the challenge

Firefighters routinely perform strenuous tasks for a living, which makes injury an ongoing threat to their job performance, career span, and quality of life.

The Story

The more in shape the firefighter, the better they are at their job – or at least that’s the general belief. In reality, physical fitness isn’t enough. Even if occupational athletes such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, and construction workers are physically fit, without great movement quality they risk pain and problems later in their lives, as well as decreased job performance.

Over time, they risk more injuries and shortened careers if their training programs don’t emphasize proper movement quality. So, we set out to evaluate how different training methods could help firefighters improve their physical fitness as well as the way they moved their bodies.

Did You

Using proper movement strategies can reduce injury risk whether you’re exercising, on the job, or performing simple everyday activities.

the solution

EXOS evaluated two 12-week training programs, one that focused on proper movement and one that didn’t, and compared the performance results.

Fifty-two firefighters completed a fitness test, a Functional Movement Screen, and biomechanical evaluations on how well they moved through five tasks – squat, lunge, push, pull, and lift – common for their jobs. They were split into three groups consistent in age, weight, and movement scores. Group one was coached on movement as well as fitness, guided by EXOS methods. Group two trained based on existing firefighter fitness guidelines without much respect to how well they moved.

The last group kept up their normal routines, serving as the control group. After 12 weeks, both intervention groups improved their fitness. However, group one, which was coached based on EXOS' methodology, showed greater improvement on job-specific tasks and was the only group without negative adaptations to upper- and lower-body mechanics.

Physical fitness isn’t enough to decrease injury risk. That’s why movement is a key pillar of EXOS training programs.
For this study, it was important that all participants started without existing pain or injuries.
Participants trained three times a week for 12 weeks, and each session lasted an hour and a half.


  • Percent of traditional fitness markers where firefighters with movement training improved 0
  • Percent of job-related tasks where firefighters with movement training improved 0
  • Percent of job-related tasks where firefighters without movement training saw negative performance changes

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