S&C UnderGround Questions about peaking pre/during fire academy

12/17/17 11:43 AM
2/13/16
Posts: 1695

So I found out the other day I have until July to get in shape for a full time fire academy.  It's one of the toughest in the country and I'm admittedly nowhere near the shape I should be in.  It's five months long and PT is four days a week and very "crossfit"/functional for firefighters orientated.  Although I'm not a huge fan of crossfit I admit it's beneficial for this career field.  

 

My question is this, should I be trying to peak prior to the academy or just trying to lay a solid foundation for a 5 month long grueling academy? 

12/19/17 2:54 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1698

Anyone?

12/21/17 12:59 PM
3/5/14
Posts: 10476

"Peaking" is best used for a very limited time frame and looks to get the most out of your performance in a very brief window.  Think a single meet or a few events spread over a couple of days at the most.

In my opinion you should just try to practice getting your body ready for the type of training they are going to be putting you through  and getting your baseline strengh up as you approach said training.

You want to be and stay in the type of condition so that you can complete and handle that kind of shit everyday and for the rest of your life.  You aren't going to get to peak for a fire response, its just going to be an everyday thing. 

Get yourself into the kind of condition that will not only be able to complete the training and standards, but destroy it.

2/11/18 11:05 AM
9/5/04
Posts: 39

I would agree that you shouldn’t be concerned with peaking, but building a increased work capacity and a moderately high strength base with a relatively high level of anaerobic conditioning.  What’s your training history and what equipment do you have access to?  I’m a career firefighter and have been through a couple of fire academies.  A lot of larger departments still employ a military basic training style of Physical training relying on moderate-long distance running and calisthenics due to the sheer number of recruits in a class.  More and more departments are going to a metabolic conditioning/Firefighter Combat Challenge style of PT though, which reflects the job better to be honest.

2/26/18 7:17 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1820
MadeNHB -

I would agree that you shouldn’t be concerned with peaking, but building a increased work capacity and a moderately high strength base with a relatively high level of anaerobic conditioning.  What’s your training history and what equipment do you have access to?  I’m a career firefighter and have been through a couple of fire academies.  A lot of larger departments still employ a military basic training style of Physical training relying on moderate-long distance running and calisthenics due to the sheer number of recruits in a class.  More and more departments are going to a metabolic conditioning/Firefighter Combat Challenge style of PT though, which reflects the job better to be honest.

Sorry late reply, and thanks for responding.

 

My history..

 

I’m actually a career firefighter now. I went through the DoD fire academy, immediately after going through basic military training.  Honestly thought it was a breeze then but I was in the best shape of my life at that point.  And I’m in much worse shape now, carrying a lot more body fat and not slugging our 6+ mile runs anymore (I’m working up to it again).

The academy/dep I’ll be going through is very para military.  They’ve gone the route of the combat challenge/HIIT/crossfit and actually have fully equipped gyms for that function for 50ish recruits at a time.  

At the station I have a sufficient weight room and cardio room.. often times I’ll make circuits with kettlebells, rower, farmers carries, sprints and kaiser sled... just get creative.  

I split the time 50/50 with my wife with our infant at home, it’s been too cold to take her running outside with me, so I’ve resorted to buying a few kettlebells a rower, jump rope and a box for jumps at home. When it warms up I’ll be able to take her running outside.  

3/1/18 8:22 PM
9/5/04
Posts: 41

You have until July, so about 16 weeks to prepare.  I wouldn’t prepare by going all out with Crossfit type workouts until you’ve developed a good baseline work capacity and not being familiar with your training history with compound lifts/Olympic lifts, I wouldn’t want to risk injury.  I would start by performing LISS cardio 2x a week for the first eight weeks and one HIIT cardio session a week.  I would have 3-4 days a week based around Bench, Squat, Deadlift, OH Press with accessory/supplemental lifts performed in Superset or Circuit fashion to increase work capacity.  Maybe take a look at Joe Defranco’s Westside for Skinny Bastards and use that as a guideline but perform accessories in a way to keep your heart rate up.  That should help you lean up as long as your diet is in check.   Developing a relatively high Maximal strength will make sub-maximal loads seem easier and the circuit fashion of the accessories/supplemental lifts will prepare you for the next eight weeks by developing a good baseline of anaerobic conditioning.  The last eight weeks I’d up the HIIT sessions to three times a week and continue the weight sessions but change my accessories to more cardio taxing exercises like Bodyweight lunges, Dumbbell Step-Ups, KB swings, etc.

