No matter how hard you train for the stair climb, your legs will feel like rubber when you're through. The time it takes to recover from this depends on your fitness level and your V02 Max. VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can process in order to feed your muscles to do work. In tests like the CPAT, if your VO2 Max is not high enough, you simply fail. Your legs may give out, or worse, you may become injured.
To avoid these pitfalls, you must train properly!
Gradually pushing up your limits over time can allow your body to compensate a little bit each time. This allows your heart and lungs to get stronger each time, thus preparing you for more, harder work the next time.
This is an event that is really easy to train for. You simply need a road-map of how much weight to use when, and a plan of how to safely increase resistance and duration. You really do need a weight vest for this. They are sold at weightvest.com.
Remember that training on the step mill is only part of the training process necessary for training for the CPat. Your legs need to be trained with medium to heavy weights. This step mill training plan is only a very small part of the bigger picture. If all you do for your legs is this training plan, you will probably fail the CPat.
Warning! Many people train with a back pack full of sand, or by carrying a weight plate. Don't do this! It changes the biomechanics, and puts your spine at risk! It causes small amounts of injury each time you do it. This adds up, and will cause you problems in the future. As you age, you are much more likely to hurt your back. These sorts of injury are often career changing, if not career ending! Use a weight vest!
Another Warning! See your physician before beginning any exercise program! If at any time, you feel dizzy, sick, or sore for more than 48 hours in one particular area, stop doing the offending exercise! Ask your doctor’s opinion! Remember that no everyone’s body is intended for these uses!
Watch your Achilles tendons!
Make sure when you step up onto that next step each time, that your feet hit the step in this order: heel-ball-toe, then push-off. Do not do this training on the balls of your feet, or with your heels hanging of the stairs as you step. This will lead to injury of your Achilles tendon(s).
Special Cases: Big feet or no Step Mill
Remember, there are cases when some people cannot train on a step mill, but must use something to simulate it. These limitations might be: your feet are too big for the mill’s steps or lack of equipment.
In either case, I recommend a step used for aerobics or a stair at home. The step should be should be 8-9 inches high. This means you will have to step up, up, then back down off the back: down, down. Get your whole foot on the step (or on the floor) with each up and down. No heels should hang off. Going up, it will go heel-ball-toe and coming down it will go toe-ball-heel. Change your lead leg each 30 seconds of step training to avoid Achilles stress. Remember, you would count an up-up, then down-down, as one step. You must do 60 of those per minute.
I do not recommend using a tall building unless it’s tall enough to keep walking steadily up stairs for 6 minutes without stopping. In other words, don’t choose a place where you have to walk up 2 flights, then walk back down again before you can walk back up. This will do 2 things: 1. it will give your heart rate a chance to slow, thus not training you well. 2. Walking down stairs is not good for your knees. Even if they are young and healthy, why do it? Especially training? You should save those knees for coming down the stairs of a burning building once you have a job- with a person in your arms!
Step Depth and foot size on test day:
If your feet are too large for the step mill used in the test, that’s a tough one. You should still not train on the step mill. Use the up and back down off the back method mentioned above. Two days a week after your step training, do some calf raises: start off with 2 sets and work up to 5 sets of 8. Stretch the calf, and the Achilles tendon. That is, do a calf stretch with your knee locked for 30 seconds, then with it slightly bent, foot still flat to the floor for 30 more seconds. This should prep your calves for the actual test without hurting you.
So what’s the Plan?
Here’s a plan for you to use. It will take you 11 (plus) weeks to get through it. Train a day on the step mill, and lift weights with your upper body on other indicated days. One thing I would avoid, though, is weight training for your traps specifically during this time. So: don’t do shrugs or upright rows. The weight vest is tough enough on them. I say strongly: some people might also like to lift with their legs stepping days, but it’s too much to cover here.
This workout is longer than you will be required to do for the step mill on test day. This will make test day easier, plus make you more than ready for the additional demands of test day! For more information on what is expected on test day, read here: http://www.fireagility.com/index.php
Make sure you warm up 5 minutes easy on the stationary bike, and stretch after wards- especially your calves!
|Weight Vest||Pounds||Time: minutes||Steps/minute|
|Day 2 ||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 4||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 6||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 8||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 10||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 12||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 13||20 ||4||60|
|Day 14||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 15||20 min . other||Form of cardio||Run, swim, bike|
|Day 16||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 18||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 20||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 22||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 24||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 25||35 ||4.5||60|
|Day 26||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 27||Rest ||Entire||Day|
|Day 29 ||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 31||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 33||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 34||20 min. other||Form of cardio||Run, swim, bike|
|Day 35||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 37||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 38||Rest ||Entire||Day|
|Self evaluation:||How do I feel?||Neck? Knees?|| Back?|
|Day 40||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 41||45 ||6||60|
|Day 42||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 43||20 min. other||Form of cardio||Run, swim, bike|
|Day 44||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 46||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 47||20 min. other||Form of cardio||Run, swim, bike|
|Day 48||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 50||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 52||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 53||Rest ||Entire||Day|
|Day 54||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Self Evaluation: ||How do I feel?||Back? Neck?||Knees?|
|Day 56||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 57||20 min. other||Form of cardio||Run, swim, bike|
|Day 58||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 60||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 62||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 63||Rest ||Entire||Day|
|Day 64||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 66||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 67||Rest ||Entire||Day|
|Day 68||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Self Evaluation: ||How do I feel?||Back? Neck?||Knees?|
|Day 70||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 71||20 min. other||Form of cardio||Run, swim, bike|
|Day 72||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 74||Rest||Entire ||Day|
|Day 76||Upper Body||Upper Body||Upper Body|
|Day 77||Rest ||Entire||Day|
|Day 79||Rest ||Entire||Day|
From here forward, you should be able to be step mill ready if you do the last workout twice a week!
Best of Luck!
Dr. Jen Milus www.fireagility.com