Strength and Conditioning Programs for Wildland Firefighters

Step 1 – Goal Setting



Because you’re on Hotshot Fitness, the safe assumption is that you want to be as physically fit as possible going into fire season. Maybe you want to be a hotshot, or at the very least, you want to achieve the level of fitness that is expected of a hotshot crew member.

Fortunately for us, the hotshot community makes it very clear what that means. In order to achieve the bare minimum fitness standards to be a hotshot crew member, a candidate must be able to:

  • Complete the Pack Test (What’s this?)
  • Run 1.5 miles in a time of 10:35 minutes or less
  • Complete 25 push-ups in 1 minute
  • Complete 40 sit-ups in 1 minute
  • Perform Pull-ups based on body weight (minimum of 4)


Consider the above standards table stakes. Before you step foot on a fire, you need to be able to perform physically at this level. Otherwise, you’re shipping back to Boston or wherever you’re from.

In general, all goals should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound


With that framework in mind, we created the Hotshot Fitness Program Goals:

Sixteen Weeks from today, I WILL:

  • Run 1.5 miles in _____ minutes or less
  • Run 4 miles in ____ minutes or less
  • Run 8 miles in ____ minutes or less
  • Hike my training hill in ____ minutes or less
  • Perform ____ push ups
  • Perform ____ pull-ups
  • Perform ____ situps
  • Complete the pack test in ___ minutes or less
  • Complete the Hotshot 500 in ___ minutes or less


As you can see, the goals are specific (exercises are called out individually). They are measurable (either in time or repetitions). However, you are the one who is responsible for making them achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are too high. If you have never been a runner, don’t assume that 16 weeks from now, you’ll be doing sub-6 minute miles. You won’t. Push your limits, but be realistic. Remember – once you finish this sixteen week cycle, guess what? You can reset your goals and repeat. Furthermore, the exercises are relevant (you will be tested on all these exercises – except the Hotshot 500 – your first week on the job. And finally, these goals are time-bound (sixteen weeks).

So, you’re probably gunning to put some numbers down. But what’s achievable? Well, first you need to better understand where you’re currently at. Which leads us to Step 2: Baseline Testing.