Can a 5'0" woman ever, concievably, lift 180 pounds?

Alright guys. I’m set to go to the local school of paramedicine. Part of the fitness test to be certified as a paramedic in the city I live in involves carrying a 180-pound dummy. I assume we will be allowed to fireman’s-carry it because there is no way in hell I’ll be able to do it another way.

I’m 5’0", female, twenty years old and appear to have a relatively small frame for my height.

Now, I hope that with a ridiculous amount of strength training in the upper back and core, I can pass the damn test. I’m certain this is the job for me, if it isn’t out of my reach. I really don’t give half a damn how stupid I could potentially look with all that muscle (I’ll look stupider in the unemployment line with a student loan, yeah?) and as you can probably tell I’m willing to spend as much time and money as I have on getting certified.

I’ve called the association of paramedicine and the center that does the tests, and from what they’ve each told me there’s no height restriction, but if you can’t pass the test, you can’t legally apply for work.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a female firefighter in my life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female cop shorter than 5’10", and I know my dad (5’6") wanted to be a policeman when he got out of the military but the minimum height was 5"8". So… is height going to screw me out of my chosen career?

Why don’t you try and get in touch with some paramedics in your city, and ask them what they think?
(Don’t ask the school. They have kind of a financial interest in you attending, right?)

A 97 pound 10 year-old set a world record by squatting 210 pounds.

Other good news, it appears from this link (if I’m reading it correctly) that the record squat for a 97 lb. woman is 378 lbs.

Getting the dummy into a fireman’s carry involves a squatting motion. So in addition to the core strenthening you plan on, I’d say it’s certainly possible that you could accomplish it.

Are you sure you have to carry it? - IANAP/FF but thought you could usually drag the dummy in these sorts of strength tests.

Female power lifters hoist that sort of weight on a regular basis. It takes a lot of training, but barring any physical limitations you could get there.

My interpretation of the second link I posted is quite obviously wrong :slight_smile: sorry.

First, yes, you can physically do this.

Remember in a fireman’s carry (if required to actually carry, as opposed to drag), you will be using your leg muscles the most. Do a sitting and then standing leg press in the gym. Determine what your current weight carrying ability is, then try to increase it. You might be surprised by what you can currently carry. Good luck to you!


Yeah, the school has nothing to do with the test other than checking you’ve passed it anyway. I suppose I could try to get in touch with some currently working paramedics though- that’s a pretty good idea.

Yup, no dragging. You’re allowed to set it down in a controlled manner to readjust your position (though the test is timed), but the booklet I’ve got says while it’s on the floor it can’t be in motion.

My father said last week that he saw a 5’9" 20-something girl who couldn’t lift 90 pounds working on an ambulance in Montreal. Of course the fitness standards over there could be worlds different from here (that’s halfway across the country and nothing is standardized). That, and knowing him she might have been an ambulance driver, mobile nurse, or some kind of assistant that he just assumed was a paramedic.

When I googled all I got were a bunch of 5’0" women asking how much they should weigh according to the BMI, but based on the links in this thread it looks like it can definitely be done. Might be a pain in the arse to juggle with academic workload, but doable is doable. Thanks folks!

There are only 31 female firefighters in the FDNY, but if you look at a picture of them, some are quite petite. I doubt if Joy Flores, in the lower left of the photo, is much over 5 feet.

Here she is receiving her diploma, showing her to be easily a head shorter than the officer handing it to her, and probably more, as he is leaning forward while she stands straight.

ETA: NY Firefighters lift a 130lb dummy, but they do it wearing 40 lbs of fire protective gear, including their air tank.

My sister is a 5’0" paramedic.
She looks a little silly in her uniform (they don’t make them small enough) and she has to buy her boots in a whole other province.

The female firefighter we met when we took the Sparks to the firehall appeared to have the same problem. She was taller, but it looked like her pants would fall off of her without her belt. She looked more fit than any of the guys there.

