Fit to Work
Training for the Pack Test
Start training at least 4 to 6 weeks before you are scheduled to take the test. For work hardening, you may want to train in the boots you will wear on the job. Ankle-height hiking or sport shoes must be worn during the test for ankle protection.
Begin by hiking a 3-mile flat course without a pack. When you can cover the course in less than 45 minutes, add a pack with about 25 pounds. Increase the weight until you can hike 3 miles in 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.
Also, hike hills with a pack to build leg strength and endurance. Jog
the flat course without a pack to build aerobic fitness. Do overdistance
for stamina, and cross-train with mountain biking and weights to build
endurance and strength
Work hardening is a gradual progression of work-specific activities designed to bring you to the job ready to deliver a good day's work. While fitness training provides the foundation for work capacity it is not substitute for job-specific work hardening. Work hardening ensures that the body structures used on the job are tough and ready to go. Feet are work-hardened when you hike and work in the boots you'll use in the field. Hike up and down hills and sidehills at the pace you'll use on the job. Do some extended hikes with a loaded pack to prepare for carrying loads.
If you will be a firefighter, you should do some work
with a tool like the Pulaski. There is no substitute exercise to prepare
the back and upper body for prolonged work in the position demanded by
such hand tools. This work will also toughen your hands so you won't get
blisters the first day on the job. Come to the job hardened and ready