Firefighter Fitness Standards
Ace the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT)
I responded to an email from a sailor who loved his Navy job so much that he continued his public service as a firefighter when he retired. As an Aviation Boatswain's Mate, he was one of 35,000 Navy personnel who receive ship-board firefighting training each year. After his Navy service, the retired 38 year old had to then physically prepare for the firefighting academy in his county. With his help - and the help of other local firefighters from Canada, New York City, and other major cities - we created a program to help him ace the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT).
Each year, many of today's military personnel are continuing public service professions once out of the military - performing jobs in law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medicine. Many of these heroes are also continuing their military service as Reservists or National Guard members, and have to take physical fitness tests every six months to stay operational.
It is difficult to fit fitness into a busy day or night of shift work, family duties, and other distractions. But it is vital that our public servants perform their jobs in a manner than does not unnecessarily risk their lives or the lives of the people they protect. Here are some ideas to help with quick fitness routines when time is short.
The Jumping Jack/Pushup Routine
(Repeat 5-10 times: Jumping jacks-10 reps and Pushups-10 reps) This one gets the heart going and pumps the arms and chest. I use it to wake me when the need to stay alert is required. It only takes 3-5 minutes!
Try not to rest other than touching your toes after jumping jacks and walking your hands out in front of you and slowly place yourself into the pushup position. I usually do this before a workout to get the muscles loose but it is a great way to take a few minutes and get 50-100 pushups. Do this throughout the day, every hour or so and you will have several reps of pushups done.
Mix in Legs With Above Workout
Add squats in between jumping jacks and pushups for a great full body pump that only takes 5-7 minutes. I recommend doing 10-20 reps of squats or half squats when doing this workout.
Do it With Dumbbells
Place dumbbells near your workspace and pick them up every so often to get in a quick full body workout as well. I like to do what I call Multi-Joint Exercise with dumbbells:
Multi-Joint Dumbbell #1
This multi-joint exercise focuses on the upper-body by mixing several exercises into one movement. This one mixes bicep curls, military press and triceps extensions. Start with dumbbells by the waist, raise them doing a bicep curl, then over head, and then behind your head - repeat in reverse order.
Full-Body Dumbbell #2
This multi-joint exercise adds lower body exercises to Full-body dumbbells #1. This exercise mixes triceps extensions, military press, bicep curls, and full squats. Start with dumbbells by the waist, perform a squat, then raise them doing a bicep curl, then over head, and then behind your head - repeat in reverse order.
Full-Body Dumbbell #3
This multi-joint exercise adds lower body exercises to Full-body dumbbells #1. This exercise mixes triceps extensions, military press, bicep curls, full squats, squat thrust, and pushup. Start with dumbbells by the waist, perform a squat, a squat thrust, then a pushup, then reverse squat thrust, squat up, then raise them doing a bicep curl, then over head, and then behind your head - repeat in reverse order.
These are some quick ideas to help you fit fitness into your schedule. The thing to remember about fitness - if it is not in the schedule, it does not exist!
Being unfit should not be an option for any public service officers with the risks of life on the line. The firefighting and law enforcement profession is simply a cross section of America's fitness levels - both groups require a certain level of fitness to do their jobs well and both groups need to add fitness into their lives as it will save their own life, the life of their comrade, or the life of an accident victim.
After interviewing and training firefighters and police officers (and understanding the physical requirements of performing their work) we have developed several routines to test fitness, maintain fitness levels, and build fitness from the ground floor.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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