As one of four tests designed by the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police to determine eligibility for employment, the Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police (PREP test) is the title of the physical skills and abilities test of the Constable Selection System.
The police PREP test is actually composed of three distinct “mini-tests”: A screening which determines general health readiness, and two performance tests to evaluate a candidate’s physical capability (the Pursuit/Restraint Circuit and the Aerobic Shuttle Run). A passing grade for the performance tests involves finishing the Pursuit/Restraint Circuit in 162 seconds or under and getting to at least Stage 6.5 in the 20-metre Shuttle Run.
Pre-exercise Screening and Medical Clearance
Prior to taking the police PREP test, candidates must complete the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q). This wellness checklist determines health conditions which may be exacerbated by exercise and which require physician clearance, including:
- Heart conditions
- Chest pains
- Vertigo and other balance problems
- Bone or joint problems
- Use of medical prescriptions for blood pressure or heart conditions
The screening also requires a measurement of pre-exercise blood pressure. Candidates who are at or under 40 years of age, have none of the conditions checked for by the PAR-Q and have resting blood pressures equal to or less than 144/94 mmHg are automatically eligible to take the PREP. In any other case, a doctor must complete the PARmed-X form to grant medical clearance before the candidate may participate in the police PREP test.
Preparing for the Pursuit/Restraint Circuit
Completing the Pursuit/Restraint Circuit demands both anaerobic fitness and strength, as well as muscular endurance of the abdomen and extremities. Anaerobic fitness training (often referred to as “interval training”) involves typically brief bursts of high intensity exercise, which is necessary on the job when chasing and controlling a criminal. A typical anaerobic workout may involve switching between short duration periods (about 10 seconds) of sprinting at around 80 to 90% of maximum speed and marginally longer periods (30 seconds or so) of light jogging. Five to 10 intervals of this type of acceleration/deceleration routine qualifies as a complete anaerobic workout.
Resistance training workouts which concentrate on the major muscles used in performing police tasks like the back, arms, shoulders, abs and legs are essential for successfully passing the PREP. Full-body resistance training workouts enable every muscle group to be trained no more than once every 48 hours or on alternate days. Should a candidate wish to resistance train daily, it’s best to train the different groups of muscles every other day – for instance, upper body muscles such as the back, arms and shoulders on one day, and then the lower body muscles in the legs and abdomen on the next day.
Some of the best muscle-building exercises include:
- Weightlifting (i.e. biceps and triceps curls, bench presses)
- Triceps Extensions
- Triceps bench dips
- Abdominal and oblique crunches
- Squats and lunges
- Leg Presses
Preparing for the Aerobic Shuttle Run
Increasing aerobic fitness is absolutely necessary in order to successfully complete the Aerobic Shuttle Run. This is accomplished by establishing a regular aerobic workout routine (ideally performed three to five times per week) which tests and enhances the body’s ability to transport oxygen. Duration is vitally important here, and the duration of each aerobic workout session should ideally correlate to the number of workouts performed each week. For example, if aerobic workouts are performed three days a week, each workout ought to consist of about 50 to 60 minutes of steady exercise. If workouts are conducted five days a week, every workout ought to clock in at around 30 to 40 minutes in duration.
The most effective strategy for approaching aerobic exercises is to select an activity with which one is already familiar and enjoys doing, and working out with one or more partners can provide better motivation to perform the activity on a regular basis. Some of the activities which effectively boost whole-body aerobic fitness by targeting the largest muscle groups at once include:
- Cross-country skiing
- Competitive sports like basketball, football and hockey
The PREP test is one area that should be worked on prior to the testing phase as it can be a tough one to pass with the physicality expected of applicants. Doing your homework in advance for the police prep test is a pretty good idea. You’ll first need to determine that you’ll be able to pass the pre-screening that you’re healthy enough to take the test and become a peace officer in Ontario. These are things you’ll typically have discussed with your doctor previously such as whether or not you’re on any prescription drugs that may inhibit you from performing the duties of a police officer, or if you have any physical conditions, such as high blood pressure.
The best way to prepare for the police prep test is to focus on strength training and cardiovascular exercises. Swimming and cycling are two great activities to give a chance to trying for preparing yourself for this test as they provide a whole body workout. You may even want to time yourself with the help of a friend or fitness tracker to see if your time is improving the more you work on it, and if you’ll fall within the required parameters for a passing grade when all eyes are on you.