Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fit for duty: The Benefits of Partner and Team Training

By Sherry Dean   

Features editors pick firefighter training Sherry Dean

We have all heard people say they don’t have time to work out. Although that statement is really about prioritizing your workout, often it is also about motivation. Some people are fortunate to have the discipline and drive to workout at home alone, but most of us will avoid home workouts even if the equipment is available. Let’s face it — there are countless body weight options that would take less the 30 minutes to complete and we still “don’t have the time”.

Going to the gym where there are other people, finding a workout partner or training with your crew are all great motivators. Whether it is simply because you paid for a membership or your buddy is waiting to meet you, chances are you work out harder when others are around. Add a little competition to the support system and the effort may be bumped up another notch. Working out with your crew or department members can be a big key in improving the frequency and intensity of your training regime.

There are downfalls to partner and team training that are largely due to our own shortcomings. Recognizing personal limits at the risk of injury or over training can be difficult when your competitive nature takes over. It can also be disheartening when you are not as strong, fast or fit as those you are working out with. If you can keep it in perspective that your best effort is better than your moderate (or less than moderate) effort, the benefits can far outweigh the faults of training with others.

Building workout plans or individual workouts as a group can be an excellent way to spice up a tired routine. Often others will have a different way to break up a training schedule and a different selection of exercises that will cause your body to work harder simply because the routine isn’t familiar. The change is a great way to challenge your system.


The push and encouragement your partners will give you helps to improve your effort and performance. We can easily limit ourselves simply because we don’t think more is possible. Yet when someone else believes you can keep moving or push a little harder you make it happen.

Being motivated by others to work hard and motivating them in turn is a great way to improve a workout, but it is also a great way to bond. Enjoying the camaraderie (and a little friendly competition) while benefiting from maintaining fitness for your job is a win win situation. It will not only build your body, it will build the team dynamic. .

Partner Workout
Team up in twos and have a little competition to see which pair finishes first.
Both teammates run together for each run. The rest of the work is split evenly between the two. You can split the reps up anyway you like – 5 reps at a time, 10 at a time or half of the reps at a time. Remember to pace yourself. There is quite a bit of work to do and you don’t want to hit the wall too quickly.

  • Run, 400 m
  • 50 Toes-to-bars
  • Run, 400 m
  • 50 Overhead Squats, 95/65 lbs
  • Run, 400 m
  • 50 Thrusters, 95/65 lbs
  • Run, 400 m
  • 50 Burpees
  • Run, 400 m

Team Workout – Teams of 4
During this workout 1 person on the team must maintain a plank while the ‘load’ work is completed. If a plank is not being held ‘load’ reps do not count. The ‘load’ work must be completed in order. In addition to ‘load’ work, the team will have to accumulate 200 burpees before the workout is complete. Only one person can be accumulating burpees at a time, but the two ‘resting’ teammates can alternate one for one or any other combination of reps. Team members can switch positions at any time during the workout. *This workout is a toughie

Load work

  • 75 man makers
  • 150 jumping air squats or 75 heavy(ish) thrusters
  • 100 pull ups
  • 150 push ups
  • 150 Box jumps or step ups
  • 150 sit ups
  • 1600m run

Accessory work

  • 200 Burpees

Sherry Dean is a career firefighter/engineer with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency. She has more than 20 years of experience in fitness and training. Sherry can be reached at

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