Personal Training for Firefighters

National Academy of Sports Medicine
National Academy of Sports Medicine
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Use these tools to give firefighters a training edge. 

"Strength and endurance must go hand-in-hand on the fireground,” says Kenneth Shuttleworth, a 24-year firefighter and seven-year NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS. Here, his advice about what NASM-CPTs should keep in mind when working with active-duty firefighters and firefighters-in-training.

Active-Duty Firefighters

Cardiovascular Training

Use circuit workouts for clients with little spare time. Other good options: stair climbing (see below), swimming, biking, rowing, cross-country skiing, elliptical machines, and aerobic-type classes.

Strength Training

If possible, include exercises using firefighter equipment (or simulating its use), while wearing gear or a weighted vest. On-the-job gear can weigh more than 50 pounds.

Special Considerations

Clients may have sustained a variety of injuries. The NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) program can help you make appropriate modifications. Learn more at nasm.org/ces.

Firefighters in Training

Cardiovascular Training

Start with 30 minutes of walking/jogging at a challenging but doable pace five days/week. Gradually increase time, distance, and intensity up to a 30-minute run. Stair running is also imperative. Work up to a pace of 60 steps per minute for 20 minutes; then, add a weighted vest (25 pounds).

Strength Training

Target these five movement types:

  1. pulling (bicep curls, pull-ups),
  2. pushing (push-ups and similar exercises),
  3. bending-and-lifting (squatting, deadlifting),
  4. lunging (lunging, step-ups), and
  5. rotating (core exercises). Work one group per day, five days per week.

Special Considerations

Most firefighters must pass a physical test before being hired. Ask about guidelines for upcoming tests so you can plan an appropriate program.

The Author

National Academy of Sports Medicine

National Academy of Sports Medicine

Since 1987 the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) has been the global leader in delivering evidence-based certifications and advanced specializations to health and fitness professionals. Our products and services are scientifically and clinically proven. They are revered and utilized by leading brands and programs around the world and have launched thousands of successful careers.


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