cardio vs. strength training? Stamina vs. endurance? I think your right, we need a balance.

                  I tend to lean more on the stamina and endurance side of things. I love to run so I run 5-7 days a week, 6-7 miles a day and maintain an 8 minute mile. This builds endurance and stamina as well as strengthening your legs and cardiovascular. In addition I mountain bike which does alot of the same as running, but I really get a good leg burn here.

                  I do use resistance training (weights) but I don't go heavy. I tend to use lighter weights and more reps for definition. I don't want to look like Arnold. I think getting to big slows you down. And in this line of work that's not good. I do alot of circuit training with weights. I will do all major muscle groups during a workout, starting with the top and working my way down. The key is to go from one exercise to the next without resting. This keeps your heart rate up.

                  Finally, to address your thought on training "realistically" i.e. with gear, etc. I have an awesome suggestion for you....

                  SCOTT FIREFIGHTER COMBAT CHALLENGE! Check it out. You won't be disappointed. Hope this helps. Stay safe.


                  • #10
                    If your lookinf for a specific routine? Try this, weight training at least 3 times a week. Cardio, dsitance and sprints. BTW, Getting huge doesn't slow you down, flexibility slows you down. Being an out of shape Fat body slows you down aswell. My routine consist of the following:

                    Monday: Chest
                    Bench Press 3 sets of 6-8 (heavy)
                    Incline dumbells 3 sets of 6-8 reps (heavy)
                    Decline straight bar 3 sets 6-8 reps (heavy)
                    Cable Fly 3 sets of 8-10 reps (light) position high, middle, and low

                    Tricepts: Skullcrushers 3 sets of 8-10
                    Cable press 3 sets of 8-10
                    Dips 3 sets, as many as I can do
                    Dumbell ovehead press 3 sets 8-10
                    Abdominal work
                    Distant Run ( 3 miles, or 45 mins cone run)

                    Tuesday: Back
                    Lat pulls 3/8-10
                    Rows 3/8-10
                    Pull-ups 3/as many as I can
                    Bentover rows 3/8-10
                    Revearsed flys 3/8-10

                    Hammer curls 3/8-10
                    Preacher curls 3/8-10
                    Isolation 3/8-10
                    Dumbell 3/8-10

                    Abdominal work

                    Cardio: 12 towers (7 story tower at headquarters) and short sprints 25-30 yards

                    Wed: Legs
                    Leg curls 3/8-10
                    Leg Extension 3/8-10
                    Leg press 3/8-10

                    Abdominal work

                    Cardio: Distance run 3 miles or more

                    Thursday : repeat monday workout (light weight higher reps)
                    Abdominal work
                    Cardio: Short sprints

                    Friday: repeat tuesday workout
                    Abdominal work
                    distant run 3 miles or 45 min cone run

                    Sat/Sun off


                    • #11
                      I believe that all three are important, but I would like to add a fourth...flexiblity.

                      Like most of you, I work out quite often, but in reality, it is not fireground specific. I admit, when I was training for the FireFighter Combat Challenge, I focused on the specific tasks as best I could. However, you cannot workout for a specific function because they are different from fireground to fireground.

                      The best that we can do, is prepare our bodies and minds to the tasks that we may perform. I try to focus on my weaker areas without losing strength in my stronger areas. Plus I am not very flexible, which is something that I need to work on.

                      For a workout, here is mine:
                      Mondays (Legs, Chest, Tris)

                      Hack Squats
                      Leg Curl
                      Leg Ext.
                      Dumbbell Heel Raises
                      Lunges or Step ups
                      Bench Press
                      Dumbell Fly
                      Skull Crushers

                      Tuesday (Shoulders, Back, Bis)

                      Upright Row
                      Side Deltoid Raises
                      Front Deltoid Raises
                      Shoulder Press superset with Rear Deltoid Raises
                      T-Bar Row
                      Wide Grip Row
                      One-Arm Row
                      Preacher Curl
                      Reverse Barbell Curl


                      Cardio, either 40 minute HIIT or 60 minute Steady State
                      Abs, three different sets of crunches (lower, obliques, upper)

                      Thursday (same as Monday)

                      Friday (same as Tuesday)


                      3 mile job around subdivision
                      Abs (like on Wednesday)



                      Please feel free to copy and/or modify as you want or need.


