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Public Safety
Academy Physical Preparation Tips


All Police Officer candidates must pass the Physical Abilities Test (PAT) as part of the selection process. Passing the PAT only indicates the minimum physical abilities required to undertake academy training. Once in the academy, recruits are required to perform at very high physical levels. Just because you pass the PAT does not mean that you have the strength or conditioning needed to meet the physical requirements of the academy.

This Four-Month Pre-Academy Fitness Program is designed to help candidates who want to work out on their own to develop strength and fitness levels that will help them be successful in the academy. The physical training in the academy includes flexibility and strength training, endurance runs, calisthenics exercises, an obstacle course, and self-defense. It is a fact that candidates who enter the basic academy lacking physical conditioning are prone to injuries that can result in removal from the academy. And even if you do not ultimately become a Los Angeles Police Officer, this program can be the start of a commitment to fitness that will benefit you throughout your life.

It is very important to get a full medical examination and a doctor's approval before starting any physical activity program. It is recommended that each candidate set goals and adjust the level of this program according to their capabilities.

Warm-up / Stretching

No matter what your level of fitness, individuals should always begin an exercise session with an appropriate amount of time allocated to warming-up. A warm-up prior to exercise stimulates the cardiovascular system and various muscle groups, which increases performance and reduces your risk of injury.

Warm-up should be gradual and strenuous enough to increase your core temperature and muscle temperature without causing fatigue or excess stress on the body. This could be walking, cycling, stair stepping, etc. Begin at a slow pace and then gradually increase the intensity. The duration of the warm-up will depend on the primary activity, the intensity of the activity, and your age and level of fitness. However, as a general rule, five to 10 minutes will be sufficient. After you have warmed-up, stretch all major body parts. It is important that you do not stretch until you are warmed up.

Running

The running component of the Four-Month Pre-Academy Fitness Program is designed to meet the minimal running standards at the Police Academy. It will increase your endurance and speed, and is a great way to improve your cardiovascular system. There is nothing easier than putting on a pair of running shoes and heading out the door for fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. But while doing it is easy, if you've never run before, you'll quickly realize how strenuous it can be. It takes time to build up the endurance to run for even a short period of time.

If you are new to running, you should ease into the program. If you are unable to run at a slow pace continuously for 30 minutes you should begin your program with a walk/run routine, alternating five minutes of fast walking with five minutes of running. Gradually build up your running time to a 30-minute self paced run. Always complete your workout with a five-minute slow-paced cool-down and stretching of the calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and back.

It is very important that you have a good pair of running shoes. Unlike cross trainers, running shoes are designed to allow your foot to strike the ground properly, reducing the amount of shock that travels up your leg and causes injuries. They are also made to fit your foot comfortably, which reduces the slipping and sliding that can lead to blisters.

The running portion of this program is not designed to be done on a treadmill. A treadmill "pulls" the ground underneath your feet, and you do not meet any wind resistance, which makes running somewhat easier. However, many treadmills are padded, making them a good option if you're carrying a few extra pounds or are injury-prone and want to decrease impact. To better simulate the effort of outdoor running, you can always set your treadmill at a one percent incline.

While you are building up your running stamina, practice good running form:

  1. Run tall with good posture. Your trunk will lean forward from the hips slightly, but try to lengthen your body, lift your chest, and hold in your abdominal muscles.
  2. Let your arms swing at a 90-degree angle between the chest and hipbone, not crossing them over your body. Your arm swing should complement your stride. Relax your wrists and hands. Do not clench your fists.
  3. Power your stride from your thighs, hips, and buttocks muscles. Plant your heel on the ground first and roll onto the toes.
  4. Stay relaxed.
When you can jog continuously for 30 minutes, you can begin the running portion of the Department's Four-Month Pre-Academy Fitness Program.

Calisthenics / Strength

The Department's strength training is based on a calisthenics platform. Calisthenics develop the ability to squat, reach, twist, lunge, jump, land, push, and get up and down. These are the types of actions demanded of law enforcement officers during a routine patrol watch. Calisthenics build strength and promote endurance without the repetitive motion that often leads to overuse injuries. Finally, these exercises improve mobility by progressively taking the major joints through a full, controlled range of motion. Calisthenics also demand the attention to detail that conveys physical readiness and discipline. You should do the calisthenics exercises every day. It is important that you adjust the level of activity according to your individual fitness level and gradually progress at your own pace with every workout.

