by Timary Malley, CSCS, Alyssa Yetter, and Tunde Szivak, PhD, CSCS,*D
TSAC Report June 2023
Vol 68, Issue 1
Police academies often rely on historical methods of physical training (PT), such as calisthenics and running, which do not best optimize physical development for the occupational requirements of law enforcement officers (LEOs). PT instructors are typically LEOs who may emphasize physical training approaches experienced during their own time in the academy, but who often lack formal strength and conditioning expertise and fail to implement evidence-based strength and conditioning practices. The assumption also may exist that recruits are not “tough enough,” so PT methods are often used with the intent to build psychological resilience (20). Thus, PT programs often consist of extensive hours of training and lack evidence-based approaches or formal progression for new recruits to follow (4,17). However, research has shown that periodized training programs are favorable when compared to non-periodized physical training for improving muscular strength, muscular endurance, anaerobic power, and cardiovascular fitness (20). Specific adaptations to anaerobic training, such as increased muscular strength and endurance, hypertrophy, power, and motor skill development, are specific to the stimulus applied in the training program (4). It is important for police academies to better prepare recruits for their job as an LEO, which requires stepping away from past PT methods and utilizing evidence-based training approaches supported by current strength and conditioning research. In so doing, recruits may become physically stronger, faster, more resilient to injury, better prepared for the possible situations they may encounter while on the job, and better able to sustain health over the duration of a law enforcement career.
This article originally appeared in TSAC Report, the NSCA’s quarterly, online-only publication geared toward the training of tactical athletes, operators, and facilitators. It provides research-based articles, performance drills, and conditioning techniques for operational, tactical athletes. The TSAC Report is only available for NSCA Members. Read more articles from TSAC Report