5 Best Practices for Fueling For Police Fitness Test Day

Sep 17, 2023
SWAT Officer


You may hear the title of this article and think “Fueling! This will tell me exactly what to eat before my test…” But that is not necessarily the only FUEL you need to prepare for this Physical Fitness Test.


There are 5 major keys to being fueled and fully prepared for a Police Physical Fitness test. Let’s review them each below.


1) High Level of Physical Preparedness Well Before Test Day


This may sound like a given, but understanding how the body works is key here. You can not put your fitness on the back burner for weeks, months, and certainly not years and expect to train up for a PFT at the last minute. It’s not going to happen.


Most PFTs typically require a high level of muscular and cardio endurance as well as work capacity (think max reps pushups/pullups and the ‘obstacle course’ type SWAT scenario test that includes running, shuttle runs, carrying odd/heavy objects for distance, etc.)


Understand that work capacity and endurance don’t magically appear. They are fitness traits that take dedicated and specialized training to maintain and improve. This requires following a program that is actually designed to improve performance in those specific aspects of your fitness.


You should be achieving this high level of physical performance by preparing for at least 3-6 months out, although this is highly dependent on your fitness level at the time you make the decision to try out for a team (or take your annual/bi-annual test).


If you have maintained a good level of fitness, then you can likely polish it up within 3 months.


If you haven’t been regularly training, we would aim for 6 months.


If you are way off track and unprepared, we would recommend preparing close to a year in advance.


Check out our fitness program designed for Cops. Join the 16,000+ LEOs around the world training to raise the current fitness standards in LE.



2) Nutrition


This is what we think of when we hear the word “fuel” and it’s true - your diet plays a huge role in your performance, mentally and physically.


Now, you do not need to be a bodybuilder, track your macros to the T and skip dessert day in and day out.


But if you are looking to maximize your performance, there are 3 major things you can focus on:


  • Eating mostly whole, minimally processed foods (this is what most refer to as “clean” eating)
  • Stay hydrated (water + electrolytes)
  • Make sure you have consumed enough calories. Low energy availability will not be beneficial for a SWAT test


Click here for more info on nutrition tailored to LEOs.



3) Don’t Change It Up


While we’re on the topic of nutrition…


We often get the question the week of the test: “What should I eat the day before and the day of my test?”


The best advice we can give you is to get your diet situated well before the test and DON’T CHANGE IT UP right before. Do not add anything ‘new’ in your diet the week of the test.


This could be a recipe for disaster (maybe in your pants, maybe in the form of vomit). High amounts of a new carbohydrate source, especially, could cause GI distress and really ruin your day, as well as your chances of passing your PFT.



Have you ever heard of marathon or ultra runners shitting themselves during the race?


Yeah, this may happen because they newly introduced one of those gels or goo packets that are packed full of carbs in order to have energy to perform in the race… but their gut wasn’t adapted to that. We highly recommend not taking that route.


Remember that your gut needs time to adapt to what you consume, especially when you're probably going to be nervous or anxious before a test. 


Plan ahead - find a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fats that work to fuel you at least 3 months in advance. The basics are safe options: eggs, chicken or steak… rice, oats or potatoes… and nuts/seeds, nut butter, avocado, etc.


Find your fuel and stick to it!


4) Rest Days


Taking 2-3 full rest days before your test is important. If you want optimal performance and results, let your body and mind be fresh the day of the test.


Light movement is great, whether that be a few walks throughout the day, a light bike ride, playing with your kids, etc. These activities are great for recovery.



5) Sleep


This may seem like a no-brainer, but the amount of guys and girls who do not get enough and/or high quality sleep is astronomical in our community.


At minimum, 3-5 days prior to test day, you should be sleeping 7-9 hours of solid, undisrupted sleep.


What this will do for your brain and body is beyond words. This should be made a priority always, but it is very important with an upcoming physical fitness test when you want to be firing on all cylinders.


Use these tools to be optimally prepared for a PFT, whether it be an entry test or a recurring fitness standard for your team!