Working long hours or driving a patrol car all day makes it difficult to stay in shape. After several months of reduced physical activity, compared to the Police Academy, even the younger police officers can find five, 10, or even 15 additional pounds around their mid-sections. The additional weight and lack of a regular exercise plan will decrease the speed and endurance needed to chase down law-breakers and can also inhibit the strength needed during the apprehension of a suspect.
If you are feeling the effects of reduced physical inactivity due to your schedule, here are some helpful tools for you to stay in "police academy shape."
Flexibility Is Key
First of all, a police officer should be flexible. After hours of sitting still, jumping out of a car and chasing someone at full speed can injure even the most athletic individual. Stretching at least your legs and lower back throughout the day and on a daily basis with your exercise routine will save you from unnecessarily pulling a muscle or worse.
Your increased flexibility will be the result of a daily stretching program that will help you better recover from the daily grind and, of course, challenging workouts. Stretching will help you break up the lactic acid that builds in your muscles. One tip: Hold each stretch you do for 4-5 deep inhales and exhales. The inhales should be three or more seconds long followed by a full exhale. This will also help oxygen get to your muscles, adding an increased effect to lactic acid release.
You can perform the most important stretches-thigh, hamstring, and lower back stretches-throughout the day.
Quick Workouts for the Busy Officer
Easy-to-perform exercises such as pushups, pull-ups, dips, squats, lunges, and abdominal and lower back exercises make it possible for the busiest of us to exercise anywhere in as little as 15 to 20 minutes.
Pyramid Workout Plan
This program is appropriate for beginners and advanced alike. The best thing about the pyramid workout is that you work up from a very easy level that counts as a warm-up. Continue up the pyramid as shown until you hit your maximum level of fitness, then repeat in reverse order, which acts as your cool-down.
If you can complete the pyramid above, your final total of pull-ups, pushups, and sit-ups will be 36 pullups, 72 pushups, and 108 sit-ups. If you continue up the pyramid and build up to level 10 (10 pull-ups, 20 pushups, and 30 sit-ups) on the peak of the pyramid, you will have completed the entire pyramid That is 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, and 300 sit-ups or other abs exercise of choice.
This workout will push your pushups and sit-ups to 300 reps each and keep your pull-ups between 50 and 100 reps. The superset is a series of exercises to be repeated with no rest. For the upper body superset, simply do five to 10 pushups then roll over and rest your pushup muscles by doing 10 crunches and continue on with the two different versions of pushups and crunches. One super set can be accomplished in as little as two minutes. If you repeat this particular workout five times you will have done 150 pushups and 200 crunches in a 10-minute period. If you are at a beginner level of fitness, try to do your pushups on your knees once you fail at regular pushups and decrease the number of times you repeat this cycle to 4-5 supersets.
REPEAT 10 TIMES
★ pull-ups - 5-10
★ pushups - 10
★ sit-ups - 10
★ wide pushups - 10
★ reverse crunches - 10
★ tri pushups - 10
★ double crunches - 10
★ Add 10-20 jumping jacks before every set and get some cardio benefit out of it. Total time: 20 minutes
Max PT/Fewest Sets Possible
This workout is one of my favorites for building from 10 pull-ups to 15-20 pull-ups. Many people get stuck at 10 pull-ups; this workout will get you over that hump. I recommend trying this workout only once a week in conjunction with the two above PT workouts during the week.
FOR INTERMEDIATE ATHLETES SHOOT FOR:
★ 50 pull-ups
★ 150 pushups
★ 200 sit-ups
★ 100 pull-ups ★ 250 pushups
★ 300 sit-ups
Alternate from one max rep set exercise to another until you reach the above numbers...time limit on each exercise is two minutes per exercise. For increased difficulty, add a 1⁄4-mile run during each cycle. Aim to run at whatever your goal pace is for a 1.5- or 2-mile timed run.
The goal is to create a maintenance program that will challenge your cardiovascular system as well as your muscular endurance. Some police departments may have weight room access with cardio equipment or even pools. If that is the case, get your cardio in the pool, on bikes, or on treadmills. Otherwise, these workouts can be done with little or no equipment as demonstrated below (next page).