Whether they are sitting in a police cruiser for several hours or chasing a perpetrator on foot, a career in law enforcement is a dynamic experience that requires officers to be healthy and well conditioned year round. A law enforcement strength and fitness training program can keep you ready for action and prevent you from becoming injured. Understanding what exercises relate best to job tasks will help you build a program that is law enforcement specific.
Police officers and deputy sheriffs perform one of the toughest jobs in America. Muscular strength and aerobic capacity are essential components of a strength and fitness program designed for law enforcement officers. To help develop and maintain these components, a training program must address muscular strength, anaerobic power, muscular endurance, trunk strength, flexibility, and cardio respiratory endurance within a single workout.
Your workout may consist solely of stretching and calisthenics or may involve gym equipment depending on the amount of time you have to train. Job specific exercises such as dead lifts can be used to mimic picking up a suspect. Pullups can help develop grip strength used when detaining a suspect, or the strength needed climb a fence while in pursuit. Pushups and situps help to develop core strength used in all aspects of your job. Lastly, be sure to include sprints and long distance runs as they will help develop the cardiovascular endurance you need to apprehend suspects.
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist Stew Smith agrees with the use of calisthenics as a way to fit exercise into your day. Smith advises law enforcement officers that, "easy to perform exercises and calisthenics such as pushups, pullups, dips, squats, lunges, abdominal and lower back exercises make it possible for the busiest of us to exercise anywhere in as little time as 15 to 20 minutes." The duration of the exercise is not as important as the intensity and ensuring that all major muscle groups are involved.
Suddenly having to jump out of your car to chase down a suspect can cause injury after you've spent hours sitting in the car. Maintaining flexibility is an important way to help avoid injury and stretching at least your legs and lower back at the end of each workout can substantially decrease your risk of injury. Stretching will also help to break up lactic acid that builds in your muscles as a result of working out. One tip is to hold each stretch for four to five deep breathes. This will also help to bring oxygen to the muscles, further decreasing lactic acid.
Aside from the overall fitness benefits you will receive from scheduling a work out in your day, there are other important reasons you should workout. One well noted benefit is creation of a better "command presence." Building a stronger muscle base may help you elicit quicker compliance to verbal commands, lessening the incidence of injuries to an officer or a suspect.