Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Kinesiology and Health Promotion

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Abel

Second Advisor

Dr. Benjamin F. Johnson


Law enforcement requires cadets to achieve a requisite level of physical fitness to prepare for occupational demands. However, there is limited research on the effectiveness of academy exercise programs to optimize physical fitness and occupational physical ability through high performance training strategies more typically utilized in elite athletic populations. Furthermore, there is a paucity of research identifying physical fitness correlates of occupational performance. Collectively, this information will provide academies and practitioners with critical information to develop evidence-based training programs. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to: Aim 1) Examine the effectiveness of integrating autoregulatory progressive resistance exercise (APRE) and high intensity interval training (HIIT) to improve upper body strength, aerobic and anaerobic capacity, and occupational physical ability compared to the academy’s standard training program; Aim 2) Examine the relationship between physical fitness attributes and occupational physical ability test (OPAT) outcomes; Aim 3) Examine the utility of implementing session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) to monitor cadets’ internal training loads and their relationship with injury risk. Two law enforcement academy classes were non-randomly stratified into a standard strength and conditioning program group (control; n=32) and an experimental group (n=31) that utilized APRE and HIIT training methodologies. Both groups self-reported sRPE for each resistance training, endurance training, and defensive tactics session. The training programs were 17-weeks in duration and included the following fitness and occupational assessments upon entrance, midpoint and exit of the academy: one repetition maximum (1-RM) bench press, sit-up and push-up repetitions, 300m shuttle and 1.5 mile run time, and OPAT time. Paired samples t-tests, mixed factor repeated measures ANOVA, hierarchal linear model growth models, correlation, multiple linear regression and a regression tree analyses were used in the statistical analyses. Statistical significance was set at p< 0.05. Aim 1: Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in all fitness outcomes except the OPAT from entrance to exit tests (p< .05). Despite the improved fitness outcomes, the OPAT time decreased in both groups from entrance to midpoint, but significantly increased at exit (p< .05), potentially indicating cadets completed the exit OPAT with submaximal effort. Furthermore, the experimental group experienced greater improvements in push-up performance compared to the control group (p< 0.001). Although the improvements were similar between groups for the remaining fitness assessments, the experimental group reported lower sRPE values (p< 0.01), suggesting similar improvements in fitness outcomes at a lower internal load. Aim 2: 81% of the variance in OPAT time was explained by body mass, 300 m run time, 1-RM bench press and push-up repetitions, suggesting that the academy is using appropriate fitness tests to develop occupational readiness in cadets. Aim 3: sRPE-derived parameters were able to distinguish trends in internal training loads from various exercise modalities that reflect appropriateness of training stimuli and risk of injury. Collectively, this study demonstrated that high performance training methodologies are feasible to implement in a law enforcement academy training program and provide practical alternatives to enhance occupational readiness.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)