T Nation

Police Academy Training Tips

A little background:
I’m 30 yo and pretty fit, and a few months ago decided to try to make a change in my career - from graphic designer to Police Officer. I’ve always been pretty health and in good shape, so when I started training for the tests, it wasnt too bad.

Make a long story short - I aced the physical tests. I ran the obstacle course in 1:25, which is on par with academy standards (they gave me 2 minutes to complete it and the guy I did it with ran it in 1:58.) I also did the half-mile run in 3:34 which isn’t bad.

My workout went as follows:

Day 1: Horizontal Push / Vertical Pull
Bench Press 4X4-6
Pull Ups 4X8-10
Cable Press 3X10-12
Chin Ups 4X8-10

Day 2: Run

Day 3: Vertical Push / Horizontal Pull
Military Press 4X4-6
Wide Grip Cable Row 4X4-6
Standing Dumbell Press 3X8-10
Bent Over Row 3X6-8

Day 4: Run

Day 5: Legs
Squats 4X6-8
Romanian Deadlifts 4X8-10
Deadlifts 4X6-8

Weekends off

I felt pretty good during the testing, and breezed through the obstacle course, which is what scared me the worst. Now I want to prepare for the Academy and am wondering if anyone has any insight as to how I should train.

For one, I would love to be able to put some size on my frame, but my priority is to get strong. If I pack on some size in the process, that would be great. I have to keep running because cardio is a big component of the Academy.

The catch: I work out in the mornings, and have about a 30-40 minute window to work out. That’s why I work out every day instead of 3 or 4 times a week…

Looking forward to your feedback,

From my experience at a ‘high stress’ academy in SoCal, you will need to be able to do high reps (i.e. 400-600 push-ups/day) of body weight exercises (push-ups, squat thrusts, mountain climbers, sit-ups and pull-ups) all day-every day and run distance (3-6 miles at a <9min/mile) 3x/week. There are other challenges but the above is 90+%.

Honestly, the minimum PT tests/qualifications were not a big deal compared to surviving a day on the ‘beach’. My class saw the weight room about 3 times in 26 weeks and there were no “tests” on any lifts. So for the majority of your prep workouts, skip the weight room unless you need to rehab/prehab something. Do your REPS!!! Get back to the iron after the academy. Focus your prep to succeed at the academy!

Focus your prep workouts on basic body weight exercises (push-ups, sit-ups, squat thrusts/burpees, mountain climbers, pull-ups and running) with the idea of multiple sets of 25 reps (except for pull-ups). Oh…and they are back-to-back sets meaning 25 push-ups, 25 squat thrusts, 25 mountain climbers, 25 sit-ups…repeat with ~10 second breaks between sets.

Two simple ways to get in reps: 1) during the working day, every hour take a break and bang out a set of push-ups. You can dive under your desk or an unused conference room. I worked in a professional business environment and did this in a shirt and tie. If anyone asked, I told them it was my version of a cigarette break.

  1. at night when you are watching TV, every commercial break do a set of push-ups and one of the other exercises. It�??s pretty easy to get in a few hundred reps each evening. Or if you are watching baseball, do the same at the top of ever inning.

As for a good starting program beginner�??s running plan, check out the “couch to 5K” program on the Cool Running website. If you are already beyond this level, pick one of the other programs. Save yourself some pain, head for a runners shoe store (not Dick’s or Big 5) and have them find the right shoe for you. It will cost a bit more but it’s worth it.

Another suggestion, is to head for a boxing or muay thai gym. The conditioning aspect is outstanding and you can develop some cross over skills along the way (i.e. hitting things). Don’t be too concerned if the most accessible place to you isn’t a MMA hotbed so long as it isn’t KardioKickboxing or whatever your gym is calling the aerobics class. You should be hitting the bag or pads. An LA Boxing type gym would do you fine.

As a reality check, the following are the basic fitness level recommendations from several PD’s for beginning the police academy. Make your life a bit easier�?�be well beyond these numbers. The information is taken from the last week of their recommended pre-academy workout programs. The details and the complete prep programs at the listed websites provided (should still be current). If you use the Seal Prep (a great prep program) program you can skip the swimming portion. As an additional check point, values for the FBI’s PFT minimum and maximum points (male) are listed. The complete protocols and scoring table can be found at the listed website.


