Are you fit for SWAT? Test yourself with these 8 physical fitness exercises

Too many entry-level officers start out in top condition but allow their physical fitness to diminish

As a SWAT team member how do you ensure that every man or woman in the stack is physically fit for SWAT duty? The answer is quite simple: demand the fitness of yourself and others by requiring team-endorsed mandatory annual fitness testing. It’s important to do three things before you implement physical testing:

  1. Have a designated team member get appropriate fitness instructor certifications.
  2. Have each team member physician-approved for testing.
  3. Identify your testing protocol and determine what a passing score is.

Here are eight events I grew fond of as a part of my team’s testing protocol. They are as simple to administer as they are accurate indicators of overall fitness. They also can be easily practiced during any team member’s personal workout.

1. The Bent-Knee Sit-Up
Bent-knee sit-ups are an excellent indicator of the muscular endurance of the lower back as well as an outstanding exercise to build that endurance. Back injuries end more careers than bullets.

Doing 50 sit-ups in 60 seconds would garner a score of 100 percent.

2. The Sit and Reach
The sit and reach measures lower back flexibility, during three slow and deliberate attempts of the person being tested to reach as far as they could toward or beyond their own feet.

Reaching 2.5 inches beyond your toes is 100 percent.

3. The Push-Up
Push-ups measure upper body muscular endurance. Endurance comes in handy when you have to hold aim on a suspect for a great length of time, carry a shield for an extended building search, or even hold a resistive suspect’s arm in position to handcuff.

A total of 49 push-ups correlate to a score of 100 percent.

4. The Maximum Bench Press
To measure pure upper body muscular strength, which is essential for any SWAT officer summoned to effect the most extreme physical rescues and resistive subject control, nothing tells the tale like the maximum bench press. 

215 pounds benched would earn a 100 percent score, although officers should most certainly be encouraged to continue to build on this number.

5. Pull-ups
Pull-ups are often abandoned (even by the fittest) as an exercise option, but they should not be left undone. This exercise develops the upper body muscle group required to pull yourself onto a roof, over a fence, or even to utilize many take-down and hold down techniques.

For many, one is better than none, but a 100 percent rating is 14 pull-ups.

6. Standing Long Jump
A great plyometric measurement of the explosive power of the lower body is the standing long jump. It measures the same power that allows an officer to catch a suspect in the first few steps of a sudden flight on foot. It also propels a team member up a flight of steps in full gear.

To jump 100 inches from a standing position would correspond to a 100 percent.

7. Squat Thrusts
An excellent measure of lower body muscular endurance is the squat thrust. It is essential for team members to practice this exercise. Being successful is 50 percent fitness and 50 percent technique. The squat thrust, the pull-up and the push-up are three top notch exercises to develop muscular endurance.

A total of 20 squat thrusts done in 30 seconds would constitute 100 percent.

8. The 12-Minute Run
The last event to be performed should be a 12-minute run. The distance completed in the time allotted is then calculated to determine the score. For example:

  • For a team member under 30 years of age 100 percent is two miles.
  • For 30 – 40 years of age 100 percent is 1.82 miles.
  • ​​For 40 – older years of age 1.75 miles is 100 percent.

The 12-minute run measures cardio vascular endurance, but as the team members compete their grit is on full display as well.

The standard mile-and-a-half run is also an option.

Fit for the FIGHT
As a police trainer for 39 years I have watched many entry-level officers in top condition allow their physical fitness to diminish to the point that they needed assistance to get up from a kneeling position. This is not only sad, but in most cases where injuries were not the cause, completely preventable.

The secret to winning a righteous fight is in the word itself.

F- Fitness
I – Intensity and integrity
GH – God’s Help (realizing God helps those who help themselves)
T – Tactics and techniques performed with tenacity

If you are a police officer you must physically train for the fight. It’s coming! Are you fit for it?

About the author

Lt. Dan Marcou retired as a highly decorated police lieutenant and SWAT Commander with 33 years of full time law enforcement experience. He is a nationally recognized police trainer in many police disciplines and is a Master Trainer in the State of Wisconsin. He has authored three novels The Calling: The Making of a Veteran Cop , S.W.A.T. Blue Knights in Black Armor, and Nobody's Heroes are all available at Barnes and Noble and Visit his website and contact Dan Marcou

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