Fitness test for officers

If you are appointed as a police officer you will be required to handle a variety of situations involving physically challenging tasks, which could include defending yourself or others against attack. It is essential that you possess a standard of physical fitness, which allows you to perform these tasks professionally and without the risk of injury, when the need arises.

To do this you will need a reasonable level of strength, agility and stamina. Your fitness will be assessed using the job related physical fitness test, which you must pass if your application is to proceed. If you fail the test you will be invited to re-take it. If you fail three consecutive fitness tests however, your application will be withdrawn and you will not be eligible to re-apply for twelve months.

You will be required to pass the test again during your foundation course. Failure to pass the test at this stage may lead to your discharge. It is therefore essential that you maintain your fitness level, which will also be regularly assessed throughout your training.

The Test Elements

The following is intended as training advice in order to improve performance in the two areas tested in the job related fitness test. The advice is specific to each area and should be used in conjunction with your own fitness training. You should be fully warmed up and stretched prior to exercise.
Dynamic Strength (Pull/Push)
This measures your upper body strength. Training for this should include:

Push

Using a chest press resistance machine, start with three x 10 repetitions. Use a weight that you find fairly difficult for the last few of each rep. Once you are able to complete the three reps, increase the weight and build up once more.

Press-ups are also a good exercise to build upper body strength. The correct technique and position is important. If you are unused to this type of exercise, begin on your knees and work up to full press-ups. Concentrate on keeping the body straight. Your hands should be just about under the shoulders and around six inches out. Bend the arms to 90 degrees. Exhale on exertion.

Pull

Use machines such as pull down and seated row. A rowing machine on high resistance is also a good exercise for this test and is a good cardiovascular exercise. Build up repetitions as outlined above.

When weight training it is important not to concentrate on only one muscle group. Ensure that you exercise the front and back of the arms as if not this may result in muscle imbalance. If you are unsure seek advice.

Shuttle Run

Training for this should include cardiovascular exercises such as jogging and the step machine, the cross trainer and rowing. You should aim for four to five sessions per week, building up to 30-40 minutes each. Training to improve this area should be fairly hard, although you should not be short of breath. Steady jogging which hardly affects your breathing rate will NOT improve cardiovascular fitness.
In addition to the above, specific training should include:

  • Treadmill – use an interval program or ‘fartlek’ program. This will increase and decrease pace at regular intervals. This will make you work harder as time progresses. Aim to be able to complete at least ten minutes hard training using this method. Heart rate monitors can also be used to prevent over-training.
  • Running – run using lamp posts as markers. Change pace by running faster and slower between them. For example, run at 70%-80% of your maximum pace for two minutes. Have two minutes rest and repeat up to five times. Or, run at 70%-80% of your maximum pace over 2-300 metres. Walk back to the start and repeat up to five times.

While it is important to work hard in training, you should not over-train. If you are sore from the day before, do light exercise only such as jogging or swimming. Aim for four to five cardiovascular sessions per week and add in the above specific exercises.

Aim for three to four weight/resistance sessions per week. Make sure you cool down and stretch thoroughly after exercise as this will help prevent soreness by clearing the muscles of lactic acid.

With hard work and sensible training, you should be able to improve your fitness within a few weeks – but ultimately, its up to you!

If you have any queries regarding this information, feel free to contact the force Physical Training Instructor on 0114 296 4675.