The Daily Valet. - 3/16/24, Saturday

Weekend of March 16th
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
Writer Evan Malachosky shares his journey utilizing the FBI’s fitness training test to get in shape.

Weekend Reading

Train Like an FBI Agent


It’s a balanced fitness program that anyone can do at home


When most teens were picking out colleges and their potential future professions, my dad—a State Trooper at the time—was pitching me on joining the FBI. I had the brains for it, he said. And fresh off losing my baby fat, I could, with the right training, have the body for it, too. He conceded when I decided on a more lucrative career choice. I wanted to be an orthodontist, even for someone who had an aversion to sticking their fingers in someone else's mouth.

Spoiler alert: My "dream" of becoming an orthodontist died my freshman year. So, when I announced my switch to majoring in English Writing, my dad's fantasy of having a federal agent for a son came back. "They hire English majors," I distinctly remember him joking. (Or not joking? Who's to tell.) As one reading this piece might guess, I didn't end up enrolling in the academy either. I didn't even apply. Instead, I stuck with writing and, well, here I am: Writing about the FBI.

You see, the process of becoming a federal agent is as daunting as the duties that come once you get the badge. First, there's a long list of non-negotiables. You must be a U.S. citizen; your public record must be in good standing with no felony convictions; you must adhere to the FBI's drug policy (you're disqualified if you used any illegal drug in the past 10 years); your student loans need to be in repayment; you need to have filed all required annual federal, state and local taxes for your entire employment history; not currently be ordered to pay child support payments; and, last but not least, have no prior history with organizations designed to overthrow the U.S. government.


Then, there's the seven-step hiring process, which includes everything from background checks to polygraph tests and the Physical Fitness Test—an exhaustive, fast-paced relay of sorts designed to weed out the physically unfit to serve.

Luckily, though, the PFT is the only portion of the process you can really study or prepare for. And civilians can follow the FBI's training program, too. It's available both on an app—if you're willing to literally hand over your personal data to the FBI—and in simple PDF form. The scored test is graded as pass or fail, but you earn points through each part, of which there are four: sit-ups, a 300-meter sprint, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run, in this order, all with no more than five minutes of rest between each one.

Passing the test is a balancing act and it's a good way to develop a healthy workout rhythm. Max out during the sprint and push-ups and you're probably toast when it comes time for the long-distance run. Conserve energy for the run and you risk falling short of the goal on the sprint. You need to score a minimum of 12 total points with at least one point in three events and no less than a zero in any event. This means you could get a zero on the mile, a 10 on sit-ups and a one in both push-ups and the sprint and still pass.

Looking through the scoring system proves deceptive, though. I, for one, feel foolishly confident in my ability to run 1.5 miles in under 15 minutes, which would score me a zero. But given the mile comes after 30 pushups (to get a one), running 300 meters in 51.5 seconds (to get a one), and doing 59 sit-ups (to get a 10), I'm not so sure. And that's all without more than a few minutes to catch my breath and let my muscles recuperate. Sheesh. I'd argue that unless you're in damn good shape—eating right, doing regular, strenuous cardio, and lifting (or at least doing these bodyweight exercises) on the regular, you're probably not passing. Especially if pick-up sports are all you're doing to stay fit.

I go to the gym daily, at least during the week, but I realize I'm still a long way from passing. But, as I've learned, whether you plan to eventually take this test or not, you can (and should) still use it as an effective training guide for functional fitness. These are all exercises you can get better at the more you do them, and you can do them all from your home with little to no equipment. Try it for a few weeks and notice how quickly you see positive changes in your body, energy and recovery levels.

The FBI’s Training Plan

P.F.T. Event: Sit-Ups

To pass this part, you must strengthen your core and up your stamina.

⋆ Planks: Start with three to four sets of 10 to 15 seconds each, with equal amounts of rest between sets.

⋆ Side Plank: Start with three to four sets of 10 to 15 seconds each, with equal amounts of rest between sets.

⋆ Bird Dog: Start with three sets of five to 10 repetitions on both sides with controlled and deliberate movement speeds and a pause at the top position.

⋆ Hip Lifts: Start with three to four sets of 10 to 15 seconds each, with even amounts of rest between sets.

P.F.T. Event: 300-Meter Sprint

To pass this part, you must get stronger while improving your cardiac range.

⋆ Stretching and Mobility: 10 squats, 10 forward lunges, five split squats, and five opposite leg split squats in a fast, controlled manner.

⋆ Rowing/Biking: A two minute warm-up, followed by three 20-second sets at maximum effort.

⋆ Strides: 100 meter run and walk 100 meters, six to eight repetitions.

⋆ 30/20/10: 30 seconds of easy walking, 20 seconds of moderate-effort running and then 10 seconds of running at an increased effort, every minute for five consecutive minutes (one set). Recover for two to four minutes, then repeat. Perform two to three sets.

⋆ 50/40: You will perform a 200-meter run (first repetition) followed by a 200-meter fast-walk recovery period. Immediately after the recovery walk, you will perform another 200-meter run (second repetition) in 10 seconds less time than the first 200-meter run, again followed by a 200-meter fast-walk recovery period. This completes one set. Perform two to four sets.

P.F.T. Event: Pushups

To pass this part, you must develop your core, back, chest, and tricep strength.

⋆ Dumbbell Press: 10 to 12 repetitions. Perform two to three sets.

⋆ Tricep Pushdowns: 10 to 12 repetitions. Perform two to three sets.

⋆ Plate Raises: In a standing position, hold a weight plate (or dumbbell) at thigh level. With straight arms, brace your core and raise the weight plate from thigh level to eye level; return to the thigh. Perform eight to 10 controlled repetitions for two sets.

⋆ Push-Ups: Perform maximum repetitions for two to three sets, interspersed with adequate recovery (two to four minutes between sets).

P.F.T. Event: 1.5-mile Run

To pass this part, you must improve your lower-body strength and up your longevity.

⋆ Partner 400s: With a partner, you will run 400 meters while your partner rests. Upon completion, your partner will run 400 meters while you rest. This completes one set. Six sets complete the drill.

A Durable
Workout Mat

When you're doing multiple rounds of push-ups and sit-ups, you need a comfortable and supportive base. Nike's textured training mat is made from a high-density foam for optimal traction and cushioning.

Get It:
Training Mat 2.0, $75 / $44.97 by Nike

Proper Form

The FBI has a video technique guide to ensure you master proper form when doing each exercise.