Every year, hundreds of potential candidates decide to pursue a career in Law Enforcement. They're looking for a change in career, for something exciting and dynamic. They're following their dream, wanting to make a difference in the world and their community. And every year, their dreams and goals are smashed to pieces because they simply can't pass the Physical Abilities Test. (Not sure what test you need to take? Learn a bit about them here).
I'm not here to tell you the test is easy, but I am here to tell you that with a proper, systematic, and deliberate training approach anyone can pass the PARE or POPAT.
Here are the top 3 considerations you need to keep in mind while training for Physical Abilities Test (PAT).
1. Strength is never a weakness.
The most common obstacle for women and smaller candidates is their strength. There are no two ways about it, you NEED to be performing regular strength training to pass the PATs, especially if you want a competitive time.
But how strong is strong enough? Unfortunately, you're not going to like the answer. It depends. It depends on your build, it depends on your athletic background, and it depends on your grit.
That being said, I wrote an article for some career strength goals. If you aim high, you're guaranteed to build the requisite strength necessary for the PATs long before you reach these strength goals: Strength Goals for First Responders
2. Intensity is the difference.
Running a 5k every week is great for your health. It won't help you pass the PATs.
Lifting weight for 15-20 reps can improve your technique and increase your endurance. It won't help you pass the PATs.
Intensity is the King/Queen of adaptation. You need to RUN HARD and LIFT HEAVY if you want to smash the PAT.
For building your engine, I recommend High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It is by far the fastest way to build your cardio. The catch? It's intense. It's aggravating. It sucks. But it is still the most effective. Like anything, there is a continuum, but ultimately you want to hit a high heart rate if you're going to improve your aerobic fitness.
Not sure where to start? I recommend starting with some intervals that are similar to the PATs. Start with 4 rounds of 4 minutes of HIGH-INTENSITY training (usually rest for 3-ish minutes between rounds but avoid going above 4-minutes rest).
***CHECK WITH A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER BEFORE ENGAGING IN HIGH-INTENSITY EXERCISE***
For more on HIIT, check out these articles: Stop doing LSD (why running that 5k doesn't work), How the Aerobic System works (for the training nerds among us), and What is HIIT? (the best way to build your engine).
3. Stop training for the Physical Abilities Test.
You read that right.
Last, but not least. The #1 way you can improve your POPAT, PARE, SOPAT, COPAT, or whateverthePAT: stop training for the PAT and start training for a career in law enforcement. Train to be a well-rounded tactical athlete.
Stop worrying about the Push Pull, the stairs, or the jump.
Start worrying about creating a solid foundation, rounding out your weaknesses and doubling down on your strengths.
Not sure where to start? That is the whole reason I partnered with the CREATORS of the POPAT and other Physical Abilities Tests to create the Prepare to Protect Program. It takes you from ground zero towards a career in Law Enforcement. Check it out here
Like this post? I've written a lot more. Subscribe to my email list and never miss one. On top of that, you can download my Tactical Shoulder Warm Up below.
Step-by-step approach to Police Fitness Training in preparing for the Police Officers’ Physical Abilities Test (POPAT).
This program integrates highly effect strength and cardio exercises in order to prepare candidates for a fast, competitive POPAT performance in the least amount of time possible. Includes a 16-Week Bonus training protocol for candidates starting from scratch.