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Some Advice for Police Academy Training?

Just to give you some background
Iv been running 5/3/1 for about 6 months and I have lifted in the past as well

Current maxes(theoretical) are

Dead: 309
Bench: 384
Squat: 358
Overhead: 253

My lower body is far in a way weaker than my upper. My lifts read almost backwards it seems.

I currently weight 275 pounds at 5’7 about 30% bodyfat. I started in may at about 300 pounds I’m aware I am fat and its one of the things I am working on. My current mile time is about 12 mins which is super high.

I would like to go into the academy running a sub 30 minute 5k. The academy is slated to begin in March.

I probably don’t have a lot of time but getting as close as possible will be nice. I currently work a 9-5 job, I’m a good cook, have a decent sized budget for food and supplements and am not afraid of hard work.

My predicament is that I am getting paralyzed by analysis.

The academy is mainly calisthenics so I assume my training should begin to include those but I’m not sure which ones to do on which days.

Should I abandon 5/3/1 and focus exclusively on a full body calisthenic program for now, start a keto diet? So much crap on the internet. I’m ready to go hard as hell at something I just want to make sure its a good choice and get a little reassurance.

Generic questions I know, I apologize.

To summarize: I need to lose weight, improve overall GPP, and greatly increase my speed and capacity at running.

Please recommend an eating plan(including foods would be a bonus, perhaps an example meal)
And also a training adjustment that may better accommodate my current needs.

Thank you anyone who takes the time to answer.


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I’ve been through two police academies and it sounds like yours will be similar. First (and before I forget), is there a PT test to get in or to graduate?

As far as your training is concerned, you need to prepare for what you’ll be doing in the academy. It’s not fun; it’s not sexy or glamorous, but you don’t get a choice. Since you like 5/3/1 then keep doing it any way you like (PR sets, FSL, SSL, Jokers, etc), but run it with the Jack Shit assistance template (aka none). Your assistance is going to be everything you need to get ready for the academy.

You need to run and log mileage. It sucks but it’s a necessary evil. Police academies like to be “paramilitary” which means expect to train like you would in boot camp - long slow runs, push ups, sit ups, burpees, jumping jacks, etc. You are too damn big to be running right now. 275 lbs on a 5’ 7" frame isn’t going to work. It’s not going to work well as a cop either. You’re going to fit the cop stereotype as a rookie. Don’t be that guy. If your academy is like my first one then you might find yourself running for an hour straight. Do you think your joints are going to handle that day in and day out at your size?

Starting now, focus on losing weight. Run your 5/3/1 for maintenance. FSL or just hitting the prescribed reps would be fine. You only need to stimulate the muscles and your CNS to maintain proficiency in the lifts. You might get weaker but you need it. You should not bench more than you squat or deadlift (but you should be good at push ups).

Try to dig up some information on the specifics of your academy PT. If you’re going to be running for an hour straight then you’ll need to build up to something close to that. If you won’t run that long but you’ll need to run faster then that would be good to know as well. Knowing the specifics will help you prepare. If the furthest you’re going to run in 1.5 miles (like my second academy) then you’ll train differently than you would for the one hour runs. I hate running and it beats me up so I try to minimize it in my training. I wouldn’t suggest that you run for hours a week if it’s not going to be needed.

Once you figure out the specifics then you can train accordingly. I suggest the following:

  1. Lose weight. Buy and read The Abs Diet book. It’s nutrition 101 (in my opinion). It’s not a fad diet and it even covers those and why they fail. You can get the book for $15 or less. I have the original but if you can find the updated one then get that.

  2. I think your body would be better off if you started building up your endurance on machines. Use the bikes, the elliptical, and any other cardio machine to get some steady state stuff done. Swimming is also a good option. I hate that crap but it’s necessary for a police academy. You could start running now if you feel alright but it’s not worth it if it’s going to cause injuries (shin splints, plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, etc). It might be better to wait until you lose more weight.

  3. Start doing body weight work. Build up your push ups and sit ups. Work on technique for sit ups. If you have a standard to meet in the academy then you need to learn how to do the movement for performance and not for muscle activation. I think you’d benefit from body weight circuits. Lunges, push ups, sit ups, and some sort of pull (inverted row with body weight, pull ups [assisted if necessary], or a cable row or pulldown). Do that for four or five rounds, rest, and then do another. Split squats, a different push up variation or some DB OHP, lying leg raises (knees to chest or actual leg raises if you can), and another pull for four or five rounds. You’ll quickly learn your capabilities and how to pick the right reps for each exercise.

I’m not sure where your fitness is right now so you may not need to do all of this at once. You could run 5/3/1 four days a week and do one circuit after each workout. You could alternate days with steady state cardio and the circuits (so two days of each per week).

