Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fit for Duty: January 2013

Sherry Dean   

Features Fitness Health and Wellness

I know, I know, you just finished counting down the days until Christmas and then you counted down the seconds until the new year, but this is a different countdown.

I know, I know, you just finished counting down the days until Christmas and then you counted down the seconds until the new year, but this is a different countdown. This simple (I didn’t say easy) countdown workout is a surefire way to help eliminate those unwanted holiday pounds and get you back on track.

This is how it works: In each set of two exercises, you will reduce the reps on one exercise from 10 down to one and increase the other exercise from one rep to 10. That’s it. Simple right? Well then, get to it.

Exercises one and two
10 push-ups and one squat
Start with 10 push-ups and one squat. Next, do nine push-ups and two squats. Then do eight push-ups and three squats. You get the picture. Continue until you do one push-up and 10 squats. Continue this method for each set of two exercises. You can easily modify your workout, making it harder or changing the focus. I have listed a few options, but you are limited only by your ability and imagination.

Modified options:

  • Twisting push-up – after you do your push-up, bring your knee across your body and into the opposite ribcage.
  • Sliding push-up – hands shoulder width apart, start with your seat high in the air. Lower your head down toward your hands, then slide your body forward until you are in a proper narrow hand push-up position. Reverse the movement, raising your seat and sliding your head and body backward to the start position.
  • Squat – add a jump to your squat, and narrow or widen your stance.

Exercises three and four
10 tricep dips and one alternate lunge (right and left leg equal one)


  • Tricep dips – add weight to your dips by putting something on your lap.
  • Lunge – increase lunge difficulty by raising your hands straight up over your head.
  • Lunge – jump from a right-leg lead to a left-leg lead instead of stepping into each lunge.

Exercises five and six
10 mountain climbers (right and left equal one) and one alternate skater (right and left equal one)
Mountain climbers start in a high push-up position. Alternately, bring your knees into your chest.

Skaters start from a standing position. Lift right leg slightly off the floor and reach your right hand down to touch your left toe. Repeat on the left.


  • Mountain climbers – bring your knees out to the side toward your shoulder.
  • Mountain climbers – bring both knees together jumping to the right side and repeat on left side.
  • Skater – add a weight to your hand.

Exercises seven and eight
10 burpees and one jumping jack


  • Burpees – add a jump to your standing position and a push-up to your plank.
  • Jumping jacks – get really low in your jack (wide squat).

Exercises nine and 10
10 Turkish get-ups and one butterfly crunch

Turkish get-ups can be difficult to perform, but be patient – they are an excellent exercise. In a prone position, put your right hand in the air with your left arm to the side. Using your left elbow and then your left hand for support, bring your right foot up toward your glutes and lift your glutes in the air with your left leg still fully extended. Bring your left knee back to the floor, in under your glutes. Lift your left hand off the ground and stand straight up. Try to keep your right hand and arm directly above your head and look at your hand at all times. Reverse the steps and end back in a prone position. If you find this confusing, there are great demonstrations on YouTube. If you are doing this exercise for the first time, don’t use any weight. If you are adding weight, easy does it.

Butterfly crunches are simply crunches with the soles of your feet pressed against each other and your knees out to the side.


  • Turkish get-ups – add weight to your get-ups.
  • Challenge yourself to any abdominal exercise.

That’s it. Simple, but not easy. Burpees and Turkish get-ups are difficult, whole-body exercises. If you find any of the exercises too difficult, do as many as you can and move on to the next set. If you have been disciplined over the holidays and need more of a workout, add exercises. This structure will work with anything as long as you use separate muscle groups to avoid not being able to complete rounds. Want an extra challenge? Add one-minute intervals of cardio between sets of double exercises. Happy New Year and happy countdown.

Sherry Dean is a career firefighter/engineer with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service. She is an NFPA level 1 instructor with hazmat technician and special rescue certifications. Sherry has more than 20 years of experience in fitness and training including the Scott FireFit Challenge, competitive body building, team sports and personal training. Contact her at

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