'These are all simple exercises' - Garda fitness test the 'bare minimum' they should face

One in six Garda recruits failed the fitness test last year.
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

15.27 18 Jan 2023

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'These are all simple exercise...

'These are all simple exercises' - Garda fitness test the 'bare minimum' they should face

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

15.27 18 Jan 2023

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The fitness test for people trying to join the Gardaí is the “bare minimum” they should face, according to a fitness expert.

DCU Professor Niall Moyna was speaking after Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan claimed the test was too demanding – and said it was blocking the Garda recruitment drive.

Figures released to Deputy O’Callaghan show that one-in-six Garda applicants failed the fitness test last year – 55 candidates out of 315.


"Bare minimum"

Professor Moyna told Newstalk any move to lower the fitness standards would be a "race to the bottom".

“The levels we are asking our recruits to attain are certainly very, very reasonable for someone in their 20s, 30s and even someone in their 40s,” he said.

“So, myself, I hope to contact Mr O’Callaghan, and really, I would urge him to take a good look at this, because we want adaptable members of An Garda Síochána who have the fitness level to respond to any incident, at any time.

“That is going to require a minimum level of fitness and certainly, the current standard is the bare minimum.”

Irish unity Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan is seen at Leinster House in 2017 | Image: Leah Farrell/

The Garda Physical Competency Test (PCT) includes a bleeper test, push-ups, an obstacle course and push/ pull strength exercises.

The obstacle course must be completed three times in under three minutes and 20 seconds and if a recruit fails any portion of the test, they must repeat the whole thing.

"Simple exercises"

Prof Moyna said the exercises are all relatively simple.

“The test that most of them fail; obviously for females, it’s the strength and for males, it’s the cardiovascular fitness test – the bleep test,” he said.

“They have the obstacle course and push-ups and other exercises as well but these are all simple exercises.

“In fact, there has been one study published on Gardaí in Templemore and oddly enough, when they were entering the college to start with, it showed they had excess body fat and did poorly in their fitness test.”

Level 5 restri Gardaí on patrol in Dublin. Sam Boal/

Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) said the standards for new recruits joining the force should not be lowered.

GRA President Brendan O'Connor said broader improvements are needed in the recruitment process – and warned that fitness standards are not the issue.

“We don’t believe the solution to the problem with recruitment is to reduce standards,” he said.

“We believe there is a standard that should be achieved and it should be maintained.”

Gardaí patrolling in Dublin city centre during level 5 COVID-19 lockdown. Image: Cezary Kowalski / SOPA

He said anyone that wants to be a Garda should train to become fit and strong enough to pass the test.

“I think anyone who is committed and driven and wants to be a member of the force I think can possibly increase their fitness to achieve that level,” he said,

“The level was set by An Garda Síochána with external expert help and it is important that we maintain that standard.

“That is a bespoke test that is specific to An Garda Síochána, so while comparisons with international may be informative, we have to look at the unique circumstances and environment in which we work.”

Deputy O’Callaghan is joining The Hard Shoulder this evening to discuss the situation.

Reporting from Caoimhseach Connolly.

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