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Rob's Firefighter Challenge

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Current maxes:


Bench Press - 195 lbs - 1 RM - 06/03/2011

Back Squat - 185 lbs - 1 RM - 10/28/2011

Front Squat - 165 lbs - 1 RM - 05/26/2011

Overhead Squat - 115 lbs - 1 RM - 09/26/2011

Shoulder Press - 130 lbs - 1 RM - 04/18/2012

Push Press - 150 lbs - 1 RM - 09/30/2011

Thruster - 135 lbs - 3 RM - 06/13/2011

Deadlift - 235 lbs - 3 RM - 07/20/2011

Hang Power Clean - 130 lbs - 3 RM - 02/29/2012

Hang Power Snatch - 115 lbs - 1 RM - 07/25/2011

Snatch - 115 lbs - 1 RM - 07/10/2012

Clean & Jerk - 140 lbs - 1 RM - 07/12/2012

1000 M Row - 3:28





My best evers are (when I weighed 212 lbs in 2008):

Bench Press: 225 lbs

Deadlift: 225 lbs

Haven't done Squats in years, but I'll tell you my father used to compete locally squatting 575 lbs, so that's my goal

These are my goals to work back up to and surpass. Another goal is to compete in a Firefighter's Combat Challenge, somewhere, someday...

And for the record, I've been weighing in these days at around 195 lbs.


01-08-2010 (The weights are all over the place because I'm trying to get a feel for what I can at the 5x5 routine)

Squat: 95 x 5, 100 x 5, 105 x 5, 110 x 5, 115 x 5

Bench Press: 135 x 5, 140 x 5, 145 x 5, 140 x 5, 135 x 5

Overhead Press (Dumbells): 30s x 5, 35s x 5, 40s x 5, 35s x 5, 30s x 5

Overhead Pulldown (Cable): 105 x 5, 120 x 5, 135 x 5, 120 x 5, 105 x 5

Cable Row: 105 x 5, 120 x 5, 135 x 5, 120 x 5, 105 x 5

20 minutes on the eliptical



Bench Press: 135 x 5, 140 x 5, 145 x 5, 150 x 5, 145 x 5

Overhead Press (Dumbells): 35s x 5, 40s x 5, 45s x 5, 40s x 5, 35s x 5

Bent-over Row (Dumbells): 40s x 5, 45s x 5, 50s x 5, 55s x 5, 60s x 5

Deadlift: 135 x 5, 145 x 5, 155 x 5, 165 x 5, 175 x 5

Assisted Chin-ups: (at 10) x 5, (at 9) x 5, (at 10) x 5

20 minutes on the eliptical



01-13-2010 (This day was the first of a week long illness, so I got worn out quickly)

Squats: 100 x 5, 105 x 5, 115 x 5, 115 x 5, 115 x 5

Lower Back Hypers: 3 sets of 10

Assisted Chin-ups: (at 10) 5 sets of 5

Calf Raises: 3 sets of 100 lb at 5 reps each (I don't know why I even bothered with doing this )



01-20-2010 (First day back after being sick)

Bench Press: 5 sets of 145 lb at 5 reps each

Military Press (Barbell): 65 x 5, 70 x 5, 75 x 5, 75 x 5, 75 x 5

Deadlift: 5 sets of 165 lb x 5

Bent-over Rows (Barbell): 75 x 5, 85 x 5, 90 x 5, 90 x 5, 90 x 5

Assisted Chin-ups: 5 sets of 5 with the assistance set at "9" I'm guessing this means 90 lbs of assistance

10 minutes on the eliptical (I didn't bring anything to read and I was bored, so I cut it short)


Wing Chun class - 1 hr


As for eating, about a week and a half ago I tried to eat as much as I possibly could one day just to see how much that would be. I got to around 3800 calories, and I went to bed still feeling stuffed It wasn't very pleasant. And what I didn't take into account is that it all had to come back out the next day That was miserable.

I wrote down everything I ate that day, to calculate the calories, but since I haven't written anything down since, it's probably not very relevant at this point...So I'll start with today.


So far I've had:

Bowl of Grape Nuts with soymilk and a banana

2 Navel Oranges

Peanut Butter Cliff's Bar (on the way to the Y) - 250 cal, 11 g Protein

Peanut Butter Cliff's Builder's Bar (on the way home) - 270 cal? 20 g Protein

One of those "Personal" Watermelons...

