Firefighter Challenge - Everything You Need To Know

Stairs Conditioning

This Challenge must be executed in the total time allotted by program level (Life, Forward, Endure or Advanced) for a total of 3 times on separate days ONLY.

Our official recommendation for attempts is once a week for a three week period for the purpose of better and consistent conditioning over time.

Only then is the Challenge considered complete. There are no exceptions to this facet of the requirement.

Challenge Purpose

  • Physical conditioning using stair climbing to develop strength and power for the PATHFINDER athlete via utilizing and strengthening muscle stabilizers, plyometric movements, and enhancing cardiovascular/respiratory system function
  • Mental conditioning for the PATHFINDER athlete to sustain extended stair climb evolutions during endurance events as well as stand-alone stair climb events

Challenge Parameters

The entire Stairs Conditioning Challenge must be completed on consecutive flights of stationary stairs.

  • Exception: a stair climbing machine (StairMaster, Stair Stepper, etc.) available at most fitness facilities/gyms is an acceptable substitute for stationary stairs and is recommended in cases of arthritis or prior knee and ankle injuries.

Consecutive flights of stationary stairs include:

  • outdoor stairs typically found in urban areas/city centers, 
  • public park and playground stairs, 
  • bleacher or stadium stairs, 
  • parking garage stairs, or 
  • multi-story building stairs.

Stairs should be climbed in both up and down directions.

  • Exception: stair climbing gym equipment will only be climbed in an up direction. 

A weighted ruck will be worn for the entire Challenge. (See Weight Requirements.)

  • The Challenge will be considered complete when the following duration and frequency standards are met:

    • Duration: execute continuous, uninterrupted stair climbing for the time periods according to Program:

      • Life: 15 consecutive minutes
      • Forward: 30 consecutive minutes
      • Endure: 45 consecutive minutes
      • Advanced: 60 consecutive minutes
      • Stirling: 60 consecutive minutes
    • Frequency: duration of exercise must be completed in full duration as outlined above for a total of three (3) times during the 12-week Program no more frequently than once every seven (7) days (i.e. once a week)

Challenge Weight Requirements

  • Life, Forward and Endure: no stated minimum weight requirement other than some weight must be in the ruck at all times

  • Advanced: 45# ruck dry weight for body weight of 150# or more, or 30# ruck dry weight for body weight less than 150#
  • Stirling: 50# ruck dry weight for all rosters
  • Compete: This is not currently a Compete Challenge.

Challenge Restrictions

  • YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS as stated by the building or parking garage management/signage. DO NOT TRESPASS. If you are in doubt contact facility management for a clear understanding of access to and usage of any facility’s property. PATHFINDER assumes no liability whatsoever for any actions taken by a PATHFINDER roster.

  • Elevators and escalators may not be used during the Challenge.

Qualifying Mileage

  • Because many GPS tracking apps do not work (or don’t work well) in spots with lots of surrounding concrete and rebar like parking garages and stairwells, it will be difficult to track the distance spanned in this Challenge. However, mileage MAY be counted towards your program mileage goals.
    • To convert the number of steps you’ve taken into miles, count the number of steps you climb and multiply that number by 17, which is the standard number of inches for most steps. This measurement accounts for tread and rise. The result of this equation is the number of inches you are climbing.
    • Next, you need to convert miles into inches. This will turn the number of stairs you climbed into miles. To do this, multiply the 5,280 feet in a mile by 12 inches, and you get 63,360, which means, one mile is equal to 63,360 inches.
    • With that in mind, if you climb 1,000 stairs in a day, that would equal 17,000 inches, which falls short of the one-mile goal. So, if you want to aim for one mile of steps, you will need to climb 3,727 steps (63,360 divided by 17 inches).
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Challenge Restrictions

  • Ruck safely. Communicate your route and estimated times to another individual/party who can alert
  • YOU MUST COMPLY WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND RESTRICTIONS. DO NOT TRESPASS. If you are in doubt contact facility management for a clear understanding of access to and usage of any facility’s property. PATHFINDER assumes no liability whatsoever for any actions taken by a PATHFINDER roster.

PATHFINDER assumes no responsibility or liability for any injuries, damages or death. A roster assumes all risk associated with their participation in any and all PATHFINDER programming.



        • Interesting take; I’ll have to try this at work… I’m a firefighter myself and I started this program for the functional endurance and cardiovascular training to better myself. As I progress up I might have to add some hose for weight.

        • Excellent.

          Enigma Machine Tulsa
        • What is the ruck # for Life?


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