Tactical Fitness: How an Army Veteran Can Prepare for the FBI Fitness Test

Members of the FBI's Milwaukee Special Weapons and Tactics team practice sniper training.
Members of the FBI's Milwaukee Special Weapons and Tactics team practice sniper training from the elevated vantage point of the newly constructed sniper tower on range 18 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, April 25, 2016. (Jamal Wilson/Fort McCoy Multimedia Visual information Branch)

Every military branch, as well as most law enforcement agencies, get people to prepare for fitness tests with 1.5-, two- and three-mile timed runs. Mastering these events only makes sense if you want to get into and stay in these careers.

Here is a question from a soon-to-be Army veteran seeking to master the FBI fitness test:

Stew, I am preparing myself for my next challenge after military service (Army infantry). I am taking the FBI Phase 2 fitness test shortly after I resign my commission. I am more of a lifter than a runner these days. I am not worried about failing. I just want to crush it. Any advice?

Over the years, I have learned that if you want to be optimal at certain events, you have to focus on those events. It is easy to focus on the elements of the PT test -- calisthenics, sprint, 1.5-mile timed run -- and get great at all of them.  

But when you add heavy lifts into the mix during your workouts, you will experience two things:

  • A lack of running power
  • A lower one-rep max (1RM)  

These two do not mix very well. Sure, you can be OK at both, but if your goal is to be very good or great at either, cycle them and focus on specifics for 6-8 weeks.

This is why I always recommend having cycles of strength and power, with a minor cardio balance and a cycle of hard running and higher-repetition calisthenics. Arrange the cycles to fit your schedule and life requirements as needed.

Here are some other FBI fitness test tips. Get used to this test by practicing sprinting during your workouts. You will be surprised at how much the difficult sprint will take away from push-ups and the 1.5-mile run.

A good way to do that is to mix in your PT with 300-meter sprints, as in this Need for Speed workout article.

Enjoy the cycle. Thanks for serving and choice to continue to serve this nation.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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