About 3/4 of an avacado (I think part of it was bad)

A big bowl of leftover stir fry that my wife made (Not sure how I'm gonna be able to calculate the calories in this one) brown rice, red peppers, onions, basil, bean sprouts, tofu, Bragg liquid aminos...

A "meat-free Sante Fe Good Stuff" fake chicken breast stuffed with black beans and corn - 160 cal, 19 g Protein

Carrots and hummus - 85 cal, 3 g protein

4 Yam chunks...Are you supposed to just eat these raw? I did

Almond Butter and Strawberry "Simply Fruit" on whole wheat bread

A big bowl of spaghetti with Boca crumbles & nutritional yeast

About ten slices of a whole grain batard at 130 calories a slice

with olive oil

Calories to be tallied later.

Edited by Rob PMFF
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Squats: 135 lb, 5 sets of 5

- Jumped up 20 lbs from last time, might not have been a good idea, form may have suffered a little. Was feeling ambitious.

Hanging leg lifts: 3 sets of 10

Rotary Calf Machine: 100 lb x 10, 125 lb x 10, 150 lb x 10, 175 lb x 10, 200 lb x 10

-I'm not sure how useful this machine is. I didn't feel much difference between 100 lb and 200 lb, not sure if I'll use this again.

Dumbell Tricep Overhead Extension: 30 lb x 10, 35 lb x 10, 40 lb x 10, 35 lb x 10, 30 lb x 10

Dumbell Curls: 30s x 5 (5 each arm), 35s x 5, 40s x 5, 35s x 5, 40s x 5, 35s x 5, 30s x 5

-I know the dumbell exercises on here aren't compound lifts, but I didn't know what else to do. I benched and deadlifted yesterday, so I didn't want to do that again, and I didn't want to just leave after I finished with squats.


1 cup Grapenuts - 400 cal, 12 g protein

1 cup soymilk - 80 cal, 7 g protein

1 banana

1 Navel Orange (maybe it was 2, I don't remember)

2 Peanut butter Cliffs Bars - 500 cal, 22 g protein

1 "meat-free Sante Fe Good Stuff" fake chicken breast stuffed with black beans and corn - 160 cal, 19 g protein

about a cup of rice (white or jasmine I guess, not sure which)

Sandwhich - 2 slices of whole wheat bread (220 cal, 10 g protein), 2 tbsp hummus (50 cal, 2 g protein), 4 cucumber slices, a big handful of spinach, and some veganaise

some white grapes

4 Yam chunks

spaghetti again

2 pints of Guiness

Edited by Rob PMFF
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As a side note, we have this thing at work called the PAT (Physical Agility Test). It is a series of firefighting-related tasks that must be performed in under 5 minutes and 17 seconds. I'll get the distances and weights later, as I don't remember them off the top of my head. You have to do it in full turnout gear with your mask and air pack on, breathing from the mask. This makes it much more difficult, trust me. Instead of your lungs just naturally inflating with the flow of air, you have to practically force in every breath because of the pressure in the mask.


They include:

1. Carrying a 14 ft roof ladder (53 lbs) 59 feet and hanging it on a pair of hooks 56 inches off the ground

2. Dragging a charged (full of water) firehose 25 feet, while crawling, and then standing and continuing to pull it 50 feet

3. The Keyser sled - which simulated forcible entry with an axe. It is a platform you straddle and swing with a 9 lb maul down between your legs, driving back a long steel beam (160 lbs) to the end of the "sled" (5 feet)


4. Carrying a high rise pack (a load of hose that weighs 46.5 lbs) up 3 stories in a tower (23 and a half vertical feet), and then descending the tower again.

5. Crawling on the ground and climbing over a sawhorse, and continuing to crawl, before turning back around and crawling on your belly under the saw horse. (60 feet total)

6. Dragging a 165 lb dummy 50 feet to the finish line.



My time was 4 minutes and 4 seconds. I hope to shave off a minute the next time I do it. And another minute the next time, and so on. I think the record in our department is around 2 minutes. Don't quote me, I'll find out for sure. The guy with the record is actually on my crew.


The actual Firefighter's Combat Challenge (sponsored by Scott Air) is a competitive national/international event. Competition events include a stair climb with a high-rise pack, hose hoist, forcible entry, hose advance, and a victim rescue. So, somewhat similar to our PAT. I'd love to compete in this some day, even if only on a local or statewide level. The world record is held by a guy from Kansas who got a time of 1 minute and 19.02 seconds.



