DEC 2016

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A s firefighters, we use tools to help us do our job on the fire and rescue scene. We have tools for forcible entry, extrica- tion, EMS, as well as special hose and nozzles for fire attack, protective gear to help us endure our dangerous envi- ronment, ladders of varying lengths and very expensive apparatus. We also have tools that can help us stay in shape and fit for duty. But what are the firefighter fitness tools of the trade? The "traditional" fitness tools—dumbbells, squat racks, bars and plate weights—are probably what comes to mind first. Growing in popularity around most fire department weight rooms are the "functional" fit- ness tools, such as TRX, stability balls, medicine balls and resistance bands. Then there are the fireground-related fit- ness tools that, if properly used, can help simulate fireground movement patterns and help to mimic "game-time" fitness requirements and situations. These items include tractor tires, foam buckets, fire hose, the BlastMask, weighted vests (like the PWR sandbag trainer), Steelhoses and sledgehammers. All of these tools are very good at developing the needed fitness components of the fireground. Unfortunately, there is a cost associated with them, and they are often the first items to get cut due to budget- ary restraints. This, of course, is a short- sided approach to fitness and one that we as fitness advocates hope to help change. We'll review some of these firefighter fitness tools here, and then delve into a group of tools that I consider to be essential for the challenging physical components of the job. Traditional fitness tools Traditional fitness tools include dumb- bells, weights, squat racks and cable col- umns. Weights and dumbbells have been used for many years and are the "go-to" when it comes to developing strength, power and endurance. Dumbbells are ver- satile and can be used for an endless num- ber of exercises. And unlike traditional machines, you can have multiple people working out with them at the same time. Cable columns provide a different resis- tance to that of dumbbells or weights, have a very small footprint, and can be easily adjusted to fit a wide variety of strength levels and sizes. The squat rack is another versatile tool, as it will allow you to strengthen your lift and, more impor- tantly, teach you to lift safely. There are an endless number of exercises that can be performed with the rack, especially when paired with an Olympic bar and plate weights. Functional fitness tools Functional tools include TRX, stability balls, foam rollers and kettlebells. Func- tional fitness equipment is versatile and can adapt to where, how and what you are training. The beautiful part about functional fitness equipment is that it allows you to train your muscles to work together by simulating everyday move- ments and movements you would use on the fireground. Suspension trainers, like the TRX, are great tools that use your own bodyweight to build total body strength, challenge your core and add a ton of variety to your training. These pieces of equipment are portable and don't require a lot of space. Stability balls (also called an exercise ball, Swiss ball or physioball) are a simple yet versatile piece of training equipment that helps improve core strength, balance and coordination. Stability balls come in a vari- ety of sizes and can be used in small areas. Foam rollers are very popular and available at most department and sports stores for a minimal investment. I recommend having a foam roller at the station and to use it as much as you can. Personally, I have one at home and one at the station and use them after demanding calls, workouts or just long HEALTH & WELLNESS By Aaron Zamzow AARON ZAMZOW is a firefighter/training officer for Madison, WI, Fire Department. He holds a bachelor's degree in health/ wellness and has 20 years of experience as a fitness trainer. He created Fire Rescue Fitness and authors programs aimed at getting fire rescue athletes fit for duty. Tools of the Trade A review of traditional, functional, fireground and generally essential firefighter fitness tools Traditional fitness tools: This group includes common firefighter fitness tools, such as squat racks, cable columns, dumbbells and weights. zamzowfitness @GetFRFit Connect with Aaron 66 l Firehouse l December 2016

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