As a result, these departments take some form or version of the police fitness test in order to determine if the candidate has the minimum fitness needed to become an effective part of the force.
The police fitness test is known in a variety of names such as:
- Police Bleep Test
- Police Physical Test
- Police Physical Qualification Test
Although a lot of people want to pursue a career in law enforcement, a significant number of them tend to forget that it is an extremely physical profession since that requires officers to be able to physically respond to a range of different emergencies and situations in a short amount of time. That’s why the police fitness test was created.
This is because if an incapable candidate becomes an officer and has to restrain a resisting criminal but is unable to because they don’t meet the minimum police fitness requirements, then it could lead to the criminal getting away and putting lives at stake due to their inadequacy.
As a result, no matter which police department on which ever state that you are interested in joining, you have to be prepared to tackle and pass their version of the police fitness test.
Depending on what state and department that you are applying in, the contents of the police fitness test will vary from each other though they will still look for the same thing in a candidate, only the specific workout regime that you have to do for them will be different.
For a fully comprehensive resource on the entry requirements for police agencies and how to best prepare, check out our comprehensive police preparation course:
What does the Police Fitness Test Evaluate?
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Aerobic fitness
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Swimming fitness (dependent on state)
All of these are assessed by making the candidate go through the police physical test and they are expected to display a reasonable level of fitness for each of them.
This means that in the police fitness test, you do not need to excel at everything or even most of them. In fact, you will be accepted even if your results show that you have good muscular strength but have a so-so aerobic fitness.
The only thing that’s required by the police fitness test is for you to show that you meet a reasonable level of fitness or the minimum requirement for EACH of the aforementioned component.
One thing of note, however, is that once you’ve started the police physical test, there is a good chance that you will not be given any breaks between each workout or component testing so that the department can gauge your stamina and endurance in real time.
Furthermore, you should remember that the police physical test, or any version of it, is timed, which is an important consideration when you are training or practicing.
It is not uncommon for capable candidates to find themselves failing the police fitness test despite having good physique, stamina, and endurance, just because they underestimated it and took their time with doing their repetitions or running, thinking that it’s enough when they just fell short of meeting the requirement.
Finally, the tasks or workouts that you will be required to undergo in the police fitness test are not mentally challenging and usually do not require specific or prior preparation.
However, you should familiarize yourself with the types of activities and tasks you will be required to perform in the police physical test so that you can tailor your fitness and workout to meet the department’s police fitness requirements and police physical requirements.
How is the Police Fitness Test Conducted?
You will be required to undergo a sequence of tasks that simulate on-the-job situations that you are likely to encounter while working as a police officer.
Again, the tasks contained in the police physical test are tailored and sequenced by the police department’s training and recruitment personnel specifically to ensure that the candidates meet the ideal, if not the minimum, police fitness requirements and police physical requirements.
Below are the typical tasks used in the police fitness test:
First Task of the Police Fitness Test: Slalom Cone Run
In this task, you will need to take the prescribed starting position. When you are told to go, you will need to rise from this position and run through a series of slalom patterns, which are designated using traffic cones, until you reach a distance of 375 feet.
Second Task of the Police Fitness Test: Quadruple Three-Floor Run
After completing the slalom cone run, you will then be required by the examiner to immediately run up and down three flights of stairs a total of 4 times without being allowed to rest or have any sort of break. This is seen as the most difficult part of the police physical test due to how exhausting it is following the slalom cone run. More often than not, this is where candidates begin to realize that they should have practiced or worked out more.
Third Task of the Police Fitness Test: Dummy Drag
After completing the triple three-floor run, you will then be made to drag a 165 lbs. rescue dummy, over a length/distance of 40 feet. This is to evaluate if you have the strength to drag an injured fellow officer or civilian to safety even though you are already experiencing physical fatigue. In order to complete this test, you need to have dragged the dummy all the way over the end line, including its feet.
Fourth Task of the Police Fitness Test: Trigger Pull
This will take place immediately after the third task, and once again, you will not be allowed to rest or be given any breaks. Here, you will be handed a training weapon, which is rendered-safe, and you will be required to perform 15 single-handed trigger pulls (making sure you do 15 for each hand). You have to do this with the weapon at eye level, your arm extended.
