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How to Train for the Firefighter Combat Challenge

By: Clarence Parks

I have been working in Fire and Emergency Services for nearly 20 years.

While my mission is to save lives in the field, it is also my responsibility as a full-time instructor at the Mississippi State Fire Academy (MSFA) to educate new recruits on the importance of firefighter fitness. 

Every year, thousands of Public Safety First Responders lose their lives to Line of Duty Deaths (LODD). National statistics confirm, nearly 50% of LODDs are directly related to heart conditions and/or obesity, which can be greatly reduced through education and training. 

I believe one person can make a difference. I must lead by example!

One of the ways I am able to inspire new recruits and fellow firefighters to improve their fitness levels is by training for and competing in the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge (FFCC)

Training for the combat challenge strengthens a firefighter’s endurance for fire ground emergency operations (i.e. full gear training, stair climbing, forcible entry, rescuing victims, etc.)It is one of the most physically and mentally taxing obstacles you could sign up for, but the feeling of accomplishment is worth every single brutal second.

During the FFCC season, which lasts from April to October, I frequently post workout sessions and tips to inspire firefighters competing in the events. Here, I'll go deeper, outlining my training, nutrition and supplementation program! 

Here, I'll outline my training, nutrition and supplementation program! 

Training and Nutrition At a Glance

Typically, I train using a 3:1 ratio split (3 work days and 1 rest day) or a 3:2:1 ratio (two 2-a-days and 1 rest day in-between). A two-a-day format means CrossFit or gym workouts in the morning and FFCC training in the evening, or vice-versa. Each workout generally lasts an hour.

When it comes to nutrition, I try not to over-complicate my meal preparation.

My macros mainly consist of lean meat, eggs, fish, fruits, vegetables, protein shakes, healthy fats (nuts, avocado, Greek yogurt), sweet potatoes, oatmeal, rice, pasta and snack bars. 

On days when I am training, I try to keep my daily caloric intake to 2500 - 3500 calories.

A Day in the Life

  • 4:30 am Wake up and have a detox drink (6-8oz glass of apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, lemon juice, honey, and water). Prepare breakfast (3 turkey sausages, 3-4 eggs, 1 cup of old fashion oats)
  • 4:45 am Get dressed and ready for workout
  • 5:05 am Prep shake (2oz of egg whites, 3oz almond milk, 3oz of Greek yogurt and 2oz water), pre-workout and vitamins
  • 5:15 am Microwave breakfast and eat
  • 5:45 am Gym or FFCC Training
  • 6:45 am Shower
  • 7:00 am Work
  • 7:30 am Morning meeting
  • 8:30 am – 11:30 am Teach fire classes, develop programs. Mid-morning snacks (fruit, nuts, and protein smoothie)
  • 11:30 am – 1:00 pm Lunch (salmon, tuna, or chicken, 1-2 large sweet potatoes, green veggies or rice, Greek yogurt, and fruit)
  • 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm More classes. Mid-afternoon snacks and recovery supplements in-between.
  • 4:30 pm or 5:30 pm CrossFit or Gym
  • 7:00 pm  Dinner (beef, turkey, chicken, or seafood, side of pasta and fruit)
  • 8:45 pm  Whey Protein shake
  • 9:30 pm  Bed 

Training for the FFCC

When it comes to the combat challenge, nothing prepares you like actually getting on the course. My FFCC course training includes but is not limited to the following:

WEEK 1-3 (Shorts, T-Shirts, Tennis Shoes)

  1. Running Stairs
  2. Running Stairs and Hoisting
  3. Running Stairs Hoisting and Down
  4. Running Full Front Half Course

WEEK 2-6 (Half to Full Gear)

  1. Running Stairs
  2. Running Stairs and Hoisting
  3. Running Stairs Hoisting and Down
  4. Running Full Front Half Course
  5. Running the Full Course

Cardio and Conditioning

As you know, fire and emergency services can be very dangerous, stressful and unpredictable. When your body goes from 0-100 in a matter of 2 seconds, it can often cause irreversible effects on the heart, muscles, joints, etc. That is why I believe it’s very important to train your body to handle shock and awe. To improve overall conditioning, I incorporate CrossFit WODS and HIIT programs into my routine with a focus on exercises like:

To improve overall conditioning, I incorporate CrossFit WODS and HIIT programs into my routine with a focus on exercises like:

  • Burpees
  • Hang Cleans
  • Box Jumps
  • Snatches
  • Deadlifts 
  • Squats 
  • Sprints
  • Rowing
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Running (I try to log 7-10 miles per week)


Remember, the body cannot perform at peak levels if it does not move the way it is designed to move. A lack of mobility or elasticity can be debilitating. 

To stay flexible and injury-free, I incorporate stretching and Range of Motion (ROM) WODS into my training program. 


The focus, drive, energy, and mental desire I have during my workouts are huge components of my success on and off the FFCC course. 

I’ve been an advocate of Cellucor for years now, utilizing pre-, intra- and post-workout supplements such as: 

Now that I've laid out the plan, IT’S TIME TO GO TRAIN!

- Clarence

Date November 16, 2021
Category Training