Cool down

The cool-down is just as important as the warm-up. Abrupt cessation of vigorous activity leads to pooling of the blood and sluggish circulation. It may also contribute to cramping, soreness, or more serious problems. It is recommended that you complete your workout with a five-minute slow-paced cool-down, and stretch for ten minutes following your workouts. It is important to remember to stretch while your muscles are still warm.

Hydration

Most people do not drink enough water. Water is essential to survival. Every function and movement of an officer's body requires water. During hot weather or strenuous exercise, a larger amount of water is eliminated through perspiration in order to regulate body temperature. Therefore, it is critical to drink more water during hot weather or while exercising. It is recommended that you drink several cups of water before exercising. If the exercise is prolonged or vigorous, you should drink small quantities of water every 10 to 15 minutes during the activity. A guideline for consumption of water is 64 ounces of water per day.

Stretching Tips

  1. Always warm up for 5-10 minutes prior to stretching. Suggestions - stationary bike, running in place, stairmaster, or treadmill.
  2. Move slowly when stretching. Take this time to relax and focus on your breathing.
  3. Depending on what you choose, music can help energize or relax you.
  4. When lying on your back, move your legs one at a time. Sudden movements with both legs can strain the muscles of the lower back.
  5. Stretch to the point of gentle tension. If something hurts, stop immediately. Stretching should feel good.
  6. Try to stretch daily. This workout can take as little as 7-10 minutes, or as long as you'd like. A few minutes every day can improve your performance, prevent injuries, and help you relax.

Stretching Program

Neck Rotation
Turn your head to the side, stretching your chin toward your shoulder. Turn head back to center and repeat to the other side.
Shoulder Stretch
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Raise one arm overhead and stretch as far as you can without bending the torso. Repeat with opposite arm.
Forearm Stretch
Extend your right arm straight out in front of you, palm downward. With the left hand, grasp the fingers of the right hand and pull back gently, stretching the wrist and forearm. Repeat with the left arm.
Triceps Stretch
Raise one arm straight up, so your upper arm is near your ear. Bend at the elbow and let your hand fall to the back of your neck. With the other arm, reach behind your head and place your hand on top of the bent elbow. Gently pull down and back on the elbow. Repeat with other arm.
Trunk Stretch
Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart. Reach your left arm overhead and bend to the right at the waist. Repeat on opposite side.
Torso Twist
Stand at arm's length from the wall, with the wall at your side. Reach one arm out and place your hand on the wall. Reach the other arm around the body, stretching the hand to the wall. Repeat on opposite side.
Chest Stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Clasp your hands behind your back and gently press your arms upward, keeping your arms straight.
Back Stretch
Lie on your back and bring one knee to your chest. Hold the knee with both hands and gently pull in. Alternate knees and repeat.
Hip Roll
Lie on your back and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Let your knees fall to the right while reaching both arms across your body to the left. Hold the stretch, then roll the hips over to the left, stretch arms to the right and repeat the stretch.
Lower Back Reach
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Reach forward toward your toes, keeping your chin up and lower back slightly arched. Try not to round the back or tuck the chin in - this decreases the effectiveness of the stretch.
Butterfly Stretch
Sit on the floor, bend your knees out to the sides and bring the soles of your feet together. Place your hands on your knees and gently press the knees toward the floor. Keep your back straight.
Lateral Hip Stretch
Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you. Bend your left leg and place the left foot over the right knee. Place your right hand on the outside of the left knee and gently pull the knee toward your right shoulder, twisting the torso to the left, until you feel the stretch in your left hip. Repeat with opposite side.
Hamstring Stretch
Stand with legs shoulder width apart and the left leg slightly in front of the right. Shift your weight to the back leg (the right) and bend the knee, turning the knee and toe to the right. Extend the left leg and place the heel on the floor, toes in the air. Keep the back straight and bend forward at the hips until you feel the stretch in the hamstring of the left leg. Repeat with the opposite leg.

