How Your Fitness Test Prep Changes in Transition from Military to Police

Private performs push-ups during physical fitness competition.
Pvt. Elijah Homalon, infantryman with Company D, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, performs push-ups during a battalion “Iron Cottonbaler” physical fitness competition. (Spc. Jose Rivera/U.S. Army photo)


First, I would like to say thank you for all of the help. I have three of your books, most recently the S.W.A.T. workout book, and they all have helped me make tremendous gains in my physical and mental stamina.

I have just recently separated from the Navy and applied to a police department in New Jersey. Their physical test is a little bit unique, and I was hoping you would be able to provide some specific tips for this test. It consists of all of the same exercises: push-ups, sit-ups (two minutes), pull-ups, squat thrusts (one minute) and a one-mile run.

However, their test is run without any break between the exercises. I am not worried about the individual exercises, I am more worried about not getting to rest between them and how to train for that.

Thank you for your help. 


Chris, I think making circuits (nonstop with timed events) one- to two-minute exercises will do the trick. For now, get specific and master these events. Don't just focus on them individually, but follow a circuit format. For example, try this:

Easy five-minute dynamic warm-up and light stretch.

Repeat 3-4 times.

  • One minute push-ups
  • One minute sit-ups
  • One minute pull-ups (resort to pulldowns after failure)
  • One minute burpees (which is a squat thrust with a push-up)
  • Five-minute Tabata (20-second sprint/10 seconds easy) bike or elliptical, or 30 seconds fast/30 seconds easy on treadmill or track.

If you prefer, you can opt to run a half-mile as fast as you can or one mile at your goal pace. Try this every other day for a few weeks and see how you perform in your actual test.

I also would do this workout: 

Monday/Wednesday/Saturday (rest on Friday)

Try this routine for two weeks, but, at the end, instead of doing this circuit, try the actual test and see how you do.

Tuesday/Thursday (rest Sunday)

On the days in between, focus on your goal mile pace for the run.  

For instance:

Repeat 6-8 times.

  • Run a quarter-mile at goal mile pace*
  • Rest with easy jog or walk one minute

On the second week, try this one on Tuesday and Thursday:

Repeat 3-4 times.

  • Run a half-mile at goal mile pace
  • Rest with easy jog or walk two minutes

*Goal mile pace means you run the quarter-miles at 1:30 if your goal is a six-minute mile or 1:45 if the goal is a seven-minute mile. No faster, no slower. Muscle-memory this pace so you can do it for multiple sets, and soon you will be able to hold it for a full mile. 

This will help you get used to the circuit-based testing your department does. Train your body to recover by changing muscle group exercises, not just completely inert resting.

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

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