Physical Fitness of Police Academy Cadets: Baseline Characteristics and Changes During a 16-Week Academy

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Crawley, AA, Sherman, RA, Crawley, WR, and Cosio-Lima, LM. Physical fitness of police academy cadets: baseline characteristics and changes during a 16-week academy. J Strength Cond Res 30(5): 1416–1424, 2016—Police academies traditionally emphasize the importance of being physically fit. The purpose of this research was to determine cadet baseline physical fitness characteristics and assess effectiveness of a 16-week training program. Sixty-eight cadets (61 men, 7 women) volunteered to have baseline physical fitness characteristics assessed, and 55 cadets (49 men, 6 women) completed further testing at weeks 8 and 16. The testing comprised hand grip (strength), arm crank (upper-body power), 30 seconds Wingate (lower body power), sum of skinfolds and percentage body fat (body composition), 40-yard dash (sprint speed), 1 repetition maximum bench press (strength), T-test (agility), and sit-and-reach (flexibility). In addition, cadets completed standardized state testing (push-ups, sit-ups, vertical jump, and half-mile shuttle run). The training program consisted of 1 hour sessions, 3 d·wk−1, including aerobic, plyometrics, body weight, and resistance exercise. Significant changes were found in agility (p < 0.01), upper-body and lower-body peak power (p ≤ 0.05), sit-ups (p < 0.01), push-ups (p ≤ 0.05) across the first 8 weeks, and in agility (p ≤ 0.05), lower-body peak power (p ≤ 0.05), sit-ups (p < 0.01), push-ups (p ≤ 0.05), half-mile shuttle run (p < 0.01) across the full 16 weeks. However, none of the variables showed significant change across the second half of the program (weeks 8–16). A number of individual parameters of physical fitness showed evidence of improvement in the first 8 weeks, whereas none of the variables showed significant improvement in the second 8 weeks. This suggests modifications could be made to increase overall effectiveness of cadet physical training specifically after the 8-week mark.

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