Your top two priorities are weight loss and improving your endurance. You have three to four months to prepare so don’t put it off. Try to lose weight even though holiday binge eating season is upon us. My goal would be for you to be at 250-260 lbs by the time you start the academy. This will be dependent on what you’ve been doing up til now. I know you’ve lost weight. If you’ve been steadily losing weight then 260-265 is more realistic for you. If you’ve stopped losing and you haven’t been working on losing weight then you might see a bigger drop. Either way I’d want you to continue to lose weight through the academy. Most academies are around six months so you could be down to the 225-240 lb range when you graduate if you stick with it.

I’m sure you’re worried about losing too much strength but your strength numbers don’t matter if you can’t move your body. If you want to be a cop then you need to look the part. Fat, sloppy cops are an embarrassment. Criminals size us up constantly. If you look like you’re fit and strong then you might have less problems on the streets. It could save your life, or you partner’s. Take it seriously.


For further reference I’ve attached some pics. I’ve been told I don’t look my weight not that it matters.

Cpl said the most they really run in 5 miles in the academy and it will mostly be 1.5 to 2 miles a day of running.

We did a modified POPAT to qualify. You get 7:15 to complete it and I did it in 3:44.

Lately I have been trying to do sprint work outs to help increase my running strength… saw it in an Alan Thrall video on youtube, thought i’d give it a shot.

What’s a good rep count for the circuits for each exercise? I never really programmed bodyweight before so I don’t know how to judge whats “enough”.

Thank you for all your answers so far. Greatly appreciate your assistance.

Everything @Frank_C said x 1000 because he’s actually been there (twice).

My only $0.02 would be to just start doing stuff right now. Any hour you miss finding the perfect plan is an hour closer to your start date. You’ve got minimal time to get into shape.

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You carry your weight well because you lift. You look kind of like a power lifter instead of just a fat guy. You can still drop weight. You’ll look better with every pound. Police work is toxic. The stress and hormonal responses to stress causes the body to store belly fat. Read up on the body’s stress response and cortisol if you’re curious.

The leaner you are when you start, the better off you’ll be. You are in a better place to lose weight now with your 9-5 job. I’m assuming it doesn’t have multiple adrenaline dumps each day.

If you never run more than 2 miles then train for that. Your 5k goal is a good start. Google “Beginner Program for a 5K” and you’ll find plenty of programs.

Your academy sounds like it’ll be like my second one. We did minimum PT. We had to run 1.5 miles in 14 minutes. We might’ve run further than that once but definitely not more than that.

Maybe this will help you grasp what (I think) you need:

An officer needs strength and strength endurance. You might run for 30 seconds to catch a suspect and then have to fight him once he’s on the ground. You need general endurance - not so much the ability to run far but the ability to stand/walk for long periods with 30 extra pounds in hot weather. You also need to be able to do what I just listed above on those days.

To train for this I think weight lifting with short rest is good. I think sprint intervals are good. I like circuits with weights or without. You might like Built for Battle since you like to lift heavy-ish. And some steady state cardio on occasion is beneficial.

To be honest, CrossFit type training is probably ideal for cops but I don’t like just doing the WODs. Some of the movements hurt or I just can’t do them (hand stand walks and hand stand push ups, for example). I’ve started building my own little WODs that let me lift and push my conditioning a bit. I can build them however I want to meet my needs (or wants). The important thing is that I’m ready if I have to fight for my life someday. Strength will help, but conditioning is going to be the key. Recovery is key. I may not be able to fight for a minute straight but I can probably find a way to stall for a few seconds. If I can recover enough to go hard again then I can stay in the fight.

It sounds like you’re on the right track already. Add push ups to your training. Train your abs and core both statically and dynamically. I’d guess that your squat and deadlift numbers are limited by your core right now. I’m 6’4" and 240 right now and I pulled 545 in June. Based on your photo I’m guessing you’re leaking power in your core or your technique is off. But I digress…

Back to your training. Choose your reps on the bodyweight circuits based on your abilities. I’ve been doing 20 walking lunges (10 ea), 15 push ups, 5-8 pull ups, and 10-12 reps on an ab movement like lying leg raises, v ups, or ab wheel rollouts. There are a couple CrossFit WODs that do 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 BW squats. One is as many reps as possible in a specific time and the other is a total number of rounds for time (hell, I might try that today since I’m training at home).

I think I’ve managed to cover most things. Sorry if I missed anything or something doesn’t make sense. I’ve been distracted while writing this.

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Sorry one last question thanks for everything above. Im working on putting it all together as we speak.

At one point do you think I should start running again?

