Hi, I am about 50 pounds overweight and not really fit. I would really like to get firefighter fit in the next 6 months. I am not really fit, what can I do in cardio and strength training? Also how much and what should I eat prior to exercising?
I am going to apply to a fire academy in mid-April 2012. I have to be able to do the following tasks to get in;
Physical Ability Performance Task Descriptions:
Getting in shape is one of the hardest things to do - it takes dedication and a ton of effort, but it's definitely doable. 6 months is a short amount of time to lose 50 pounds, but you can put forth a good effort and burn off (and gain some, actually) weight in the process.
Firefighting utilizes both upper and lower body strength. And, as always, having a solid core is necessary, too.
For example, you'll need upper body strength for exercises such as the ladder carry and utilizing hydraulic tools such as the spreaders and cutters. You'll need lower body strength for doing searches, climbing ladders, and so on.
Although I am not a personal trainer, my father is, and I've learned a thing or two from him over the years. Also, I have NOT taken these tests personally and a volunteer, but I hope my advice helps you in your journey.
For upper body use a bench press. Start with a weight that is comfortable, but also pushes your limits. After starting out you will be very achey, but that subsides after training for some time. Do reps of 8-12 for 3 sets, eventually pushing it to 4 sets. Up the weight when comfortable and necessary. Do incline bench press, too.
Arms are a big portion of upper body strength. Do 21's for biceps (Google them). These are good for endurance and building. Do 2 sets of 21's, then 3 when you're comfortable. For triceps do pull-downs and kick-backs.
For lower I suggest doing basic leg presses and other exercises you can find around the gym.
As I said before, fitness is a big thing. I'm not a professional, so I DO suggest seeking the advice of a personal trainer at your local gym.
Also, remember that you will NOT lose an adequate amount of weight if you only exercise - diet is HUGE in weight loss. You'll be sitting in a single spot if you're going to the gym and then housing beers and slices of pizza afterwards.
Last, but not least, do cardio last. When you lift weights there is acid that builds in the muscle. Cardiovascular exercise (Example: Running) helps drain the acid built up in the muscle.
Drink a protein drink after every workout to help rebuild muscle.
Best of luck.
It's nice that you cut and pasted the physical agility components for others to see and learn from. This gig isn't an easy one and many times just plain dangerous.
The given here is that you have to be glued to a gym and a professional trainer if you want to even consider passing any of the above listed events. Being in perfect shape sans any bodyfat is what you are competing against. Even these folks will have difficulty tackling the above. Now add 50 pounds of being overweight, which is considered being morbidly obese... Not a good thing, especially when just starting a career that is going to beat you up physically as you go through your career. Starting out overweight and not in shape... So how do you tackle this?
Food is fuel, NOT entertainment!
Network with other female firefighters who have been successful in this career, work your ass off losing weight and practicing over and over again all the above evolutions. In my area, there are programs for women to help them overcome the upper body strength issues that puts you in a tail spin if you don't compensate for it ahead of time.
Focus on getting in shape, lose weight and ask a lot of questions on how to take the test(s).
For example, if you have the choice of dragging hose on grass, asphalt or a concrete surface, you would want to go the concrete route because there is less friction, making the hose easier to pull, compensating for upper body strength.
Just don't overdo it... sometimes people tend to take things to the extreme. Remember your ABC's... always be careful... :D