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Local law enforcement officers participate in fitness testing at the Human Performance Laboratory

June 10, 2010

Local law enforcement officers have been taking part in a volunteer fitness testing and training program since the week of March 1 developed by graduate student Kevin Abelbeck to test and train law enforcement officers as tactical athletes. The Human Performance Clinical/Research Laboratory in the Department of Health and Exercise Science is providing the physiologic testing component.

Kevin Abelbeck (right) works with a law enforcement officer during a sit and reach test.

Tactical athletes

One goal of the program, according to Abelbeck, is to create and validate a more “real world” physical test to quickly and effectively evaluate the physical readiness of law enforcement officers.

The second goal is to create a training program that is effective in increasing the strength and power of law enforcement officers, especially SWAT to better equip them to handle stressful and sometimes life threatening conditions.

Specially designed training program

“Police officers have been stereotyped as overweight donut eaters, rather than exceptional, functional athletes who keep our streets safe,” said Abelbeck.

The program focuses on strength, power, endurance, speed, and agility, including pull-ups, pushups, a door breach simulation, and lifting, carrying, and pulling various weights. Speed and agility are tested as officers navigate turns around cones on an indoor course, and complete a number of 30 yard sprints.

“The functional testing is similar to many strongman or strongwoman competitions, as these events are based on lifting, carrying, and moving tasks performed in the real world. The training program is a combination of these activities as well as traditional strength training,” said Abelbeck.

Post-training testing currently underway

In the Human Performance Clinical/Research Laboratory the officers were tested for static strength, anaerobic power, aerobic power, flexibility, and body composition. Anaerobic power was tested by measuring the speed that the officers could run up steps, and aerobic power was measured using a treadmill test.

An officer undergoes a pre-test blood pressure screening at the campus Human Performance Clinical/Research Laboratory.

The officers underwent physiologic and functional pre-tests, a six week training session followed by midpoint functional tests, and then another six week training session. The post-training testing will be conducted during the week of June 7. Functional testing took place at The Edge Sports Center and the training was done at Rhino Gym.

Marked improvement indicated

“Preliminary results show a marked improvement on the functional test results for the officers that were conducted at the midpoint. Though some of these men and women were already powerful athletes, we have seen significant increases in performance in the testing as well as anecdotal evidence from reports from the officers.

Many of the officers take a semi-annual fitness test at the police department. Time and time again these officers have reported improved scores as well, some the best ever in their career, even on their 1.5 mile run. Our training does not include distance running only sprinting and a rigorous strength training program,” said Abelbeck.

Officers from the Fort Collins Police Department, Colorado State University Police Department, Loveland Police Department, and the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department participated in the program.

Contact: Gretchen Gerding
Phone: (970) 491-5182