Training for the POPAT Part 2: Strength Training

In part 1 of the “Training for the POPAT” series, I discussed the importance of cardio training, and offered some workout examples you can use to improve your cardio fitness. Having a high level of cardio fitness is necessary for a successful POPAT, but it doesn’t mean you should overlook your strength training.

Being strong will certainly help with your push/pull performance, but it will also aid in other areas you wouldn’t necessarily think of. Areas such as the mat jump, the stairs, or the vault jump and falls. Improving your strength will help in all those areas. It will even make you feel stronger when you run.

When you undertake a strength training program, your focus should be multi-joint movements that recruit as much muscle as possible. These are exercises like the squat, deadlift, lunges, presses, and pulls/rows. Single joint exercises like bicep curls, leg curls, leg extensions, etc. are fine to incorporate in a training program, but if you’re tight for time you can eliminate these exercises from your routine. Remember, the goal of training is to improve your performance, not your aesthetics (although that is a nice bonus).

Everyone’s strength needs will be different, so the following recommendation are very general. If you’re a beginner, I highly suggest finding a qualified trainer who knows how to properly coach strength training technique.

  • Perform 3-6 sets of 4-8 reps, using a weight that’s about 80-85% of your 1RM. Make sure rest is sufficient, at least 2-3 min between sets.
  • Strength train 2-4x/week (the frequency will depend on your needs)
  • Perform full body sessions if lifting 2-3x/wk, or upper/lower splits if lifting 4x/wk
  • Make sure you warm-up sufficiently, about 10-15 min, that includes mobility drills, dynamic movement drills and dynamic stretching
  • Sessions don’t need to be any longer than 1 hour, and that includes the warm-up and cool-down

Here’s a sample strength training day:

Warm-Up (10-15 min)

A1 Deadlift 4 sets, 4-8 reps
A2 Push-Ups 4 sets, 10-20 reps
1:30-2:00 rest

B1 Bench Press 4 sets, 4-8 reps
B2 Pull-Ups (asstd or unasstd) or Inverted Rows 4 sets, 5-10 reps
1:30-2:00 rest

C1 Plank 3 sets, 0:30-1:00
C2 Deadbug 3 sets, 0:30-1:00

Cool-Down (5-15 min)

The above is done in a superset format. That means you perform the first exercise (ie A1), followed by the second exercise (ie A2) almost immediately or after a few seconds of rest. Once you’ve completed A2, take your full rest. Complete the number of sets for “A” superset, rest, then follow up with the “B” superset.

In the final part of the training series, I’ll go over a few tips and tricks to help you be more efficient for the test, which ultimately will help you gain a competitive time, and help you become a competitive candidate.

Need to train for your test? Try us out for 2 weeks with our Redline Intro Trial.

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