I’m a weakling (despite being a six-foot male), and I can lift 180 pounds, if I can get a good grip on it and get in a position to lift with my legs. There’s a lady in the department who’s about 100 pounds who can beat me in an arm wrestle, and I’m pretty sure she can lift as much as me, too. She doesn’t even look remarkably muscular. Lifting that much weight doesn’t seem like a particularly hard bar to clear, to me.

I am 5’ 2" and can lift my own body weight over my head. (Think gymnastics type moves.) No problem lifting my 75 lb. bulldog over to her crate when she just. won’t. go. on her own accord. :wink:

Now 180 lbs. is another 70 pounds added to my body weight, but I think I could probably do it given use of proper body mechanics, i.e., fireman carry, lift with your legs, keep breathing.

My questions to you would be:
•How far do you have to carry this dummy?
•When is this test?

I think you’re right: with a lot of good strength training in your core and upper body, you can probably do it. Work out at the gym and try to get yourself worked up to 180 pounds. If you can put off taking the test until you know you can do it… well, then, you’re golden.

Good luck! I hope you make it. That would be awesome to see a tiny little petite woman kicking ass with the big burly firemen/paramedics/EMTs. Get down with your bad self!

The bad news is that this kind of strength is largely a gift of genetics, like your height, although exercise and nutrition can certainly optimize what you have. But the good news is that you’re still probably stronger than you think, and, moreover, it’s much easier to carry the load on your shoulders than it would be to lift it overhead with your arms fully extended.

Pay particular attention to your core (abs and lower back) and you should be fine.

According to ExRx, it would take an average woman at least two years of training to be able to squat 180lbs. If you’re genetically gifted, then those times will be a bit shorter but it’s going to be hard. Note by the same tables that even relatively light men achieve the same standard in 3 - 6 months.

Yes, it can be done. Look at Polish weightlifter Marzena Karpińska, who stands at 4’11" and weights only 104 lbs. Watch her take a 212 lb barbell off the floor and lift it over her head. Here are some other lifters, starting with 174 lbs and going up to 209 in a more challenging lift.

If you want to increase your strength for this test, I would recommend:
[ol][li]Learn about strength training. One of the best sources is Starting Strength[/li]Find a gym that specializes in strength sports. Either powerlifting (you might try starting here) or Olympic style weightlifting (you might try here). They don’t get too many women, so they’ll probably be overjoyed that you are interested. You can explain your needs and they’ll help you get there.[/ol]

That’s the general idea I’m getting here- that I’ll have to work harder at it than someone with a bigger skeleton and/or more testosterone, but that it’s definitely possible.

I’ll have to refer to the booklet on the first one. As for the second, I think there is one at the end of the first semester of school, and I know there’s one after you’re finished school last thing before you can register to be certified.

The next batch of students start classes on June 30th, but I’ll never make the deadline for that one because I’d need to have my CPR finished, vaccinations certified, have a driver’s abstract ready to prove my driving record, be confident in my ability to do all the lifting associated with the classes and workterm etc etc before April 27th. So it seems I have at least until late April of next year.

Right now I’m rather scrawny and don’t know much about this kind of fitness, having recently recovered from a long illness. I’d been doing whatever you call that type of yoga where you hold asanas for a godawfully long time for a few years before that, and while I didn’t notice a difference in myself (more into it for the relaxation aspect than the physical stuff) other people remarked on my looking toned-up. The defining symptom was all-over join pain sufficient to keep me in bed, to the point that I even dropped the yoga, had difficulty cooking for myself and it took the entire day’s worth of energy to wash my hair.

As soon as my health improved I started running the stairs a bit, because I knew there’d be a physical test somewhere on the road to being a paramedic and I feared I wasn’t ready for any actual fitness regimen. As of right now I can spend a half-hour running up and down the stairs with two one-minute breaks, but I have to use both hands to lift a 4-litre jug of water/milk. So… I’ve got a long way to go. I’ve been told that lifting excercises will be more effective if I resume the yoga on the side to build up all those little muscles weights might miss, not sure if that’s true but it’s worth a shot.