As stated in the previous section, all of the versions of the police physical test are timed, and you will need to complete them within a set time limit if you want to pass the exam. This time is the same for everyone, regardless of age or gender.
Passing the police physical test is one of the requirements for graduating so it would be in your best interest to prepare for it.
For starters, you should test yourself and see how long it takes you to complete a run of 1.5 miles. If you can complete it within 13:50 minutes or less, you have a good chance of being able to pass this exam within the required time.
Again, the police physical test heavily is meant to measure your endurance and aerobic fitness, as well as your cardiovascular fitness.
That being said, you should also pay attention to the other police physical requirements and police fitness requirements like your muscular strength, in terms of dragging the dummy, and lifting yourself from the starting position.
Again, you don’t need any special knowledge for these tasks, but you do need to complete them quickly, efficiently and complete all of them in order to pass the test.
Additional Parts of the Police Fitness Test (PQT or Police Bleep Test)
While the above test is a big, and vital part of completing the police fitness test, you will likely also be required to undergo several other tests, which look at your cardiovascular abilities (both aerobic and anaerobic), as well as your muscular conditioning (strength and endurance).
These methods are typically scored by points, in terms of how long it takes you to complete them, and how many reps you are able to complete in each section.
The UK is the one that typically uses the Police Bleep Test but considering the fact that the tasks contained within it measure for the same thing, this isn’t all that different from the US’s police physical test.
Another portion or version of the fitness test is often referred to as the Physical Qualification Test (PQT). This police physical test consists of 3 tests, all which are all timed.
The Three Tests:
- Push Ups
- Sit Ups
- 1.5 Mile Run
If you’re more of a visual person, take a look at the video below from the San Francisco Police Department outlining their step-by-step fitness test. While no two department tests are completely the same, you’ll see some strong similarities in this one, with the list we have below, as all tests tend to follow a certain format as they are targeting the same things.
As part of the police physical requirements, this test will look at your muscular strength and endurance, as it pertains to your upper body. These pushups need to be done in the standard position. This means your feet should be 8-12 inches apart, with your arms fully extended at shoulder width.
When you are told to start, you’ll need to start doing pushups, making sure that you keep your body fully extended as you lower your torso. You need to continue to do push ups for the full two minutes, and you will be scored on how many pushups you correctly complete.
Training for Push Ups
When you are preparing for this exam to meet the police fitness requirements, it’s important to practice push-ups and make sure that your form is correct. If your form is wrong, the examiner of the police physical test will not count your push ups, so this is the vital first step for success.
If you can’t perform pushups in this position, then work your way up to it until you can consistently do it. Check the table to see how many pushups you will need to complete within the two minutes, to get the best possible score.
This act will see if you meet the police physical requirement for your core, or trunk, strength. You are required to lay on your back, with your knees at a 45-60-degree angle. Your feet should be together, and about 18” from your buttocks.
When you are told to start, you need to start going correct sit-ups, tucking your chin to your best, and curling forward. Then you need to return to the starting position in a controlled manner, before continuing. You will have two minutes to complete as many push ups as you possibly can. Your score will consist of all of the correctly performed sit-ups that you manage to do within that time.
Training for Sit Ups
When you are training for sit-ups, you need to make sure that you follow the procedure carefully, so endure that the sit-ups you do, count towards your score. As stated above, you will need to lay on your back, with your knees at a 45-60-degree angle. Your feet should be together, and about 18” from your buttocks.
Do your best to tuck your chin to your best and curling forward. Then you need to return to the starting position in a controlled manner, before continuing. If this position is difficult, then start by practicing doing half a sit up. Continue building up until you manage to complete sit ups consistently.
1.5 Mile Run
There are no techniques required for this test. You are simply required to run 1.5 miles, without stopping as it tests your aerobic and cardiovascular capabilities.
Training for 1.5 Mile Run
Preparing to meet this part of the police fitness requirement is reasonably simple. Start by timing yourself and run the 1.5 mile without stopping. Check your time. If you can’t complete the full 1.5 miles without stopping, then you need to first work on this.
