Fitness Training for Firefighters

Training ideas for those wanting to join the fireservice.

The fitness tests, that form part of the selection process in the UK are:

The 6 National Firefighter Physical Tests

  1. Ladder Climb
  2. Casualty Evacuation
  3. Ladder Lift / Lower Simulation
  4. Enclosed Spaces
  5. Equipment Assembly
  6. Equipment Carry

There is more information about each test on the official website, which is definitely worth a look at if you’re considering joining or applying.

As ever, the best training for the fitness test, is to replicate the fitness tests as closely as possible. This is not always possible, but it’s definitely worth practicsing climbing a ladder if you have one, dragging someone about (good wrestling drill too) if you have a willing volunteer and lugging about some heavy equipment in full fireman-gear.

For those who want a training programme that they can do at the gym or at home…

Exercises for Functional Strength

Chin Ups

These are great for building functional, upper body – back , core and grip strength. If you can’t do chin ups, start with your feet on a chair and using the lat pull down in the gym. Try ‘negatives’ too, whereby you jump up and then lower yourself down:


Press Ups

Nothing fancy…still one of the best exercises for building basic upper body strength and muscular endurance.

Sprints with Weighted Vest

To simulate the equipment & clothing you’ll have to run around in, buy a weighted vest or just use a backpack with something relatively heavy in there.

Sand Bag Exercises

You’ll need to get used to moving around unevenly weighted objects, such as people! If you haven’t got a person to drag around and squat with, sandbags are good, as are beer kegs full of water.
Just be very careful, functional exercises tend to be the best exercises, but also tend to carry a high risk of injury! So warm up and make sure you don’t arch your back.

Programme for Fireman Fitness

Day 1

3 sets of chin ups (supinated grip / palms facing towards you) – 3 sets of max reps

Do as many reps as possible. Rest for 90 secs, then repeat. Rest for 2 minutes, then do a final set.

3 sets of Press ups – maximum reps

Same protocol as above.

Tabata Interval Bodyweight Squats

Use the timer below. Do as many squats as possible for 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times. Use a weight or weighted vest when you find this relatively easy to do with bodyweight only.


Plank – hold for 1 minute


Day 3

Hill sprints

Do 9 sets of hill sprints

Sprint approximately 50m, then walk back and sprint again. After the 3rd sprint, rest for 2 minutes before starting again.
Rest for another 2 minutes after the 6th set.

If you train at a Crossfit-type-gym, then sledge pulls would be a good addition or even alternative –


Day 5 – repeat Day 1.

If you have a sandbag to train with then add some sandbag exercises on this day too.

If you’re not arsed about looking proper-mental, you could do some grappling dummy exercises on the beach too


I’d also throw in 15 minutes of cardio 5 times per week. Either a run, bike ride, or row. Running is best, as this will most closely replicate the fitness tests and the fitness you’ll require. Just be careful not to aggravate any injuries or hurt your back – which is possible if your running technique isn’t great


About Drew

MMA, Fitness & Marketing enthusiast from North Wales, UK. A Stoic Hippy with no hair. Not to boast but - 1st Class Degree in Sports Science from Loughborough, MSc in Nutrition from the University of Liverpool. 20 years experience of weight & fitness training.
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