Police Officer Training - Preparing for the Physical Abilities Test

The United States Capitol Police (USCP) requires all candidates to take its Physical Abilities Test (PAT).

Law enforcement is an exciting and rewarding career.  However, it is also one of the most physically demanding professions.  Unlike other labor-intensive jobs that are designed around the capabilities of the workforce, law enforcement officers respond to the demands of all emergencies.  This means that a high level of physical fitness is essential in all police functions.

The components of the PAT require muscular strength and endurance of the arms, torso, and legs. Top performance on the PAT has been positively correlated with high levels of aerobic fitness and muscular strength. To be stronger in one test than another is typical.  However, successful performance on the PAT, and in law enforcement in general, requires all aspects of one’s physical fitness to be reasonably strong.  Therefore, improving one’s cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and endurance are excellent methods of performance maximization on the PAT. Considerable research has been conducted to accurately measure the necessary levels of fitness needed to properly and safely perform the duties of a USCP Officer.  High levels of anaerobic and aerobic fitness have been identified as important indicators of job performance.

The USCP PAT consists of a sequence of four job-related tasks. These tasks simulate situations that may be encountered while performing the duties of a USCP Police Officer.  No specialized skills and/or knowledge are required to perform these tasks.  The tasks are performed in a continuous manner with no stopping between stages. 

TASK ONE:  The subject assumes the starting position, kneeling on both knees; erect posture; arms extended and hands together in a simulated weapon fire position.  On the word “go”, the subject rises from the starting position, unaided, and runs a slalom pattern between two sets of cones, placed 75 feet apart for a total of 375 feet.  Upon completion, the subject immediately moves on to Task Two.

TASK TWO:  The subject ascends and descends three (3) flights of stairs, completing four (4) up and down series.  Upon completion, the subject immediately moves on to Task Three.

TASK THREE:  The subject must drag a 165 lbs. rescue dummy a distance of 40 feet.  The task is complete when the dummy’s feet have crossed the end line.  Upon completion, the subject immediately moves on to Task Four.

TASK FOUR:  The subject is handed a rendered-safe USCP training weapon.  The subject performs fifteen (15) single-handed trigger pulls with each hand while holding the weapon at eye level, with the arm extended.  The clock stops on the 30th trigger pull.

The maximum allowable time to complete the PAT is three minutes and fifty-two seconds (3:52).  The time is the same for both males and females regardless of age.  This standard must be met as a condition of graduation from the USCP Training Academy.

In determining your readiness to complete the USCP PAT, data derived from development of the test has shown that those individuals capable of completing a one and one half mile run (1.5 miles) in a time of thirteen minutes and fifty seconds (13:50) or less, have a much higher likelihood of completing the USCP PAT within the required maximum time.  

In addition to the PAT, candidates’ physical training while attending the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia and the USCP Training Academy will include cardiovascular (aerobic and anaerobic) and muscular (strength and endurance) conditioning.  The primary methods used will be running (both sprints and distance), weight resistance and calisthenics.  Candidates will be required to participate in all physical training activities.

Muscular Endurance Self-Test

USCP data suggest that participants who are capable of performing 33 or more straight-body push-ups and 37 or more bent-knee sit-ups in one (1) minute have a better chance of successfully completing the test than those who cannot.


Muscular Strength Self-Test

USCP data suggest that participants who are capable of performing one (1) repetition of the bench press using a barbell and weights that are 80% of their body weight or more are likely to be able to meet the required test completion time than those who cannot lift this percentage of their body weight.