The Influence of Age on Firefighter Combat Challenge Performance and Exercise Training Habits

Anssi I. Saari, Griffin Renz, Paul Davis, Mark G. Abel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Saari, AI, Renz, G, Davis, P, and Abel, MG. The influence of age on firefighter combat challenge performance and exercise training habits. J Strength Cond Res 34(9): 2500-2506, 2020-The primary purpose of this study was to compare older vs. younger physically trained structural firefighters' performance in an international firefighter physical ability competition (Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge) and their engagement in physical training. Secondarily, firefighters' perceived importance of fitness characteristics to perform occupational tasks was evaluated. Sixty-four trained male firefighters' completed a timed occupationally specific competition course and a survey to assess exercise habits and perceived importance of fitness characteristics to perform fireground tasks. Firefighters were stratified into younger (<37 years; n = 34) and older (≥37 years; n = 30) cohorts based on the sample's median age. Independent samples t-tests were used to analyze differences in outcome measures between younger and older cohorts. It took older firefighters 8.8% longer to complete the course compared with younger firefighters (p = 0.029). Both groups reported similar training frequencies of cardiovascular (CV) training (Younger: 4.1 ± 1.7 vs. Older: 3.6 ± 1.5 session·wk, p = 0.203) and strength training (Younger: 3.6 ± 1.2 vs. Older 3.2 ± 1.4 session·wk, p = 0.274). Furthermore, there was no difference in weekly training load for CV (p = 0.663) or strength training (p = 0.898) activities between the cohorts. On average, firefighters indicated that all fitness characteristics were at least somewhat important for occupational performance. Occupationally relevant competition performance among a sample of fit firefighters was lower in older firefighters compared with younger firefighters, despite similar self-reported training volume and intensity. Practitioners may expect age-related decreases in occupational performance despite performing similar amounts of physical training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2500-2506
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'The Influence of Age on Firefighter Combat Challenge Performance and Exercise Training Habits'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this