Edited by Rob PMFF
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No workout today, I'm at work for 24 hours



bowl of grape nuts with soymilk and raisins

2 navel oranges

2 peanut butter cliffs bars - 500 cal, 22 g protein

sandwich - 2 slices whole wheat bread, hummus, 4 cucumber slices, handful of spinach

almond butter and strawberry "Simply Fruit" sandwich on whole wheat bread

cooked yams (8 chunks) with earth balance butter substitute

4 meat free bbq skewers - 280 cal, 38 g protein

4 more cucumber slices

most of a bag of baby carrots

a Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey granola bar - 180 cal, 4 g protein


I can't believe that's all I've eaten today so far. I'm at work, I didn't bring enough food.

Edited by Rob PMFF
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Hey buddy, That seems like it would be a challenge but a blast at the same time.


If thats what you want... a faster time then keep that in your mind everyday and strive towards it.


Thanks for the encouragement. I talked to a guy on my crew today who has done a Firefighter's Combat Challenge in Virginia Beach, but it was more of a relay, where there are teams of 5 firefighters and each one does an event and passes off a rod to the next one. He and I talked about getting a team together for this year. I'm just not sure I'm where I need to be right now to be competitive enough. We'll see though. We'll each pick and event and start practicing. At least that's what they did last time.

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i really enjoy reading it too, it's awesome.


most people i know cook their yams. :P you can stir fry them like carrots, lightly coat them with olive oil and/or soy sauce or spicy lime juice and toss them in the oven, or boil/steam them and mash them.


in case it matters to you, those nature valley granola bars aren't vegan, 'cause they have honey in em.


i agree with octo about getting better times. one way i aproach it is to do one set/round of something with decently heavy weight timed, then go do something else, then repeat and try to beat my first times. it works pretty good for me.

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Thanks Mary and Viva!


in case it matters to you, those nature valley granola bars aren't vegan, 'cause they have honey in em.


Yeah, I'm generally not very strict about the honey thing. Plus I was REALLY hungry and I didn't have any more food with me. The granola bar was given to me by a co-worker.




2 hours of Wing Chun class. I caught an elbow right dead center in my ear. It felt like someone drove a nail into my ear canal Oh well, I guess it was karma, due to nearly breaking a training partner's nose in the last class. I felt horrible about it, but sometimes that's just not enough


I would like to go to the gym today, but I got off work this morning and went straight to Wing Chun class. I'm gonna TRY to take a nap, and then see how I feel afterwards.


50 pushups. Didn't make it to the gym after my nap, it closed at 5. Had to do something though.



Large bowl of Grapenuts with soymilk and a smaller than average banana with raisins

peanut butter Cliff's bar after Wing Chun class

3 more smaller bananas

a navel orange

10 slices of whole grain batard - 1300 cal, 60 g protein

a bowl of leftover spaghetti with sauce, boca crumbles and nutritional yeast

2 pieces of vegan baklava

a big bunch of white grapes

Edited by Rob PMFF
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those long shifts and changing sleep patterns have got to be super tough on your body.


Honestly its awful. I think sleep is probably the weakest part of my overall equation. 2 or more calls after midnight can ruin you for the entire next day. Some days I come home in the morning and sleep for 3 to 4 hours and feel too crappy to do anything else that day.


EDIT: I don't want that to come off as "I hate my job" or anything. But lack of sleep is the definite downside.

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Thanks Jason. Yes the PAT is cool, but there is a lot of pressure involved leading up to it. There's a dichotomy that I have to cope with here at work. People think being vegan is silly, yet at the same time, they assume that since I am vegan that I'm some health and fitness guru. There was a lot of pressure on me by people in this department when I did the PAT, and many people were suprised that I didn't do it faster. It was just implemented at the time, so I didn't want to go balls out until I knew what to expect from it. Oh well. Next time I'll blow the time out of the water and shut some mouths.



At work again for 24 hours so...


50 pushups



Grape nuts with coconut milk and a banana

2 more bananas

2 navel oranges

peanut butter cliffs bar

almond butter and strawberry "simply fruit" on ezekiel bread

8 cooked yam chunks with earth balance

sandwich - hummus, big handful of spinach, ezekiel bread

1 boca pattie

Edited by Rob PMFF
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by the way i love bruce lee.


Hail the Prophet!






