Conditioning for Firefighting

I recently switched from a 5x5 program to 531. I love it and my strength is growing at a rate that I’m still loving. Now that I’m finally getting strength under control, it’s time for me to start looking at conditioning.

Jim always says that anything you do for conditioning or strength should have a reason and a plan behind it. He also says you should have a goal for your conditioning. With strength being my biggest concern, I know I wont be running any marathons. That being said, I’m a firefighter who still needs to be in decent shape. My goal is to be able to work well on a structure fire for 20 min without getting too gassed.

This means being able to crawl, walk, and go up/down stairs and ladders, with 50+ pounds of equipment while breathing limited air through an SCBA. Other things I’d need to be able to do include swinging a sledge or ax for periods of time and carrying/maneuvering heavy hose. The 20 min time frame is that’s the average time you’re going to be working before you have to switch air bottles and (if you’re lucky) you’ll get a short break at that point to refuel yourself.

I don’t have access to a prowler/sled and I have one medium size hill within walking distance from my house. I would like to avoid treadmill work though if I have to I’ll suck it up. Right now I’m toying with trying tire flips, sledgehammers, and hill sprints.

Any idea’s for a good conditioning program to help with the above goals while working out doing the 4 day 531?

Whats up fucker? haha I’m a LEO… its all in good fun :slight_smile:

Interested to see what others can respond with also.

I’ll let you know I’ve been alternating conditioning workouts throughout the week. I’ll do them on non-lifting days…

We have a hill we call the Big Mutha… we hit that about 5 times, sprinting up walking down

The longest stairs in NYC is a 15 min walk from where I live. I’ll walk there and up the stairs once as a warm up, walk back down, and try to get to the top as fast as possible while wearing my weight vest (40 lbs)

We have a park here with a track so we will run some laps there to work on long term endurance, but on other days we will just sprint.

Cheers brother, stay safe.

I’m in a similar boat as you, as I am joining the academy in about 3.5 months. Obviously, as a firefighter, you know more about your tasks then I do, but what I’ve been doing to get into good shape for the academy is focus on the strength (moved from 5x5’s to 5/3/1), and couple that with rowing sprints (6-8 x 250 meters), and just packing weights into a backpack and going up and down the stairs. The cardio isn’t sexy but it’s gotten me leaner (went from 245 to 204 at 6’1") and I’ve been able to hold onto most of my strength.

I’ve also been running a longer distance two times a week, but I don’t recommend that, I just want to be ready for all the running we’ll be doing in the academy.

Running stairs, especially with a weighted backpack is a great idea. That will mimic the SCBA. I’ll have to try to find an area around me with a long set of stairs…

Another idea I’ve been tossing around which is more of a strongman exercise is fillng a sandbag to 200+ pounds, throwing it over my shoulder, and just walking with it. Stairs would be a great addition to that too.

Being in the fire service for about a decade, there’s a lot of options for conditioning. I know you said you don’t have access to a sled/prowler, but that has been the BEST thing to mimic and condition for fire ground work. Heavy drags, pushes, sprints, and rope pulls done regularly have helped me a ton. If there is anyway you can get a hold of a sled, prowler, DO IT. If not, weighted walks, hill sprints are good. Stair climbs are good as well as heavy sledge swings. These are just my experiences.

Tire flips, sledge hammer, hills, like you said.

Make shift a kiaser sled using 4x4s and a section of telephone pole or an old railroad tie.

Grab up a old section of 1-3/4" and fill it with sand (weight about 100#s). When that’s too easy, get an old SCBA cylinder and fill it with sand and wear that. When that gets too easy, use a 2-1/2" filled with sand (about 150#s). You can’t push it, but there’s a whole bunch of ways to drag it.

When I was in boxing, we would warm up by running around the class room, and the younger, thinner guys ran rings around me. Then one day the coach had us run carrying each other piggy back, and I ran rings around them because I was running at the same speed with someone on my back and they all slowed to a walk. I’ve always attributed that to good, old fashioned dead lifts and squats, since they were the center of my leg routines. I’ve added other leg exercises, but for increased mobility or to lose weight.