Sunday, October 18, 2009

Berlin Fire Department WOD

So, Friday's workout was based on the firefighter challenges that are held around the world. The entirety of it is done wearing full gear (boots, suit, oxygen tank, gas mask, helmet, etc). This challenge includes a 4 story climb carrying a 20 kg hose, a 4 story vertical 20 kg pull, 4 story downstairs sprint, a 1.5 meter, 80 kg horizontal sledge pound (using the Kaiser Force machine), a 25 meter hose drag, a zigzag cone run, and a 25 meter rescue drag to the finish line. (I’m approximating the distances from what I could gather from our workout and the videos I checked on youtube.) Alex and the rest of the organizers of the group have been helping the firefighters at the East Berlin station train for this competition, and for the rigors of the job, in general. Today, Mike and the crew were to return the favor and show the group what it was like to undertake some of these challenges, plus/minus a few stairs, meters, and cones.

After a very creative dynamic warmup including heavy bag hand-offs and medball passes, and some technical work with air squats and deadlifts, we headed downstairs to begin.

The Workout:

Part 1- for time (all with 20 kg PA gear)

7 floors up w/ hose (20 kg)

4 floor vertical weighted rope pull (20 kg)

7 floors down

Part 2- for time (all with 20 kg PA gear)

1.5 meter sledge pound on Kaiser Force machine (80kg)

50 meter hose drag (2 hoses plus steel frame)

25 meter rescue Randy drag

Part 1 was hardest during the climb. As one can imagine, sprinting up stairs with 35 extra kilograms of weight will tire your legs out pretty quick. So, by the last flight things were slowing down considerably. The vertical pull was a strength movement, but with a ton of technique. This was obvious when you watch the way I pulled the weight and the way Mike pulled the weight. He was way more efficient and used much more back and hips. This was an awesome exercise that I would love to keep doing, I just can’t figure out where it would work. (Maybe the new pool deck at the Thomas Circle Balance will see some version of this?) Surprisingly, the run back downstairs was difficult as well. According to the rules of the competition you have to touch every stair on the way down, meaning a whole lot of extra steps that require coordination and patience when your body is lacking both.

It took the majority of the group somewhere between 2:30 and 3:00 to finish this series. I did it in 2:00. Mike did it in 1:45.

Part 2 took us outside to one of the storage areas, of which there were many. Inside there were old medballs from the Iron Curtain, kettlebells, hoses, and all kinds of cool stuff for these guys to use. Also in there was the Kaiser Force machine. This is what firemen use to simulate the power needed to chop through walls, doors, etc with their axes. There is definitely a measure of technique involved (a blend between keeping the weight behind your heels and keeping the swings short and fast), but mostly its raw power. I loved this! You’re basically pounding away at this piece of metal as hard as you can until it moves 1.5 meters. As soon as you finish that, we ran outside and dragged 2 hoses connected to a steel box for 50 meters. Legs are now dying. This reminded me of pulling the VW beetle back in Washington, with obviously less resistance. Then, we sprinted back and grabbed Rescue Randy (really heavy dummy simulating a person in need of rescue) and dragged him 25 meters to safety. Legs were like JELLO.

On this series the group averaged somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00. I finished in 1:10, and, again, Mike the fireman smoked me at 1:02.

Doing part 1 and part 2 back to back would’ve been a huge challenge. Then add full fire gear and a mask? Lights out. Major respect to the firemen competing in these challenges.


  1. Fantastic video! It was great to workout with you Blair!! Christian

  2. So Blair, you want to be a fire fighter, now? Looking good.:) love you. Sounds like a great adventure.

  3. Great video, thanks for sharing! Alex