For many of you, this question will conjure up a resounding “YES!”…all the while, the true answer, is actually no. Why? The following paragraphs should provide sufficient clarity as to the “why”, as I delve deeper into the details of larger and smaller centres, as well as, how I personally take care to optimize these types of clients.

First of all, I do not believe in commercial gyms when the goal is to optimize performance. The staff often know very little about progressing athletes, and/ or performance minded clients, yet firefighters/police-officers, to be at their best, must train for strength. Yes, you read that right, strength, although most tend to focus training around endurance work…Hell, even those who work riding a Segway, have a basic need for proper strength training. Working in these fields will routinely require them to: break down doors, ceilings, extract people from high pressure situations, neutralize threats, sprint out of buildings or after assailants, and even man-handle suspects on the ground… They all need to be stronger, more explosive, and resilient to damage like a super hero…yet still, they do cardio like an Ethiopian marathon runner. I am not saying that one must forgo doing cardio, not at all, it actually has its place, but it must be programmed, and performed in greater relation to their desired outcome. This means, the likes of strongman training, sprints, and other resistance interval training, should make up the majority of their cardiovascular work. Depending on the phase of training, the individual, and job title/ position, there may be long, medium or short intervals that are prioritized. In this manner, you will increase your cardio vascular capacity faster, especially when compared to the endless minutes of jogging done around the block (complete waste of time in my opinion).

Let us peer further into the reasoning behind the need for strength, these workers should be able to lift things, push things, recuperate quickly, and then be able to do it all over again, as often as the emergency requires. They should be READY FOR ACTION AT ANY TIME. If you take an honest look at the work they do, they must be able to carry heavy loads, then on a dime, drop, and pivot to either a rapid escape, or pursue a criminal. Individuals in these fields who see a lot of action, must almost be tuned like an athlete: able to come off the bench cold, on a whim, and perform without missing a step, or experiencing an injury. As you can see, these have the potential of being very physical jobs, even if some people say that cops do nothing but sit in their cars all day, and firefighters lay around the station, napping or cooking food. Yes, at times it is their duty to do so, but when they work, they work hard, and they will use strength, and speed to save the lives of others.

As for training specifics, I would work them out HARD, much like their jobs may require of them. For example, the air cylinder firefighters carry on their backs, lasts about twenty minutes, after that, they must get out, take a short break, drink some water, and get back into the action. A police-officer called to work an escalating intervention, when asked to perform, will have about fifteen to twenty minutes of continuous work, before being able to take a break, or neutralize the situation. Both of these professionals will have to perform at one hundred percent of their capacity when danger strikes.

This is the way I split the week of training for these types of professionals (the cycle lasts three weeks, the fourth week is a de-load):

MONTH 1                                                                                                                    MONTH 2

Monday: lower body strength                                                                            Monday: upper body strength

Tuesday: upper body speed                                                                                Tuesday: long interval strongman

Wednesday: off                                                                                                       Wednesday: lower body speed

Thursday:  short interval circuit (strong man style)                                    Thursday: off

Friday: legs for speed                                                                                            Friday: lower body strength

Saturday:  medium interval strongman for power                                     Saturday: upper body for speed

Sunday: off                                                                                                                Sunday: off

Follow these once or twice a week for rehab or prevention purposes. For myself, more often than not, I will add in these strongman style intervals in order to prevent injuries, by making the shoulder girdle, and the pelvic area stronger. There are a thousand ways to program this type of training, and this is just one example, the crucial detail is to alternate the maximum effort days, and the speed days. The ideal combination for this type of training, is to have alternating speed and strength days, and then to add in some strongman work for those who participate in other sports outside of the gym. As you can see, both law-enforcement and firefighters alike, must train physically in order to become better at their work. Now, it is your turn to help make them better, are you ready? Can you do it?

Oh, before I forget…why are commercial gyms unable to cater to the needs of these workers? It is quite simple actually, just go and ask about their strongman program and equipment, there is a HIGH likelihood that there are none.

See you next week,

Stay strong