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Police Physical Abilities Test | What’s Involved?

August 3rd, 2019 police physical abilities test


Working as a law enforcement officer is physically taxing. Whether it’s chasing down suspects, or even holding them down in self-defense, police officers must be physically fit. That’s where the police physical abilities test (PAT) comes in.

The test is a tough one. Not all police departments offer the same test. You should contact your local police department agency to learn what the 2019 requirements are. Regardless of these differences, there are common themes around what will be tested. Some departments conduct the police fitness test before the police written exam to avoid wasting resources.

Below, we review the core elements of the fitness exam:

  • 75-yard pursuit – an obstacle course designed to mimic chasing a suspect.
  • 1.5-mile run – testing a candidate’s cardio and pulmonary function.
  • Sit-ups/push-ups – measuring a candidate’s upper body strength.

Other common test components include bench press and/or sit-reach extensions.

You may be tested in some or all these exam elements.

Candidates are advised to prepare for the exam at least 8-12 weeks before the exam. Our team has prepared long-term fitness and nutrition plans to help maximize your performance. Become a registered member now to gain access to these lessons and learning tools.

In the meantime, let’s take a few moments to review each part of the police physical abilities test and how you are expected to perform.

1 – The 1.5-mile run

One of the most physically demanding parts of the police physical abilities test is the 1.5-mile run. Almost all police departments include this as part of the exam.

Candidates must complete the 1.5-mile run within a designated time period. The precise time period chosen depends on your department. Typically, the time can be anywhere between 14 minutes and 18 minutes.

The purpose of the 1.5-mile run is clear – to establish whether you possess the aerobic potential to work as a police officer. Whilst it’s unlikely that you will run 1.5-miles to catch a suspect in real life, the exam lets department officials know whether you have the aerobic skill to work as an officer.

2 – The 75-Yard Pursuit

The 75-yard pursuit, also referred to as the police obstacle test, has become one of the staple parts of the police officer exam.

The purpose of the pursuit is to review the following core physical attributes:

  • Your ability to balance agility with speed
  • Your capacity to literally think on your feet
  • Your determination to make it to the end without fault

It’s not easy to achieve all three. Mistakes invariably happen along the way.

Remember – doing well at the police fitness test involves as much mental strength as physical strength.

To train hard, for up to 12-weeks in advance, requires commitment. To perform well, in front of an examiner, under the pressure applied requires even greater mental endurance. To pass the police fitness test, you must also mentally prepare for, and mentally apply yourself, during the exam.

Obstacles include:

  • Cones – you will be penalized for knocked cones
  • Stairs – both running up and down
  • Jumping barriers – which may be between 3 and 6 feet
  • Holding a dummy victim – and not to drop the victim
  • Climbing ladders – or alternatively, climbing through windows
  • Pipes – crawling through with speed and agility
  • Hanging objects – and the need to dodge those objects

Candidates are often required to wear a 3-pound vest and weaponry whilst undertaking the obstacle course. This reflects the physical circumstances that you will experience a real-life police officer.

Many police departments let you practice their test course. After all, they want you to pass and preparing in advance is no small thing. If they don’t, perhaps they will give you a structured map of how the course is configured. You can then mimic this course in your training program.

Completion times vary, but the course often takes 4-minutes or less to finish. Course length also varies but averages around the 400-yard mark. Talk with your local police department agency about how your 2019 police fitness test is structured.

3 – Sit-ups / Push-ups

The purpose of sit-ups/push-ups is to measure a candidate’s upper body strength.

Strength assessment most often includes these, but may also include the following additional assessments:

  • Bench press – scored by what % of bodyweight you can lift
  • Sit/reach extensions – a measure of physical flexibility

In terms of sit-ups and push-ups, you are given 1-minute and asked to do as many as you can in that timeframe. The more you do, the better your score.

Upper body strength is essential for law enforcement officers. For example, you may need to chase down and physically subdue a suspect. Upper body strength gives you the power to do this safely and effectively.

Push-ups are used to measure upper body strength, whereas push-ups are used to establish core body strength. Core body strength is vital; because, as a police officer, you spend some amount of time sitting – such as in squad cars or at the police department. This can lead to muscles tightening up and compromising your physical ability.

As part of your training program, candidates should include a comprehensive network of exercises to train your core muscles.

Final Thoughts

The police physical abilities test is tough. There are no two ways about it.

Even if you believe you are physically fit, you will be pushed to the limit on exam day. That’s why it’s so important that you prepare your body for more than what the test examines. If you do 20 push-ups in 1 minute, aim for 30, then 40. If you can do the 1.5-mile run in 17 minutes, train to reach 13 minutes.

Always over-aim, but never underdeliver.

What you eat matters, too.

That’s why we’ve put together a complete range of lessons to help prepare you for the police fitness test. We’ve prepared lessons that help you train 8-12 weeks in advance; how to utilize nutrition to help you reach your exercise goals, and training/exercise programs that build strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity.


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