The police fitness tests form a mandatory component of the recruitment process. To join the police and serve in one of the 43 constabularies across the UK, you will have to complete and pass all aspects of the fitness tests.
This article provides you with a complete outline of the police fitness tests, including attainment levels and achievement requirements.
Additionally, for those who aspire to join the police, and thus must pass the fitness tests at some point in the future, we have outlined the best training methods and included a 6-Week Exercise Programme.
What are the police fitness tests?
You cannot gain admission into the police training program without first passing the fitness tests. The tests, though basic, are designed to determine if potential recruits possess the physical ability to endure the rigours of police preparatory training.
The police fitness tests include:
police bleep test (level 5.2 over 15-metre)
The bleep test (otherwise known as the multi-stage fitness test) is a standard and commonly used method of measuring aerobic capacity. Perhaps one of the simplest measures, the bleep test consists of short shuttle runs between two cones.
‘The 15m MSFT involves running up and down (a shuttle run) a 15-metre track. It is timed against a series of audio beeps and the participant must 'beat the bleep' and complete the shuttle before they hear the sound.’
The objective is to stay slightly ahead of the ‘bleep’. As you progress through the levels the separating intervals between beeps get progressively shorter; meaning you have to run faster.
5.4 Multi-stage fitness test (MST)
For the police MST, you are required to achieve level 5.4 across a 15-metre course.
Related: discover The Power of Fitness Testing
Other physical requirements for police training
In addition to the bleep test, recruits are also required to complete the police push and pull test.
But whereas the bleep test measures cardiovascular performance, the push and pull test measures upper-body strength. Another simple test, the push and pull are comprised of two movements.
Firstly, you are required to push a resistance away from you. The objective of this test is to measure the relative strength of your upper-body anterior muscles: chest, deltoids, and triceps.
The second movement, now pulling a resistance toward you, measures the relative strength of your posterior muscle groups: latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, infraspinatus, and trapezius.
For the police push and pull test you will be seated in an upright position. The instructor will then issue commands to execute 5 pushes of a 35-kilogram weight. Once you have completed the reps, you will then perform the same procedure but now pull the resistance.
Why are the police fitness requirements in place?
Unlike a typical civilian job, which sees the employee spend the majority of their working day in a sedentary state, the role of a police officer can be very physically strenuous.
While policing is not as demanding as, say, the armed forces, they still may have to ‘chase down’ a suspect or use physical force to restrain a belligerent antagonist.
And though it is rare that a police officer is required to do these things, there is always a possibility. Consequently, they must maintain an above-average level of cardiovascular and strength.
Job related fitness tests (JRFT)
The purpose of the job-related fitness tests, which include the bleep and push/pull test, is to assess if the candidate possesses the requisite fitness to meet the demands of the police training. As it says on the website:
‘The core rationale of the JRFT is to ensure that prospective police officers have a minimum level of fitness to be able to undertake PST training,’ (Police UK).
How to prepare for the police fitness tests?
To be sure, the police fitness tests are not physically demanding and require only a basic level of fitness. When compared with the requirements of the Royal Navy, for example, they are much easier.
If you regularly engage in a variety of physical activities, and play sport, it’s likely that you are already capable of breezing the physical standards required to pass the tests.
However, on the other hand, if you are untrained and do not participate in regular physical exercise, you will likely find the tests challenging. Even relatively easy tests can pose a challenge to those who are unfit.
But raising your fitness levels to meet the requirements of the police JRFT is a straightforward process. To pass the 15-metre bleep test and push/pull test necessitates a rudimentary level of cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength.
Below you will find related training methodologies and a comprehensive 6-Week Training Programme. Both will provide you with the knowledge and tools to prepare for the police fitness tests.
Related: if you ever need workout ideas, see our Fitness Page
Get fit for the police JRFT with circuit training
Arguably the best way to prepare for the JRFT is to participate in circuit training. Circuit training is one of the most diverse exercise methodologies.
In a circuit you could include those exercises that feature in the police fitness tests. By doing so you will develop those body systems and muscle groups that are primarily activated in the tests. This is called ‘specificity’.
Related: learn everything you need to know about how to design a circuit
Other beneficial training methods that can help you prepare for the police fitness tests include:
Continuous training: to build a solid cardio base that will help you breeze the bleep test, you need to start running regularly. Two to three long slow jogs will develop stamina in the legs while also improving your cardio-respiratory capacity.
Fartlek: Fartlek is the Swedish term for ‘speed play’. The essential principle of fartlek training is to practice short, sharp, high-intensity sprints. Typically the trainer will, after a good warm-up, sprint and jog between evenly spaced markers, such as lampposts, or markings on a football pitch.
Resistance training: resistance training should form a key component of your training routine. Of course, to pass the 35kg push/pull test you will need to develop upper-body strength. The single most effective way to do this is by engaging in resistance training.
To help you implement a training routine and get started, we’ve created a basic 6-Week Exercise Programme. The Programme has been designed, specifically, to develop muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness.
Comprised primarily of circuits and continuous training, our 6-Week Exercise Programme can support you in preparation for the JRFT. Furthermore, the Programme is completely modifiable. By this we mean all exercises and workouts can be adapted, altered, or replaced.
Police fitness tests FAQ
How do you get 5.4 on bleep test?
The best way to train for the bleep test is to include plenty of fartlek and high-intensity interval training in your run sessions. This way you will develop both the muscle groups and physiological systems that are primarily activated during a bleep test.
Below is a list of training tips to help get yourself ready:
Implement and utilise a comprehensive, structured training programme. The 6-Week Training Programme above will more than suffice.
Train with friends – especially friends who want to join the police as well – often as this promotes participation.
Monitor your progress by tracking times, distances, and training durations achieved and completed across the week.
Set yourself realistic targets based on the SMART principle. Your goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.
Be mindful not to over-train. Training excessively, or doing too much to begin with, can increase injury susceptibility. Start off nice and slow and gradually build your ability.
Spread training sessions over the week and be sure to change the exercises modality – don’t just run and run and run. Again, as above, this could result in an ‘overuse' injury.
And, if possible, try to have a go at the bleep test at least once a month.
Is the police physical training hard?
No, not really.
How many runs is the police 15m bleep test?
Each level is comprised of 10 individual 15-metre runs. Thus, after completing one full level you will have covered the distance of 150-metres. Multiplying this by five, and including the .4, to complete the police bleep test you will have to run a combined distance of 810-metres.