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How to Get Into SWAT Shape

Acquiring and maintaining a high level of fitness can make you a better cop, on or off a SWAT team.

November 01, 2006  |  by Stew Smith

Some of the exercises used to prepare for this tested event include:

  • 8-Count body-builder pushup
  • Squat thrusts
  • Squats Lunges
  • Sprints
  • Variety of abdominal exercises
  • Lower back exercises

The Tactical Obstacle Course is a half-mile run with three job-related tasks thrown in at the 220-yard, 440-yard, and 660-yard marks. These tasks are:

  • 220-yards mark: Cone running weave (40 yards long); 9 cones spaced 5 yards apart.
  • 440-yard mark: 175-pound victim drag (10-yard drag).
  • 660-yard mark: Cone running weave, dropping to the prone position at each cone.

This event tests speed, endurance, and agility. Done in regular exercise clothing, the candidate will not be weighed down by the SWAT vest. The exercises to help train for this event are:

  • 2- and 3-mile track workouts
  • 8-count body-builders
  • Bear crawls
  • Squats
  • Sprints
  • Agility drills/box drills
  • Lower back exercises
  • Grip exercises (towel pull-ups)

Time to Exercise

I would be remiss in my duties as a fitness writer if I did not assist with helping police officers "fit fitness into their busy schedules." The truth is if you do not schedule a workout in your day, it will not occur. The good news is that you don't need two to three hours a day to train.

You can get a tremendous amount of activity done in as little as 30 minutes. And once you get into better shape, you can add a second 30-minute workout into your schedule if you don't have time for a solid hour of exercise.

Finding the place to fit your workouts into your day is up to you. Some people are better exercisers first thing in the morning. Some are afternoon or evening exercisers. The key is to do what you can on days you have to work a full day. Then on your days off, crank up the workout so you can fit in just about everything that your SWAT team tests.

Here are some ideas for quick 20- to 30-minute workouts.
Running How much running can you do in 20 to 30 minutes? Some people can run three to six miles in that time period. Try this one if you want to run.

4-Mile Track Work: Jog 1 mile in 7 minutes

Three sets of:

  • Sprint-1⁄4-mile FAST
  • Jog-1⁄4-mile

Six sets of:

  • Sprint-1⁄8-mile FAST
  • Jog-1⁄8-mile

Or you can mix the two types of exercise together and do what I call the Spartan run.

Spartan run:

  • Run 1 mile
  • 50 pushups/20 squats
  • 50 crunches
  • Run 1 mile
  • 50 pushups/20 squats
  • 75 crunches
  • Run 1 mile
  • 50 pushups/20 squats
  • 100 crunches

Swimming How much swimming can you do in 20 to 30 minutes? Some people can swim a mile in that time. Here is a great workout if you want to mix a little PT in with your swimming.

Swim PT:

  • Repeat 5-10 times
  • Swim 100 yards
  • Pushups-10-20
  • Abs-20-30

Treading water for 20 or more minutes is a standard test among some SWAT units. Try treading while not using your hands for a real water workout. As you can see, you can do quite a bit in as little as 20 to 30 minutes.

I cannot stress how important fitness is to your job performance and life. In fact, your fitness level may be the factor that saves your life or your partner's life one day.

In physically demanding professions as a police officer or SWAT team member, being able to run fast or climb stairs quickly after sitting in a car for hours can take its toll on you. This is why proper training and stretching should be a daily occurrence, even if you are not going to the gym that day.


These workouts are a little advanced and you should consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have not exercised rigorously in several years.

Stretching Program and Injury Prevention

Any routine should incorporate DAILY flexibility training. In fact, you can stretch nearly all day long for just a few minutes throughout the day. Flexibility is the key to speed and injury prevention. If you cannot touch your toes or twist your torso 90 degrees, the lack of upper body and lower body flexibility will come back to haunt you one day. Usually, lack of flexibility will manifest itself as an injury or the lack of agility and speed to catch a running criminal.

Stew Smith is a Naval Academy graduate and former Navy SEAL who now works as a fitness trainer and freelance writer. He specializes in preparing clients for law enforcement and military physical fitness tests. He can be reached at

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Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Michael Vailencour @ 5/5/2011 10:01 AM

I'm glad somebody posted this. It gives me an idea of the kind of workouts I will practice during college and years before trying out for SWAT.

Jacqueline @ 7/28/2012 8:35 PM

I want to be on the swat team but I can't swim. Is swimming nessicary on the swat team?

Craig @ 2/13/2013 10:07 AM

Is there prior law enforcement training need? Say 3-6 years on the force before even being considered for SWAT?

daniel majors @ 6/4/2013 8:56 AM

hi swat teams iam looking in to working out with yus

diljot singh @ 6/26/2013 7:15 AM

Sir i diljot singh wants to that can a person who is not the native of your country can also apply or not what other requirements are to be fulfilled.

Dustin Hamblin @ 7/15/2014 10:30 AM

I would be intrigued to receive a full workout schedule if at all possible

B Crawford @ 11/19/2014 7:52 PM

I'd appreciate it, if all of you would learn proper grammar and spelling. Thank you!

Eli @ 6/11/2015 4:00 AM

sir, I am 12 yrs old and want to get a fresh start on training for SWAT Sir, I want to know sir what school will understand SWAT sir.

Thank you, sir

Bruce @ 8/6/2015 8:59 PM

This is as bad as when I worked as a recruiter for LAPD. Folks, you do not start out working, for any department, as a motor officer, detective, SWAT team member or pilot. You prove that you can handle police work and gain expertise in patrol procedures before you are invited to apply for a position or take a promotional test. Just like the military. No, you do not bet out of basic training one day and work in SF, recon or the rangers the next. No matter what the recruiter says.

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