Fired-up fitness

An up-close look at the fierce training regimen of women preparing to join the New York Fire Department

THERE ARE 1,140,750 VOLUNTEER and career U.S. firefighters who protect the lives of millions. And now, there are more female firefighters than ever. Their work is utterly intense. But just how brutal is their training? We caught up with United Women Firefighters of the FDNY—the largest municipal firefighter department in the U.S. and second largest in the world next to the Tokyo Fire Department— to see. Here’s how they prepare, in partnership with the New York Sports Club, to be able to wear 60 pounds of gear, operate heavy tools, and save lives every day.

THE WORKOUT
Wear 50-pound weighted vest for the following exercises:

Simulated Firefighting Drills

  • Tie rope to sled loaded with 170 pounds, pulling rope hand over hand. Then push sled back to start. Do four rounds, back and forth across studio.
  • Pull a 165-pound dummy, four rounds, back and forth across large studio.
  • Pull 2½-inch-diameter firehose tied to a 70-pound heavy bag across large studio, four rounds.
  • Farmer’s Carry (about 35 pounds per kettlebell), four rounds, back and forth across large studio.

Forcible Entry Drills

  • Tie heavy bag (70 pounds) to ceiling and hit with maul: 10 reps each side (left and right) three to four times.

Stair Training

  • StepMill at 59 steps/ minute with a 50-pound weighted vest for eight minutes.

Kettlebell Swings

  • 26 to 35 pounds for 20 reps, three times

Battle Rope Swings

  • 50 reps.

Squat Bag Flips

  • Squat, then flip heavy bag over until you reach other side of studio. Push bag back to start. Do three to four times.

CALISTHENICS
Military-style calisthenics are used to train endurance. (FDNY Fire Academy is modeled after U.S. Army standards.)

  • Four pullups, or 10 negatives.
  • 30 pushups, three times.
  • Five-minute planks throughout workout.
  • 50 burpees (approximately 2x a workout).
  • 100 jumping jacks (broken up) with 20-pound firefighter hose held above head.

125 NUMBER OF POUNDS A FIREFIGHTER’S GEAR AND TOOLS CAN FEEL LIKE WHILE TRAVELING UP STAIRS OR LADDERS AND PERFORMING LIFESAVING ACTIVITIES.

FACTOR FICTION:
Does Fasted Cardio Burn More Fat?

Hitting the treadmill or stairclimber before breakfast has long been thought to be the best way to force the body to burn more fat than carbs for fuel since you’re exercising on an empty stomach. But while it makes sense in theory, science finds the concept comes up short.

One study recruited 20 active young women to perform cardio in either a fed or fasted state for one hour, three days a week, and found no greater difference in the amount of fat lost after one month between the two groups.

“Your body adjusts fat utilization over time, so whether you are doing cardio in a fasted state or not, it ultimately will not make a meaningful difference for fat loss,” explains Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., the director of the Human Performance Lab at CUNY Lehman College in the Bronx, NY.

Bottom line: If you need a quick snack to get your workout going in the a.m., don’t be afraid to eat up.

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