Candidates for police work must pass the physical fitness test if they want to enter into law enforcement. Although the specific requirements and tests can vary from state to state, applicants basically need to demonstrate that they are agile and can move quickly when needed. When preparing to take a physical fitness test to be a police officer, you may find it easier to pass the test if you prepare by practicing the exercises and improving your upper and lower body strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Research the requirements for your state to find out exactly what fitness skills are included in the physical fitness test to become a police officer. Visit the State Police or Department of Public Safety website for your state (see References section). The website should offer detailed information on the police training standards for your particular state.
Talk to your doctor before starting any new fitness program. He can help you create a plan suitable for your health and fitness level. If you need extra help getting in good physical condition before the test, consider joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer.
Begin working out several weeks or even several months before you are scheduled to take the police physical fitness test. Do not wait until the last minute to start preparing. Build up your endurance and level of fitness gradually. Allow yourself enough preparation time to lose any excess weight.
Include aerobic activities in your workout several times each week. Walk, jog, swim or participate in any other activities that get your heart pumping.
Learn to pace yourself when mastering exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups, which are required for most physical fitness tests for police. Stew Smith, author and former Navy SEAL, recommends timing your workouts. Since you are tested on how many of these exercises you can do per minute, you need to do as many as you can as fast as you can. Gradually increase the number of sets you complete.
Prepare for the running segment of the test by walking or jogging first, especially if you need to increase your endurance. Start by walking five times a week and then advance to jogging. Each week try to cover the distance you jog or walk in less time. Most states require candidates to run a distance of 1.5 miles as part of the test. Your overall goal is to run at a faster pace.
Ask how much weight you need to lift to pass the weight lifting part of the test. Many states require that you perform some type of weight lifting as part of your test. A bench press is a common skill tested. Once you know how much weight you need to lift, calculate 60 percent of that weight. Begin by lifting that amount. Each week add up to 5 lbs. more until you can lift the maximum weight required for the test.
By preparing ahead of time, you can avoid receiving a lower score on a fitness test because of timing rather than your inability to perform the physical task well. Get used to exercising within a specific time frame so that you are less nervous when it comes time for your test.
In most cases, candidates must complete one segment of the physical fitness test successfully before they can move on to the next test.
Avoid any actions that might hinder your ability to perform well on the fitness test. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recommends avoiding heavy physical exertion for 48 hours before the test, consuming caffeine or smoking the day of the exam and eating a heavy meal before the test.
- PoliceLink: Ace Any Law Enforcement Fitness Test
- Illinois State Police: Physical Fitness Requirement for Officer Candidates
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Preemployment Physical Fitness Test for Law Enforcement Officer Positions Within the Office of Detention and Removal
- StewSmith.com: State Police Physical Fitness Assessment Standards for New Recruits