Training for the POPAT: Part 1 Cardio Conditioning

Cardio is a bit of a generic term. It’s a catchall term that could be mean anything and everything.

Some people think of the treadmill or the bike when you say cardio.

Others think of training for a marathon.

Then you got some who say you can improve cardio through circuit training involving bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, or what ever bells and whistles that get your heart rate up and pumping for a sustained period of time.

No one is wrong about cardio training, and I would be in agreement with each group. To each his own really.
Personally, I see cardio training as the aerobic and anaerobic systems working together. And when it comes to police training, you need to develop both systems.

Cardio training is important to improving your performance on the POPAT. I don’t care how strong you are, if you don’t have a good foundation of cardio fitness to work from, your strength will go to waste. I’ve seen strong guys struggle with the push/pull machine because they’re so gassed from running the obstacle course. If you’re not doing any kind of cardio training, you better start now. If you’re already doing some, congratulations, you’re ahead of the pack. But don’t pat yourself on your back yet.

I can safely assume that 90% of you are only doing moderate intensity cardio. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to mix it up with some high intensity training (HIT). For those of you already incorporating HIT into your training, I can almost guarantee you’re not pushing yourself as hard as you think you are. The test itself is high intensity in nature. You’re hitting max heart rate within a couple minutes. You best start simulating that feeling in your training.

On a side note, HIT is hard and you do get results from it very quickly, but be careful how much you do in your training. The further your test date, the less you need to do it (1x/wk, 2x/wk at most). As your test date nears, you can do more, but I wouldn’t suggest anymore than 3x/wk, and for no more than 4 weeks. Extended periods of high volume, high intensity training will lead to burnout and injury.

So what are some of the cardio training methods I use to train applicants? Below are 4 of the common ones:

Try one method each week and see what works best for you. You can even do a variation of what’s suggested above. What I wouldn’t do is try all the workouts in the same week.

In the next part of the of the training series, we’ll discuss strength training for the POPAT.

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