I’d venture to say I’m not genetically gifted at it. If I were, I’d still have to consider the possibility of being wrong and prepare for the worst-case scenario and such, which means between here and MPSIMS I might be asking a lot of dumb questions about getting the absolute most out of strength training in the foreseeable future.

Pity I wasn’t born half a decade earlier- talked to an ex-paramedic-turned-med-student last week who said in his day it was just a 120lb barbell, and the part of the test where you move a wheelchair up a flight of stairs with the same dummy you’ve just carried sitting in it is new too.

She won’t need to squat it though. That would be much harder than simply carrying it.

It’s certainly possible, and it shouldn’t take too much training. A month or two maybe. If you’ve got a whole year to prepare for it you’ll have no problem. Let me know if you’d like tips on strength training for this sort of thing.

I have to point out that bench pressing is different from carrying an actual person. Unlike Dogzilla, despite what I can do, I cannot carry my 80 lbs dog unwillingly. Willingly, or well, while sick (or dead) I can carry animals that weight that more for short distances.

Humans, though, I can carry heavier ones. Part of it is balance of where to accomodate them, either piggyback or over your shoulder. I don’t think I’ve come close to carry an 180 lb person, but I’ve carried a few over 120 lb people (well, female) for short distances. Keep in mind I do that for the most part without training. I do not train solely for carrying people.

I’m 5’1", female, and on skinny days approach 120.

My point is, you may not bench press 180lb, but you may be able to carry someone that size, if you train for it.

Well, I can’t carry that dog very far when she doesn’t want to go, that’s for sure. :slight_smile:

I was also thinking about my job in college as a nurses’ aide. That would be very similar to the type of work you’d have to perform as a paramedic. I did not work out back in the day and was nowhere near the shape I’m in now. But I could move a 180-pound patient from his bed to his wheelchair and back. Sometimes, those were two-person carries. If the person was able to support his own weight a little bit, I could do that by myself. It was about body mechanics, balance, and weight distribution. For example, you hook your elbow pits into the patient’s armpits, set your feet wide apart and push back with your legs. This gets the person to a sitting position. Re-set your position and set the chair next to the bed, repeat the process, starting from a squat. By the time you lock your elbows into the patient’s armpits and just stand up, you’ve gotten the other person to stand (and are now supporting most of their weight). Pivot with your arms locked into pt’s pits and squat back down again, pt is now sitting in his chair.

The key is using your joints and not really using your hands to lift, if that makes sense, and never, ever, never bend at the waist. Always squat down and use your legs to do the lifting. That’s where all your strength is (as a woman) anyway. So if you were going to lift weights to build strength, then I’d be doing a lot of squats and not worrying about trying to lift anything over my head. I’d try to squat down, let the dummy’s weight fall across my shoulders and then just stand up… slowly. Always move slowly so you don’t pull something.

True stuff… I’d imagine that’s why they went from a barbell to a dummy.

So after checking the booklet, the test is an obstacle course type deal which has to be completed in 9 minutes or less, consisting of four parts.

1 involves 25-lb dumbells. You carry them up and down some stairs, then set them down at a push/pull station. You static-push, then static-pull 85lbs for five seconds each. Pick them dumbells back up, carry them a while (would really appreicate if they gave me numbers here!), set them down and pick them up again (just because?) and then carry them back to the start.

2 involves carrying 50-lb dumbells over to a CPR dummy. You put them down, do 2 minutes of chest compressions at 100 per minute, pick them back up and carry them to the end.

3 involves a chair with the 180-lb dummy and a flight of three stairs. You have a partner who is also taking the test. You push it to the stairs, bring it up the stairs, switch places with your partner (front/back), bring it down the stairs and push it back to where it was.

In 4 you carry the dummy halfway, set it down and stand up straight. Pick it back up again, go backwards to where you started.

It’s not telling me anything about distance, which is a pain in the arse.