Post-Military Fitness: How to Prepare for the FBI Fitness Test

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Marine sprints during a 100-yard agility sprint.
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Reginald E. Parker runs toward the finish line of a 100-yard agility sprint. (Lance Cpl. George Nudo/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The military is a steppingstone into federal law enforcement for many veterans, and many of those agencies, including the FBI, come with their own fitness test.

Luckily for interested veterans, the FBI uses nearly the exact same PT test as most of the military. But the FBI test comes with a 300-meter sprint, which can be a challenge if you're not training for it.

Here is a great way to prepare for all the events of both the FBI PT test and military tests by using the pyramid training system.

The FBI Fitness Test Pyramid

The FBI fitness test is very similar to the most common PT test in the world, which consists of push-ups, sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run. The FBI also adds a 300-meter sprint. Nearly 40% of law enforcement agencies use this test, or at least some form of these four exercises.

Making a PT pyramid out of this one will work best outdoors on a track or at a known distance running path. This pyramid will have running mixed into the sets, but with two different goals.

Going up the pyramid will be goal-paced runs for mastering the 1.5-mile timed run. Going down the pyramid will introduce sprinting every other set in order to recover after the full-speed progression.

FBI PT test pyramid workout: Pull-ups with optional push-ups and sit-ups, plus runs and sprints.

This classic pyramid will work as the basis of this one, but each set will include a goal-paced run or a sprint. As a way to add variety, replace sit-ups with plank poses as a sit-up x 3 reps equals a plank pose per second, per rep. As things change, many tactical units are transitioning to plank pose vs. sit-ups. Be prepared for both.

Here is how it works:

Starting at the bottom left of the pyramid, you will find "pull-ups x 1, push-ups x 2, sit-ups x 3." Pull-ups are optional and not graded on the test, but doing pull-ups will help you with obstacle courses, wall and rope climbs, and general grip, so I recommend you do them.

Pull-ups x 1, push-ups x 2, sit-ups x 3

(or plank x 3 seconds)

Keep progressing until you get to the top of the pyramid -- or your max at failure. If you get to step 10, you perform 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups and 30 sit-ups.

Now you start working your way back down the other side.

The next set you do will be at step nine on the way back down.

Here is a number summary of the pyramid:

Go up the pyramid (or half pyramid workout)

Set/step 1: 1 pull-ups, 2 push-ups, 3 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 2: 2 pull-ups, 4 push-ups, 6 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 3: 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 4: 4 pull-ups, 8 push-ups, 12 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 5: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 6: 6 pull-ups, 12 push-ups, 18 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 7: 7 pull-ups, 14 push-ups, 21 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 8: 8 pull-ups, 16 push-ups, 24 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 9: 9 pull-ups, 18 push-ups, 27 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

Set/step 10: 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 sit-ups (run 400 meters at goal mile pace)

The amount of running above totals 2.5 miles at goal pace. If you need to, you can run 400 meters at goal pace every other day to reduce the miles or run 800 meters every set to increase the total distance, depending on your current abilities.

Another option is to mix in plank pose with the sit-up sets to avoid 300 reps of sit-ups and create more of a balanced workout for the front and back of the core.

Sprint every other set on the return pyramid:

You should be warmed up and ready to push your speed on the 300-meter distances. You only need to do five sets, so only run 300 meters every other set. Keep going down the pyramid until you worked all the way back down to one and totaled 5x300-meter sprints.

Sets 11-19 (pyramid 9-1) will be in reverse order, and you will repeat the reps above. For instance:

Set 11: 9 pull-ups, 18 push-ups, 27 sit-ups or 27 seconds in plank pose, run 300 meters fast

Set 12: 8 pull-ups, 16 push-ups, 24 sit-ups or 24 seconds in plank pose

Set 13: 7 pull-ups, 14 push-ups, 21 sit-ups, run 300 meters fast

Set 14: 6 pull-ups, 12 push-ups, 18 sit-ups, plank pose

Set 15: 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 sit-ups, plank pose, run 300 meters fast

Set 16: 4 pull-ups, 8 push-ups, 12 sit-ups, plank pose

Set 17: 3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 sit-ups, run 300 meters fast

Set 18: 2 pull-ups, 4 push-ups, 6 sit-ups, plank pose

Set 19: 1 pull-up, 2 push-ups, 3 sit-ups, plank pose, run 300 meters fast.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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