Preparing for the fitness test

The ‘bleep test’ takes 3 minutes and 35 seconds and is made up of 35, 15 metre shuttles between two points.

Your running speed will start at 7.9kph and will increase to 9.9kph. The idea is to reach the other side before the next bleep. 

It can be challenging – after all, police officers need to be fit to do their job well. However, with the right preparation, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance to pass.

If a disability or medical condition makes it difficult to complete the standard fitness test, some forces offer an alternative test, where candidates can walk or run on a treadmill, with the gradient increasing over time. If this applies to you, we'd recommend getting in touch with your preferred force to discuss what alternatives they can offer. 

You can also check if they offer specific female and male only fitness tests. 

See what serving officers Beth and Myles think of the fitness test.

View the full video transcript

Female officer in gym talking to camera.

00:00: - 00:02 - The fitness test is probably one of the most important things in your role.

Female officer in gym puts on a bib.

00:03: - 00:06     It safeguards you, and it safeguards other people.

Male officer in gym also puts on a bib. Female officer in gym talking to camera.

00:07: - 00:10     If you’re not at a certain level of fitness how can you be expected to safeguard the public.

Female and male officer walk to each other in the gym and face the camera.

Male officer in changing room talking to camera.

00:16: - 00:18     Doing this role obviously requires a lot of physical activity.

Male officer in gym stretching. Fitness instructor talks to female officer.

00:19: - 00:24     Doing the Bleep test gives you that bit of boost of confidence to know that you have got a bit of basic fitness that you can rely on.

Female officer in gym talks to camera.

00:25: - 00:29     It’s 5.4 on the bleep test so it’s just a shuffle run between one point to another.

Female and male officer with fitness instructor. Officers doing bleep test.

00:30: - 00:35     You’re all together and you just want each other to pass and you kind of just try to set a pace to get you to the end of the line basically.

Officers running in the gym, female officer talks to camera.

00:37: - 00:40     So we do a refresher once a year as part of our standard annual fitness test.

Male officer talking in the changing room, male and female officer doing bleep test.

00:41: - 00:48     Knowing that I meet the standard every single year, certainly some confidence, when your dealing with people and your dealing with individuals, it’s nice to have that confidence behind you.

Female officer in gym talks to camera, male and female officer doing bleep test.

00:49: - 00:51     If you want to be a police officer you’ll do everything you can to get there.

00:52: - 00:59     I don’t think the bleep test is a precludement, in fact I think it’s actually a drive, because if you can prove you can do that what else are you capable of. 

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What's the best way to train?

You should focus on exercise activities that will increase your cardiovascular fitness.

Regular runs are a great way to build up your heart lung capacity and your leg muscles. Try a mix of:

  • Steady running (warm up 5 mins, followed by 15-20 mins of running at a steady pace, then a cool down).
  • Interval training (warm up 5 mins, 30 secs hard sprint + 30 secs walking x 10, cool down). Interval training simulates what your body will go through in the bleep test.

You should also try to incorporate some 180-degree turns into your runs (where you pivot round and run the other way) – this will help prepare you better for the test, as you’ll be running back and forward between two points, rather than in a straight line.

If  running sounds a bit repetitive, you can mix it up with other aerobic exercise like swimming, rowing or cycling, or a cross-trainer. These activities use large muscle groups and are great for building up your heart lung capacity too. But as the test is running-based, try and make sure you’re building up your leg muscles. Running really should make up the bulk of your training.

Five top tips

  1. Don’t start training the week before the test! To make sure you’ve got the endurance needed, we’d recommend training up to six weeks before the test. 
  2. If you’ve not exercised regularly in the past, always seek medical advice before starting a fitness training regime. Then remember to start slowly and build up the length and intensity of your training sessions.
  3. Always warm up and stretch before exercising. And don’t forget to cool down properly.
  4. Build in some toning and strengthening exercises to the end of your runs too, like some press-ups and crunches. They’ll really help increase your overall fitness.
  5. Don't forget to keep your fluid levels up as you train. 

Useful training resources

The College of Policing has useful information and a recording of the bleep test that you can use to help you prepare for it.

There are also a number of apps on both iTunes and Google Play, and a range of videos on YouTube to help you prepare - search for ‘15m bleep test’.

To help you build up your general fitness and endurance levels, you could also try the NHS Couch to 5k app.

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