By DAN KERRIGAN and JIM MOSS
One of the biggest benefits of firefighter functional fitness is that we do not need a lot of specialized equipment to get a great workout. Along with traditional exercise equipment and bodyweight exercises, the tools and equipment found in our firehouses expand our functional exercise arsenal. This article will share 20 functional exercises we can execute using hose to get a total-body workout.
- Four Fundamentals of Firefighter Functional Fitness
- No Gym? No Problem? Functional Fitness in the Firehouse
- Dan Kerrigan Wants You ‘Functionally Fit’
- The Three A’s of Firefighter Fitness Success
Book: Firefighter Functional Fitness: The Essential guide to Optimal Firefighter Performance and Longevity
Our core is our body’s foundation and starting point. Use the following four exercises that target the entirety of the core—the front, back, and sides of the torso.
- Plank pull-through (photo 1). Here, perform a standard plank with your feet shoulder width apart. Place the edge of the hose roll/bundle by your left hand. With your right hand, pull the hose over to the right side of your body. Alternate sides for a total plank duration of 30-60 seconds per set.
(1) Photos by Jim Moss.
- Side bend (photo 2). Side bends, also known as “oblique crunches,” are great for building lateral core strength. While standing, hold a hose roll in one hand and bend laterally at your hips to a depth of six inches. Return to the starting position and repeat the sequence for 10-20 reps on each side of your body.
- “Good Mornings” (photo 3). Start in a standing position and place a hose bundle on your shoulders. Hinging at your hips, slowly lower your torso forward until it is parallel with the ground. Raise back up to the starting position in a controlled fashion. To put less strain on your lower back, put a slight bend in your knees as you lower down. If this movement is too difficult with the hose bundle, try it without weight—just put your hands behind your head. Caution: Avoid this exercise if you have had a previous lumbar back injury.
- “Floor Sweepers” (photo 4). Lay on your back and hold a heavy hose roll/bundle with arms extended above your chest. Engage your core, put tension in your legs, and bring your feet up to the right side at a 45° angle. Slowly lower your feet back to starting position, but don’t let them touch the ground. Repeat the same movement on the left side. To increase the difficulty, lower the angle that you bring your feet over to each side (e.g., one foot above the ground). (4) Cardiovascular Capacity ExercisesEvery firefighter needs excellent cardiovascular capacity to perform at the highest level on the fireground. Use the following three exercises for high-intensity interval training sessions.
- “Battle Hose” (5). To improve cardiovascular capacity and arm and shoulder strength, use a single section of attack hose. Wrap it around a stationary object at the hose’s midpoint. Assume an athletic stance and rapidly “whip” the hose with your arms alternating for 15-60 seconds.
- Step-ups (photo 6). Hold a hose roll in each hand or place a hose bundle on your shoulders. Execute step-ups on a box, workout bench, or sturdy chair. Perform 10 reps with each leg leading (i.e., 10 reps with the right leg, 10 reps with the left leg).
- Hose-hop burpee (7). Set up the hose to the side of your body. Do a burpee and then laterally hop over the hose. Repeat the sequence for 10-30 reps per set.
Total-Body Strength ExercisesThe following 10 exercises give us a comprehensive approach to functional strength training by using pushes, pulls, lifts, carries, and dragging movements.
- Elevated push-ups (photo 8). Did you know that an elevated push-up is 15% harder than a standard push-up? This is because more weight is concentrated on your upper body. Elevate your feet on 2-3 stacked rolls of supply hose and complete one push-up.
- Standing overhead press (photo 9). While standing, hold a hose roll/bundle with both hands to your chest. Engage your core and press the hose above your head. If using a hose roll, you can also perform single-arm overhead presses.
- Squats (photo 10). Distribute a hose bundle evenly across both shoulders or hold it to your chest with both arms. With your feet shoulder width apart, squat down to the depth of a seat and stand back up. Challenge yourself with tempo squats by slowing your descent and ascent over five seconds or more.
- Thrusters (photo 11). A thruster is a combination of a squat and an overhead press performed in sequence. Hold a hose roll/bundle to your chest while standing and squat down to a seated height. Thrust your body upward as you simultaneously push the hose above your head. Return the hose to your chest and repeat the sequence. Note: A fun variation for thrusters would be to place a hose roll/bundle on the tip of a ground ladder, then raise the tip of the ladder to your chest. Squat down, thrust upward, and raise the tip of the ladder overhead.
- Hose hoist (photo 12). Secure a rope to a hose roll. Next, locate a stairwell or other elevated platform and execute hose hoists by pulling the rope in a hand-over-hand movement. (12) Alternatively, use a rope and stationary pulley located in a hose tower. Raise and lower the hose section in a controlled manner. Note: Don’t forget to wear gloves!
- Weighted sled pull (photo 13). Throw one or more rolls of hose on a weight sled or wooden pallet. Tie a hose to it and pull it 25-50 feet.
- Charged attack hose pull (photo 14). Stand or kneel on the ground and pull 50-100 feet of charged attack hose (1¾- or 2½-inch) in a hand-over-hand motion.
- “Farmer’s Carry” (photo 15). It doesn’t get any simpler than a “Farmer’s Carry.” Simply pick up one or two sections of rolled hose and carry them at arm’s length for 50-100 feet. Carrying a single hose roll (e.g., asymmetric carry) is desirable because it develops core strength. Challenge yourself by executing the Farmer’s Carry up hills or stairs and while doing step-ups.
- Lunges (photo 16). For lunges, place a hose bundle across both shoulders or on a single shoulder. Alternatively, you can carry hose rolls at arm’s length while performing lunges. Carrying a single roll in only one arm will challenge your core strength. Lunge variations include front lunges, walking lunges, reverse lunges, and side lunges.
- Supply line drag (photo 17). With a dry section or two of unrolled large-diameter hose, place the hose over your shoulder, lean forward, and drag it 50-100 feet. Beginners may choose to use three-inch hose, but if you want a real challenge, choose five-inch hose. (17) FlexibilityThe following three hose stretches (pun intended) use static stretching to increase our flexibility during post-workout cool-downs.
- Garland Pose (photo 18). Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Hold a hose roll with both hands and sink your torso toward the floor. You will feel an intense stretch in your groin and hips.
- Oblique stretch (photo 19). Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a hose roll in your right arm and place your left hand on the back of your head. While keeping your hips stationary, sink down laterally until you feel a stretch in your left obliques. Repeat the same process on the opposite side of your body.
- Child’s Pose (photo 20). Kneel down and sit on your ankles. Bend at your hips and lean forward to place your hands on a hose roll/bundle. Your arms should be straight above your head as your push your chest into the ground. Rest your head on the ground. This stretch will improve your shoulder, chest, and back flexibility.
There are many exercises with which we can use hose while working out at the station. With every firefighter’s inherent creativity and adaptability, the sky’s the limit when it comes to exercising with hose. Not only is it an inexpensive way to work out, but using hose also increases our muscle memory and confidence with an essential piece of job-related equipment.
DAN KERRIGAN and JIM MOSS are the authors of the best-selling book Firefighter Functional Fitness: The Essential Guide to Optimal Firefighter Performance and Longevity. They speak internationally at fire departments and conferences, including FDIC International.
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