On-duty EMS fitness: Pressing exercises

Muscle imbalances from our job takes time to reverse. It takes stretching, pulling exercises, hip and leg training, and abdominal exercise.


I have saved pressing and pushing exercises for the last segment of the on-duty fitness in uniform series for a very specific reason.

The muscle imbalances from our job, specifically a chronic flexed and rounded posture, takes time to reverse. It takes stretching, pulling exercises, hip and leg training, and abdominal exercise.

Now that you have practiced those on-duty fitness exercises and helped to open up your body, allowing it to move freely and correcting some of those postural imbalances, it's time to push.

As with all the other exercise techniques demonstrated, form is much more important that repetitions, so quality over quantity.
Remember that a good neutral posture is key at all times. So keep your head up, your abdominal wall braced and your back straight.

As with all the other exercise in this series, do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions with a 45-second rest between sets.

Now that you have all the pieces of the puzzle lets map out a workout plan based on three days a week. These exercises are specifically designed to be done on your apparatus, in uniform and in-between calls if necessary.

Do a five-minute walk or jog followed by the stretches before beginning the exercises. If you follow this outline properly the entire workout should take 12 to 15 minutes, which will burn fat and increase your anaerobic capacity at the same time.

As with any and all exercise programs, consult an exercise professional or physician prior to starting.

These exercises are safe and will help you do your job better while drastically reducing your chance of injury. As they say in the exercise-science world, form follows function and all these movements are designed to aid you in your job.

In this order, perform the following exercises with exactly 45 seconds rest between sets (time it). Ideally, do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.

Day 1: Warm up and stretch then:

  • band row
  • squat to a row
  • push up
  • step up
  • core press
  • half squat

Day 2: Warm up and stretch then:

  • step up
  • lunge and chest press
  • single leg reach row
  • side plank (hold 30 seconds)
  • single leg alternating row
  • row

Day 3: Warm up and stretch then:

  • squat to row
  • lunge and chest press
  • core press
  • single leg reach row
  • plank and reach
  • band squat

About the author

Bryan Fass, ATC, LAT, CSCS, EMT-P (ret.), has dedicated over a decade to changing the culture of EMS from one of pain, injury, and disease to one of ergonomic excellence and provider wellness. He has leveraged his 15-year career in sports medicine, athletic training, spine rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and as a paramedic to become an expert on prehospital patient handling/equipment handling and fire-EMS fitness. His company, Fit Responder, works nationally with departments to reduce injuries and improve fitness for first responders. Contact Bryan at bryan.fass@ems1.com

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