Firefighters regularly throw themselves into some of the most dangerous and challenging situations. When lives are on the line, they need to be able to perform their duties without fail. Not only do they need to carry people and heavy equipment, but they also must have the stamina necessary to climb up and down stairs and move large objects out of the way. Of course, they must do all of this while withstanding intense heat.
It should go without saying that first responders must be physically fit at all times. Being in shape allows emergency crews to answer the call of duty, avoid injuries and prolong their careers for as long as possible. Here are some important tips and pointers for firefighter functional fitness.
How Firefighters Can Maintain a Fitness Routine
Because firefighting is such a demanding job, it requires more than just hitting the gym every other day. It requires a significant commitment to health and fitness; the fact that it could mean the difference between life and death makes the sacrifice more than worth the effort. Here’s a quick rundown of the most crucial steps for firefighter physical training.
- Be aware of your needs: A proper fitness regimen begins with knowing your body. This means having regular checkups with a doctor and paying attention to the assessment. Are you at a healthy weight for your body type? How strong is your heart? Are there any underlying conditions that could impact your health in the future? Knowing the status of your health ahead of time helps you make the right choices.
- Set realistic goals for yourself: If you find out you’re overweight, your first instinct may be to set a goal of losing weight as soon as possible. However, this could lead to disappointment and frustration if you don’t make quick progress, which means you might fall off your routine. Another approach that may be more effective is to set smaller, manageable goals for yourself that allow you to experience a feeling of accomplishment before you attempt to reach the next milestone.
- Watch what you eat: Proper nutrition is essential for any type of fitness or wellness program. If you’re not sure how to maintain a healthy diet, consult a nutritionist or personal trainer. This might mean fewer barbecues or pizza nights at the station, but your health and the physical demands of the job may require additional sacrifices to ensure not only the safety of yourself, but of those around you as well.
- Take care of yourself: One aspect of fitness that is often overlooked is your mental health. Responding to emergencies is extremely stressful, and it’s important to give yourself a break to relax and recharge. Taking some quiet time to enjoy your hobbies, go for a walk, meditate and take your mind off your stress.
The Best Workouts for Firefighters
When you’re a firefighter, a gym workout should be focused on keeping your body strong. Here are a few suggestions for exercises you should consider incorporating into your routine:
- Dynamic stretching: Instead of holding a stretch the traditional way, try dynamic stretching. This involves stretching for a few seconds, then returning to your original position. Repeat this several times to help improve your flexibility.
- Deadlifting: To deadlift, simply lift a weight off the ground, put it back down and repeat. It’s that easy — just make sure you lift with your knees, not your back. Chances are, you already do this dozens of times a day with hoses, tools and other equipment, so adding the exercise to your workout should make those tasks even easier.
- Planking: Planking is when you lie face down on the floor, with your body forming a straight line. Keep your arms and feet in contact with the ground for 10 to 30 seconds, then rotate to one side and prop yourself up with your forearm, all while tensing your abs and glutes for stability. This exercise can help strengthen the back muscles and prevent injuries caused by twisting movements while working.
Lighten the Load
Although firefighters work hard at maintaining their health and fitness, BlowHard’s PPV fans are designed to be easy to carry and set up by a single person. With ergonomics in mind, their shape and balance help reduce stress on the body, ultimately reducing risk of injury. This allows for a safe, quick, and efficient deployment; plus they’re effective at eliminating smoke and toxins from a site. Click here to view our complete lineup of products and learn more about them.