Preparing to be a firefighter is going to be one of the most exciting times of your life. Once you get your great score on the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT), you’ll get to the academy, and upon graduating the academy, you’ll be in the best shape you’ve ever been in. You will then start your first day on the line as a firefighter with a newfound physical and mental confidence. But in order for all this to happen, you’ll need to get your conditioning to the next level so you can bring the heat during that crucial CPAT test day.

 

This workout plan is comprised of four sessions per week, and you should give yourself a minimum of six weeks training before test day. Then, rest for the four days preceding the exam to ensure your body is 100% ready to go. Additionally, these workouts mimic the movements you will be doing during the CPAT so you can maximize your performance.

 

After warming up, perform the workout in numerical order. Perform any numbers you see paired up as a superset (i.e. 1a/1b). Try to get all four workouts completed within a week and do not mix the sequence of workouts, do workouts one through four in that order.

 

Workout 1

 

1. Barbell Squat 4x5

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability testSet up a barbell on the supports of a squat rack. Step underneath the bar, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and let the bar touch your upper traps. Grab the bar with your hands as close together as is comfortable. Nudge the bar off the rack, take two steps backward, and stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart and toes turned slightly outward. Take a deep breath and bend your hips and knees, lowering your body as far as you can (try to squat to where your thighs are below parallel to the floor). Explode back upward to the starting position. That's one rep.

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability test2. Straight Leg Deadlift 3x10

 

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, holding a bar at hip level in front of you. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend at the hips and slightly at the knees until your upper body is parallel to the floor. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That's one rep.

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability test3a. Walking Lunges 3x12 (Each Leg)

 

Hold a dumbbell in each hand, step forward a few feet with your left leg. Lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Push off from your left foot taking a step forward with your right repeating the sequence for all prescribed reps.

 

3b. Bar Hip Raise 3x12

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability testLie on your back with bent knees and a barbell on your upper thighs. Push your feet into the ground as you squeeze your glutes and raise them until there is a straight line from your knees to your chin (like pictured, except you'll have a barbell). Hold for a second and then return to the starting position.

 

4. Backward Drags (4 x 20 yards)

 

Drag any heavy object backwards (human dummy, partner, sandbag, fire hose, heavy ropes, etc.)

 

Workout 2

 

1a. Barbell Push Press 3 x 8

 

Hold a barbell at shoulder level and dip your knees as if you were about to jump. Explosively straighten your legs and drive the bar straight overhead. Lower your arms back to shoulder level. That's one rep.

 

1b. Alternating Medicine Ball Push Up 3 x 6 (each side)

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability testGet into push-up position, resting your left hand on a medicine ball. Lower your body until your chest touches the floor, and then do a push-up. Roll the ball to your left hand, and repeat. That's one rep.

 

2a. Bent-Over Row 4 x 10

 

Use any form of resistance that you can (partner, sandbag, fire hose, weighted vest, heavy ropes, etc.). Bent forward so that you upper body is about parallel with the ground. Keep your spine in a neutral position and your head straight throughout the entire exercise.

 

2b. Leg Lifts 3 x 15

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability testStart on your back with hands across your chest. Brace your abs. Keep your legs straight. Lower as close as you can to the ground without touching.)

 

2c. Medicine Ball Woodchop 3 x 15

 

Stand holding a medicine ball above your left shoulder. Explosively rotate your torso diagonally downward and to the right as if you were chopping into a tree, until the medicine ball passes your right knee (allow your feet to pivot naturally). Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That's one rep. Complete all prescribed repetitions on one side before switching.

 

3. Stair Climber (20 Minutes)

 

If you do not have access to a stair climber, you can do a 20-minute jog.

 

Workout 3

 

1a. Deadlift 4x5

 

Stand over the bar with your feet hip width apart. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, crouch down and grab the bar overhand, your hands about shoulder width apart. Your shoulders should be directly over or even a little behind the bar, and your eyes should be focused straight ahead. Driving with your legs, straighten your hips and knees, pulling the bar to hip level as you come to a standing position. Reverse the motion to return the bar to the floor. That's one rep.

 

1b. Squat Jumps 4x5 (each leg)

 

Get into an athletic stance as if you were about to jump, and lower your body until your thighs are about 45 degrees to the floor. Explode upward, jumping as high as you can off the floor landing with soft knees. That's one rep.

 

2. Good Mornings 3x10  

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability testSet up as you would to do a squat. Begin to lower your body as in a squat, but when you are a quarter of the way down, start bending at the hips as if you were trying to lower only your chest to the floor. Be careful: You must keep your lower back arched at all times. Once you've lowered yourself into a half squat with your torso almost parallel to the floor, reverse the motion and return to the starting position. That's one rep.

 

3a. Step-Ups 4x6 (Each Leg)

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability testUse an object about knee height (bench, small table, chair (without wheels), etc.) Make sure the object is stable. If you are advanced enough do these with added resistance such as: partner, sandbag, fire hose, weighted vest, heavy ropes, etc. Step up and come to a balanced position without touching your opposite foot to the object, then return to the floor. The foot of the working leg does not come off of the object until all 6 reps. are complete. Do not alternate legs.

 

3b. 45° Raise 3x12

 

Roman chair (hyperextension) animation

Set up face down on a Roman chair. Bend at the hips maintaining a natural arch in your torso. Contract your glutes, abs, and lower back as you come up until there is a straight line from the back of your head to your ankles,  but being careful not to hyperextend your back.

 

4a. Object Carry 4 x 30 yards

 

Carry any heavy object (human dummy, partner, sandbag, fire hose, heavy ropes, etc.)

 

4b. Lateral Drags 3 x 20 yards

 

Drag any heavy object sideways (human dummy, partner, sandbag, fire hose, heavy ropes, etc.)

 

Workout 4

 

CPAT, physical ability test, fire academy, fire department physical ability test1a. Chin Up 3 x 8

 

Grab onto a chin up bar with hands shoulder width apart. Hang from the bar with your feet off the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your body up until your chin is over the bar and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position. That's one rep.

 

1b. Dumbbell T Push Up 3 x 5 (each side)

 

Hold a dumbbell in one hand and get into push up position. Perform a push-up as normal, returning to the starting position. Now rotate your body 90 degrees, reaching toward the ceiling with the hand that's holding the dumbbell. Your body should form a T shape. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That's one rep. Complete all your reps on that side, and then switch the dumbbell to the other hand and repeat on the other side.

 

2a. Sledgehammer Slams 3 x 10 (each side)

 

With a sledgehammer in hand hit a tire on the ground and alternate sides as you go  (don’t miss and don’t let go of the sledgehammer).

 

2b. Farmer Walks 3 x 30

 

With a dumbbell in each hand, walk the recommended distance while standing up straight and avoiding an arching back.

 

3. Stair Climber (20 Minutes)

 

If you do not have access to a stair climber, you can do a 20-minute jog.

 

All images by Everkinetic (http://everkinetic.com/) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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