T Nation

Cop Fitness


Im a 38 y.o. patrol sergeant for a municipal PD. I did the requisite searches here for LE fitness programs and learned a lot of good stuff. As a matter of fact, I just started the "Westside Skinny Bastard" program and based on my soreness after my first week on it I can see that its addressing some issues I had been ignoring.

I know that a number of threads have addressed this issue, but I want to throw my twist on the discussion. Many of the larger guys (larger than me at least at 5'11" 180lbs) advise the get bigger/physical presence/fight muscle approach, which I agree with, but IMO there are a number of physical issues a Cop has to address.

Aspects as I see them:

-General fitness and weight control: Patrolling around in a squad car for hours and the average cop diet isnt ideal.

-Immediate physical activity: You can spend most of a shift doing little physical activity; report calls, checking doors etc. and then 5 min. before quitting time you may have to bail out of your car, sprint after a suspect while wearing 25-30 lbs of gear (vest, boots weapons etc.), jump a few 6' fences, tackle a guy and wrestle him into cuffs. Thats usually when knees, backs and hearts give out.

-"Fight Muscle" vs. "Pursuit Fitness": Pretty self explanatory. You want to be as big and strong as you can get, but you also want to be able to chase down the BG and that can require some endurance as well as anaerobic effort. By the time ive sprinted a few hundred yards and leaped a fence or two in gear and boots my quivering legs are more disconcerting than my CV recovery.

-Gear Wear: Something I see little discussed. Standing and/or walking a shift with the duty belt on. I believe that the 4-6 older cops getting knee replacements in my dept. are due to this. A duty belt can weigh in at a good 10-15 lbs and the weight and pressure on the back, hips and knees take their toll. Not to mention what it does to your sprinting, climbing, jumping ability. Whats the best way to deal with those effects?

Any recommendations, advice or even some additional fitness requirements of the job that I havent thought of would be appreciated.


My man! thank you for this thread, this is something I hope would come up. I am going to be in a police academy within a year and was thinking of how much I was going to need to change my training. I think I am going to keep lifting heavy, the 3-5 rep range, not take a lot of rest and work on interval training as far as conditioning. My absolute strength will maintain while I work on my conditioning.

I did this when I was playing Hoop in college. I stayed lean, but got stronger and in great condition. It is important to stay flexable. Do a lot of mobility exercises and static stretching. This will never 100% prevent you from pulling a hamstring when you have been sitting in a squad all day car and then having to jump out and chase some guy 1/4 of a mile, but it will help a good amount.


I think that your on the right track with WSFSB. The lifting will help with the big and strong as possible portion. I don't think you should have a problem with general conditioning if you preform the strongman activities prescribed in the program or atleast some type of GPP, maybe some sandbag carries or something like that. You might also benefit from running sprint intervals...just a few ideas!



Well, to be straight up with ya, your Academy goals are probably going to be different from your "street" goals. Most academy programs are based on the military (push-up, sit-up, run) model. So to pass the academy, your goals may be different. But if you are visiting this site Im assuming that you will have no trouble passing since most standards are well within reach of anybody with even "average" fitness levels. The thing that was a sticking point for a few of the "bodybuilder types" in my academy, was the run.


I am an Officer in Columbus, Ohio. i think the WSB conjugate style is great for us as far as power. Just don't qiut the running or cardio work as well. I have also benefitted greatly from the use of Kettlebells in my training cycles. I keep it simple w/ the bells and like to add in some of the Olympic lifts sometimes as well.

The one thing I think is most important for our longevity is strong abs, hips and backs. I had discussed this once w/ Dave Tate and he was amazed at the poor level of fitness education officers receive in training and on the street. I used to have a hell of a time wearing my gun belt all night w/ the back pain and countered it by adding in weighted ab exercises and gave up all the high rep crunches and sit-ups.

My back has never felt better. I do a normal westside method program and cycle my training in 3 week waves w/ a ME Sqt/ Bench And DE Sqt, and a RE bench that I sometimes will switch to DE a couple months prior to a meet. I also recommend you still use the plyometric and calistenics for assistance work for your main exercises when finished.


Funny you should mention that. I workout routinely and currently deadlift 1+1/2 times my bodyweight. I won our county SWAT competition a year ago and am in fairly decent shape, but sometimes if I turn quickly in my seat to catch a passing license plate I get a painful twinge in my lower back. Usually only if I have been sitting for a long time. Im attributing it to the belt. Ive been doing the high rep ab routine myself....perhaps its time for a change.


nice thread. Where are you SWAT and what did the competition consist of?


I was on the Cheektowaga PD SWAT team (Buffalo NY suburb) until 05 when I was promoted to sergeant. Due to team structure and dept. politics there was no room on the team for another Sgt. so I was replaced with a patrolman. The comp. was the Erie County Tactical Task Force (Western NY) SWAT Competition. I won the individual event which consisted of tower climbing, hauling rams and drag dummies and a lot of sprinting from shoot course to shoot course. It was graded on time, accuracy and shots fired (fewer shots to drop reactive targets the better the score).

While Im not the strongest, fastest or most accurate of officers, I was apparently the best combination of each. However what I think made a difference was a lot of visualization practice. Weapon manipulation and smooth transitions from stage to stage was a huge time factor. A fumbled mag or points lost for unsafe weapon handling were killers. Physically, it was endurance and anaerobic conditioning that was huge. IMO, in most tactical/military situations, being able to move fast under load and to be able to keep on moving is key. In LE work, the strength/power component enters the equation when you have to "manhandle" people.


Wow! Talk about my mirror image! I'm 37, 5'10" 190 lbs, municipal patrol sergeant. I've been following a lot of Waterbury's programs, concentrating on compound movements. I've recently started supplementing my workouts with Russian Kettlebell work on the weekends. I'm mainly concerned with functional strength. I understand that size can be intimidating, but once someone starts taking off in the backyards, and over fences, you'd better have some endurance too.

Stay safe!


Just read your post again.

Don't forget the beating your lower back gets just sitting in a radio car for hours on end. Since I've started doing more posterior chain work, my lower back issues have disappeared.


The experience of how "different" you feel after unhitching a duty belt is something many non-LE/military people just dont comprehend. The feeling of "pressure change" is really noticeable.....


I retired last July as a Lieutenant in the patrol division for my cities police department. After 21 years in a 110-man department, I have seen the value of overall fitness. I worked out 5-6 day a week for my entire career. All the advice given here is excellent (in my opinion).
The only additional information I would add to the development of core strength, is work the forearms and hand strength. Chasing down someone is one thing, being able to control or hang on to him or her, is another. If you can manage this, most of the time you can control the arrest.


Check out the "Combat Hard" article on the Diesel Crew site.