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Cardio or Strength??

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  • flathead
    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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  • MFurci
    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

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  • FizzBRFD
    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

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  • VollieFireman
    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.

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  • FizzBRFD
    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

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  • mattmedic
    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.

    Leave a comment:

  • hageremtp
    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

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  • captmcconnell
    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.

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  • hageremtp
    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?

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  • JJMPlayer
    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.

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  • Hbeachguard
    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.

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  • raap304
    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, 10:06 AM.

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  • captmcconnell
    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.

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  • Medicff0879
    started a topic Cardio or Strength??

    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??

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