How to pass the SAPS Fitness Test
Preparing for the South African Police Service fitness test is challenging. You need to train your mind, as well as your body.
Each police department has its unique inclusion criteria, but all of them have a few core elements in common:
These tests are not for the faint of heart, and contenders need to work on several athletic characteristics.
The South African Police Service fitness test includes a test of endurance, agility, and physical strength and power.
Because of the challenge, you should go about preparing yourself methodically. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the physical preparation.
The Endurance Test
Each person must run a specific distance within a given period to pass the police service fitness test. Men have to run 2.4 kilometers in 13 minutes, and women have to run the same distance but in 15 minutes and 30 seconds.
To be placed among the top candidates, men should aim for ten minutes or fewer. A good time for women is around 12 minutes and 30 seconds or lower.
No matter what your current running capacity is, one thing is for sure:
You can eventually work up to these times so long as you give yourself enough time and apply yourself. A good way to go about it is to set goals for each workout and break them into smaller and more manageable pieces. For example, it might look like this:
Week 1 – 1 kilometer (4×250 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 2 – 1.2 kilometers (4×300 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 3 – 1.4 kilometers (4×350 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 4 – 1.6 kilometers (4×400 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 5 – 1.8 kilometers (4×450 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 6 – 2 kilometers (4×500 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 7 – 2.2 kilometers (4×550 meters) in 13 minutes
Week 8 – 2.4 kilometers (4×600 meters) in 13 minutes
Of course, progress rarely happens linearly – you will have your good workouts and bad. What matters most is that you try to cover the objectives, even if it takes you longer. Once you work up to 4×600 meters, you can combine the four intervals into two of 1.2 kilometers each.
In other words, you first work up to cover the distance by any means necessary, and then you start working on covering it for the test. As you start combining the intervals, also work on reducing your time. For example:
Week 9 – 2.4 kilometers (total) in 12 minutes and 40 seconds
Week 10 – 2.4 kilometers (total) in 12 minutes and 10 seconds
Week 11 – 2.4 kilometers (total) in 11 minutes and 45-50 seconds
Week 12 – 2.4 kilometers (total) in 11 minutes and 10-15 seconds
And so forth.
The most beneficial thing you can do is give yourself enough time to prepare for the test. So long as you have time, any linear progression model will help you achieve your goal and even work up to a respectable 11-minute 2.4-kilometer run.
The Strength And Mastery Of One’s Body Test
This test is about displaying physical strength and muscular endurance that will be important on the job. Specifically:
- Men have to do 30 push-ups and 45 sit-ups in 60 seconds (two separate tests)
- Women have to do 21 push-ups and 31 sit-ups in 60 seconds (two separate tests)
The good news here is that both activities are highly specialized, so a focused approach will help each individual become incredibly proficient at push-ups and sit-ups. Even if your numbers aren’t that good now, you can improve them dramatically.
Here is a sample program, provided you plan on performing these movements four days per week:
- Day 1 – 3×5 classic push-ups
- Day 2 – 5×3 push-ups with a slow lowering pace
- Day 3 – 5×2 plyometric push-ups
- Day 4 – 3×5 classic push-ups
- Day 1 – 3×7 classic push-ups
- Day 2 – 5×4 push-ups with a slow lowering pace
- Day 3 – 5×3 plyometric push-ups
- Day 4 – 3×7 classic push-ups
- Day 1 – 3×9 classic push-ups
- Day 2 – 5×5 push-ups with a slow lowering pace
- Day 3 – 5×4 plyometric push-ups
- Day 4 – 3×9 classic push-ups
- Day 1 – 3×11 classic push-ups
- Day 2 – 5×6 push-ups with a slow lowering pace
- Day 3 – 5×5 plyometric push-ups
- Day 4 – 3×11 classic push-ups
- Day 1 – 3×13 classic push-ups
- Day 2 – 5×7 push-ups with a slow lowering pace
- Day 3 – 5×6 plyometric push-ups
- Day 4 – 3×13 classic push-ups
- Day 1 – 3×15 classic push-ups
- Day 2 – 5×8 push-ups with a slow lowering pace
- Day 3 – 5×7 plyometric push-ups
- Day 4 – 3×15 classic push-ups
And so on. With each passing week, you get better at the movement, and you slowly work up to respectable numbers. Within a few weeks, you should be able to perform at least 20 push-ups in one go. After that, you can start working up to 30 repetitions in one go and then work on doing them in less time.
Keep in mind that these principles work for all sorts of exercises – push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and more.
The Speed And Agility Test
The speed and agility test is also vital because these physical characteristics become incredibly important once a person becomes an officer of the law. Specifically, men have to perform ten shuttle runs in 60 seconds, and women have to achieve the same amount but in 70 seconds.
Similar to how you would boost your endurance and strength for the other three tests, training for speed and agility is similar. You need to train for specificity and do so multiple times per week.
The goal of shuttle runs is to cover 20 meters as quickly as possible and change direction instantly. This saves you time and makes it easier to run a total of 200 meters in 60 or 70 seconds.
At first, it’s better to focus on the training volume (i.e., the distance) more than you focus on the intensity (i.e., the time it takes you). It’s also essential to practice good running technique and transitions. These skills will become increasingly more valuable as you ramp the intensity and volume up over the weeks. Here is a simple way go to about it:
- Week 1 – 15 shuttle runs of 20 meters each
- Week 2 – 17 shuttle runs of 20 meters each
- Week 3 – 19 shuttle runs of 20 meters each
- Week 4 – 21 shuttle runs of 20 meters each
- Week 5 – 23 shuttle runs of 20 meters each
- Week 6 – 25 shuttle runs of 20 meters each
After that, you can spend around six weeks working on doing shuttle runs back to back and focusing on improving your time. For example:
- Week 7 – 5 shuttle runs in 60 seconds
- Week 8 – 6 shuttle runs in 60 seconds
- Week 9 – 7 shuttle runs in 60 seconds
- Week 10 – 8 shuttle runs in 60 seconds
- Week 11 – 9 shuttle runs in 60 seconds
- Week 12 – 10 shuttle runs in 60 seconds
At the same time, keep working on your technique, keep improving your transitions, and keep pushing yourself to do more work in less time. You can work up to 11, 12, or more shuttle runs in 60 to 70 seconds. This will help you ace the test in no time.
If you focus on being consistent with the above exercise regime you can be sure that your physical fitness will definitely be at the level that you will pass the SAPS fitness test with flying colours!