WSBB Blog: Conjugate for Firefighters

WSBB Blog: Conjugate for Firefighters

When it comes to physically demanding jobs, few can compare to firefighting. Whether you are using heavy duty tools to extract an injured person, climbing up and down ladders in full gear, using a hook to take down a wall or door, or carrying a victim to safety, your ability to perform your job at a high level depends entirely on your physical fitness.

Becoming physically fit and healthy enough to pass department fitness standards is a good start, but the goal of any firefighter should be to attain their maximum level of physical fitness. When things begin to go bad, you want to be able to physically perform at your highest level to protect the life and property of your community.

The question becomes how do you increase the general physical preparedness of a firefighter, while also increasing absolute strength, speed, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance? The answer is through the use of the Westside Barbell Conjugate Method.

At Westside, we have long understood that the way we train our athletes and powerlifters can be modified and translated to the training of military, police, and firefighters. Below, we will go over a few exercises you can throw into your programming immediately to assist you in becoming a stronger, properly conditioned firefighter.

SSB Squats

As a firefighter, you are required to carry a lot of different things depending on the situation. SSB squats are a good way to mimic the demands placed onto the body when carrying heavy objects. As a firefighter, you will be carrying your kit, your tools, and if things go bad you could be in a situation where you have to carry a victim to safety.

The SSB bar is the best option to train the torso to stay rigid and maintain a good trunk brace. This increase in rigidity and bracing ability will make your back and stomach less prone to strain and fatigue when carrying heavy objects. Additionally, the SSB places a great amount of demand on the lower body, increasing the strength and endurance of the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

This will help to prevent fatigue when carrying heavy objects for distance, or when climbing multiple flights of stairs. SSB squats make for a great main exercise, you can use a box or free squat, we recommend working up to top set singles or triples. When used as an accessory lift we typically train beltless, performing three or four sets of five to eight reps.

Giant Cambered Goodmornings

As we have stated above, firefighting places a great amount of demand on the posterior chain, making giant cambered goodmornings a necessity to increase strength and endurance. Goodmornings focus primarily on the paraspinal, abdominal, glute, and hamstring muscles which helps to “bulletproof” the lower back. Training these muscles properly not only helps to increase job performance, you will see a lower rate of lower back injuries as well.

Giant cambered goodmornings should be a regular exercise in any first responders training program. Lumbar injuries are one of the most common work injuries amongst physically demanding jobs, a stronger posterior chain literally saves a department from having firefighters out of work.

This exercise can be done as a main or an accessory exercise. When used as a main exercise we recommended working up to top sets of three to five reps. When used as an accessory exercise, you will want to keep sets between three to five with reps between eight and ten. Always practice proper form when training goodmornings.


One of the oldest strength training movements, and one of the most effective, pull-ups allow for a firefighter to train their arms and back simultaneously. If you are expected to have to potentially carry the weight of another person, you need to be able to control your own bodyweight. Pull-ups are a great way to develop grip strength, arm strength, and back strength.

Additionally, pull-ups help to increase upper body endurance. This means you will be able to climb faster, handle a saw or other heavy piece of equipment without hand and arm fatigue, and have strength when working overhead.

The best thing about pull-ups is that they can be performed almost anywhere. If you are bored sitting around the firehouse, you can get in a few sets hourly over the course of the day. In the gym, we recommended doing repeated sets until fatigue causes failure.

This would typically work out to be three to five sets performing as many reps as possible. Once you have begun to master bodyweight pull-ups, you can begin adding weight. This should only be done once you can do fifteen to twenty pull-ups in one set.

Sled Drags

One of the simplest, and cost effective pieces of cardiovascular equipment you can buy is the Westside Barbell sled. Cardio training with the sled is not only extremely effective, it is extremely convenient as well. Our sled is compact, making it easy to store in a vehicle or at the firehouse, allowing it to be used both at the gym or at the firehouse for an extra workout. Much like
pull-ups, you can pull the sled whenever you would like.

At Westside, we have a few different ways we train using sleds. The first way is dragging a moderately heavy sled for trips. This means we will load the heaviest weight we can manage while successfully completing all trips at full distance. The distance we recommend for this is fifteen to twenty yards one way, a full trip being down and back. The next way we train sleds is to drag a light sled for an increased distance.

What this means is that we will load a plate or two on the sled, pulling that sled for one maximum distance. We recommended starting at a quarter mile, working up to a half and eventually an entire mile. The third way we train using the sled is by loading up the sled as heavy as possible and dragging it for short trips. The distance we typically use for this is 10 yards, down and back making one total trip.

Why Conjugate?

When it comes to programming, no other methodology can adequately train you to become maximally strong, fast, and resilient the way the Westside Barbell Conjugate Method can. Considering the broad spectrum of demands a firefighter faces, no method around can prepare a firefighter better than the Conjugate Method. For this reason, we feature Conjugate Tactical programming on our Conjugate Club subscription website.

This programming is the industry leader when it comes to the training of military, police, and fire nationwide. If you are interested in becoming the most physically fit and capable member of your team, sign up for Conjugate Tactical programming today.

Related Articles:

Box squat | Reverse hyper | Grip

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