What Is Required for Police Fitness?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Police officers need to be strong, flexible, and agile. Trainees applying to police academies usually need to pass a police fitness test to determine if they are ready for the physical demands of training, and before officers can enter a department, they also need to demonstrate their physical fitness. Police departments can also require periodic retesting to make sure all of their officers are in good physical condition. People preparing for careers in policing can embark on physical fitness programs to get ready for the police fitness test.

A police officer must be able to stand for long periods.
A police officer must be able to stand for long periods.

Some examples of tests a police department may ask recruits to pass include pull-ups, crunches, push-ups, and obstacle courses. Applicants may also need to run, drag dummies along a course, and take a sit and reach test. These tests assess stamina, strength, and flexibility, important traits for police officers. They can also help determine whether officers can maintain good posture, a critical concern for injury prevention, as police can acquire injuries by sitting poorly in squad cars and desk chairs.

A police offer must be able to maintain good posture when sitting in a squad car.
A police offer must be able to maintain good posture when sitting in a squad car.

Prospective police officers preparing for the police fitness test can use a variety of techniques. Jogging or running a few times a week will help recruits get ready for stamina tests, while performing crunches, sit-ups, and push-ups will develop strength. It is important to stretch before and after working out. For flexibility, activities like yoga can improve strength, control, and range of motion. There are also police fitness training programs available for getting ready to take fitness tests.

Working police officers who want to retain strength, speed, flexibility, and endurance can engage in regular physical activity alongside their job duties. Many police departments have gyms and fitness clubs where officers can get together to work out, spot each other on weights, and motivate each other to maintain fitness standards. The police department may also pay trainers to help officers develop a safe and effective exercise routine. Seeing a trainer can be especially useful for managing and preventing injuries.

Police fitness standards vary, depending on the police force. Officers can get information about the standards from a police recruiter or department representative. For applicants, this information can be useful for tailoring a fitness plan to get ready for the test, as it will provide the applicant with a set of goals to meet. The test is usually pass/fail, and exceeding the requirements does not carry any special advantages, beyond making it more likely that the recruit will be able to complete police academy training because she is more fit than other recruits.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


Actually Ivan, the bad thing about police work is once you're "in," you don't have to pass so many tests. It's rather ridiculous. If you ask (most) cops, oddly enough, many policemen would prefer a more military approach to fitness. For example, my step-father was an electrician in the air force, but could be a jerk, especially when he had to sit behind a desk most of the day in higher up positions. Yet he had to maintain a rigorous routine and stay fit.


I was thinking about becoming a cop about 20 years ago and I called a recruiter and asked what would be required on the physical fitness test. I can't remember all the benchmarks now, but I remember that they were a lot harder than you would have expected.

I was in pretty good shape at the time, but when I first started trying to hit the target numbers I fell way short. It took me a month of solid training before I was in the shape I needed to be in to pass the test. Being a cop is one of the most physical jobs there is. Every part of your body needs to be fit.


@Ivan83 - Cops do like doughnuts and some of them like them a little too much but this doesn't really tell the whole story. For instance, not every cop is working the streets and chasing around bad guys. Lots of cops work in administrative positions and have to wear the full uniform but rarely leave a desk.

For these guys, physical fitness is less important. I also don't think that cops become fatter in higher numbers than people in other professions. I have seen a lot of fat accountants and fat plumbers and fat baseball umpires. You want your cops to be fast and strong and capable but sometimes there are good reasons why they're not.


I respect all the hard work that the police do but I had to giggle a little when I saw this article. I live right around the corner from a doughnut shop and it is impossible to drive by without seeing a cop car in the parking lot. It is an old stereotype but it is apparently completely true. And you see so many cops with big guts walking around. Are these guys really being asked to pass a fitness test?

Post your comments
Forgot password?