Police forces set their own entry requirements. Part of the assessment process is a physical fitness test, plus medical examination. The police fitness test has been standardized nationally – which is a great starting point for working out whether you would pass. Even if you don’t plan on joining ‘the force’, this page will give you an insight into whether you are as fit as your average police person.
The tests are designed to be gender neutral, and to mimic the physical demands of policing on a day-to-day basis. What surprises some people is that the tests are not as demanding as you might think.
Endurance is a key aspect of policing. This could involve a being active for long periods on patrol, with the occasional burst of speed.
The first test involves 2 traffic cones set fifteen meters apart.
Aspiring officers run between them and need to run back when they hear a beep. There are different levels, with the beeps speeding up. If you fall behind, then you would fail this test. This is primarily a stamina test. If you have a reasonable level of physical fitness, then it will show as the test develops.
As long as you are at the fitness level of someone that can run for 30 minutes 5 times in a week, then passing the shuttle run / beep test will not be a problem. Turn up well rested to give yourself the maximum chances.
This part of the test is designed to test strength. There are times when arrests might need to be made where the individuals concerned are resisting. Training in techniques is important here, though some level of strength is needed.
You will need to pull on a bar five times – as well as demonstrating the ability to push. Guides recommend rowing machines as excellent training. Any resistance training / home gym workouts will give you plenty enough power to pass. The push / pull test is unisex.
Medical examinations are an important part of the process. All police forces have checks and balances in place for disabled candidates. Your prior medical history will be required. Other tests include BMI (height and weight), urine tests, hearing test, lung capacity and function, eye tests (including colour blindness test).
In the USA, each state has their own fitness test for police officers. They are more varied than the English tests, with different combinations of sports. Here are some examples:
Arkansas: 17 push-ups, 24 sit-ups, vertical jumps, 300-meter run
New York: Varied by gender and age, includes a 1.5-mile run, 18-41 push-ups and 32-45 sit ups (timed)
Texas: 1.5-mile run, push-ups test, Abdominal crunches.
Let’s face it, if you are the kind of person that has an interest in health and fitness, you are already ahead of the 80% of the population that never even consider it. The ability to jog five miles, push and pull a little and have decent ears, eyes and lungs is not a big stretch.
Having said that, fitness is only part of the requirement for joining the force in the UK. Dealing with all sorts of different people, situations and making quick decisions are all important.
My thoughts after investigating this topic, is that the police fitness test should not hold anyone back. For more details, check out this linked PDF, which shows the current fitness test for the Met:
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