Training For Performance Beyond Fitness – Firehouse Magazine


Training for maximum performance beyond fitness includes conditioning, nutrition, sleep, stress mitigation, and resilience development. By focusing on each component of performance beyond fitness, tactical athletes can make small, incremental changes that result in sustainable lifestyle improvements so that they can finish their careers as strong as they started.

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Firefighters face heightened levels of physical and mental stress on a daily basis. Additionally, their career puts them at an elevated risk for cancer, cardiac issues, high stress, and job-related orthopedic injuries. These occupational hazards permeate all aspects of life and are not simply tossed aside when a work shift is over. As such, it is critical that firefighters train for maximum performance, not just improved fitness levels, so that they can thrive on and off the job.


The word “fitness” is tied most closely to physical attributes. It encompasses general physical conditioning, including cardiac health, the ability to run quickly or for long distances, and strength that is not activity-specific.


Nutrition plays a key role in performance beyond fitness. In order to have the energy needed to maintain a high level of conditioning and strength, the quality, quantity, and timing of meals are crucial to maximizing performance on the job as well as long-term health and wellbeing.


Similar to nutrition, sleep habits play a significant role in both achieving a high fitness level and in maximizing performance. Adequate and restful sleep can improve mood, strengthen memory, and facilitate tissue repair and muscle recovery, all of which play a role in restoring energy, thinking creatively and operating at high levels of cognition functioning.

Stress mitigation

Just as a weightlifter trains muscle groups to withstand physical stress by improving strength, tactical athletes who endure psychological stress must also build mental toughness and readiness. As with physical exercise routines, there are mental conditioning tools and techniques that act as “a gym for your mind” (Trozzi, O2X, 2016).