firefighters, crackyl, health, fitness, gym, fit, healthy living

By: Aaron Zamzow

If you are not making progress, stop looking for supplements to cure your poor eating habits.

Staying fit and healthy can be challenging at the best of times.  It is even more frustrating if you are working out and not seeing progress.  Over the past 25 plus years of working in the fitness business and with first responders, I have learned that there are some key reasons you are not making progress in your fitness.  

You are exercising instead of training

When you exercise, you work out for the effect of that day, like relieving stress, burning calories, or working your biceps, etc.  Training, however, is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term performance goal.  For athletes (like firefighters, EMTs, and medics) training is a necessity or at least should be.  Training involves a long-term approach to fitness where one workout builds on the next, all leading to a long-term goal (better performance, leaner physique, more mobility, etc.).

Every time you hit the gym you need a plan of attack.  A purpose.  You cannot just wing it; make sure each workout builds on the next and is part of a bigger plan.  Aim to create a 45 to 60 day program to make sure you progress and stay motivated.  

You are not warming up properly

Every day I cringe as I watch people wander into a gym or firehouse and immediately lie down on a bench and start cranking out their workout within seconds. These are the people that end up hurting themselves thus impeding their progress. A properly performed dynamic warm-up can act as a catalyst for your workouts and your results.  Athletes that dynamically warm-up are less prone to injury and have greater mobility and range of motion.

What is a dynamic warm-up?  It is a series of movements designed to increase body temperature, activate the nervous system, increase range of motion, and correct limitations.  To gain range of motion at your joints and fire up (no pun intended) the muscles that you are going to use for that day’s work out, you need to do this type of warm-up.  Start warming up properly and you will notice a greater range of motion, more efficient movement, and an increase in strength – which will help you get better results.

You are looking for supplements to cure your poor nutritional habits

Eating properly is at least half the battle.  You can work out five days a week and burn hundreds of calories, but if you are not fueling and refueling yourself properly, all that hard work is squandered.  The body needs good nutrition to make sure that it can support the work being done and to make progress.

If you are not making progress, stop looking for supplements to cure your poor eating habits.  A protein shake here and an energy bar there will not do much to help you out if you are not eating healthy to begin with.

Supplements can help “supplement” your nutrition, meaning they can enhance it, but you must have the fundamentals covered. Drinking more water, avoiding added sugars, and eating a diet rich in protein, vegetables, fruits, and good fats is the way to go if you are looking for a boost in workouts and progress.  Change out the pasta for quinoa.  Snack on raw green peas or beans instead of pretzels and chips if you want a crunch.  Choose the salmon instead of the T-bone steak.

Not seeing the progress you had hoped for?  Look in the mirror and at your current approach.  Get a plan and follow it, make sure you properly warm-up, and do not look for supplements to cure your nutritional deficits. Making these subtle changes can go a long way in improving your level of fitness, training, and overall health.

Aaron Zamzow has over 15 years of firefighting experience as an on-call paid firefighter in Golden Valley, Minnesota and is currently a career Firefighter/ EMT and Training Officer in Madison, Wisconsin. He is the owner of Fire Rescue Fitness, a company that creates workout programs and fitness articles that focus on getting Fire Rescue Athletes “fit for duty.” Aaron holds a Bachelor of Science degree in health and wellness, is a NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, an IAFF/IAFC Peer Fitness Trainer and a Precision Nutrition level 1 coach. He has also, worked in the fitness industry for over 25 years and has experience working with the general population as well as athletes from the NBA, NFL and NHL. He is the author of The Ultimate Fire Rescue Athlete Workout and other fitness programs catered toward Fire Rescue Athletes and has recently been published in Firehouse, Fire Rescue Magazine, Firefighter Nation and in numerous other fire publications (Lexipol, Target Solutions, Size-up Magazine). He has appeared on numerous podcasts and television programs and presents to Fire Departments all over the country. He is on a mission to help 100,000 firefighters EMTs and medics get “fit for duty.

Photo by: Luis Vidal

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