Firefighter Fitness- 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Seeing Results…

Its the dead of winter, football season is over and spring seems so far away.  This is also the excuse season, the time of the year where most people fall off the fitness wagon and start to make excuses.  Its especially easy to make excuses and miss workouts if your not seeing results.  So, today I wanted to give you a little guidance and motivation (check out the FRF Fit for Duty Challenge) to help you stay on track and make some fitness progress.

If you’re working out, you should be progressing. If you’re not, there’s something wrong. Simple. Right?

What’s not so simple is understanding why you’re not progressing as you’d like and whether or not your expectations are realistic. Sometimes what feels like a plateau is simply a time of consolidation preparing you for the next leap in your skills. Progressing means so much more than extra weight on the bar or another repetition in all the exercises done for that day or a size smaller.  Good progress means an incremental improvement in the quality of your movement– how smoothly and freely your workout goes, and most importantly improving your performance on the fire or rescue scene.

Over the past 20 plus years in the fitness business I’ve learned that that there are some key reasons your not making progress in your fitness.  Take a look at these 4 common reasons:


When you exercise, you workout for the effect of that day, like relieving stress, burning calories or working your biceps, etc.  Training, however is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term performance goal.  For athletes (like firefighters, emts, and medics) training is a necessity or at least should be.  Training involves a long term approach to fitness where one workout builds on the next, all leading to a long-term goal (better performance, leaner physique, more mobility, etc).  So, now ask yourself this question: What’s the purpose of your training?  Every time you hit the gym, you need a plan of attack. A purpose.  You can’t just wing it, otherwise you’ll never improve.

If you’re following a plan, you need to track your results, too.

FRF Calendar Demo

Have a Plan.

Studies show that those who track and log their workout get more results.  Every workout, compete against yourself. Even if you only beat yourself by one rep or one pound, you have evidence that you’re improving. Who knows, you might surprise yourself by how much you kick your own ass week to week.

You can read more about Exercising vs. Training by clicking here.


Procrastination suffocates and kills motivation.   Procrastination also impeded fitness progress.  One of the biggest reasons people skip workouts is time, yet, when I look around the gym (or firehouse) I see many athletes wasting time- getting water, talking, messing around with their phone, etc.   Here is a simple trick to stick to your workouts and keep them fast and efficient.

First, have a plan, you should know what your going to do before you hit the gym.

Second,  wear a watch and time your rest periods in between sets.  Set a timer, as soon as the timer goes off, get back to work. You’ll notice that time goes by faster than you think. By limiting the time you’re sitting around between exercises, you’ll get a better workouts and yield better results.


Everyday I cringe as I watch people wander into a gym or firehouse workout and immediately lie down on a bench, and start cranking out their workout within seconds.  These are the people that end up hurting themselves and impeding their progress.    A properly performed dynamic warm-up can act as a catalyst for your workouts and your results.  Athletes that dynamically warm-up are less prone to injury and have greater flexibility and range of motion.

What is a dynamic warm-up (click here for a good post about it)?  It’s a series of movements designed to increase body temperature, activate the nervous system, increase range of motion, and correct limitations.  In order to gain range of motion at your joints and fire up (no pun intended) the muscles that you’re going to use for that day’s workout, you need to do this type of warm-up.   Start warming up properly and you’ll notice a greater range of motion, more efficient movement, and an increase in strength… all of which will help you get results.

4.  Your looking for supplements to cure your poor nutritional habits…you-will-never-out-traain-a-bad-diet-e1317166881180

Eating properly is half the battle.  You can work out five days a week and burn hundreds of calories, but if you are not fueling and refueling yourself properly, all that hard work is squandered.  The body needs good nutrition to make sure that it is able to support the work being done and to make progress.  So, if your not making progress, then stop looking for supplements to cure your poor eating habits.  A protein shake here and an energy bar there won’t do much to help you out if your not getting good, basic nutrition.

Supplements can help “supplement” your nutrition, meaning they can enhance it but you must have the fundamentals covered.     Drinking more water, avoiding added sugars,  and eating a diet rich in protein, vegetables, fruits and good fats is the way to go if you are looking for a boost in workouts and progress.  Change out the pasta for quinoa.  Snack on raw green peas or beans instead of pretzels and chips if you want a crunch.  Choose the salmon instead of the T-bone steak.

Making decisions like these will send you on your way to better results.   After you have a solid nutritional foundation then you may want to add some supplements otherwise your pissing them (literally) down the drain.

person in the mirrorNot seeing the workout progress you had hoped for? Take a look in the mirror and at your current approach.  Do you skip workouts, do you constantly tell yourself that “tomorrows the day I get started?”  Ultimately you have to take responsibility for your progress… and/or your lack of it.

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone, I am here to help.  Here are some great programs that will help you get and stay on-track!


Let me know if you agree with this list.  Please share it with others.

Stay safe and Get FRF!

Aaron Zamzow

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