Strength and Conditioning Programs for Wildland Firefighters

The Hotshot 500


The Hotshot 500 is, to put it rather bluntly, a suckfest.

It is one of the best approximations I have found to fighting fire with one foot in the black. One minute, you’re hiking up steep terrain, huffing and puffing, the next, you’re swinging your tool to dig out a stob. And then you’re back to charging up the hill.


DFQ – Don’t Fucking Quick. GORUCK Patches.

There’s no recovery time. There’s no cruising. As soon as you finish one thing, you’re getting called to the next thing.

While the sheer physical strain that you will endure during the Hotshot 500 is important, what is even more important is the mental hardening that this training accomplishes. It hurts. It’s hard. You’re not going to want to continue it once you start. That is its purpose. It pits you against yourself. At any given moment, you can quit, and walk down the hill and go home.

But you won’t. Because you committed to completing this. And embracing that mindset of never quitting, or never giving up – that’s the mindset that you’ll need to tap in to to succeed as a hotshot.

Just remember one thing, whether you’re training or sucking smoke on the line: DFQ. Don’t Fucking Quit. I didn’t coin that pithy phrase – it’s a favorite among the GORUCK community, but it encapsulates the HF training ethos as well.


The Hotshot 500

Very simply, the Hotshot 500 is a high-intensity training hike interspersed with 500 repetitions of push-ups, flutter kicks, squats, bicep curls, backpack rows, shoulder pressed and burpees. Your hiking pace should be as fast as you can possibly go.  You should almost be running. And if you feel comfortable running for a stretch – do it. Push yourself hard. The point of the Hotshot 500 is to get to the top of the mountain as fast as possible, having completed the exercises, with nothing left in your gas tank. You want to be completely spent.

The Particulars:

To start, pack your bag with standard line gear weight (L1 / 35lbs). Go to your usual hiking trail that you use for training. Ideally, you’ll want at least a 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

After you have warmed up, it’s time to start exercising 😉

Start aggressively, but give yourself five minutes or so of consistent hiking before you get into it. Once you have a good sweat worked up, and your heart is starting to pound, pull-over and start exercising. Without resting, continue on with your hike until you stop again for more reps.

There’s no prescribed sets (e.g. do 2 sets of 25 push-ups, etc.). That’s on you. Personally, I like to complete one exercise before I start the next one. But some people like to do 10 push-ups, 10 curls, etc. Personally, I find it hard to keep track. Do the exercises until exhaustion. Then stop, dust yourself off, and start hiking again.

The hike isn’t over until you get to the top AND complete all 500 reps. A bit of advice – it is tremendously demoralizing to get to the top and know that you still have 50 shoulder presses left to do. Finish them before you arrive.

Looking for a pack that can handle the Hotshot 500? We recommend the GORUCK GR1.

Looking for a pack that can handle the Hotshot 500? We recommend the GORUCK GR1.

The *Official* Hotshot 500 is as follows:

  • 100 Push-ups (keep your pack off to start, as you get stronger, keep the pack on)
  • 100 Flutter Kicks (done lying flat on your back while holding your pack directly above your chest)
  • 100 Rows
  • 50 Pack Curls
  • 50 Shoulder Presses
  • 50 Burpees (pack off for beginners, pack on for studs)
  • 50 Squats (can be done either with your pack on your back, or holding your pack above your head)


But make the Hotshot 500 your own. Anyone who’s ever had a good martini knows that you need to shake things up to get the best results. So if you’re feeling froggy and inspired – change it up. And be sure to let us know about it in the comments below!

Oh – and looking for a great pack to do the Hotshot 500? The GORUCK GR1 is a great pickup – you can’t beat American craftsmanship.

Note: This workout was featured in a article titled “Fight Fire With Fitness” by Jim Vaglica.