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5 tips when preparing for fitness testing for police, fire, paramedics, prison officers

Are you looking to get into the fire department, police force or paramedic force and need to complete a fitness test? Or perhaps you have fitness test coming up to qualify for a sports team or to become a prison officer? If so, here are 5 top tips to prepare for the test:

• FAMILIARISE YOURSELF TO THE FITNESS TESTING PROTOCOLS. If it is possible, have a couple of practice run throughs and work out your strategy for completing the fitness test within the parameters. Practice the fitness tests at least 3 times as you will improve every time just from getting familiar with what you need to do (not because your fitness has improved).

• GET A STRUCTURED TRAINING PROGRAM.  Just practicing the fitness tests is not the most effective way to get fitter. Most fitness tests look to assess you on several areas of physical capacity. For example, police force testing will require you to complete push ups, sit ups, grip test, an agility run, carry a heavy bag, and BEEP test. However, repeating these tests day in day out is not the most effective way of improving the fitness quality that is being tested. So get your testing date in the calendar early and get help to structure your training effectively for at least 6 weeks leading up to the fitness test. Read this previous article on structuring your training.

• ENSURE YOU ARE RECOVERED and in a rested state when you arrive at the fitness test. Practicing the fitness tests the day before will not help you improve on the day – if anything it will hamper your chances of passing as you will be carrying over residual fatigue. Many people practice the fitness tests because of nerves but if you have structured your training well in the lead up to the test there is no need to panic in the days before. In addition, there are sessions you can integrate that will help alleviate your nerves without resulting in fatigue. Read a previous article on recovery methods here.

CARBOHYDRATE IS YOUR FRIEND! Carbohydrate gives you the energy you need to complete your fitness test. Look to take in 4-5 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of your body weight in the day prior to fitness testing (e.g. if you are 70 kg, that would be 280 – 350 grams of carbohydrate).

• As a rule of thumb, STAY AWAY FROM SUPPLEMENTS as most of your gains should be achieved through a structured training program and suitable diet. However, there may be opportunity to introduce the use of caffeine in the hours leading up to your fitness test. Caffeine is not on the current World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) prohibited list. Get in contact with us to chat through further.

Did you find those tips helpful for your upcoming fitness test to get into the police or fire department? If you have any questions, need a program to help prepare you for fitness testing or advice on your preparation please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

by Laurence Houghton PhD, High Performance Coach, Warwick Workout.