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  • CP AT Preparation Guide April4, 2012 By FFT 1 Comment

    Before people can become firefighters, they must complete many different examinations and tests.

    One such test is the Candidate Physical Ability Test, or CP AT.

    The CPA T is a rigorous test that assesses the physical abilities and condition of frrefighting applicants.

    The best way to prepare for this test is to attend any orientations and training sessions offered by local fire departments.

    During the orientation, candidates will receive the CPA T Preparation Guide that will further help them pass this intensive test. Aspiring firefighters can also obtain the CPA T Preparation Guide online.

    Introduction to the CPAT Preparation Guide

    The five major areas pertaining to physical fitness are body composition, flexibility, muscular endurance, cardiopulmonary endurance and muscular strength. Not only does excessive body fat significantly increase the workload on a person's body, but it also significantly decreases the body's ability to get rid of heat.

    The CPA T Preparation Guide discusses the importance of a proper physical fitness program that includes all of the above major areas. While people can accomplish this in a gym with various exercising equipment, this guide tells people how they can perform terrific exercises outside of a gym with little to no equipment, as well.

    The guide also stresses the importance of maintaining proper hydration. All applicants should drink plenty of water before they begin exercising, while they are exercising, and when they are finished. Since the CPA T is so intense, the guide also states that applicants should drink no less than one liter of water before they begin the test.

    The Importance of Warming Up and Flexing Exercises

    Before people begin any rigorous exercises, they need to warm up and perform a few flexing exercises frrst. A proper warm up will include not only some flexing exercises, but it should include

  • some light activity similar to whatever exercise they may want to do next, such as running in place if they wish to go jogging.

    According to the CPA T Preparation Guide, there are many benefits to warming up before exercising. Warming up will increase blood flow to such things as joints and muscles, both of which are essential to exercising. It can also relieve tension and decrease any chance of getting injured. Finally, a proper warm-up session will improve a person's flexibility and can improve their performance.

    Flexing exercises are an essential part of warming up, and there are two phases of stretching: the easy stretch and the developmental stretch. The CPA T Preparation Guide discusses both of these phases and the best ways to accomplish them. The guide offers step-by-step instructions for 13 different flexing exercises that are some of the best ways to warm up. These exercises are as follows.

    Basic Knee to Chest Leg Straight/Knee to Chest Diagonal Knee to Chest Leg Cross Side Quadricep Stretch Butterfly Stretch Straddle Stretch Cross Over Stretch Calf Stretch Upper Back Stretch Chest Stretch Triceps Stretch Forearm Stretch

    While all of the above exercises are excellent in helping people warm up, the guide also states that stretching should not be painful. If people experience pain, they should slow down and stretch slower. They should also not bounce while flexing and stretching, and they need to remember to breathe slowly.

    Basic Training Principles

    For people to get the most out of their exercising programs, they need to understand several basic training principles first. The CPA T Preparation guide defines each of these principles, stressing their importance. Two of these principles are adaptation and overload, which defmes how much exercise a person's body can handle. For a person's body to adapt to a work out, they must not overload it.

    The next two principles that the guide discusses are progression and specificity. As the body adapts to new and different exercises, people can then begin to progress to new exercises or more of the same one. Specificity is a term used to describe the process of the body adapting to only one or two exercises. For people to be able to handle the CPAT, they need to perform a variety of work outs, rather than just one or two.

    The last two principles, included in the guide, are over-training and balance. The human body needs proper rest and nutrition to be able to handle any exercise program. If people do not get enough rest or proper nutrition, they will experience over-training. Some signs that people are over-trained include weakness, increased chance of injury, inability to adapt to exercises, increased heart rate, lack of appetite, sore muscles, insomnia and apathy.

  • Finally, the guide talks of the importance of balancing strength exercises. In other words, people need to perform exercises that will work all of their major muscles in their body, not just one or two. They need to work not only their arms and legs, but they need to exercise their backs and chest, as well. When people do not adhere to this principle, they often experience stiff joints, sore muscles and an increased chance of injuries.

    Effective Cardiopulmonary Endurance Exercise Program

    Cardiopulmonary endurance is the respiratory and cardiovascular system's ability to transfer oxygen to various muscles in the body. People can accomplish an effective cardiopulmonary endurance exercise program through both aerobic, as well as, anaerobic exercises. The CPA T Preparation Guide lists the following exercises as effective aerobic exercises.

    Bicycling Light Running Hiking Climbing Stairs Swimming

    Since anaerobic exercises are more intense than aerobic workouts, the body's muscles need more oxygen than the cardiopulmonary system can provide. Thus, people need to perform these exercises in only short intervals. A perfect example of anaerobic exercising is sprinting. The guide states that the best way to perform aerobic and anaerobic exercises is by combining various workouts, with rest periods between each.

    Muscular Strength/Endurance Exercises

    Muscular strength/endurance exercises are workouts, designed to increase a person's overall body strength and endurance. As with any other exercises, if people experience any pain during any of these workouts, they need to slow down. The CPA T Preparation Guide states that these workouts are most effective when people perform them about three days per week, as rest periods are just as essential as exercise sessions.

    People should never begin these workouts without a proper warm up and some flexing exercises. After they begin one of these exercises, they will lift for about 10 repetitions before moving on to the next exercise. They should also rest for about 30 seconds between each exercise, and it is best if they have a partner help them, for safety purposes.

    In addition to listing several safety tips to adhere to while conducting these forms of exercises, the guide also lists 14 terrific exercises that people can perform to prepare for the CPA T. Although the guide says that 10 repetitions are the idea starting point, as people's bodies adapt, they can increase this amount. Following are some of the exercises that the guide suggests.

    Seated Leg Press Dumbbell (DB) Military Press Lat Pull Down Dumbbell Split-Squats Bench Press Dumbbell Row Leg Extension

  • Leg Curl Dumbbell Curl Tricep Extension Abdominal Curls Swimmers Wrist Rollers Hand Grippers

    Training Without Gym Access

    Although it is much easier performing muscular strength/endurance exercises in a gym, it is possible for people to perform some effective exercises without gym access or weight equipment. The CPA T Preparation Guide lists several exercises that require little equipment; and the best thing is that people can perform these workouts most anywhere. Some of the exercises they suggest are as follows.

    Chair Squats Push Ups Split-Squats Chin-Ups Bench Steps Dips Squat Thrusts Abdominal Curls Swimmers Hand Grippers

    Task-Specific Exercise Training

    While all of the above exercises are highly essential in preparing for the CPA T, another terrific way to prepare is by performing various task-specific exercises. These exercises are workouts that closely resemble the actual tasks that candidates will perform during the CPAT. The guide lists each section ofthe CPAT, and the exercises that people can perform to prepare themselves for each one.

    One example is for people to wear a weighted backpack and carry two weights in each hand while performing the stair climbing task. As their bodies adapt, they can increase the weight in the backpack. Another example is to attach a rope to a large car tire and drag it around various objects. This exercise simulates the hose dragging task. People can increase the distance they drag the tire as they progress.

    For the equipment carrying task, people can practice by filling two plastic containers with sand or rocks. They should then place the containers on a shelf about four feet high. They then need to pick them up one by one, set them on the ground, pick them back up and carry them for about 40 to 50 feet, returning and placing them back on the shelf. The goal should be to gradually work up to 30 pounds of sand or rocks in each container.

    When practicing the ladder task, people should make sure they have someone to help secure the ladder. They should also start out slowly and work themselves up to faster speeds. The guide says that an excellent way to practice the forcible entry task is to swing a sledge hammer at a large tree. This task should also be performed slowly at first.

  • People can practice the search task by crawling