Law enforcement willingly put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis. From acts of violence to trips and slips, it is just as important for an officer to be fit and athletic as it is for them to don their protective gear. Both athleticism and kevlar can help sustain a career and even a life.
In this article, we walk through 10 exercises you can do to prepare for police duty. We also provide tips on creating a schedule, properly stretching, and keeping things simple.
In a perfect world, you would have all the time you need to visit the gym and work out. But police officers know better than anyone that the world isn’t perfect. Between long shifts and overtime at work, and the many domestic duties at home, working out often needs to happen where you live.
There are a ton of simple exercises a police officer can do at home without any equipment, or with simple household objects like large books or a gallon-sized jug of water. Still, there are a few workout-specific objects we recommend having on hand.
Many of the exercises we detail below will incorporate these simple workout objects.
Consistency equals progress. You will only get bigger and stronger if you commit to exercising consistently throughout the week. If you are wondering how you are going to fit a 30-minute workout program into your busy daily routine, then it may be beneficial to create an exercise schedule to help keep you on track.
In your weekly schedule, aim for two days of circuit training, two days of endurance running (limited to 30 or 45 minutes), a day of sprints (limited to 30 or 45 minutes), and one day of both sprints and circuit training.Don’t forget to schedule one day of rest to allow your body to recover.
Do what you can to stay well so that your body and brain are always working at their best.
As you are creating your schedule, it may be helpful to remember:
Back injuries and lower back pain are an unfortunate side effect of working for the police department. Wearing pounds of heavy leather gear around your waist and spending hours sitting in a patrol car mean you need to have a strong core and back to avoid injury.
1. Standard Plank
The standard plank is a great way to strengthen your core without putting pressure on your spine.
2. Single-Leg Plank
A variation of the standard plank, the single-leg plank is a more advanced exercise that strengthens your core even more.
3. Fitness Ball Russian Twists
This easy exercise using your fitness ball, or Swiss ball, builds up your core strength by working your abs, hamstrings, back, hips, and glutes.
Ignore any thoughts of jump-roping schoolchildren, because jumping rope is an incredible full body workout that simultaneously builds stamina. There are many ways to jump rope to build strength:
To maximize the benefits of jumping rope, put together a circuit with 60-second intervals. For example, a minute of forward jumping, followed by a minute of alternating single-leg jumps, followed by a minute of jumping side to side.As you get better with the jump rope, you can try more advanced moves and longer circuits.
Police officers use upper body strength for things like controlling suspects and lifting heavy objects. There are a number of easy upper body-strength exercises you can do to build up your various muscle groups and prepare yourself for duty.
5. Push Up
Push-ups are crucial to a police officer’s strength training fitness program. Push-ups build both core strength and upper body strength, and different push-up variations allow you to continue to strengthen as you master each variation.
6.Dumbbell Bent Over Row
Known also as the two-arm bent over dumbbell row, this intermediate-level exercise targets the back and shoulders and is designed to increase your upper body strength.
As you advance, you can work through this exercise with a barbell instead of weights.Remember, in order for your muscles to grow, they need to be damaged first. The faster you can repair the damage, the faster your muscles will grow.
Muscle recovery supplements help reduce soreness and improve recovery times.
Strong lower body strength is practically a requirement when working in law enforcement. Without it, you are more prone to back soreness and injury. Speed and endurance will also be harder to achieve.
7. Bodyweight Squats
Bodyweight squats are considered a “fundamental” exercise for building strength in your glutes and legs. This is also a simple exercise that can be done anywhere.
As you advance, turn your workout up a notch by jumping up from each squat so that your feet lift off the floor.
8. Stationary Lunges
Not only are stationary lunges a great lower body exercise, but they also tone and shape your legs. There are many variations of lunges, but a stationary lunge -- also called a static lunge -- requires you to stay in one spot as you switch legs.
If you have survived FBI or police training, or you’ve ever had to chase after a suspect, then you know how important speed and endurance exercises are. The key to these two cardio exercises is to combine them. By alternating between endurance runs and sprints, you’ll find it won’t be long before you are running upwards of six miles with ease.
9. Endurance Runs
This one is easy. Twice each week, head out on a moderate-paced run of 30 to 45 minutes. The goal is to be able to hold a conversation while you run.
Sprints are an excellent way to build your stamina and teach your body to recover in less time.After a short warm-up and stretch, run three rounds of 40-yard sprints. A 15-second break between each sprint should be enough. After your three sprints, rest for a full minute before sprinting again.
Driving your knees and arms up high as you sprint will extend the workout to other parts of your body.Pro Tip: If you live near a high school, utilize their track on weekends or after school hours.
Think of how tight your hips and muscles feel after hours spent sitting in your patrol car. For police officers, stretching can be an important workout in itself, and it’s a vital part of any training program. To really loosen up, dedicate the 10 minutes before bed to stretching.
Routine stretches are especially helpful for loosening up tight hip flexors and hamstrings -- both of which are vital for chasing suspects, doing heavy lifting, and even sitting in patrol cars without injury.
Pro Tip: Did you know police and other first responders can receive a discount on Steel products?
Whether you are a working cop, preparing for the police academy, or still just thinking about it, it is important to have a workout routine that prepares every part of your body for the activity required of a police officer.
Fortunately, there are dozens of easy exercises you can add to your routine to build up your stamina, core, upper body strength, and lower body strength. Stretching will help loosen your hips and other joints, build muscle, and make long patrol shifts a little easier on your body.