Make a note of how far you were able to run, without stopping, and keep making notes of this every time, aiming to increase it with every run-through, until you can complete the full 1.5 mile.
Once you can do this, you need to aim to increase your time with every run. There is no optimal time, but you obviously want to run as fast as possible, to give yourself the best possible chance. If you want to learn more about other police physical requirements and the optimal fitness one should have, check out the table below, that outlines the ideal times, per point.
Points and Weight Requirements
While these requirements will differ slightly from state to state, take a look at these tables, from the San Francisco Police Department, to get a good idea of the level of fitness you should be aiming for, in order to pass this test!
|5′||151 Ibs.||4′ 6”||116 Ibs.|
|5′ 2”||159 ”||4′ 8”||122 ”|
|5′ 4”||167 ”||4′ 10”||130 ”|
|5′ 6”||175 ”||5′||138 ”|
|5′ 8”||183 ”||5′ 2”||144 ”|
|5′ 10”||193 ”||5′ 4”||152 ”|
|6′||204 ”||5′ 6”||161”|
|6′ 2”||216 ”||5′ 8”||169 ”|
|6′ 4”||229 ”||5′ 10”||179 ”|
|6′ 6”||241 ”||6′||190 ”|
|Points||Dynamometer;||Sit-Ups||Push-Ups||Wall Agility Run|
|0||48.00 or less||25 or less||21 or less||27.17 or more|
|8||81 or more||42 or more||41 or more||22.16 or faster|
A potential additional part of training to be a police officer is the swim test as part of the police physical requirement regime. All police academies test this when you are completing your training though there are only some states and departments that will test this during their police fitness test as well so it is best to be prepared.
In this test, you will be required to survive and thrive in the water if confronted with an emergency that requires you to swim. The minimum skill set requires you to be able to swim at least 50 yards, and tread water for 5 full minutes.
How Can You Prepare for the Police Fitness Test?
Luckily, anyone can improve their fitness level through practice and training. If you’re aiming to get into the police force, and are slated to take the police fitness test, then you can practice in many ways.
Reviewing the information above, contacting your department to get more information on their specific test, and tweaking your workout routine are all ways that you can improve.
You Can Start With:
- General Weight Training
- Running Training
- Muscular Endurance Self-Test
- Muscular Strength Self-Test
If you’re more of a visual person, take a look at the New Jersey Police Department Police Fitness Test, and see where your own routine needs improvement, in order to successfully pass the test!
General Weight Training
Weight training is a powerful way to build strength and endurance. Make sure that you start slowly and build up to the weight that you need. You need to be able to complete at least one set (8-13 repetitions), with whatever weight you choose. If you can’t, you need to lower the weight. Build it up until you can complete the higher weight-level. If you want to increase your muscular endurance, then aim for a slightly lower weight, but complete at least 15-20 repetitions.
We touched on this before, but it’s worth running through the details again. Start by timing yourself and run the 1.5 mile without stopping. Check your time. If you can’t complete the full 1.5 miles without stopping, then you need to first work on this. Make a note of how far you were able to run, without stopping, and keep making notes of this every time, aiming to increase it with every run-through, until you can complete the full 1.5 mile. Once you can do this, you need to aim to increase your time with every run.
Muscular Endurance Self-Test
If you think you’re ready, make sure that you test yourself, before you book that test. Make sure that you can do at least 33 or more straight-body pushups, within 1 minute, in order to test your endurance. If you can do this, you have a statistically good chance of passing this portion of the test.
Muscular Strength Self-Test
If you think you’re ready, make sure that you test yourself, before you book that test. Make sure that you can perform one repetition (on the bench press), using weights that are at least 80% of your bodyweight. If you can’t lift this percentage of your body weight, for at least one repetition, then you’ll likely have trouble with this portion of the test.
- Contact the police department where you’ll be taking the police fitness test. Ask them about the specifics of the test and what you can expect. Don’t worry, doing so will not give you any penalty at all since this is something that each candidate should prepare for.
- Look up and study any videos that you can find on police fitness tests such as the New Jersey Police Department video that we have shared above.
- Review our training recommendations and write your own workout routine, based on your own strengths and weaknesses
- Time yourself before you take the actual exam to make sure that you’re ready!