Firefighter Fitness

Firefighters, along with many other first responders (paramedics, police, etc.), experience some of the highest percentages of on-the-job injury rates. They must put their bodies in various positions and challenging scenarios on a daily basis. From climbing ladders to crawling in small spaces, these individuals are saving lives.


Knowing the challenges they face, getting stronger, more mobile, more “fit”, and injury-proofing their bodies is paramount.


Since they are pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, and carrying every day for their jobs, incorporating these movement patterns into a firefighter-specific training routine is a smart way to prepare the body for the potential circumstances they may encounter.


S.M.A.R.T Planning

When creating a routine, utilizing the popular S.M.A.R.T. acronym is a great tool. We want to create a workout that combines strength, mobility, and cardiovascular training to ensure a well-rounded workout that will transfer to their on-the-job skill requirements. Let’s look at how we can use the S.M.A.R.T acronym to plan:



Our goals should be clear and specific so we can truly focus on them. For this workout, we will include specific movement patterns that these individuals actively experience in their lives.



Measurement = motivation. Keep track of how many rounds you complete in the prescribed timeframe to ensure you are staying consistent, or even improving from session to session.



Our goals must be realistic and attainable. For this workout, it’s important to choose weights and rep schemes that are appropriate and safe. If you are only able to complete 2-3 total sets in the 20-30 minutes, you may need to lighten the weights for a few weeks until you’re able to complete more sets on a consistent basis.



Our goals should matter and be worthwhile. In this example, firefighter health is vital so exercise and staying injury-free is certainly relevant.



It’s important to have targets and deadlines. In this example, the entire workout is ‘time-based’ so it works well the S.M.A.R.T acronym.


The Workout

This workout will be done in a circuit fashion so you’ll complete the first movement, then move on to the second movement, then the third, etc. Once you complete all five exercises, go back and complete the first movement to begin set #2. Set a timer for the desired timeframe, let’s say 30 minutes. Being a firefighter is serious business and, as we mentioned before, can involve life and death situations. Their training must also be serious business. These timed circuits are a great way to efficiently get a good amount of work in. Too many of us waste time in the gym, especially between sets. With this circuit routine, you don’t have time to waste, you have to stay focused on the workout the entire time.


Equipment needs

  1. Total Gym
  2. Kettlebell


The Routine

  1. Total Gym Reverse Lunge & Press – 6 reps/leg
  2. Total Gym Pull-ups – 10 reps
  3. Kettlebell Swings – 20 reps
  4. Bear Crawls – ~40 yards
  5. Kettlebell Suitcase Carry ~20 yards/arm

Doug Balzarini

Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is a personal trainer, strength coach, international presenter, and the founder of DB Strength. He also owns a fitness facility outside of Boston called, “Iron Village Strength & Conditioning”. He was the head strength and conditioning coach for the Alliance MMA Training Center where he worked with many top professional MMA athletes. He has also worked at Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and, most recently, spent a year in Saudi Arabia where he designed and created programming for a new state-of-the-art facility. Visit or for more information.

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