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Developing Fitness Tests for Selection into Special Ops
Often I receive emails from military and law enforcement personnel concerning how fair a fitness test is and does it accurately measure someone’s fitness level. For instance, here is an email from on police officer who is seeking candidates for his department’s SWAT Team:
I am about to open up tryouts for a few SWAT Team positions and am trying to develop a fitness test that will help the Team select the best candidates to attend our training program. Any suggestions?
There two things most military and law enforcement groups try to measure: Basic Fitness / Health and Physical Potential to Succeed in Advanced Training.
Basic Fitness / Health - The reasoning for the basic fitness test is to ensure a certain level of health and well-being which will have an impact on job performance, decreased sick days, and a better mental attitude in a stressful environment. Training for a cardio test of a 2 mile run or a 12 minute swim test would require people to exercise regularly and help with cutting extra fat off their bodies. The strength, muscle endurance, and flexibility will help with injury prevention from doing odd jobs that may require lifting. Remember, the goal is to create healthy people in the public service work force.
Standard fitness tests used today usually are good indicators of one’s health, not necessarily an indication of satisfactory job performance. Basically, the run, pushups, sit-ups test most groups perform will give a selection board only a minimal amount of information, but it is still a valid test to assess with current fitness standards scores.
However, Physical Potential to Succeed in Advanced Training testing can offer more insight if graded the following method:
First, these tests should be more directed toward strength, endurance, speed, and agility in a job related method if possible. For instance, if you are a SWAT Team with many water sources in your jurisdiction or a military Special Ops selection team, here is an example test and grading method:
Swim – 300 – 500m swim with fins
Max Pushups in 1-2 minutes or body weight bench press – max reps
Max Situps in 1- 2 minutes
Max Pullups and / or rope or caving ladder climbs
1 mile run with gear
This type of test will help assess some level of tactical athleticism and can be altered with a variety of different tests, but the interesting way to grade this type of test will help with the selection process of your Spec Ops group.
See example below:
way to create a good fair scoring system is to create a test that has some
form of cardio / upperbody / speed / agility / lowerbody set up so you would
score it like this:
Example 1.5 mile run in 10 minutes = 600 seconds / points + a 300m sprint with obstacles to weave / jump thru done in 60 seconds = 60 points) - there base score is 660 points...
The upperbody exercise # 1 (pullups, pushups, bench press,
kettlebell swings etc) pick one - max reps in 2:00 - say you get 50 reps =
Upperbody exercise #2 - max reps of Pullups (x 6) with body armor: 5 reps = 30 points + bodyweight of a 200 lbs candidates = 235 points
added in bodyweight will give extra points to a 200lb person who can get 20
pullups compared to a 150 lb person who can get 20 pullups. It makes the
playing field even on effort / exertion. These tests test to favor the
smaller candidate who can typically run faster and do more bodyweight
calisthenics, but it does not penalize you for weighing less. The goal at
selection is to ave a fair playing field for each candidate.
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. If you are interested in starting a
workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the StewSmith.com
Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at StewSmith.com. To contact
Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at
BOOKS / eBOOKS / DVDs
BOOKS / eBOOKS / DVDs
The SWAT Workout - From Recruit to SWAT Team Member
The Combat Swimmer Stroke DVD
The Pre-Habit Workout DVD
The Complete List of Stew Smith's eBooks:
Fitness for All Levels of Fitness
The Special Forces Physical Fitness Workouts
The OCS, ROTC, Service Academy, & Bootcamp Workouts
New - Army PRT and CRT
The Law Enforcement Physical Fitness Test Workouts
Some Titles Above available in Print Softcover Format