Kettlebell Training and the First Responders: The Perfect Match

Posted by Kettlebell Kings on 15th Aug 2018

By Doug Fioranelli:

Back in 2008 when I opened my gym, Rise Above, I knew one of the groups I wanted to cater training towards was first responders.I have great respect for the brave men and women of the police, firefighter and military professions and I wanted to provide a gym that tailored training programs specific to their needs, beliefs and attitudes.

When I originally set out to work with this group I had the naive assumption that they were all looking for workplace performance enhancement much like an athlete.However, over the years I realized that the performance result is often not the primary objective and there is much more to consider when training first responders.

The First Responder Workout Video Demo:

Over the many years of working with first responders I have learned that, a bone crushing workout is not their priority.In fact, the number one objective for many of these professionals is safely protecting their bodies from injury in the gym and outside on the job.

Other priorities include workout length and time constraints.Many of these professionals work swing and graveyard shifts, finding it a challenge to train at “normal” times during the day.Many gyms are closed when the sky is dark and with the dwindling light comes equally dwindling motivation for exercise.

Lastly, there is concern that the demands of the job can go from 0-100 quickly.Many stated the biggest peril of the job are not the people they encounter but sitting in the car for hours and then having to get out quickly in pursuit.It may seem trivial, but one can really injure themselves going from stiff and cold in a Crown Vic front seat to having to be on at a moments’ notice.

I have kept all these concerns and goals in mind when training my first responders and I constantly strive to better myself and subsequently, them in the process.Though we use many different tools and workout protocols in our classes, the one thing that remains a staple is the kettlebell; which is why it might be the perfect training tool for the first responder.

Kettlebell training offers a variety of advantages to anyone’s workout and is especially useful for first responders.Strength, power, cardio can all be achieved with using different kettlebell drills.But what I find to be most helpful for the first responders’ training programs is the ability to quickly change the type of workout from a more technical and strength-oriented one to a constant cardio workout by simply using one vs two kettlebell during a drill with a few small adjustments.One could pretty much train how they feel that day and work on what they like or what they need.

Here are some examples of how to create different kettlebell workouts depending on one’s needs:

Preforming a traditional Leg Day with the kettlebell is easily accomplished by doing the traditional lifts: squats, lunges, Romanian deadlifts and weighted calf raises for 3 sets of 8 repetitions each.However, not feeling like going heavy and being sore the next two days?You can modify this by doing a circuit of 4 exercises moving from one right after each other for a certain amount of repetitions or time and build up your strength endurance and cardiovascular output.

Worried about needing that get up and go strength and power?The kettlebell provides an opportunity to train ballistically with several power movements like the swing, clean and snatch yet they take a lot less time to learn than traditional Olympic lifts and are generally safer to perform because they are slightly less technical.

Like the strength and conditioning type exercises; these dynamic movements can be altered to create your desired training effect.Want to train pure power and strength? Grab a kettlebell and do 5-10 strong repetitions of the 2-Arm Swing.Looking for something dynamic but can be replicated for a much longer time? Try 30 seconds of kettlebell clean and jerks with 15 seconds rest between arms.

One thing I like to say with training is that you are only limited by your imagination and now that I have given you no excuses I will show you how easy putting a quick training program together can be.

To address the last concern of time being a factor, one can get through this workout in 15-20 minutes maximum.

Here is one of my favorite finishers that I frequently use in our First Responder Classes.All exercises in the first round are going to be double-sided and for time.

Round 1

Exercise Work Rest
2-Arm Overhead Press 30 sec 15 sec
Goblet Squat 30 sec 15 sec
2-Arm Swing 30 sec 15 sec
Deadlift 30 sec 15 sec
Push Ups

(2-Arms on the Kettlebell)

30 sec 15 sec
Front Plank 30 sec 15 sec

If you have time and are feeling up to the challenge, try the next round doing the single-sided version of the round above.

Round 2

Exercise Work Rest
1-Arm Overhead Press (2x) 30 sec 15 sec
Racked 1-Side Front Squat (2x) 30 sec 15 sec
1-Arm Swings (2x) 30 sec 15 sec
1-Arm Deadliftor Single Leg RDL (2x) 30 sec 15 sec
Uneven Push Ups

(1-hand on the Kettlebell) (2x)

30 sec 15 sec
Side Plank (2x) 30 sec 15 sec

Rest and repeat as many of the above rounds as you have both the time and desire for and gain that great sense of accomplishment when finished.Check out the video to see this workout in action.

As you can see, the simplicity, versatility and suitability of the kettlebell makes this tool hard to beat when training the first responder community for what they both want and need.All you need to do is pick up a kettlebell and put it into motion. Now go out and make it happen.

Doug’s Bio:

Doug Fioranelli is the owner of Rise Above Performance Training® where he uses personal, progressive programming to increase his athletes’ performance and reduce their risk for injury.Since 2001, he has assisted many people with their strength training, conditioning and athletic rehabilitation including: adult clients, police, fire, military professionals, and athletes from middle school to the Professional level.

Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at his website and receive two free eBooks and browse through numerous training articles and videos.

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