                      • #12
                        ANother factor to consider with the routine I suggested. You will reach a plataeu, where you will not grow anymore or increase the strength, working the same routine everyday on the same day creates muscle memory, its a good idea to have several routines to do and switch days you do your specific body parts. Doing this will help with strength and growth. As I mentioned before flexibilty plays an important role, that along can cause you range of motion problems and slower mobility. Also mix you running routines up aswell, just running distance only stimulates certain muscle's, thats why I do sprints aswell. Train Hard and Good Luck


                        • #13
                          Strength training or cardio?

                          Let me start by saying I've been traing athletes, both professional and weekend warior types for over 18 years. When constructing a training program for any athlete the first thing I do as a strength coach, is look at the sport and deside what energy system(s) are being used and tailor the program accordingly. Fire fighters need strength, that ones obvious, so a weight training should be included in every firefighters program. But the 25,000.00 question is, how should one train for endurance?

                          One could write an entire book on this subject so I'm going to make it as breif as possible. The type of training all firefighters should be doing for endurance on the fireground is interval training. If interval training is done properly 20 to 30 minutes is all one can do. this should be done 2 -3 times per week. Anymore, and you'll surely overtrain.

                          One other point I would like to make is that The intensity of the training must be above the intensity you feel on the fire ground to be of any real benefit. In other words, jogging is a great way to increase your endurance but has little in the way of cross/over value on a fireground. If you love to run, do 30 - 40 yard sprints carying a haligen, roll of hose, and or a weighted vest.

                          So what is interval training? It is a type of traing performed with a work to rest ratio. In other words you'll perform all out for a period of time and then rest for a period of time. A good place for a beginner to start is with a .5 to 1 (30sec to 1 min) work to rest interval. Eventually, one would build up to a 1 to 1 (1 min to 1 min) ratio.
                          Examples of interval training:
                          Stair stepper holding weight and or with a vest. Begginners use bodyweight.
                          5 minute warm up building up to level 3.
                          1 minute level 10,
                          1 minute level 3
                          Alternate 6 times
                          cool down 5 minutes

                          30 yard sprints holding 50 foot length of hose
                          do a 5 minute warm-up
                          sprint 30 yds holding hose
                          walk back
                          repeat 10 times
                          cool down 5 - 10 minutes

                          These workouts are very simplified for this forum. I would love to go into more depth on strength training also but this is not the place. Any firefighter who would like me to evaluate their workout I would gladly do it for free. I also have a website that has all my articles posted. It is a great source of information. www.bullz-eye.com

                          Be carefull out there brothers.
                          Mike Furci


                          • #14
                            Practice like you play

                            It's nice to see some activity on what should be one of the most active forums. Mike obviously knows that of which he speaks.I have been assiting in the weight room of our local high school for a number of years with the training of student/atheletes.The program you follow should be designed for the activity you are involved in be it football,basketball,track or firefighting.

                            I recently began "circuit traing" which involves rotating between cardio and weights for short intense periods with short rests between sets. A typical workout might look like this.....stretching-bike for 5 min---curls---run for 3min---shoulder press---bike for 3 min---laterals---run for 3min---leg press---bike for 2 min---bench---run for 2 min---then shrugs,lightcurls and slow jog for cool down. The entire routine might take 45 min out of my day, but I'm already noting the benefits.

                            With all the FF deaths from heart attacks and who knows how many are disabled from that, this is as important as any training we do. The other important fact that many don't realize is the reduction in injurys due to a strengthening program.High schools who have added weight rooms to their facilities have noted a significant injury reduction in thier atheletes.Increasing muscle mass areound joints and connecting structures has that added benefit.Also as we grow older, bone density decreases.It has been show in many studies that a regular program of excercise greatly slows this process.

                            It's a great motivator to excercise with a partner. You tend to encourage each other and maybe even compete a little bit.If you are having an off day that person can kick you into gear, where you might otherwise say "Oh the heck with it".

                            In short folks, get out there and do something. Even walking at a brisk pace every night has positive benefits and it doesn't cost a thing. GET FIT!! JOHN


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