Here is a very common email received from a young man seeking to join a local police academy. He has to pass his PFT in two weeks:
Stew, I have about two weeks until I need to pass my fitness test that will allow me to join the County Police Academy. I need to increase my bench press by 40 lbs and drop my 1.5 mile run time by two minutes. What plan do you have or advice do you have for me?
Wow, I have to be honest, I am not sure there is ANY program out there that will allow for that kind of progress on what I am assuming reaching the minimum standards at best. So you are likely not at all ready to push yourself at these levels yet. Simply put — you need more time. Depending on your current fitness level you might be able to get those goals in two months.
Fitness is a continuous journey not a one stop destination that you decide to reach out of the blue. You can easily double your bench press and drop 4–6 minutes off your 1.5 mile time and still be in the average category so your growth potential is huge. I would give yourself a good six months and start a progressive running program. I would start off at the beginner plan on this page mixing in some running with non-impact cardio activities 4–5 times a week.
Work the CORE: Most likely you will need to add in core training as well — meaning crunches, situps, plan poses to develop a foundation on which to build your arms / legs. Have you ever seen a tree with bigger limbs than trunk? No — so focus on your core near daily. See Lower Back Plan for ideas.
Upper Body Strength: Mixing with pullups, pushups, air squats and other calisthenics is a great way to build a foundation of fitness to easily add weight training to. Pullups are the toughest exercise in the calisthenics family so you may want to start off with machine pulldowns, assisted pullup, and dumbbell rows until you build up to pullups. Pushups will carry over to your bench press increases and will help you build your bench press to your desired goals. Slowly start progressing with the weight on your bench press.
Leg Muscle Endurance: Mix in non-weighted leg exercises to build up your leg muscle endurance. When you run, you will feel it is two places; your lungs and legs. So mix in leg calisthenics as in this article with your running intervals to build a solid goal pace for your 1.5 mile run. For example, if your goal is to get a 12 minute 1.5 mile run then shoot for 2 minute quarter miles, 4 min half miles, etc.
So in review — Give Time some More Time. You need to progress logically to reach your goals in order to avoid injury which could also sideline your military or law enforcement employment goals.