5 Firefighter-Inspired Workouts to Help You Get Fit Fast

To say firefighters have demanding jobs roughly equates to telling someone bacon tastes good, i.e., it’s a vast understatement. At any given time, they have to be prepared to climb substantial heights, run at breakneck speed, and carry hefty loads, all while suited in a substantial amount of gear. Just thinking about it is exhausting.

Because different calls can involve any number of physical feats, firefighters have to focus their efforts on developing a well-rounded fitness regimen. This means, working to build muscular strength and endurance, mobility, explosivity, and cardiovascular endurance. If you want to get in fantastic shape, you can’t go wrong taking a cue from these guys. Start your journey with these killer workouts.

1. 500-rep workout

man performing push-ups on a dock outside

Man performing push-ups outside | Source: iStock

It doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out what this workout from Fire Rescue Fitness is all about. While it sounds a little insane, the entire program includes 12 different exercises. That being said, form is absolutely everything with this workout. It looks to bodyweight moves in lieu of fancy gym equipment, so you can perform it anywhere.

Before you get started with the meat of the workout, you’ll do an active warm-up to get your body ready. The 500 repetitions include everything from burpees to planks to lunges, meaning you’ll end up targeting every part of your body by the end. The real kicker is finishing things off with 10 minutes of stair intervals. If you did your job, you should be very tired by the end.

2. Keithroy Maynard honor workout

man performing bodyweight squats on a track

Man doing squats on a track | Source: iStock

In an ideal world, every firefighter would be at peak physical fitness. Sadly, it’s not always the case. Men’s Health explained many are actually overweight and at a high risk for cardiac arrest. The need for better fitness among these men and women spurred a group of firefighters to create 555 Firefighter Fitness, a community and website that shares daily workouts.

If there’s any downside to the plans laid out by the this crew, it’s the CrossFit workouts can be a little confusing for newcomers. Luckily, they broke down one of their programs into more digestible terms for Men’s Health. This particular workout was designed in honor of Keithroy Maynard, who lost his life during service on September 11. You’ll do five total rounds of the three-exercise circuit, ideally wearing a weighted vest.

3. Superset firefighter workout

muscular man in a white tank doing pull-ups

Man doing pull-ups outside | Source: iStock

Since cardio is just as important for firefighters as strength, supersets are a great option. The idea is to perform one set of lifts for a particular exercise then go right into another move without taking any rest between. This helps to keep your heart rate elevated while posing a serious challenge to your muscles. Combining moves that work the same muscles or ones that challenge separate parts of your body can both be effective, so it’s pretty easy to transform any workout routine into one that utilizes supersets.

To get started, try the day one routine from Breaking Muscle. It includes single-leg glute bridges, explosive jumps, squats, and more to get your heart pumping and your muscles working. Though some of these moves require weight, they’re designed to work with any heavy object.

4. Firefighter legs, core, and cardio workout

firefighter carrying equipment over to the truck

Firefighter carrying a tank over his shoulder | Source: iStock

Because firefighters carry a lot of heavy equipment, developing good leg and core strength is the best defense against a back strain. Spine-Health explained lifting a substantial load can lead to tears in muscles or ligaments, which can cause a substantial amount of pain. This is why you often hear the advice to lift with your legs.

Exercise.com shared a routine geared specifically toward building strength in the core and lower body, which also incorporates bursts of cardio. You’ll notice the number of repetitions for the lifts are on the low side. According to the story, this was an intentional choice to focus on building strength with heavy loads.

5. Steady-state cardio

firefighter running along the road in all of his gear

Firefighter running in full gear | Source: iStock

Most people have ditched long bouts of exercise on the treadmill and stationary bike. Instead, they go for HIIT. While these intense sessions can burn major calories in a small amount of time, steady-state cardio is crucial for building the type of endurance firefighters need. ACE Fitness explained these longer, sustained sessions increase your aerobic capacity and cardiac efficiency, which means your heart will be able to circulate more blood with fewer beats.

If you need further proof steady state is key for firefighters, The Seattle Fire Department recommends their team go for 60 minutes of running almost every day. Steady-state cardio is also a good choice for days when you’re recovering from interval sessions. Trying to string together too many intense bouts of cardio can lead to injury and overtraining. As for the specific activity, we’ll leave that up to you.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

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