If becoming a firefighter is your goal, then you need to embrace firefighter fitness. One of the firefighter requirements is passing the Candidate Physical Ability Test, also known as the CPAT. Departments only take on firefighter candidates who pass the CPAT. As a result, you need to set yourself up for success before you take this firefighter physical test.

Preparing for the CPAT requires more than just being in decent physical shape. You need to mold yourself into a firefighter in advance, making sure that you eat right and workout in the proper way.

Essentially, you need to embrace the firefighter fitness idea now and do the work to ensure you perform well when you participate in the CPAT.

how to become a firefighter

If you are ready to take part in some firefighter physical training on your own, here are some tips that prepare you to dominate the CPAT.

Firefighter Nutrition

Nutrition plays a huge role in how you look, feel, and perform. Food is what fuels your body to function, so you need to look at each meal in that light: that the food you take in is fuel for your firefighter workout.

For example, if you put subpar gas into your car, it will sputter and struggle. However, if you put the right fuel in your tank, your engine typically performs to its maximum potential.

In order to participate in a firefighter fitness workout, my performance meal of choice is:

  • Chicken breast
  • Medium sweet potato
  • Salad with olive oil and lemon dressing
  • Beet root powder mixed with water

I consume this one hour before I perform physical tests. That allows the food to start being converted to fuel in the body, ensuring I have the energy to handle a firefighter workout and handle the duties associated with working as a firefighter.

firefighter nutrition

The sweet potato produces clean and slow-burning energy, which is critical for prolonged physical activity. The second is the beet root powder. It helps your body perform better by increasing blood flow (oxygen delivery) to working muscles and your lungs.

Don’t just eat healthy the day of your CPAT. Instead, start weeks or even months before you intend to take the firefighter physical test. That way, you can monitor how you feel throughout the day and make adjustments if necessary. Everyone is different, so paying attention to how you feel is important. Test, modify, and find the perfect nutrition strategy for you so that you can reach your goal of becoming a firefighter.

Firefighter Fitness

I am, and always will be, a strong supporter for any approach to fitness. Whether it’s all cardio, bodybuilding, yoga, or functional fitness, they are designed to help you reach your health goals.

However, becoming a firefighter requires more endurance, stamina, and functional strength. Essentially, you need firefighter functional fitness, not just everyday fitness. That’s why you need to explore firefighter workout options that cover what you’ll encounter in the CPAT.

firefighter physical test

During the CPAT, you’ll be stepping, carrying, dragging, pushing, pulling, and striking. Plus, you’ll be going many of the activities over a period of time instead of a single burst.

For firefighter fitness, you need to focus on the following areas for the reasons listed:

  • Endurance training will help with your overall energy to complete the CPAT with a good time by increasing your aerobic threshold.
  • Bodybuilding will help with the strength needed to perform most of the tasks by isolating certain muscle groups.
  • Yoga will help with keeping your posture, which is essential for maintaining proper form and range of motion.
  • Functional fitness will help with the functional movements and will enable you to put in longer and stronger work.

By combining all of those types of fitness training, you are preparing yourself to dominate the CPAT.

Firefighter Workout

If you are new to fitness or just want to make sure you cover the basics while preparing for the CPAT, having a reliable firefighter workout makes a world of difference.

Here is a firefighter fitness regime used in the HERO Elite workout program that is designed to help increase your cardiovascular endurance and functional strength.

The average time from HERO Elite members for this firefighter fitness workout is between 15:00 – 18:00. 

firefighter workout

The numbers at the bottom show the recommended dumbbell weights based on your current fitness levels and genders (male/female). For example, “Beginner 20/10” means beginners who are male should start with 20 lb. weights while women beginners should start with 10 lb. weights.

Firefighter Mindset

When it comes to becoming a firefighter, your mindset is incredibly important. How you think about your goal impacts both your approach to nutrition as well as fitness.

If you go into a nutrition strategy and firefighter workout program with a positive attitude and the purpose of getting leaner, faster, and stronger for the CPAT, it will happen.

If you have a negative attitude towards nutrition and firefighter fitness, you’re likely to have a really hard time and give up.

firefighter training

One trick for mastering your mindset is to do everything with purpose.

  • Eat with a purpose
  • Drink water with a purpose
  • Sleep with a purpose
  • Train with a purpose

When you make this mental shift, good things will happen. Not only will it keep you focused, but it also makes you more aware of your choices. A bit of mindfulness can make a world of difference. It encourages you to push through a challenging firefighter workout and forgo that unhealthy meal of fast food in favor of something that turns into better fuel for your body.

Another great mindset shift is creating a goal and deciding to finish it. Whether it be breaking the CPAT record or just passing it, come up with a game plan, eat and train with a purpose, and put in the work.

Write your goals down and look at it every morning, before you eat, before you train and before you go to bed. Put up pictures of what you want to achieve near your workout gear or on your fridge. This will help motivate you to make good choices as you follow your firefighter fitness program, increasing the odds that you’ll dominate the CPAT when your day to test arrives.

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