The Top 8 Fitness Exercises for Firefighters

The Top 8 Fitness Exercises for Firefighters

The Top 8 Fitness Exercises for Firefighters

48% of injuries during fireground operations and 56% of non-fireground injuries were strains and sprains (out of 58,835 firefighter injuries in 2017). If you want to reduce your risk of injury and be someone your squad can rely on, you need to be physically fit. Being a tactical athlete will keep you and your fellow firefighters safe.

What is a tactical athlete? It’s not just about working out; it’s about the work. You want to practice functional exercises that will help you with on-the-job tasks. You may not be able to lift as much as a bodybuilder or run as far as a marathoner. But the goal is to be well-rounded, so you can run faster than a bodybuilder and lift a lot more than a runner.

You want to be in optimal shape for any emergency call that comes your way and be ready for physically demanding tasks like axing open a roof, carrying a victim, or hauling a hose up stairs.

Exercise at Work Using Firehouse Equipment

Functional exercise prepares you for movements you’ll do on the job. If you’re at the firehouse, workout with the equipment you use every day. Add an additional challenge to exercises #1-3 by wearing TheraBand Ankle and Wrist Weights.

  1. Stair Runs with Packs
    • Run up and down the stairs while carrying your high rise pack, hotel pack, or another piece of equipment with weight. This approach conditions your body and gets it ready for when you have to wear your turnout gear. Practice this at home using dumbbells instead.
  2. Battle Ropes Using Hoses
    • Wrap the 1-¾” fire hose around a sturdy anchor point. Hold one end in each hand. Create alternating waves by bringing one hand up toward your shoulder and the other down, towards your knee. This exercise works your whole body.
  3. Box Jumps Using the Fire Engine
    • Jump upward with both feet together to land on the fire engine’s back bumper. Jump down feet together and repeat. If you aren’t good at jumping, you can do step ups instead. Step onto the bumper with your left foot and push up so your left leg is straight. Keep your right leg elevated forming a ninety degree angle. Step down with the right leg, then the left leg. Repeat starting with the right foot stepping onto the bumper.
  4. Farmer’s Carry Using Foam Pails
    • Hold one foam pail by the handle in each hand. Lift the pail to hip height and carry it back and forth. This builds grip strength that you’ll use to carry ladders or move victims. Work on your grip strength at home using a hand exerciser.
  5. See these exercises in action!

    Exercise at Home Using Gym Equipment

  6. Hose Pull Using Resistance Bands
    • Secure the resistance band to an anchor point. Hold one end loop in each hand with your arms extended straight. Pull back on the band, bring your elbows to your side and forming a ninety degree angle. This exercise works on similar muscles that you would use to pull a hose. You can try it while standing or kneeling. You can also hold the resistance band over your shoulder and walk forward against the resistance. Or secure it above your head and use to mimic a chopping motion.
  7. "We utilize many different tools at the firehouse but staying physically fit is extremely important for the day to day tasks of a firefighter. I utilize the TheraBand in my different resistance band training."

    -Tommy Basore Fitness Coach and firefighter

  8. Box Jumps with Pyloboxes

    box jump

    • Want to do box jumps at home? These boxes are height adjustable, so you can start lower and raise the height as you improve. Cardiovascular health matters because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of duty-related fatalities in firefighters. While running and biking are good for building a cardio fitness base, box jumps, running stairs, and intervals better match what you encounter at work.
  9. Pull-Ups
    • Pull ups are a great upper body exercise. Use a large diameter bar to target your grip strength at the same time. If you’re looking to save space, many bars can be mounted in door frames.
  10. Core Strengthening with TheraBand Resistance Bands


    • Protect yourself from back injuries by strengthening your hamstrings, quads, and core. Looking for an alternative to crunches? Add this resistance band exercise. Lay on your back and wrap the band just below your knees, crossing it underneath. Flex your hips and knees, then lift your knees up so your hips come off the ground. This works your lower abs. Back injuries cause 50% of line-of-duty injury retirements each year. Strengthen these muscles and use proper lifting techniques to stay safe.

Cool-Down: Relieve Your Pain with Biofreeze & a Foam Roller

rolling out

After exercising or after a tough shift, make sure to take time to rest and recharge. Active recovery using foam rolling can get you ready for your next work out. Target your hamstring by laying one leg over your roller and placing the other over the roller planting your foot on the floor. Place your hands on the floor and lift your hips off the floor. Slowly roll back and forth.

Relieve any lingering aches and pains from working out or on the job injuries using Biofreeze. It’s a topical pain reliever. Just apply it on your skin and enjoy cooling relief.

Fire victims, as well as your fellow firefighters, are depending on you. Use these exercises to prepare for your next call. You can’t afford to be in anything but top shape, ready for any fire.

Just getting started? Check out our guide on how to prepare for the CPAT.

Everts, B. and Molis, J. (2018). U.S. Firefighter Injuries in 2017. Retrieved from
Zamzo, A. (2016). Health & Wellness: Creating a Fire-Rescue Workout Program. Retrieved from

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