Fitness Testing: What it Takes to Become a Police Officer

We previously discussed What It Takes To Pass The F.B.I Fitness Test and The Candidate Physical Abilities Test For Firefighters, but on the topic of required fitness tests for different occupations, let’s not forget the police officers we see almost every day in our lives.

The duties of a police officer also require continuous physical readiness as with the previously mentioned careers, and are definitely just as rigorous. The application process includes multiple tests and interviews. In addition to filling out a general application, interested individuals must complete an entry-level exam testing on basic reading and writing skills. Depending on the department, some exams may also have additional sections pertinent to the job such as map reading.  Next, the applicant is required to pass the Police Physical Abilities Test, to ensure that they can execute the physical demands of the job. Each Physical Abilities Test is different depending on the state and department but is structured to have a job simulation section and a fitness-based section. The general exercises are the:

  • Police obstacle course, timed (this can include jumping barriers, running up and down stairs, climbing ladders and through windows).

  • 1.5-mile run, to be completed within an allotted time.

  • Strength assessment: bench press, sit-ups, push-ups, sit and reach.

The police obstacle course, which represents the job simulation part of the test, gauges how well the candidate can cope with real-life complications while at work, replicating the physical challenges faced by police officers. Although this part of the test is not timed, each applicant is judged on how quickly they can complete the course.

On the contrary, the fitness-based section, described above as “Strength assessment,” evaluates the overall fitness of a person by seeing how many repetitions of each exercise he or she can perform in a given amount of time.  Many police departments refer to the Copper Institute for assessing fitness standards and take into account the age and gender of the candidate.


In addition to physical fitness requirements, police officer candidates are also subjected to a polygraph test, a psychological exam and a medical exam. This goes to show the importance of being in a healthy state of mind in order to fulfill the mental demands of the job. As with Fitnescity’s assessments, Wellness is important too!