3/9/18 1:00 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1834

Okay that’s pretty much what I’m doing now more or less.  For strength (shift days) I bounce back and forth every few months between 5/3/1 and 5x5 with some accessory lifts thrown in and then usually run Long steady state on the treadmill for an hour.  Sometimes I’ll throw in the more creative HIIT stuff on shift days 

3/9/18 1:14 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1835

Off shift days at home I usually row and do kettlebell stuff while my daughter is sleeping.

 

i actually had a pretty decent strength base and it’s coming back to me pretty rapidly

3/10/18 7:38 PM
9/5/04
Posts: 42

5/3/1 is actually exactly what I would recommend for someone that has a decent training history.  I have more or less used that in one variation or another since Wendler first put it out in the 3 Days a Week book.  I’d use a Training Max of 80-85% and really push the Rep PR’s and do accessories in a circuit or superset fashion and keep the HR up to improve conditioning and keep doing what you’re doing.

3/10/18 7:43 PM
9/5/04
Posts: 43

There’s a few pretty good interviews with Matt Wenning where he talks about training local Fire Departments and how they have seen drastic declines in Injuries that correlates with increased Maximal strength in the Deadlift.  He also makes an interesting point, which I have found to be true in my academies, that a higher level of Maximal Strength w/ moderate conditioning levels will trump someone with lower strength levels and a higher level of conditioning in our job.

3/13/18 4:38 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1851

Alright thanks for the input man.

Ive been really concerned with conditioning just because the academy I’ll be going through is known for having extremely high PT standards(though I can’t find exactly what they are anywhere).  The previous academy I went through, there were maybe only two guys in better shape than me and I had prepared exclusively by doing hill running. 

Edited: 3/14/18 9:18 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1852

Where are you a FF at?

3/14/18 11:54 AM
9/5/04
Posts: 44

Southeastern Wisconsin, our department has a pretty rigorous Combat Challenge type course that takes around 12-15 minutes to complete.  You have to do it on air in full turnouts in less than twenty minutes I believe.  It’s a requirement to pass our academy.  You do it every other day and on alternate days they do metabolic conditioning type workouts as best as possible with limited equipment.  When I went through about eight years ago I was only doing 5/3/1 with conditioning pretty much limited to LISS on the Stepmill and I didn’t have an issue.  I’d attribute it to pretty much what I said earlier, a higher level of maximal strength makes it easier to do higher volumes of sub-maximal work as long as you have a decent level of work capacity.

3/15/18 10:38 AM
2/13/16
Posts: 1856
MadeNHB -

Southeastern Wisconsin, our department has a pretty rigorous Combat Challenge type course that takes around 12-15 minutes to complete.  You have to do it on air in full turnouts in less than twenty minutes I believe.  It’s a requirement to pass our academy.  You do it every other day and on alternate days they do metabolic conditioning type workouts as best as possible with limited equipment.  When I went through about eight years ago I was only doing 5/3/1 with conditioning pretty much limited to LISS on the Stepmill and I didn’t have an issue.  I’d attribute it to pretty much what I said earlier, a higher level of maximal strength makes it easier to do higher volumes of sub-maximal work as long as you have a decent level of work capacity.

Oh nice I’m on the east coast with an active duty DoD dep right now... heading back to a CA city soon.

 

Have you tried beyond 5/3/1 yet?

3/15/18 12:46 PM
9/5/04
Posts: 45

I have it and 5/3/1 Forever, but have basically stuck to a lot of the original templates.  I am doing the Beach Body Challenge now, don’t let the name fool you, it would be a really good variation to do prepping for the academy.  Lots of high rep squats, hang cleans, grip work, rows etc.  

3/19/18 12:21 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1860

I’m doing kind of a bastardized version of 531 at the moment.  Basically I’ll focus on 2 heavy lifts a day and thrown in some accessory work over the course of 3 work outs.  That way I hit squats, deads, bench press, shoulder press, row and clean/jerks.

3/19/18 12:21 PM
2/13/16
Posts: 1861

3 workouts a weak I mean... that way I hit all my major lifts every week.