Top 7 Exercises to prepare for the Push - POPAT/PARE Training

It is often assumed that the ‘Push’ station of the Police Physical Abilities Tests (PATs) are a measure of upper body strength or endurance. While upper-body pressing power is a major factor, the ‘Push’ requires whole body involvement. If you only train for pressing, you still won’t get anywhere if you fail to transfer force from your core.

Here are my top 7 exercises to help prepare you for the ‘Push’ station of the PATs.

  1. Push-Ups

  2. Floor or Bench Press

  3. Bent Over Rows

  4. Lat Pull-Down of Pull Ups

  5. Deadlift

  6. Back Squats

  7. Dumbbell Front Rack Lunges

Let’s break of of these down, why they’re important, and what your training goals should be…

1.    Push-Ups

-    The Push Up develops both pressing strength and core stability, both vital for performance. The key to maximizing the benefits from the push up is having strict standards on form, never letting the core sag of the hips to elevate excessively.

-    Men: aim for 40 consecutive, straight body push ups

-    Women: aim for 25 consecutive, straight body push ups

If you ever hit a plateau, scaling the push ups and integrating an inclined push up is a great option.



2.    Floor/Bench Press

-    There is no exercise better for developing raw-pressing strength than the Bench Press and the Floor Press. Like the push-up, it still requires core strength, but most of the limitations to the Bench Press come from upper body strength.

-    Men: aim for body weight (total weight between sides) for 5 reps

-    Women: aim for 60% body weight (total between weight sides) for 3-5 reps

3.    Bent Over Row

-    This might seem counter-intuitive, using a pulling exercise to develop pushing power. However, our body is pretty smart. In order to develop true strength, we need to hit both sides of the body. A poor pulling ability will end up limiting pushing ability. Using the Bent Over Row, in particular, is another exercise that helps develop core stability, and the transfer of force from the core to the extremities.

-    Aim for 50% bodyweight for 4-8 reps, 3-5 sets

Alternatively, this can be done with dumbbells.



4.    Lat Pulldown/Pull Up

-    You don’t need to be able to perform a Pull Up to be able to pass your PAT. Don’t get me wrong, there is a strong correlation between those who can do a Pull Up and those who pass the test, but it isn’t required. That being said, pulling in the coronal plane is an essential skill/movement for any proper strength program. Using the Lat Pulldown to develop your lower back will help strengthen your posture and ultimately help you Push/Press from the optimal position (in other words, developing your PULL will make your PUSH stronger!).

-    Men: aim for 5-10 repetitions of Pull Ups for 3-5 sets

-    Women: aim for 75-85% of BW Lat Pulldown for 5-10 reps for 3-5 sets


5.    Deadlift

-    Finally. We get to my favorite strength exercise. The deadlift is a full body exercise. It utilizes just about every muscle in the body, whether to move the weight or stabilize the joints. Use the deadlift at least once a week (ex: one heavy day and one light day).

-    Men and Women: Bodyweight for 1-5 reps for 3-5 sets


6.    Back Squat

-    Another staple strength exercise, the Back Squat, like the Deadlift and many of the other exercises in this list, might be counterintuitive for training the Push. The Back Squat is the ultimate ‘Push’ exercise for the lower body. When performing the Push during the PAT, you need to use the whole body, not just your arms. Developing your squatting power will transfer to the Push, where using your legs is extremely important for speed and completion.

-    Men and Women: Bodyweight for 1-5 reps for 3-5 sets


7.    DB Front Rack Lunge

-    To be an effective officer, you need to be able to stabilize on one foot, or with the feet in a staggered stance. Luckily enough, these skills also apply to the PAT. Use KB or DB lunges to develop unilateral stability and strength. Front rack is my favorite variation of the KB or DB lunge.

-    Aim for 50% body weight (~25%BW/DB) for a set of 10 walking lunges.


A couple more bits of advice:

Here are a few more tips and tricks from my friend and colleague, Marc Locquiao of Redline Conditioning, (another great resource for POPAT/PARE training), outlining how to tackle the Push station.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any training questions, don't hesitate to hit me up:


Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologist, Chiropractic Student. Have questions? Email me. I want to help!