Strength Philosophy

Training with FF can be a very different experience for different users.  Those training for CCT will have a different program than those training for Fire & Rescue.  Nobody's better or worse- but our jobs and career fields have different demands, and we train accordingly.  

Where we all "overlap" is strength.  There is no profession, career field or fitness goal that cannot be helped by getting stronger.  More importantly, strength helps us live better.  

Strength has no season.  We should always be either building it or maintaining it.  

There are many, many strength systems under the sun.  There are many strong people out there, many plans or programs that will work.  What we do here is simplify.  We boil down what will work for our purposes, lay it out for you, and show you how to integrate it into training that is more specifically for your life, your goals, your career.  

Having said that, let's lay out some common themes:

The Five-to-Ten Rule:

That’s basically, if you can’t lift a weight at least 5 reps, you should lift lighter- and if you can lift 10 reps or more, you could be lifting heavier.  

The idea is to stay in the zone that will let your muscles train strength AND size.  You don’t just want to be big, you want to be strong.  That’s not to say mass is bad, you just need the happy medium where you train both.

So you’ll stick with the “Big 6” movements: vertical push (military press) vertical pull (pull-ups), horizontal push (bench), horizontal pull (strict row), squat and deadlift.  You can do accessory movements, but not many, and here’s why:

If you’re spending 20 minutes doing your main movement, and the next 40 doing extra strength work, is your main movement getting you strong enough?  If you’re lifting heavy enough, and with enough volume at that high intensity, you won’t have the energy (or need) for a lot of accessory movements.  If you do have energy to do a lot of accessory movements, you didn’t work hard enough on your main workout, and you are now wasting time.

  1. Every time you lift a weight for 10 or more reps successfully, you should add weight the next time you do that lift.  No more than 5 lbs for upper body lifts, and no more than 10 lbs for lower body lifts.  For example, you military press 100 lbs for 10 (or more) reps one week.  The next week, you’ll be trying 105.  As the weights get heavier you might need to make smaller jumps such as 5% or even smaller.  But you should be able to gain steadily at first.
  2. After your “all out” set you will want a little extra volume- just simply doing the one all out “test” set won’t be enough to increase your reps next week.  If I can only do 5 reps at 200 lbs, why should I expect to do 6 or 7 next week without any extra work?  The total volume is generally minimalist, but will vary depending on what training track you're on (additional training stressors, the need for recovery, etc.)
  3. Your goal is to always add reps.
  4. Pullups: when doing bodyweight pull-ups, your goal after your warmup and one all out set should be to get higher volume (100 in a workout for example).  When you can do 10+ reps bodyweight, it’s time to move on to weighted.  And at that point, treat it like the other lifts.
  5. Failures/de-loading.  If you fail to get your minimum 5 reps, the next week take 10% off the weight.  If you fail to progress for 3 sessions, take a 10% deload.  But first ask yourself, are you doing the reverse ladders after?  Don’t skip an important part of the workout and expect to be rewarded.
  6. CONSISTENCY: You will get nowhere in terms of strength or anything else if you aren't consistent here.  


Posted on March 18, 2014 .