Physical Fitness Preparation Guide for New Hires Entering the Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy

The Criminal Justice Field is both challenging and fulfilling, and will require an individual to exercise. To be a well-rounded officer this field requires a person to be mentally and physically fit. As a Police Officer or Corrections Officer you will be serving your community. As an officer you may have times when you are called upon to run down a suspect for apprehension or to control a violent inmate.

The Law Enforcement field can be very rewarding, and being physically fit will not only help you if you need to defend yourself or someone else, but will benefit you long after you leave this profession. Being physically fit should be a lifestyle that you adopt for yourself and your family.

REMEMBER to always consult with your doctor before engaging in any physical activity.


This guide is intended to be a resource for those preparing to attend the Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy. This guide can help you improve your physical fitness for a challenging, yet rewarding academy experience.

What Is Physical Fitness?

Physical fitness as defined by The Cooper’s Institute is the body’s ability to perform specific tasks or activities for a duration without undue physical stress or fatigue. Physical fitness takes various forms, including cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility and agility.

Major Areas of Physical Fitness

  • Cardio Endurance: The ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes, over sustained periods. It consists of both aerobic and anaerobic activity.
  • Flexibility: The ability to use and move joints through their full range of motion.
  • Muscular Strength and Endurance: Muscular strength is measured by exerting force for a brief period of time (weight lifting). Muscular endurance is the ability to use a group of muscles during sustained repeated contractions or applying force against a fixed object (push-ups).
  • NOTE: Body composition is also a part of physical fitness. Excessive body fat decreases the body’s ability to dissipate heat.


In order for your body to perform properly you need to be well hydrated. Your body can lose 1 to 2 quarts of fluid through perspiration. If you don’t replenish fluids in your body your muscles can begin to cramp and lose their ability to regulate temperature. This can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Water is best for hydrating your body. Water makes up sixty percent of our bodies. It helps regulate body temperature. Sweating causes our body to lose water and requires us to drink 8-10 glasses a day to replenish. To calculate the proper water intake, divide your body weight by two, the number you get equates to the number of ounces of water you need each day.


Proper nutrition is a very important. Good nutrition begins with providing your body with the essential nutrients needed for exercise. Learning to eat a balanced diet is very important in achieving this goal. You should start by eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables and whole grain products.

Eat lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and low-fat dairy. Always drink plenty of water. Things to eat light are as follows: Salt intake, sugar, alcohol, and saturated fats and Trans-fatty foods.

Visit for more information on nutrition.

Requirements During the Pre-Employment Process

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office will require you to perform the following exercises during the pre-employment physical agility test:

300 yard shuttle run in a maximum time of 85 seconds

1 mile walk/run in a maximum time of 13 minutes

150 pound unconscious victim drag for a distance of 75 feet

10 full range push-ups in 1 minute

20 full range sit-ups in 1 minute

What to Expect when Beginning the Academy

Starting on day one and throughout the academy you will participate in a number of physical fitness events and tests. This is important because the law enforcement profession requires you to perform a number of physical job tasks, such as:

Sustained foot pursuits

Dodging around objects

Lifting and carrying

Pushing, pulling and dragging


Use of force

Post Academy Physical Fitness Requirements

The Coopers Institute for Aerobics Research has determined the areas and levels of physical fitness which are necessary to perform the essential functions of a Police/Correctional Officer.

Once you graduate from the academy you will be required to perform an annual physical fitness assessment for the Charles County Sheriff’s Office. This test also follows the Coopers Institute fitness assessment guidelines and consists of the following exercises:

1- minute push-up test, this measures upper body endurance

1-minute sit-up test, this measures abdominal endurance

1.5 mile run which measures the cardiovascular endurance

Vertical jump which measures lower body strength used for jumping

Preparation for Required Physical Fitness

Purpose: This exercise is to determine your sustainable power over a predetermined distance.

Procedure: Warm up and stretch thoroughly before running. Given a measured course distance of 50 yards, you will run 50 yards up and back for a total of 3 times for a total distance of 300 yards. You will have 85 seconds to complete this run. Cool down by walking for a few minutes.

How to prepare: To improve your 50 yard sprint you need to run Sprints that are longer than the 50 yards, and perform speed workouts. For example: five times 20 yards, four times 40 yards, and three times 50 yards rest and repeat at least three to four times depending on your fitness level. Start slow and advance your workout as you become stronger.

