Undulation Training for Development of Hierarchical Fitness and Improved Firefighter Job Performance

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Abstract

Peterson, MD, Dodd, DJ, Alvar, BA, Rhea, MR, and Favre, M. Undulation training for development of hierarchical fitness and improved firefighter job performance. J Strength Cond Res 22(5): 1683-1695, 2008-Firefighters routinely encounter physical demands that contribute to countless musculoskeletal injuries. Seemingly, a progressive prescription for fitness would offer superior protection against intrinsic job risks. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of two resistance training interventions on fitness adaptations among firefighters, and to assess the degree of transfer to job-specific tasks. Firefighter trainees were recruited for participation in this experimental study. Two distinct, periodized training models-undulation training (UT; n = 7) and standard training control (STCo; n = 7)-were used to determine the differential affects for muscular fitness and transference to firefighter performance batteries. Specific tests were administered to evaluate 1) upper- and lower-body muscular strength, 2) lower-body power output, 3) sprint speed and jumping ability, 4) anthropometry, and 5) firefighter Grinder performance (i.e., firefighter-specific job tests). The 9-week UT experimental treatment prescription was characterized by daily “nonlinear” fluctuations in training to preferentially elicit specific and distinct muscular fitness components, whereas the STCo treatment conformed to a traditional model, in which each fitness component was systematically targeted during a specified mesocycle. For both treatments, nearly all fitness and performance measures significantly increased from baseline (p < 0.05), with a trend in favor of UT. Further, the UT group experienced significantly greater improvements (p < 0.05) in Grinder performance over the STCo group. Calculation of effect sizes identified meaningful differences in the magnitude of changes in outcomes (effect size > 0.50) in favor of UT for measures of thigh circumference, vertical jump, 1RM squat, Grinder performance, and peak power output. These findings suggest a potentially greater stimulus for multidimensional muscular fitness development with UT, over a periodized STCo. This study effectively establishes that UT may offer a greater transference to performance for firefighter-specific job tasks.

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