Standing Hamstring Reach
Stand with one foot crossed over the other. Bend at the hips, reaching toward the floor and keeping the knees slightly bent. Repeat with the opposite foot crossed in front.
V-Stretch
Sit on the floor with your legs extended to either side so they form a "V". Bend forward, grasp your toes or ankles, and stretch your chest toward the floor. Try to go a little lower each time you perform the stretch.
Leaning Calf Stretch
Stand about 2 1/2 feet from a wall. Place your hands on the wall and lean in, gently pushing your hips forward. Keep your legs straight and heels flat on the floor.
Standing Calf Stretch
Stand with your feet together. Extend one leg in front of you and place the heel on the floor, toes in the air. Keeping the back straight, bend forward at the hips until you feel the stretch in the calf. Repeat with opposite leg.
Quadriceps Stretch
Lie face down and reach back with your right arm to grasp your right ankle. Pull your foot toward your buttocks. Be sure to keep your hips and pelvis on the floor. Repeat with left leg.
Standing Quad Stretch
From a standing position, reach back to grasp your right ankle with your right hand. And Pull your foot toward your buttocks. Place your other hand on a wall or chair if you need balance support. Repeat with left leg.

Four-Month Pre-Academy Fitness Program

Month 1 Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run ½ mile
6 to 8 minutes on shock absorbing surface, i.e. track
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 10-20 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 20-25 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 10-20 reps - 2 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes

Stretching routine

Run ½ mile
6 to 8 minutes on shock absorbing surface, i.e. track
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 10-20 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 20-25 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 10-20 reps - 2 sets
Warm-up / Stretching Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes

Stretching routine

Run 1 mile
12 to 14 minutes on shock absorbing surface, i.e. track
One day of rest

No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 10-20 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 20-25 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 10-20 reps - 2 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 1 mile
12 to 14 minutes on shock absorbing surface, i.e. track
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 10-20 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 20-25 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 10-20 reps - 2 sets
Month 2 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 1 ½ miles
11 to 12 minutes per mile
Shock absorbing surface
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 15-25 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 25-30 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 15-25 reps - 2 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 1 ½ miles
11 to 12 minutes per mile
Shock absorbing surface
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 15-25 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 25-30 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 15-25 reps - 2 sets
Warm-up / Stretching Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutesStretching routine

Run 2 miles 11 to 12 minutes per mile
Shock absorbing surface
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 15-25 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 25-30 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 15-25 reps - 2 sets
Warm-up / Stretching Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutesStretching routine

Run 2 miles 11 to 12 minutes per mile
Shock absorbing surface
One day of rest
No Treadmills

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 15-25 reps - 2 sets

Sit-ups 25-30 reps - 2 sets

Pull-ups 3-10 reps - 2 sets

Leg-lifts 15-25 reps - 2 sets
Month 3 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 2 ½ miles 10 to 11 minutes per mile
Terrain surface, One-day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 20-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 30-35 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-13 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 20-30 reps - 3 sets
Warm-up / Stretching Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutesStretching routine

Run 2 ½ miles 10 to 11 minutes per mile
Terrain surface, One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 20-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 30-35 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-13 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 20-30 reps - 3 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutesStretching routine

Run 3 miles 10 to 11 minutes per mile
Terrain surface, One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 20-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 30-35 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-13 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 20-30 reps - 3 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutesStretching routine

Run 3 miles 10 to 11 minutes per mile
Terrain surface, One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 20-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 30-35 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-13 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 20-30 reps - 3 sets
Month 4 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 3 ½ miles 10 to 11 minutes per mile
Terrain surface,
One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 25-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 35-40 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-15 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 25-35 reps - 3 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 3 ½ miles 10 to 11 minutes per mile
Terrain surface,
One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 25-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 35-40 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-15 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 25-35 reps - 3 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 4 miles 9 to 10 minutes per mile
Terrain surface,
One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 25-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 35-40 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-15 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 25-35 reps - 3 sets
Warm-up / Stretching
Cool-down / Stretching

Light aerobics 5-10 minutes
Stretching routine

Run 4 miles 9 to 10 minutes per mile
Terrain surface,
One day rest

Calisthenics / Strength

Push-ups 25-30 reps - 3 sets

Sit-ups 35-40 reps - 3 sets

Pull-ups 3-15 reps - 3 sets

Leg-lifts 25-35 reps - 3 sets