Find out all about the fitness process if you're applying to be a police officer with Northamptonshire Police
Once you pass the online assessment, the next step to becoming a police officer is the fitness test. It's simply to test you’ve got the basic level of fitness needed to be a police officer, not an Olympic athlete. It involves a multi-stage run known as the bleep test. It takes 3 minutes and 35 seconds and is made up of 35 15-metre shuttle runs between two points. You’ll hear a bleep at set intervals. You need to reach the other side before the next bleep. The bleeps speed up during the test. Your running speed will start at 7.9 kilometres per hour and will increase to 9.9 kilometres per hour, which means you’ll end up running the 15-metre stretch in five to six seconds by the end of the test.
Think you’re not fit enough? Don’t worry, it’s not super hard. As long as you’re reasonably fit and do some training in advance, you should be absolutely fine. Let’s take a look at the best way to train.
Focus on exercise activities that increase your cardiovascular fitness, for example running. Regular runs build up your heart and lung capacity and your leg muscles. Try a mix of interval training and steady running. With interval training, warm up for five minutes, followed by 30 seconds hard sprint, then 30 seconds of walking. Do this ten times, then cool down. Interval training simulates what your body will go through in the bleep test. With steady running, warm up for five minutes followed by running at a steady pace for a few minutes, eventually building up to around 15 minutes, then cool down. It’s good to include some 180-degree turns, that’s where you pivot and run the other way. That’s because you’ll be running back and forth between two points in the bleep test rather than in a straight line. And you can mix up running with other aerobic exercise like swimming, rowing, cycling and cross trainer. These all use large muscle groups and are great for building up your heart and lung capacity but as the test is running based, make sure you’re building up your leg muscles. Running really should make up the bulk of your training.
Here's some of our top training tips: don't start training the week before the test, start training at least six weeks before. Not a regular exerciser? Seek medical advice before starting your training. Start slowly and build up the length and intensity of your training sessions. Always warm up and cool down properly. Remember to stretch and build in toning and strengthening exercises. They’ll really help increase your overall fitness. Record your progress. Seeing your fitness improve will help keep you motivated. Don’t forget to keep your fluid levels up as you train. Why not train with friends? It's safer and more enjoyable. And don’t overdo it. Give yourself rest days to recover.
Looking for some extra support? Here are some handy training resources. Search fifteen metre bleep test on iTunes, Google Play, and YouTube, and try the NHS Couch to 5k app.
Remember you don’t need to be superhuman to pass the fitness test. Follow our training tips and you should be able to pass no problem. Best of luck.