Purpose: The 1 mile walk/run measures your aerobic power (cardiovascular endurance).

Procedure: Warm up and stretch thoroughly before running. Given a measured course, you will run/walk a total distance of 1 mile within the allotted time of 13 minutes. Cool down by walking for a few minutes.

How to prepare: To prepare for this test, you should gradually increase your running endurance. Begin at a level that you can accomplish, and use a workout format that involves walking and running. Run a short distance and then walk and repeat. By beginning slowly you will improve your overall running and walking time.

Purpose: To show your ability to pull a victim/downed officer to safety. This requires lower and upper body strength.

Procedure: Warm up and stretch thoroughly before dragging the dummy. After being told when to start you must grasp the dummy within 30 seconds. After you have a good grip on the dummy you must drag the 150 pound dummy 75 feet.

How to prepare: The dummy has a weight of 150 pounds and will require both upper and lower body strength to include your core. Find a workout that fits your fitness level and be consistent with your workouts to improve your strength.

Purpose: The push up measures the muscular endurance of the upper body (anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, and triceps).

Procedure: Place your hands shoulder width apart, with your fingers pointing forward. You will start in the up position with your arms fully extended, at this point an instructor will tell you when to start. Only your hands and feet will be touching the ground/floor. You must keep your back straight always and lower your chest to approximately four inches from the ground/floor (this will be measured using a yoga block or sponge under your chest). You must then return to the up position. This counts as one repetition. If you must rest it can only be done in the up position. If you stop before the one-minute time only the number of correct push- ups will be recorded. You are finished when you have completed 10 full range push-ups or the one-minute timer has stopped.

How to prepare: First thing that you need to do is perform the one-minute push-up test and log the results. Multiply that number by .50. This will be the number of push-ups you need to do per set. Begin the push-up workout by warming up; perform the number of push-up that was calculated above using good form. This will be one set. Complete two to three sets every other day and as you become stronger increase the number of reps per set.

Purpose: The purpose of the sit-up’s test is to assess your abdominal endurance.

Procedure: Start by lying on your back, with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your arms across your chest with your hands on your shoulders. You will need a partner to hold your feet, at this point an instructor will tell you when to start. When your elbows touch your knees this is one repetition. If you need to rest you must do so in the up position. You are finished when you have completed 20 full range sit-ups or the one-minute time has stopped.

How to prepare: First thing that you need to do is perform the one-minute sit-up test and log the results. Multiply that number by .50. This will be the number of sit-ups you need to do per set. Begin the sit-up workout by warming up; perform the number of sit-up that was calculated above using good form. This will be one set. Complete two to three sets every other day and as you become stronger increase the number of reps per set.

Purpose: The purpose of the vertical jump is to measure lower body explosive power.

Procedure: First you will stand under the vertical jump stand and reach up as high as possible and touch the bottom of the vertical jump paddles. When you jump you must keep one foot planted before jumping. Jump from both feet in the stationary stance. You can pump your arms and thrust arms upward when you jump making sure to touch the outside of the paddle to mark you jump. You will have three attempts to jump as high as you can. After the three jumps they will be averaged together and that will be your jump score.

How to prepare: To increase your vertical jump you may want to do plyometric training (jump training). You will need to do a couple of exercises, such as a single leg jump, double leg jump and a double leg hop. Perform each exercise 1 to 10 repetitions, 2 to 3 times a week. You will need a plyometric box (preferably one that can offer several different heights) to perform these exercises, although it is not necessary.


The career you have chosen is very physically and mentally challenging. Studies have shown that a person that is physically fit will not only have a longer Law Enforcement career but a longer life after the Law Enforcement career has ended. If you make very simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a well-rounded diet, drinking more water and adding some type of exercise to your daily routine, you will increase your chances of a longer, healthier Law Enforcement career and improve your overall quality of life.


Charles County Sheriff’s Office Recruit/Training Program

Cooper Institute

I chose to make a difference by joining the Charles County Sheriff’s Office because “I wanted to work in the same community I grew up in. I love this county and I take pride in building positive community relationships. ”

PFC J. Brown, School Resource Officer