Preparing for the physical tests

To be a firefighter you will need to have a good overall standard of fitness. As part of the recruitment process there will be series of physical and fitness tests so we have worked with our Station Fitness Advisor to put together some exercises you can do now in order to prepare yourself.

Farmer's walk

  1. Stand between the dumbbells with your feet approximately hip width apart. Adjustments can/should be made based on personal preference as well as equipment being used (Kettlebells or barbells for example)
  2. Grab the centre or just slightly behind the centre of the handles and squeeze as hard as possible. For beginners use a grip that keeps the handles parallel to the ground.
  3. Once your grip is set take a breath into your stomach and lower back. Engage your lats by pulling your shoulders back to your hips and pull your hips down until you feel you have created the maximum amount of tension. If you are having trouble with this step try repeating a few times by setting your breath, lats, and hips, then releasing and repeating until you find the position most comfortable to you.
  4. Drive your heels through the ground, squeeze your glutes and keep your shoulders back until you are standing tall then start walking.
  5. Always step heel to toe, not up on the balls of your feet like a sprinter. The length of your stride should be approximately heel to toe, then as you progress down the course you can open up your stride.
  6. Your overall body position while moving down the course should be tall but with a slight lean to help propel yourself and the weight forward.
  7. While going into the turn slow down approximately 10-20% of your top end speed, but as soon as you are pointing straight back up the course speed up.

Lat pulldown's

  1. Grab the bar or rope with a grip that is narrower than shoulder width, with palms neutral or facing backwards.
  2. Sit on the seat and make sure your legs are sitting comfortably under the support rollers and place feet firmly on the ground. At this point the weight in the stack goes up.
  3. Straighten your back and without leaning back pull the bar until it touches your chest. Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you are in this position. Stay in this position for a couple of seconds for a maximum contraction. You should exhale during this part of the movement.
  4. After a couple of seconds of contracting your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position until your arms are fully extended and the back muscles are fully stretched. Inhale during this part of the movement.
  5. Repeat the movement for up to 15 repetitions.

Running form

Follow these instructions to ensure your running form is on point.

Head

Keep your head steady, your eyes focused straight ahead and your jaw loose.

Arms

Relax your shoulders and make soft fists with your hands. With each stride, drive your elbow back while swinging your arms straight through (not across your body).

Core

Keep everything (chest, stomach, pelvis) facing the direction you’re heading to avoid twisting the body.

Legs

Aim to land on your midfoot (not up on your toes or striking with your heel), concentrating on hitting the ground as lightly as possible. Kick your heel straight behind on the backswing and drive your knee up on take-off.

 

Strength test information

Ladder Lift Test (LL)

First stage:  The individual to be assessed will be required to warm up correctly i.e. 5-10 minutes of low intensity cardiovascular (CV) exercise incorporating dynamic flexibility. The next phase will include a demonstration lift and guideline on safety. The individual will then be required to lift a weight of 5kg for 15 repetitions, followed by a weight of 10kg for 12repetitions (Reps), and finally a weight of 20kg for 8 reps.

 A barbell  will be used, with a set weight of 30 - 35kg (approximately). The weight will need to be lifted from a height 5cm below the individuals chin and pressed to full (overhead) extension. 

Ladder Pull (LP): (1 Rep Max)

To begin, a demonstration lift and guideline on safety will be given. The individual will then be required to pull a weight of 10kg for 15 repetitions, followed by a weight of 20kg for 12repetitions (Reps), and finally a weight of 30kg for 8 reps.

A Lat-Pulldown machine will be used incorporating a rope hand grip, with a set weight of 60kg (approximately). The weight will need to pulled from full arm extension (2 handed grip), to a position where the hands are 10 cm below the chin with both elbows tucked in to the body. The weight will finally be required to be extended back to its rest position under control.

Ladder Extension (LE)

To begin, a demonstration lift and guideline on safety will be given. A Lat-Pulldown machine will be used incorporating a rope hand grip, with a set weight of 28kg (approximately). The weight will need to pulled from full arm extension (2 handed grip), to a position where the hands are 10 cm below the chin with both elbows tucked in to the body and then extended back to its rest position under control. The movement pattern will need to be repeated 15 - 23 times in order to be considered a pass.
 

Cooper Test information

Download Cooper Test calculator
You will need to open this file in a application that is compatible with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

A test to determine VO2 max (1.5mile run) estimates the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in during maximum exertion. Estimating oxygen uptake is one way of estimate exercise intensity. VO2 max is also an indicator for endurance for sports and certain jobs (Firefighters, Police, Army…). There are many factors that affect VO2 max such a:

Gender

Women have a lower VO2 max than men. This is primarily due to physiology. The amount of blood your heart can pump partially determines VO2 max. Blood pumping is a function of the length of the stroke of the valves, the type of fibers in the heart muscle and the size of the heart. Men, who are generally physically larger than women, have larger hearts that pump more blood. They also have larger lungs to take in more oxygen.

Women also tend to have more body fat, which consumes virtually no oxygen and less haemoglobin (the protein that delivers oxygen).

Genetics

Heredity plays a role in the type of muscle fibers you have in your heart, the size of your body, including heart and lungs, and your heart's pumping capacity. Cerritos College in California reports that genetics accounts for 20 to 30 percent of your VO2 max.

Age

Younger people generally have great VO2 max than older ones. Both males and females ages 18 to 25 have the peak VO2 max of their lives, with gradual declines as they get older. Prior to about 18, the body has not developed to its full capacity. After about age 25, your VO2 max declines at a rate of approximately 1 percent a year if not physical activity.

Size/Bodyweight

The bigger your body, the greater your VO2 max is likely to be. Larger people have larger hearts and lungs, and therefore more capacity for oxygen.

Sources:

  • Burguer, S.C. et al. (1990) Assessment of the 2.4 km run as a predictor of aerobic capacity. S Afr Med J. 15 (78), p. 327-329.
  • Cureton et al., European Journal of Applied Physiology 54: 656-60, 1986
  • Drinkwater, Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 12: 21-51, 1984
  • Mitchell et al., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 24: S258-65, 1992; George et al., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 27: 1362-70, 1995; Rowland et al., Chest 117: 629-35, 2000