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Student Paramedic in need of Warrior advice!


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Longtime NF reader, first time poster here. Please forgive the long-windedness.


I'm currently in my first semester of Primary Care Paramedic training in Toronto, and our lift requirements have got me concerned. We're currently into our second week, but lift tests are coming up fast (week 5), and I'm only just finding out that I haven't got the strength.


3 weeks from Friday, we're supposed to do 5 different lifts with a 170-lb "patient" (weighted mannequin), and proper form requires that we squat deep (in one case, on stairs), lift, and hold a weight for an extended period of time.


I'll attach a few links to example videos of these particular lifts, and I'll note where my college's form differs.


It's important to note that these are all 2-person lifts., with the exception of the ambulance loading, which is essentially the same as the stretcher lift, just with one end in an ambulance.


Stair Chair -

(For us, we need to go up/down 2 flights of stairs, with a landing in between, twice – once at the head and once at the bottom. The bottom guy in the video carries with his arms extended, but we need to squat down low and grab the bar with arms curled to our chest and hands together, to lift from there. We need to do this squat both going up and going down, but being a bigger guy, my squats never seem to be low enough to lift without my back, even at 120 lbs – which is an insta-fail on our test.)



Backboard/Stretcher Lift -

(This is basically the same for us. Given that it's 2 different lifts, I've counted it as 2)



Fore and Aft -

(also basically the same



So far my progress on all of these has been stuck at the 120 lb patient (even the 2-person lifts), and I just can't seem to lift any heavier.

I'm obviously stepping my fitness regimen (until now, I've mostly been running, with occasional bodyweight training – sloppy I know, but I've been working on getting back on the wagon). Since forever, I've been trying to lose weight, and I'm not sure how to quickly put on the strength I need.


I'm thinking lots of squats, deadlifts and curls at high weight (max 10 reps), but that's what I'm here to ask you. Can this 50-lb strength upgrade be done in 3 weeks?

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14 yr EMT-B, former EMS instructor, current Fire Captain (and Fire instructor) here:


Deadlifts. Deadlifts. And more deadlifts. Try working some inverted row chin-ups too (hang from a horizontal bar with your feet on the ground, like an upside-down push-up, and mimic a chin-up movement).


Now here's the hard part, and I'm going to sound like a dick (note: I also actually am one), but you are entering a profession in which you are entrusted with people's lives, literally: Honestly, if you can't even do the 2-person pick-up with the 170lb mannequin, you are not going to be able to safely maneuver it up stairs and around corners as you're describing. This is likely to result in not only a "critical fail", but a fair likelihood of injury to yourself and/or your partner.


I respect that you recognize a deficiency and are working to correct it, that is a good thing, but realistically making it to the point where you can not only lift the 50lbs extra difference but successfully help in maneuvering that dead weight up stairs and around corners safely is going to be a very, very serious challenge. Moving, lifting, and carrying people (or mannequins) who are dead-weight on you is no joke, and these preparations probably should've begun when you applied to the Paramedic program.

If that's the case, it's pretty F'ed up that the school didn't advise prospective students of the physical requirements of the class before taking your application and money. :offended:  

Here (central California), the local Paramedic programs won't even look at an app unless the student is already a certified EMT-B with a minimum of one year field time either with an EMS provider or Fire department, for 2 simple reasons: 1) you're familiar with and fully accept the physical demands of the job, 2) you have a good working knowledge of BLS, and have likely assisted in ALS procedures where it's permitted by your scope.


Best of luck -- put in some seriously hard work on those deadlifts and chin-up rows and see if you can get where you need to be in time.

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Insert witty & pithy saying here.

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no EMT training or experience here, but I've been exercising all my life and seriously lifting the last 3 years.  


In short.  IMO you are highly unlikely to find 50# of deadlift in 3 weeks.  Particularly from 120-170# (a 40% ish increase).  


Longer version.  

If you are a former athlete who just needed to get some refresher work in..maybe.  

If you're a 6' 200# male...maybe.  (you say you're a "bigger guy".  What do you mean?  I'm a bigger guy.  I'm 6', 250# and 25% body fat and deadlift 400+#'s)

If you're a 5', 120# female, no way. (just for completeness)


And you don't build strength doing sets of 10 (which says to me you have not tried to build strength before, so not a former athlete).  


To start over....What gender and basic size are you?  What have you done before exercise wise?  What can you do now?


It is very likely you can do this type of increase in a 3-6 month time frame, depending on where you are now, but 3 weeks is gonna be really tough.  After watching the videos, I'd say back squats, front squats, goblet squats, deadlifts and rack pulls would all be good to work on.  Forget the curls.  The others will take care of that.  


The captain is right as well.  You really need to do this over a longer period of time to build up all the stabilizer muscles so you can control the patient.  I'm pretty sure the real patients flop around a bit more than the manican and you will need to be able to compensate.

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Warriors don't count reps and sets. They count tons.

My psychologist weighs 45 pounds, has an iron soul and sits on the end of a bar

Tally Sheet for 2019

Encouragement for older members: Chronologically Blessed Group;

Encouragement for newbie lifters: When we were weaker


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Use the starting strength methodology. 3 sets of 5reps.


Squats, deadlifts, and press. Just learning to keep your back locked out and the like is important. Start soon, try training every other day, make sure you eat and sleep enough for recovery. Chins make a good assistance exercise 3xmax after the other 3.


Can you make the increase? Quite possibly but you'll need to be serious about it and quickly.


Just get the starting strength book, follow directions post form checks if necessary.

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To be honest, 50lb in three weeks is a pretty big ask, even for an untrained individual. Those deadlifts will help you with strength, heavy squats (IMO) won't be as effective in helping your squat depth than high rep goblet squats- or combine both- the high rep stuff will get you comfortable in a deep squat while the heavy ones will help build strength from that flexibility. Just make sure you use a box or something to ensure you're hitting depth each time.

My "EMT" training doesn't go beyond the First Aid certifications required of all Personal Trainers in Australia- that said- I echo Hong WeiLoh's statements- lifting bodies in emergency situations is serious, serious business. Your ability to perform at a high physical capacity might be the difference between someone living and someone dying so make sure you're up to the challenge- your attitude shouldn't be "working to get back on the wagon" but "I'm getting to work today, tomorrow and every day after". Tough love, I know, but considering the stakes, extremely appropriate.

Best of luck but don't try and cheat the system- if you don't have the strength, drop the subject until you do :)

"No-one tells a T-Rex when to go to sleep".

- Jim Wendler

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Question for the OP: you mentioned "hold a weight for an extended time".  How much weight?  For how long?  And how are you holding it?

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