FITNESSTraining and Workouts6 Steps for Choosing Your Firefighter Workout Program

6 Steps for Choosing Your Firefighter Workout Program

By: Ryan Provencher – CRACKYL’s Executive Fitness Advisor

We have been talking recently about firefighters as tactical athletes, and strategies to develop the “Athlete’s Mindset”. The second strategy to consider is selecting a periodized physical training plan. Here are 6 steps to consider when choosing the firefighter workout program that is right for you:

Set Performance Goals

The first step to choosing your firefighter workout program is to set specific performance goals. Consider your current level of fitness relative to where you want it to be. You may feel that your strength is good, but you want to improve mobility. You may feel that your mobility is good, but you want to improve your conditioning and endurance. Setting specific goals is an essential part of mapping out your physical training plan, or choosing your firefighter workout program. Click here for more information about Setting Performance Goals.

Select A Specific Workout Program

As you map out your workout program or look at programs that are available to you, make sure that it is designed specifically to meet the goals that you have set. For example, If your primary goal is to build strength for performing specific firefighting tasks, your workout plan will include exercises that mimic these tasks. If you want to improve joint range of motion, the program will place an emphasis on mobility exercises and yoga poses.

Strive for Progressive Overload

A well planned firefighter workout program will provide opportunities for progression in each workout session. For example, if you are performing strength exercises, you will increase load in each workout. If you are performing conditioning intervals, you will increase tempo/volume in each workout. If you are working on mobility, you will strive for subtle increases in range of motion. Your workout plan should include metrics that help you to track your progress objectively. 

Be mindful of Specific Adaptation 

Anyone can walk into the gym, work hard, and leave. Unfortunately, if you take an arbitrary approach to your training, your results may not be what you hope for. The “SAID Principle” may be helpful to you as you evaluate your workout plan. This is the “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand”. This ties into the process of goal setting for developing physical attributes, and progressive overload in your training for improving each of these attributes.

Ensure that the Training Plan is Comprehensive 

The physical, mental, and emotional demands placed on us as firefighters are often high. It is important that our physical training prepares us for these challenges, but it must also account for recovery from stress. A comprehensive firefighter workout program will provide an effective balance between work and recovery.

Reach out to a Peer Fitness Trainer or Qualified Coach

Many departments have Peer Fitness Trainers in place to assist with Program design or selection. If you don’t have access to a PFT in your department, consider reaching out to a qualified Coach in your community or online. It is important that the professional you seek out to help you understands the occupational demands of firefighting and has the knowledge and experience to provide a periodized training plan to help you effectively and efficiently meet your goals.

Ryan is the Training Division Chief, Health/Safety Officer, and Wellness/Fitness Coordinator in his department, founder of Firefighter Peak Performance, and Executive Fitness Advisor for CRACKYL Magazine. He has a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition from Washington State University. He has worked as a Volunteer Firefighter, Firefighter/EMT, Firefighter/Paramedic, and Company Officer before promoting to his current position. Ryan is grateful to combine his love for firefighting and physical fitness over his career of nearly 30 years. You can get in touch with Ryan by email [email protected].

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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