2 PB Cliffs Bars

Bowl of Grape Nuts, Coconut milk, Banana

another banana

almond butter and strawberry "simply fruit" on ezekiel bread

8 kimchi dumplings

jerk tempeh with roasted pineapple over brown rice (damn my wife is a great cook!)

"organic so delicious dairy free chocolate velvet" frozen dessert



Bench Press - 3 sets of 5 at 150 lbs, 2 sets of 5 at 145 lbs

Deadlift - This is where it all went wrong...


I was on the 4th rep of my second set of 5 at 170 lbs. There was some girl doing some silly calf machine just a few feet behind me, and her proximity was making me paranoid, and thus my form suffered...a lot. I must have rounded out my back and used it more than my legs on the last rep I did, but I felt this awful tearing sensation going all through my lumbar area. I didn't want to drop the bar, so I lowered it back down, and the pain was almost unbearable. I got out of there as quick as I could. I couldn't bend over and it hurt so damn bad just standing or walking. I drove myself home, and took a Flexaril and a Vicodin from an older prescription (stupid I know, but I had to do something, and they had only expired a month ago). And then I got in the bed. I almost couldn't get back out of it. I called my mom to come and drive me in my truck to a Patient First, because my doc doesn't have an X-Ray in office. I was terrified that I had slipped a disc or something. Well to make an already long story short, apparently its just a spasm like I was hoping. I got a 60 mg shot of Toradol, and a prescription for Valium, Motrin 800, and more Vicodin. Hopefully this passes quickly. I hate the inconvenience of an injury.

Edited by Rob PMFF
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I've been on Valium and Vicodin all week long, so clearly not in the mindset to post anything here. Yesterday the lower back pain was almost completely gone, and I didn't take any pills at all. Today however, it hurts like it did 2 or 3 days ago. I don't want to take any more narcs though, they make me feel like a zombie. Tomorrow is Monday, and the start of a brand new week. I'm gonna try to get back in the saddle and hit the gym in the morning. I guess I won't be doing any deadlifting though, for a few more days. I'm trying to decide what to work on. Benching probably won't be a problem. Maybe some shoulder stuff. Not sure about squats though. Any suggestions?

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glad u posted i was wondering how you were making out. I was hoping you were totally better but maybe some movement tomorrow will help. keep it light for sure. Not sure what kind of equipment access you have but you can try some shoulder presses, bench press, pushups, pullups, dips, jump rope, rows. if you want to do squats i would try just air squats (not loaded) and see how it goes because loaded squats will compress the spine and force you to stabilize the lower back.

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Thanks for the advice, MaryStella. I actually followed it mostly, as you can see below



Bench Press - 160 lbs 3 sets of 5, 155 lbs 2 sets of 5

Military Press - 100 lbs 1 set of 5, 95 lbs 3 sets of 5

Assisted Pull Ups - 5 sets of 5 at 90lb? assistance

Assisted Dips - 5 sets of 5 at 90lb? assistance

10 minutes on the Eliptical at difficulty 10


None of this triggered any back pain whatsoever

I wanted to do some more, but I didn't want to push my luck.



Bowl of Grape Nuts cereal with Coconut milk and a banana

2 PB Cliffs Bars - cal 500, 11 g protein

2 Navel Oranges

another banana

Strawberry Dried Fruit bar - cal 50

10 kim chi dumplings - 240 cal, 8 g protein

venti green tea from starbuxx

2 plums

a big bowl of brown rice with Bragg liquid aminos and a "meat-free Gardein Tuscan Chikin breast"

4 "meat-free Gardein BBQ skewers" with some badass marinade my wife made, and a cilantro-lime-type sauce she made in the blender

lots of waffle fries (maybe 4 servings?) and no-salt ketchup

broccoli slaw

Edited by Rob PMFF
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kim chi dumplings sound good.


They're not as good as I had hoped. A lot of cornstarch in it to give it filling and texture I guess...


do you have access to leg machines? i like machines when my lower back is a problem cuz they help me maintain position and i can start weight low and add more on easily. without getting up usually. which is good if you're lazy like me.


There are lots of leg machines at the Y, but honestly, I hate them. Ever since I was a preteen and going to the Y with my father, I have hated the leg extension, the leg press, and the hamstring curl. I find them awkward and uncomfortable. The calf one is okay I guess, but I don't know how useful it is, last time I did it, 100 lbs didn't feel any different from 200 lbs. Maybe I'm just being whiney

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