10/20/Life For Fire Rescue

By: Lisa Guggisberg

It is pretty apparent that firefighting is a physically demanding job; running into burning buildings, picking up heavy patients, wearing 60 pounds of gear while hauling tools on heavy rescues, running upstairs, dragging heavy hoses, bailing out of windows two stories up, these are just some of the job duties. A smart firefighter physically trains for these situations and just as important trains for if the time comes that they have to get themselves or their brother or sister out of a situation alive. You have to be strong and have endurance to survive the job. I am very proud that my husband is a dedicated firefighter and very thankful that he is smart enough to train for bad situations, should they ever happen.

Conventional training for firefighters has always been cardiovascular focused, running, stationary bikes, stair running etc.; however, keep in mind that on a real call you will need cardiovascular conditioning while wearing 60lbs of bunker gear. Adding bunker gear is cardiovascular game changer. Consider what happens when you have to move a 225 pound patient when you can only deadlift 200 pounds? Chances are you won’t move the patient very far.   Now think about how many times you have to squat down in bunker gear on scene? Weak hamstrings, glutes and improper form will eventually wear you down and could potential lead to injuries. What about pulling hoses when you’ve been on scene knocking down a fire for three or more hours? A strong back and shoulders would make slinging hoses a lot easier.

For the past year my husband has been using 10/20/Life template for his strength and endurance training. He has gotten stronger and his cardiovascular endurance has never been better. The stronger he has gotten the more efficient he has become. Efficient work equals easier endurance which translates into moving a heavy patient a lot easier. In addition to using 10/20/Life for strength and endurance training, he’s applied Dr. Stu McGill’s back health methods discussed in 10/20/Life for back and core strengthening to prevent injuries that a lot of firefighters suffer on the job.

Here is a typical week of training for him:

Sunday Squats-Off Duty

McGill Crunches


Rolling Planks

Goblet Squats with Kettlebell

Squats 3×2

Front Squats 3×6

One leg Kettlebell Good mornings 3 x 15


Monday-On Shift Conditioning at the Station

McGill Crunches


Rolling Planks

4-5 rounds of:

Prowler pushes or sled drags for 30 yards (High handle and low handle pushes)

Heavy farmers carries for 30 yards


Tuesday Bench-Off Duty

Bench 3×2

Close Grip Bench 3×6

Close Grip Bench with Board 3×3

Dips 3 x 15

Dumbbell Skull Crushers 3 x 15


Wednesday-Off Duty Accessory/Conditioning Work

McGill Crunches


Rolling Planks

Heavy Kettlebell Swings- As Many Reps as Possible in 2 minutes, rest 1 minute, repeat for 3 rounds.

Barbell Rows 3 x 10

McGill Pull ups 5 x 10

Dumbbell Rows 4 x 12

Lat Pulldowns 4 x 12


Thursday-On Shift Deadlifts

McGill Crunches


Rolling Planks

Backwards and forward sled drag as warm-up

Deadlift 3 x 2

Deadlift block pulls 3 x 3

Dumbbell or barbell RDL 3 x 20

McGill Pull ups 5 x 10


He works a 24 hour on 48 off shift and keeps in mind when training on shift he still has to run calls so he is flexible with warm-ups and reps due to time constraints or taking into account if he has job specific training that day (i.e. confine space training or drills). He also keeps in mind that he can’t completely wreck himself physically as he still has to have energy to get up and run calls.

That, my friend, is the beauty of the 10/20/Life program, it’s customizable.   You can adapt the program for whatever your strength goal may be. Want to learn how to adapt your own program? Get your copy of 10/20/Life program HERE

The end goal of a firefighter is to get the job done right and come back to the house safe and ready for another day on the job. Firefighting is a career and many firefighters perform the job up until retirement. Firefighting a unique profession where bonds of brotherhood and second families are formed. It is also one of the few professions where someone can truly, whole heartily say they love their job. So why not prolong your career and stay healthy so you can continue to do what you love. This is the same principal of the 10/20/Life program, a plan for a lifetime of strength while staying healthy.

Don’t forget to look good while being strong! Get your 10/20/Life swag HERE. Hoodies in stock for the winter!


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A self-proclaimed former high school band nerd turned meathead nerd, Lisa has been coached and mentored by Brian Carroll using 10/20/Life principals for 3 years. She started CrossFiting in 2006 but gave that up after realizing all she wanted to do was squat, bench and deadlift heavy. She now competes as a raw and multi-ply powerlifter in the 114 and 123 weight classes. Lisa has All-Time top 10 totals in both raw and multi-ply in her respective weight classes with a raw pro total of 936 lbs at 114 and a pro 1118 lb multi-ply pro total at 123 and 1090 lb multi-ply total at 114. She is currently ranked the #1 female multi-ply lifter at 123, #2 at 114 multi-ply female and #3 raw with wraps. Lisa has a B.A. in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration, but hates politics and political debates. She is a mom of two, a firefighter wife and has worked as a full time litigation paralegal for almost 20 years.
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