If you’re comfortable running then start now but I wouldn’t worry about doing a lot. I’m mostly concerned about the typical overuse injuries associated with running. If you’re ready then try one of the beginner 5k programs. The one I looked at has you do like 20 minutes of running/walking and you alternate 2 min run, 2 min walk. I think something like that would be fine if you’re ready.

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Even the most basic weight Training will help lose weight IF your nutrition and cardio are on point. The fact that you weigh 275 at 5’7 means that you’ve been eating too much for a long time. If you can keep yourself in a good mental mindset, adhering to a strict diet plan will make the biggest impact on your weight loss imo.



I’m not a cop, but I like JMaier31’s thinking here.


Thanks for your input Stu.

Yes I’ve not taken very good care of myself for a very long time. turning 30 this year was a wake up call for me.

I have a serious sweet tooth and it was something I found very difficult to overcome until recently.

I’m hoping to combine good nutrition with some of J’s advice and hopefully be as prepared as I can for the police academy.


For life, brother. For life. Guys built like you can actually appear Savage AF if they’re lean. Cut that body fat. Look, feel, train, and live like a beast. You can do it and you’ll make the profession look better if you do.

I have a first shift spot and most of my coworkers have over 15 years of time with the department. One of them had a partial knee replacement this year. He weighed 360 lbs before the procedure and the doc made him lose 50 to increase the chances of a successful operation. The guy used to be a skinny Marine and avid runner. He doubled in size when he became a cop. He’s a nice guy but he’s the poster child for cop jokes. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that guy now or in 30 years. There’s no excuse.

Here’s an article about the stress response that I mentioned. It’s important for cops.

During a shift you can experience multiple fight or flight responses. You get dispatched to a priority call like a disturbance with shots fired. As you get close dispatch is telling you that people are still on scene; there’s lots of shouting in the background. You have to respond. You have to go into a possible gun fight between other people and stop the chaos. It gets you amped up.

Later in the shift you hear the tones that say an officer is in trouble. You turn on your lights and siren and drive your ass off to get there. After about 30 seconds they send out the alert to shut it down, the officer is okay and has other units on scene. Well, I just got all amped up and didn’t do anything.

During the fight or flight response the body uses cortisol to break down stored glycogen for energy. Well, I didn’t use that energy so it gets taken back up by the body. The body thinks you need fuel for the next stress response so you get hungry. You eat, but you don’t need the fuel and you have nowhere to put it other than to store it as fat. It’s also 0330 hours and the only food available is junk because you didn’t pack a lunch. Combine that with working 2100-0700 hours and getting crap sleep because court calls you at 0900. The deck is stacked against us in terms of health.

You have to get it right before you start and you have to make it a permanent lifestyle. You can’t play catch up when you’re stretched too thin and tired.


Thanks for all the advice brother.

I went ahead and reached out to a trainer who ill be working out with twice a week doing some more mobility type stuff and cardio just so i can get the groove of it. I’ve also decided to pick up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu again twice a week to compliment my overall training and start prepping my body for violence again. I’m going to schedule all that stuff out and make sure I get plenty of sleep and good food.

I’ll be throwing in a bit of running, a lot of machine cardio, and 5/3/1 jack shit and circuits like you said.

Thanks again for the advice man. Stay safe out there.

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That sounds like a solid plan. The BJJ will double as conditioning too.


I feel like you are lacking one extremely important factor, you haven’t mentioned if you have watched all the Police Academy movies :slight_smile: Training complete.


Super Troopers. You forgot Super Troopers.

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JMaier gave you all you need, really fantastic stuff.
Relatively speaking you do carry the weight well but I would still make getting down to say “only” 220 your no 1 priority and do it ASAP. You will feel waaay better also.

I’ll add, these very effective for heavy guys also…

Hows it going so far?

Pretty good. I’m leaning out but unfortunately the scale hasn’t been moving as much as I hoped.

I"m waiting for the shoe to drop and just lose 5 pounds overnight which seems to happen to me.

Been working on all the things discussed.

Current training schedule
Monday- 30 mins with trainer, 30 min interval training with rowing machine and elliptical
Tuesday - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Wednesday - 30 mins with trainer, 30 min interval training with rowing machine and elliptical
Thursday -Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Friday- Off
Saturday - Running the Spartacus workout https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a19547311/spartacus/ at the suggestion of my trainer plus cardio intervals
Sunday - Running various types

Going to do this for about 2 more weeks and then make further adjustments. depending on progress.

I’ve also been doing intermittent fasting with good healthy well balanced meals.


Way to go.
You’ve latched on to a great career. At this point, I would only advise to keep an eye on injury prevention. I tear or fracture at this point could end it all. There will be some military studs and super fit guys that will run the mile and half under 8 or 9 minutes. Just have a goal to run mid-pack. You certainly won’t be towards the back the way you are going.