"Passing the FBI fitness test is essential—not only for completing the rest of the Basic Field Training Course but to ensure new agents can effectively carry out their duties."
Liz, a mid-west native, worked her way through years of higher education and a career practicing civil law before applying to the FBI. Now she’s finally at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia under a hot August sun ready to endure the challenges ahead her.
“It felt surreal to finally be here after all this hard work,” Liz says. “The best part about the first day was meeting my classmates for the first time and feeling so welcomed. It helped calm my nerves.”
It wasn’t long though after arriving at the Academy that Liz and her fellow trainees received their first of many challenges: the FBI fitness test, commonly known as the physical fitness test or just PFT. It’s a demanding circuit that includes sit-ups, a 300-meter sprint, push-ups, and a one-and-a-half-mile run. Passing the test is essential—not only to completing the rest of the Basic Field Training Course but to ensure new agents can effectively carry out their duties.
“Right before the FBI fitness test, everyone was trying to provide words of encouragement and support each other, much like going into a big game,” says Liz, who, like all of her fellow trainees, was required to maintain a level of fitness before coming to the Academy. “Our class rallied and did that for each other. You go out, give it 100 percent, and put it all out on the line. I think we were successful at that.”
It’s a theme that gets repeated often throughout the 20 exciting and nerve-wracking weeks trainees spend at the FBI Academy learning what it takes to become a special agent.
For most trainees, just getting to the Academy represents the result of a long and hard-fought journey. They had to compete against tens of thousands of applicants in a grueling selection processes. Navigating the many elements of the application process—ranging from several rounds of interviews to a thorough background check—was a test in and of itself. Ultimately, persistence and perseverance pays off.
The prospective agents who make it to the academy come from a variety of career experiences—some not as traditional as you might expect. The majority of students have military, law enforcement, or criminal justice backgrounds, but there are also former teachers, scientists, IT professionals, entrepreneurs, and more.
In today’s global and digitally driven environment, the FBI seeks diversity across many levels, so it chooses agent candidates carefully based on the range of their skill sets and the unique perspectives they bring to the table.
Trainees have to be in great shape and be able to withstand the physical rigors of the job to be a special agent. As a result, agent trainees get a variety of fitness training and must pass the standardized FBI fitness test or physical fitness test (PFT). To pass the test, trainees must achieve a minimum cumulative score of 12 points with at least one point in each of four areas: sit-ups in one minute, timed 300-meter sprint, push-ups (untimed), and timed 1.5-mile run. Here are the event descriptions, scoring scales, and protocols for the PFT.
The candidate lies on back with tops of shoulder blades touching the floor; arms crossed over chest with fingers in contact with the top of the shoulder (trapezius muscle or seam on some T-shirts). Knees are bent at a 90-degree angle with the feet placed flat on the floor (feet are held in place by a partner with the partner’s hands at the tongue of the trainee’s shoes and knees on the trainee’s toes). Candidate raises upper body until the elbows touch mid-thigh, then returns to the starting position (the tops of the shoulder blades must touch the floor) to complete the repetition. Hips must remain in contact with the ground throughout the repetition. This is a timed one-minute continuous motion exercise; if a candidate pauses before the minute is up, he or she forfeits the rest of the minute.
300-Meter Sprint for time
The 300-meter sprint event usually takes place on a quarter-mile oval track (although this may change based on individual circumstances). The candidate will start from a standing position and run 300 meters (3/4 of one lap).
The candidate begins in the front leaning rest position (hands on the floor one to two hand-widths beyond the shoulders and elbows must be away from the body, with arms fully extended, body held straight with the feet no more than three inches apart and the toes touching the floor). As the arms are flexed, the body is lowered toward the floor until the upper arms are parallel to the floor (straight line from center axis of elbow to center axis of shoulder). The candidate completes the exercise after returning to the starting position. This is a continuous-motion exercise.
1.5-Mile Run for time
The 1.5-mile run event usually takes place on a quarter-mile oval track (although this may change based on individual circumstances). The candidate will start from a standing position and run six laps around the track.
Pull-ups, untimed (Only candidates in the Tactical Recruitment Program (TRP) complete this event.)
The candidate hangs from a horizontal bar, hands at least shoulder width apart (but no more than 23 inches apart as measured from the outsides of the hands) with palms turned away from the face and arms fully extended. The candidate flexes his or her arms and pulls the body upward until the chin is higher than the bar. There can be no swinging or jerking of the body or use of the legs in an effort to propel the body upward. The candidate then lowers the body back to the hanging position with arms fully extended. This is a continuous-motion exercise.
The above information is from the FBI website. For more information about becoming an FBI Agent, visit FBjobs.gov. To prepare yourself for the FBI fitness test, keep reading...
Stew Smith, a U.S. Navy Seal and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, tells agent candidates that it’s their job to use or create a plan that will prepare them well within the minimum physical standards.
“Minimum standards never helped anyone excel in training. I like to compare minimum standards to getting a “D” on academic work.” says Smith. “While you’ll pass, you’ll require much more work to get to the next level. Statistics show the better your score on the entrance fitness test, the more likely you’ll be to complete the course of instruction successfully.”
Stew recently updated his popular FBI Fitness Test Workout designed to help agent candidates ace the FBI fitness test. It’s a seven-week, 44 workout program with new exercises and routines aligned with the Academy’s physical fitness test. Plus, he’s offering it for the first time as a TriadXP mobile exercise routine so agent candidates can get voice and video cues for every workout from their mobile device while the TriadXP app logs the time, reps, distance and resistance for each exercise.
The updated workouts combined with the TriadXP app deliver an incredible, nearly hands-free training experience to help agent candidates workout better and report to the Academy in shape and ready to ace the FBI fitness test.