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How To Become A Police Officer - The Police Fitness Test

The police entrance fitness test has been standardised in England & Wales in recent years and is less onerous than previous fitness tests.

The Test is based on what is expected of Police officers in the course of their normal duty and now is described as a 'job related fitness test' (JRFT) This JRFT makes no distinction between gender or age of the candidate, it is what is reasonably expected of every Police officer doing their duty.

The JRFT comprises of two parts:

  • 1. The 'endurance test' which is a test of heart & lung efficiency.
  • 2. The 'Push/pull 'test which is a test of strength to hold a detained subject or move a detained subject to a vehicle or cell.

The Endurance Test comprises of a 15 Metre course, marked out by lines, over which a candidate runs. The candidate shuttle runs between the two lines in time with an audio bleep, ensuring that the candidate achieves the line at the time of the bleep.

The bleep interval reduces over time, ensuring the candidate runs harder and so proving the heart Lung efficiency. The level the candidate drops out indicates the level of heart lung efficiency.

The Nationally agreed level in order to achieve entrance in terms of fitness into the Police is 5.6. This level is not particularly onerous for the average candidate, regardless of age or gender.

The Push/ Pull Test is measured on a specifically designed machine which is derived from an ergonomic rowing machine. The candidate sits in a chair with their back against a back rest, their feet widely spread on the ground. The 'push Bar ' is adjusted to the height of the candidate in line with their mid chest. The candidate begins with 3 test Pushes to warm them up and then must give 5 maximum effort pushes which will give a reading of strength which is displayed for the candidate. Once completed the candidate sits at the other end of the machine, grabs two flexible handles, rests their chest against affront rest and again performs 3 warm up 'pull's' and then 5 Maximal effort pull's. Again the reading will be visually displayed for the benefit of the candidate.

The Nationally agreed level for push/pull is 35 in order to achieve entrance in terms of fitness into the police. This level is not particularly onerous for the average candidate, regardless of age or gender.

Candidates have to pass both the Endurance test & Push/Pull strength test in order to successfully pass the fitness requirement of gaining entrance into the Police Service.

This test & standards are also used to select Police Community Support Officers (PCSO's) and Police Support staff in certain roles.

These tests are Nationally agreed standards, and some Forces may insist on a higher fitness level in order to gain entrance, using the same tests described above. Be mindful to check what is required prior to application to that particular Force.

Recommendations for Candidates

In order to maximise your chances of achieving the standards and successfully passing the fitness requirement, the following advice is given.

  • Ensure you are suitably dressed for the fitness test with running shorts & clothing, with suitable running footwear.
  • Ensure you are well hydrated for the test (a 2% drop in hydration can lead to up to 35% loss of efficiency).
  • Ensure that you are well rested for the Assessment and arrive early for the briefing.
  • Most Forces will provide opportunities for potential candidates to complete the JRFT on a regular informal basis. Take the opportunity to attend these events and see how you measure up without obligation, prior to the formal assessment.
  • When completing the Endurance Test, cross the line with alternate legs to minimise fatigue build up, by landing & pushing off with the same leg each & every time.

Physical Preparation

In order to ensure that you give yourself the best opportunity to pass the JRFT, the best advice is to undertake a physical training regime that will simulate the activities measured in the JRFT.

For the Endurance test, the best preparation is running on a regular basis, aiming to achieve a 30 minute run on a daily basis for at least 5 days a week. This regime carried out over a minimum of 12 weeks will generally ensure that you have the maximum chance of passing the Endurance shuttle run well.

Other activities that will prepare heart & lung function for the JRFT are cycling, rowing and swimming. However, these additional activities prepare your heart & lungs well, but you would still need to incorporate some running to prepare your leg running muscles.

For the Push Pull tests, the best activities are rowing on CONCEPT 2 rowing machines, Push up's and low level resistance or weight training. The Rowing will aid the pulling aspect of the test. Select maximum fan resistance and row for approximately 15 to 20 minutes on a regular basis 3 or 4 times week.

If you do not have access to a gym, the best preparation is to utilise your own body weight in resistance training in the form of push ups. Lie flat on the ground, place hands under your shoulders and keeping your body straight push up and then lower your chest to a fist width's above the ground and repeat. Ideally depending on your age, gender weight & fitness should aim to achieve 40 push ups in a 2 minute time period interspersed with rest periods. For female candidates, who are anatomically different from male candidates, best practice would be to start push ups resting on the knees rather than the feet.

Resistance training, using free weights or weight resistance machines that simulate pulling or pushing (using biceps & tricep muscles), is best achieved using low weights/resistance and high numbers of repetitions.

Depending on age gender & fitness aim to achieve 15 repetitions of a low weight/resistance. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes, then repeat the exercise for 15 repetitions, rest again & repeat for a final time. This is described as '3 sets of 15 reps' and would be an excellent regime three times a week for a period of 12 weeks. This regime of exercise will ensure your best chance of passing the JRFT.

The mention of 12 weeks training, in fitness science, is held as the minimum length of time required to bring about a physiological change in human fitness/ strength. A committed candidate would ensure that training would last for a longer period of time, especially where fitness has not been a part of their lifestyle.

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