On-duty EMS fitness: Abdominal training

Your abdominals' primary job is twofold: to create trunk stability and core/spine stiffness

One of the biggest myths in fitness and in injury prevention is how to properly train the abdominal wall.

Think of your abdominal muscles like a corset or weight belt, and with that visual in mind get rid of the notion that crunches and leg raises make your abs stronger.

Your abdominals' primary job is twofold: to create trunk stability and core/spine stiffness. The key to strong abs is possessing the ability to maintain postural control with the abdominal wall engaged for the duration of an event.

In public safety, this directly affects patient handling and lifting. The exercises in this video — plank reach, lateral plank and core press — are simple and highly effective. They allow you to get stronger while on duty and in uniform.

The keys to the exercises are simple, perfect positioning and progressive hold of the positions. As you get stronger, the duration of the exercise will increase, which will directly affect the ease at which you do your job.

Since crunches actually increase your chance for back injury, and leg raises cause postural distortions that increase your chance for back and knee injury, it only makes sense to incorporate some very safe, effective and easy on-duty exercises into your training.

Train your abs 2-3 times per week for 2-3 sets of a progressive hold. Start out with 20-30 seconds and build up from there, but remember that form always trumps function. As with all your training, it's quality over quantity.

About the author

Bryan Fass is a leading expert on public safety injury prevention. As the president and founder of Fit Responder, Bryan’s company works nationally with departments, corporations, and state and local governments to design and run targeted injury prevention and wellness programs. He is frequently contacted for expert opinion and content contribution for all aspects of public safety fitness, ergonomics and wellness. He authored the Fit Responder book used by departments and schools, and writes for numerous web and peer-reviewed journals.

Bryan holds a bachelors’ degree in sports medicine with more than 17 years of clinical practice, was a paramedic for more than 8 years, and is certified as an Athletic Trainer (ATC, LAT), Strength Coach (CSCS) and the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Fit Responder developed the nation’s first validated pre-hire Physical Abilities Test for EMS. Bryan is a sought-after speaker on a variety of topics including risk reduction, employee self-care, real world wellness and How to Eat on the street. Fit Responder also offers a mobile app and program for Fire-Rescue fitness. Contact Bryan at bryan.fass@ems1.com.

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  2. Health and Wellness

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