Run 4 miles @ 9-10 minutes per mile, 3-4 days/week
Push-ups 25-30 reps x 3 sets
Sit-ups 35-40 reps x 3 sets
Pull-ups 3-15 reps x 3 sets
Leg-lifts 25-35 reps x 3 sets

Las Vegas Metro PD
( http://www.protectthecity.com )

Run 3.5 miles @ 9:40 per mile, 4 days/week
Incline Push ups/ Push ups 25 reps x 3 sets
Flutter Kicks 3 sets at 45 seconds/set
Sit Ups 15 reps x 3 sets
Crunches 25 reps x 3 sets
Jumping Jacks 25 reps x 3 sets
Mountain Climbers 25 reps x 3 sets
Body Builders 25 reps x 3 sets

( http://www.fbijobs.gov )

Push-ups 30/58
Sit-ups 38/71
1.5 Mile Run 12:24/8:89
300m Sprint 52.4/40.9
Values listed as min/max. Run and sprint values are minutes:seconds

(from Category 1 Wk 9 at http://navyseal.s5.com/workout… )

Run @ 8:30 pace for: Mon 4 miles, Tues 4 miles, Thursday 5 miles, Friday 3 miles
Push-ups 30 reps x 6 sets
Sit-ups 30 reps x 6 sets
Pull-ups 10 reps x 3 sets

Awesome post, man. Thanks for the info. I’m re-working my spreadsheet as I type!


I’d agree with mixicus, I wouldn’t worry too much about bulking up or adding pounds to your lifts. It really depends on what they are going to do to you in the academy. If they are going to PT the dog crap out of you, better start doing push ups, sit ups, mountain climbers, etc. If they are going to run you, start running now… I think you get the idea. Your goal is to get through the academy.

Something else you might want to do is get a copy of the state’s criminal and traffic laws and start reading through them. It would give you a head start on the book work. You can probably find them on line.

If you can find someone who just got through the academy, pick their brain, find out what would they suggest to help get ready.

I’ve been a police officer for 11 1/2 years and I’m still having the time of my life.


runnersworld.com has a good planner. you give it your best time, distance you want to run, and time to achieve the goal, and it spits out a training program.

This is great stuff. My brother in-law is in the process of trying to get into the RCMP (national police force in Canada). He asked about weight-training / conditioning advice but I wasn’t sure what to tell him. This helps.

The only issue I foresee in retrospect with this kind of program is weight loss. I’m 5-9, 185… average build, I guess, but I wonder if this is going to make me lose weight. I suppose I can just increase my calorie intake significantly, right? Any thoughts?

i’m guessing these requirements are only for getting into the police academy. where i live, the cops i see are so fat they can’t even get out of there squad cars.


Ivan: weight loss can be regulated by your diet. Increase your clean food intake to compensate for drops in lean body mass. You can work on that now and when you hit the academy continue to make adjustments by having regular healthy snacks throughout the day.

Most of my class lost weight. How much depended on how active you were prior to entry. The more active recruits loss less as they already had partially adjusted their diet to an active/athletic lifestyle. The fat bodies that hung in there drop some serious weight and BF%.

Makes sense… thanks.

Revised workout:

D1: Horiz Push - Vert Pull
Bench Press: heavy 4X4-6
Pull-Lat Pull-Downs: heavy 4X4-6

4 ciruits of 20-25:
Push Ups, Squat Thrusts, Pull Ups, Sit Ups, Mountain Climbers

D2: Distance Run

D3: Vert Push - Horiz Pull
Military Press: heavy 4X4-6
Wide-grip Cable Row: heavy 4X4-6

4 ciruits of 20-25:
Push Ups, Squat Thrusts, Pull Ups, Sit Ups, Mountain Climbers

D4: Interval Runs

D5: Legs
Romanian Deadlifts

4 ciruits of 20-25:
Push Ups, Squat Thrusts, Pull Ups, Sit Ups, Mountain Climbers


I have lived in 4 different states and have a shit load of friends who are cops. I can’t say for California anymore cause I have not been there in about 8 years, but for Ohio the only real thing to worry about is being able to run the 1.5 in 12 minutes. Which shouldn’t be a problem for most. You want to check with your local law enforcement and see what they serve up where you live. That is the best way to do it man. It changes from place to place state to state. I heard some states give you 20 minutes to do a mile and half. LOL. SO I mean really just ask someone.

Now taking an AGILITY test for each department is a whole different ball game. If you do academy first then have to find a job you will have to take tests every time you apply. So once again find out what you need to be able to do. For sure though you have to have the running down and prolly be able to scale a 6-7 foot well. You should also make sure you can do the normal things like push ups/sit ups/pull ups.