Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fit for Duty: Working out without equipment

By Sherry Dean   

Features Fitness editors pick

Nearly every aspect of our lives has been impacted by COVID-19. Workouts are no different. With facilities closed and equipment restrictions in stations, we were left with few options to maintain fitness and health. The impact of a second wave of this pandemic is a real consideration for each of us. Having a plan to keep fit will reduce the mounting stress of adapting to the restrictions.

If you have a decent home gym, you’re able to continue your usual regime, requiring little change. Those left with little or no equipment, working out may be more difficult. There are alternatives that also work well to keep you fit.

While the weather is good, getting outside to exercise is a great alternative which allows for social distancing when working out at the station. Pulling the truck out of the bay and moving some equipment while keeping the doors open allows firefighters to add some short distance running to a workout. Running/jogging is always a good option. Mix some cardio into any of your workout routines with short sprints of 400 meters.

The following is a great workout to ward off the “COVID 19” term referring to the weight gain related to not working out during a pandemic. Use the things you have at home to upgrade body weight workouts. Imagination is your best asset. Do something. Don’t avoid it. Stay healthy and fit.


Body Weight (Plus) – 5 stations

Optional Equipment

  • Sand bag wrapped in duct tape placed inside a backpack
  • 2 Large laundry detergent bottles (filled with water)
  • Large juice can or water bottle
  • Use station equipment like hose, saws etc. if working out in the station

The workout will take about 50 minutes. Do a five-minute warm up (jog, jumping jacks, inch worms and shoulder/arm circles). Do three rounds at each station before moving to the next.

Each exercise is done for 30 seconds with a 15 second rest used to move to next exercise. There is a one minute rest between stations which can be used to disinfect if required.

Station 1

  1. Stairs (sand bag in backpack): Go up and down as many times as possible. If you don’t have a set of stairs, step up and downon a stool.
  2. Russian twist with juice can/water bottle.
  3. Stairs (same as A)
  4. Russian twist (same as B)

Station 2

  1. Shoulder to overhead using laundry detergent bottles: a strict press or push press depending on weight. Just move the weight from your shoulder height to a full press overhead.
  2. Jumping split squats (unweighted): Jump from lunge position on the right leg to a lunge position on the left. Repeat.
  3. Reverse lunges with laundry detergent or sandbag backpack: Alternate right/left as you step back. Knee should lightly touch the ground or just above before stepping forward.
  4. V-ups (supine position start): Lift your head and feet at the same time, reach your arms to touch your feet in a V position and return to supine position.

Station 3

  1. Burpees.
  2. Shuttle run: 20 metres each way
  3. Over shoulder throw (sandbag backpack): Toss it over your shoulder alternating right and left side.
  4. Plank: Adapt based on fitness level. Straight arm, single arm, elevated leg or decline are all good options.

Station 4

  1. Push-ups.
  2. Squats with sandbag pack.
  3. Kettle bell swing using laundry bottle: Swing the bottle between your knees to just above shoulders. Use hip thrust (not shoulders) to propel the weight. The bottle should be weightless at shoulder height.
  4. Butterfly sit-ups: Put the bottom of feet together, knees out to the side. Start in a supine position, sit-up and touch the ground in front of your toes.

Station 5

  1. Jump-ups (unweighted): Jump up two or three stairs, on to a sturdy bench/stool or simply tuck jump (jumping squat with knees coming high as possible). Keep light on your feet while landing.
  2. Mountain climbers: Start in plank position with arms fully extended. Bring the knees alternately into the chest. You can also take the knee wide to the side and to the elbow.
  3. Skater jumps(unweighted): Jump from side to side in a skating motion. Opposite leg should go behind jumping leg on landing. Jumps can be either in quick succession or moderately wide and high. Land lightly and use power to move from side to side.
  4. Single leg deadlift using laundry bottle: With the bottle in one hand, balance on one leg and lift the other as you bend your trunk forward. Your body to toe should maintain a straight line . Your hip shouldn’t twist open to the lifted leg side. Keep your body square to the front. Alternate sides.

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

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