In February of 2022, I passed the FPAT at the OFAI testing center. For weeks leading up to the test, I’d been training in my home gym and running the roads of Brantford, Ontario. There are a handful of useful videos on YouTube regarding the test itself. For this article, I’m going to focus more on the pre-test training than the execution of each exercise on the test itself.
I wanted to train the same types of movements and decided that strength was the important marker. Each station within the test only needed to be performed once, but under timed conditions. Rightly or wrongly, I figured this was the indicator that strength and power should be the focus.
Hit the movements.
The tested exercises span the whole body for movement patterns; farmers carry with static hold, hose drag, sled pull, sledgehammer strikes, victim drag and ladder climb. I decided to focus on the ‘big three’ lifts with progressive overload to build strength reliably over time to challenge the FPAT. I introduced a super set for each exercise to both spend my time well in the gym and hit targeted areas that I enjoy working out. To get my suspected 1RM under safe, solo conditions, I used used the Tactical Barbell method.
Since I was starting from a place where I was already working out regularly and had developed a base of weightlifting, I began this program from 75% of my 1RM. I would record each workout and mark lifts with ‘A’ for ‘Again’ or an up arrow to indicate I was ready to increase the weight. Instead of moving weight up and bargaining the movement to hit a new number, I waited until I could move the weight strictly before adding another 2.5lbs. That way, I’m hitting each increase comfortably. I have, in the past, built bad habits of compromising the movement to hit numbers in my journal. That’s a fast track to injury, despite the rush of putting up more numbers.
The FPAT also required ‘active rest’ between exercises. I should have trained for that by limiting the down time between sets and keeping the work inside tighter intervals. I’d say the most challenging part of the test was the ladder climb. Not for the task itself but because it was a more endurance-focused exercise. I’m an avid runner, so my conditioning was on point going into the test. However, I’d allow more room for muscular endurance for somebody preparing for the FPAT in the future.
Here’s the program I ran for 9 weeks leading up to the test. Where I’ve seen others try to mimic the specific movements, I just trained hard for movement patterns and approached the test itself with focused determination. I figured that if I prepared well, my body would be ready for the specific tasks in the FPAT with a solid base of strength and endurance.
Back Squat @ 75% 1RM (with progressing weight over time), 5×5
Superset: Tricep Press, Bench Dip or Tri Pull Down, 5×10
Deadlift @ 75% 1RM (with progressing weight over time), 5×5
Superset: EZ Bar Curl or Hammer Curl, 5×8
Bench Press @ 75% 1RM (with progressing weight over time), 5×5
Superset: One Arm Kettlebell Row, 5×10
Run (at least 8km)
Bodyweight Squats, 5×12
To split up my days, I ran this program pretty strictly.
Monday: Rest (Active rest, so, get your stretches in!)
Tuesday: Workout A (or Jiu Jitsu, if I can make the class)
Wednesday: Workout B
Thursday: Workout A (or Jiu Jitsu if I can make the class)
Saturday: Workout A
Sunday: Workout B
Work Beats Worry
I’ve spoken with a few people who have the FPAT test coming up. For the most part, everybody knows they have to get their reps in to meet the mark. Hidden in the work, for most, is a worry.
Failure is a possibility where the FPAT is concerned. As a matter of fact, the candidate who began their test as I finished failed on the hose drag. I would come to find out that it was their second attempt, too. Most importantly, remember that hard work produces chemical changes in our brain. Not only will that help to dispel the performance anxiety that comes with any test, it will help push forward the mindset needed to succeed.
As we always say around the SIXFEET Jiu Jitsu mats, nobody’s coming – it’s up to you.