Why You Will Fail The PARE/POPAT

In the post, “3 Reasons for Passing the PARE/POPAT”, I highlighted why Redliners are successful so that you know what it takes to prepare.

After writing the post, it got me thinking about the opposite: why do people fail? There are many reasons, with most falling into one of the categories below.

If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement while reading through today’s post, then I suggest reading the article I linked to above. Learn from the mistakes of others, as well as the success. It will save you a lot of time and heartache.

Without further ado, here is why you will fail your test.


Many people underestimate the difficulty of the test. Check that. They severely underestimate the difficulty of the test. Here’s why:

You jump on to YouTube and run a search. You find several videos and watch people running at what looks like jogging speed through the course. You get a false sense of security because you think “Well, I do 30 min runs 3 times a week, and I do some spin classes here and there. And spin class is hard! I got this in the bag!”

Test day arrives. You warm-up a little, but not too much cause you think you’re saving energy for the test (which is a mistake by the way). It’s your first time trying the test (another mistake, see below), so you run a few laps to familiarize yourself with the course. It’s a little harder than expected, but you figure “hey, what’s 6 laps?”

The tester calls everyone in to line up and get ready for the test.

Your turn is up.

Lap 1 and you bolt out of the gates, like Speedy Gonzalez. You run the first lap so fast you’d give Usain Bolt a run for his money.

Second lap gets a little slower, but you figure you still got this.

Third lap arrives and you’re labouring. You’re slowing down…considerably.

Fourth lap and you feel like a dying slug in the sun. Your once fast pace is coming to a crawl.

Fifth lap and you feel like death.

Last lap, you no longer look like the hare, but the tortoise.

Six laps completed.

But wait!

There’s still the push/pull machine!

Yup, that f@ck!ng thing!!!

At this point you either give up, or make a valiant effort to complete the test. Either way, it all ends ugly.

Watching videos only gives you an idea of what is like. What it doesn’t prepare you for is the intensity you’ll encounter.

If your cardio consists of only easy to moderate efforts, you’re in for a reality check. Start incorporating HIIT (high intensity interval training) into the mix. If HIIT is completely new to you, then start with one session a week, or add it into the end of an easy training session. Gradually build up your fitness to handle the rigours of HIIT workouts.

In addition to increasing intensity in your training, it’s best to find a facility that offers practice tests and/or training. Which leads me to the second point.


If there is a practice facility in your area, there is no excuse not to go to it. Out here in the Metro Vancouver area, there are least 4 places you can run a practice, including yours truly (see our page here about our test sessions).

Time and time again, though, people go into their tests under prepared and not knowing what to expect.

Now I know not everyone doesn’t have the luxury of living near a test facility. If there is no facility you can easily attend, then make your own course and your own obstacles and practice on that. It may not be ideal, but it’s better than nothing.


The machine is difficult to find, but there are a couple workarounds to that. You can simulate the push with a partner, and you can simulate the pull with bands or a cable machine.

Fitness is one aspect of preparing for your test, and practicing the test is the other aspect. Think of it like skill training. A hockey player will perform strength and conditioning drills to be faster and stronger, but it doesn’t make him a better player. He still needs to practice his puck handling skills, his shooting skills, his skating ability, and so forth to become a next level player.

So it is with these tests. Having a high level of fitness is awesome and necessary, but to take it to the next level, you need to practice the hurdles, the vault, the push/pull, etc.

Start including skill training into your program. Find a facility near you or construct your own course. Make one up with all the elements if you have to.

Whatever it is you do, practice.


I alluded to this earlier. Often times people think they are getting enough cardio training with 3x/wk of moderate effort sessions. If you’re looking for general health training, then this would be fine.

But you are no longer part of the general populace. You are entering a career where fitness is crucial for your health and safety. There’s a reason police officers are called Tactical Athletes.

These tests challenge your cardiovascular abilities, and if you’re not used to pushing your limits, then the first time you take on the test will be an eye opener.

Now I’m not saying that every single one of your cardio workouts has to be high intensity, but only doing moderate efforts is not going to cut it.

You need to know what it’s like to push yourself. You have to experience being in extreme discomfort and tolerate the pain that comes with the test. If you can make the training hard, then the test should feel like a walk in the park.

Not sure what to do? Here’s a sample cardio training week from a Redliner:

This training week fell in her specific preparation phase of the training program. Her test was in 4 weeks, and within this time frame the intensity was being ramped up. Essentially she is doing 4 days of HIIT training, two on her own (the 5×400 and hill sprints) and two with me. There are two days of moderate intensity training, and one rest day. Always include at least one rest day in your training program, it’s necessary for recovery.

This sample week would not, and should not, be performed in the early stages of training, especially if you’re new to training. You need to gradually build up your fitness to match the demands of the test. You can’t go from 0 to 60 without suffering from some injury (like shin splints).

If you’re starting your training, aim for being consistent. For cardio, aim for 2-3x/wk, 20-30 min each. If you can’t run continuously for 20-30 min, break it down into run/walk training. As you progress, you decrease the amount of time walking and increase the amount of time running to the point where you’re doing 20-30 min of continuous running.


Strength train for performance, not for looks. Bad guys don’t give a damn how pretty you look (well, some might….)

Now I’m not knocking the bodybuilding method of training. What they do is impressive, but what they do isn’t particularly helpful to become a faster, stronger, Jackie Chan like supercop.

Lift for strength and performance. Focus on the big lifts, like deadlifts, squats, presses, and pulls. They are basic movements, but master them as they are essential to becoming stronger.

If you don’t have experience with the big lifts, start learning them now. If you do have experience, make sure you’re doing them right. I have many people come to me who think they know what they’re doing, but don’t know squat (pun intended). Do things right and progress will come much sooner.

Here’s a sample strength training day, incorporating the major lifts (first # represents number of sets, second # is number of reps.):

A1 Deadlift 4 x 5
A2 Push-Ups 4 x 10

B1 Goblet Squats 4 x 8
B2 Pull-Ups 4 x 10

C1 Walking Lunges 3 x 12
C2 Standing Cable Rows 3 x 12

The tests are no joke. I’ve seen high level athletes fail because they did one of the mistakes above.

Avoid the mistakes, and start preparing now. Don’t leave it to chance. Doing so will only delay your process.

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

Looking to run your official test or need to do a full practice? Check out the Official and Practice Testing schedule for the next available session.

And if you have any questions about training or our services, you can reach out to our Team at redlineteam@rlconditioning.ca.