Fit for Duty: January 2017

A tough and effective Tabata workout
January 02, 2017
Written by Sherry Dean
Our department has just completed a training program with our recruits. The program lasted three months, and a significant component was a daily physical workout at 7 a.m., rain or shine. Although the day’s training can be rigorous, the morning routines included runs, circuits, an obstacle course, yoga and mobility.
One of my favourite workouts from the program is a simple eight-exercise tabata using old hoses (couplings removed) instead of ropes. This is an easy but challenging workout that is great to do as a group, and most departments have no shortage of old hose that can be used.

A Tabata is a four-minute, eight-round workout protocol named after Japanese sports scientist Izumi Tabata; it is a high-intensity interval workout that will raise your heart rate and can make four minutes seem like four hours. The workout incorporates a rotation of 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times.

The equipment needed is quite simple: remove the couplings of an 1 ¾-inch hose and tape about six inches of the end with duct tape; loop the hose around an anchor so you have 25 feet on each side; the two sides can be used separately – a right- and left-hand side – or joined together to make one hand hold.

This is a simple four-minute tabata that you can do once, twice even four times through and get a great workout.

Battle hose rounds

Twenty seconds of the following exercises followed by 10 seconds of rest as you prepare for the next exercise.
  • Single arm slams – take the hose in each hand and alternately raise and lower the hose, creating a snake-like pattern in the hose.
  • Air squats – Continue to hold the hose in each of your hands and squat, raising your hands together to about eye level. As you stand up, lower your hands to your sides and repeat at decent speed, without losing your form.
  • Jumping jacks – With the hose in each hand, complete jumping jacks brining your hands as high as you can above your shoulders as you jump wide with your feet.
  • Rainbows – Take a step in and bring both hoses together, gripping both hands around the hose. Throw the hose from hip to hip in a rainbow shape (upside down U). As you throw the hose to the right side, turn your shoulders in the same direction and rotate the left leg toward the right, lifting you heel off the ground.
  • Seated Russian twists – Sit down in the same spot you moved into for rainbows and keep the hoses together. Lift your feet off the floor in a V-sit and rotate the hose from hip to hip, right side to left side.
  • Inward rotational circles – Stand up and hold the hoses apart in each hand. Make inward circles with each arm, bringing the hoses together and then away from each other. These circles can be large or small, but they should be as quick. If you are doing more than one round, switch to outward circles on your second Tabata.
  • Jumping slams – With the hoses in each hand, raise the hose above your head and slam them into the ground. As you slam the hoses, jump off the ground. These jumps don’t have to be big, but they should be motivated by the power with which you slam down the hoses.

That’s it. Simple. Your shoulders will definitely feel this. I recommend starting with one or two tabatas if you haven’t done battle hoses or ropes before. You can work up to four rounds, which is just 16 minutes of work, and you can substitute different moves to keep the workout fresh. There are many battle rope movements that are easily done with hoses.

Don’t forget your warm up and cool down. Some shoulder mobility after this workout will be good for your recovery.

A special thank you to our peer fitness coaches for the great workouts. Our recruits worked hard and the benefit of our morning workout regime has transformed bodies and abilities.

Work hard and stay safe.


Sherry Dean is a career firefighter/engineer with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency. She has more than 20 years of experience in fitness and training. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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