The socially distanced workout: 7 exercises EMTs and paramedics can do anywhere

How to make a total-body fitness system using bedsheets or webbing

No equipment? No problem!

As our communities continue to battle the coronavirus epidemic, it’s more important than ever for first responders to find ways to manage stress and their health. One of the best ways to do both is by staying consistent with workouts and fitness. But with almost every state imposing some form of stay-at-home orders, many firefighters and EMT/paramedics are lacking access to gyms or fitness equipment. Some firehouses have even deemed their workout areas off-limits to ensure social distancing measures are followed.

There is a solution! In this video, I demonstrate a way to make a total body fitness system using a couple of bedsheets and/or webbing. You can create this system – similar to a TRX – by tying the two bed sheets together and laying them over an inward-swinging door or using an engine or ladder as an anchor.

This bodyweight system can give you a great full-body workout form any room in your home or firehouse.
This bodyweight system can give you a great full-body workout form any room in your home or firehouse. (Photo/Screengrab)

This bodyweight system can give you a great full-body workout from any room in your home or firehouse. Watch this video to learn more about how to create this system and 7 bodyweight exercises firefighters and EMTs can use to stay fit during the coronavirus epidemic.

Here's a quick review:

1. Arms-up squats. This is a great exercise to work shoulders and legs. Hold arms high and keep tension between the webbing (or sheets) as you perform the squat. 

2. Chest press. Facing away from the anchor point, you grab the webbing and perform a push-up motion. By moving your feet closer or further away from the anchor you can vary resistance. 

3. Rows. A great exercise to work the muscles of the back. Face the door, grab the handles of webbing or the blanket and pull your body toward the anchor. Moving your feet forward or back will vary the resistance. 

4. Tricep extensions. This movement starts like the chest press with your hands held high. The idea of this movement is to pivot at the elbow to lower your body towards your hands and to straighten them to return to the starting position. 

5. Bicep curls. Facing the door, grab the handles and pull them toward your head. The key to this movement is to keep your elbows high and to use them as a pivot. Make sure to keep your head back and your shoulders relaxed. 

6. Single-leg lunges/squats. This is a great movement to work on balance and leg strength. Facing the anchor point, grab the handles or blanket and raise one leg. With the other leg firmly planted you want to lower your body toward the floor and return to the starting position. You can alternate between legs or perform all the reps on one leg and repeat on the other. 

7. Plank. This is a great exercise to end the circuit or workout and work the muscles of the core. Place your elbows on the floor and raise your hips so they are parallel to the floor. Keep your abs braced and do not let your hips sag. Try to hold this position for a set period. 

Creating a Workout

There are a couple of ways to create a full-body workout using these movements. If you want to work out with your crew, you could set up different stations (practicing social distancing) with six to eight feet between them. Then, set a timer to perform 30 seconds of work and 20 to 30 seconds of rest as you move from exercise to exercise. 

You can also set this up individually. Start with the first exercise and progress all the way to the planks moving from exercise to exercise. 

Another option is to perform each exercise for a prescribed number of reps. Perform 15 reps of the first exercise and then move to the next. And, a final and more challenging option would be to set a timer for one minute and perform each movement as many reps as you can for a minute. This option does not allow for a lot of rest and is guaranteed to give you a great workout. 

Be creative, have fun and most importantly do not use the current situation as an excuse not to exercise. Conditions may not be ideal but now is the time to set the example and focus on your health so you can help others!


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