Specialist police perform high-risk tasks and are required to have, and maintain, a high level of fitness. The aims of this study were to profile the strength of a specialist police unit and to investigate whether this profile remained constant over an 18-month period.
Retrospective data for 47 special operations police officers (mean initial weight = 88.84 ± 8.25 kg) were provided. Officers were tested five times over 18 months for 1 repetition maximum: bench press, squat, deadlift, and pull-up. All officers continued to participate in their typical physical conditioning programs. Repeated-measures ANOVAs with Bonferroni post-hoc adjustments or Friedman tests with Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to compare strength values across all five time points (TPs). Alpha levels were set at 0.05.
All strength values increased significantly over the 18-month period. Over the five TPs, absolute squat increased the most (+ 9%: initial mean = 125.79 ± 24.53 kg), followed by absolute bench press (+ 8%: initial mean = 109.67 ± 19.80 kg), absolute deadlift (+ 7%: initial mean = 151.64 ± 26.31 kg) and absolute pull-up (+ 4%: initial mean = 121.43 ± 14.91 kg). Relatively, the highest increase was found with the squat (+ 8%: initial mean = 1.42 ± 0.25%), followed by the bench press (+ 7%: initial mean = 1.24 ± 0.20%), deadlift (+ 6%: initial mean = 1.71 ± 0.25%) then pull-up (+ 4%: initial mean = 1.37 ± 0.15%). The period between TP3 and TP4 yielded the fewest significant increases compared with other TP differences with only absolute bench press (+ 1.7%), absolute squat (+ 1.1%) and relative bench press (+ 1.6%) changing significantly (p < 0.05).
Specialist police can maintain, even increase strength, while serving in specialist units if provided with a Strength and Conditioning coach and time to train. Given changes over time, constant monitoring is required and a single timepoint may not be optimal to establish normative data.