Physical Abilities Standard
Preparing for the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE)

* Adapted from material developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with their written consent.

The Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE) is a physical abilities assessment which requires individuals to have a fit cardiovascular system, good muscular strength, and endurance. These three things will help recruits be better prepared for the physically demanding use of force training undertaken as part of the Officer Induction Training Program at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) College in Rigaud, Quebec.

It is recommended that individuals train and condition themselves before they attempt to complete the PARE. The training program outlined below is designed to help anyone who wants to prepare for the PARE. It does not guarantee success and results will vary from person to person.

Please note that before starting any fitness program, it is advisable to consult with a medical professional as this document is not a substitute for professional advice.

Types of Fitness

Cardiovascular Fitness
Cardiovascular fitness involves all of the large muscle groups and is the efficiency with which the heart and lungs deliver oxygen to the working muscles and remove waste products from the creation of energy. It entails both aerobic power, the maximum rate of oxygen that the body uses to fuel the work it is doing, and aerobic capacity, the ability to sustain a high level of work over an extended period of time.
Muscular strength
Muscular strength is the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to exert force during specific movements. Muscular strength is important in lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, climbing, running, jumping, changing directions quickly, as well as for control and defence tactics. It helps guard against injuries and forms a base for the development of speed and power. To effectively employ control and defence tactics in full uniform requires a significant level of muscular strength.
Muscular endurance
Muscular endurance is the ability to sustain a series of muscle contractions and/or postures for a long period of time and is often overlooked in strength training programs. This component can be enhanced through resistance training, using moderate loads and high repetitions. Wearing a fully loaded duty belt throughout a shift requires good muscular endurance.
Flexibility
Flexibility is the range of motion in a joint and/or group of joints or the ability to move joints effectively. Exercises to improve your flexibility feature moves that stretch your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. While stretching does not increase your muscle strength, it is an important part of reducing injury risk and soreness that result from activity.
Skill-related fitness
Skill-related fitness includes accuracy, speed, balance, agility, and coordination. These abilities can be developed and improved by way of physical activity, especially through resistance training. Since this type of training places a heavy demand on the neuromuscular system, periodical unloading, sessions of reduced intensity and volume, are required to ensure proper recovery.

The PARE tests all of these types of fitness; therefore, it is important to train and condition for it using a variety of activities from each type of fitness.

Exercise Safety Tips – Preventing Injuries

These tips are provided as information only and do not replace professional advice.

The best advice in preventing injuries is to use common sense. It is important to be aware of the environment one is exercising in, as well as how the body is responding during a workout. The following is a list of precautions/behaviours that will enhance the training experience and provide a safer environment:

Shoes and clothing

Select shoes that fit properly and are designed for the intended activity. Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict movement and is appropriate for the exercise environment.

Clothes that wick moisture away are great for keeping you cool in hot environments. Wear layers when exercising outdoors in the cold and be mindful of frostbite, as well as the potential for hypothermia.

Equipment

Before starting an exercise program, check the equipment to make sure it is safe to use. This includes making sure the fitness equipment is properly installed, adequately maintained, and ready to use. The floor surface should be free of clutter, and there should be adequate space to perform the exercises.

Exercise technique

It is important to know how to safely perform each exercise. Improper execution of an exercise is often one of the major culprits leading to injury.

If ever in doubt, please consult a local health or fitness professional for guidance.

Warm-up and cool-down

Start each session with a 5-10 minute warm-up of light exercise that warms up the muscles. Then, end each session with 5-10 minutes of cool-down accompanied by some stretching.

Spotter

When training with heavy resistance or taking resistance exercises to failure, using a spotter is very important. Make sure that the spotter understands how many repetitions are being attempted and how they can be of assistance during the exercise.

Hydration

During exercise, the body loses water through sweat. Failure to replace this fluid can result in fatigue, decrease work capacity, and increase susceptibility to infections and injury. At a minimum, individuals should replace all fluid lost during a workout. This can be achieved by drinking enough fluid to replace any weight lost during the workout.

Overtraining

When the body does not have adequate time to recuperate from training, it can experience a plateau or drop in performance. This is usually a result of not following the recommended guidelines for proper recovery. Symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Prolonged muscle aches;
  • Unexplained weight loss;
  • Chronic fatigue;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Inability to maintain performance;
  • Decreased resistance to illness;
  • Constipation or diarrhea; and
  • An increase in resting heart rate (8-10 beats per minute or greater) and training heart rate.

If two or more of the symptoms listed above develop, it is recommended that one reduce the intensity, frequency, and/or duration of training sessions until they dissipate.

Injuries

Treat minor injuries such as abrasions, bruises, strains, and cuts right away to minimize damage and speed up the healing process. Use the RICE strategy when dealing with a muscle injury:

Prior to starting this program, individuals should make sure that they:

Program Overview

The 12-week program has four (4) components:

Those who want to meet the 4:45 PARE standard should be following the FITT principle (frequency, intensity, time, type) as outlined below.

Note: Start into the program slowly, build-up intensity and duration over time, and always include a warm-up and cool-down.

Warm-Up

Frequency: At the beginning of any workout
Intensity: Low
Time: 5-10 minutes
Type: Low-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, slow jogging, or stationary cycling.
Options: Individuals could use one or two of the exercises below or combine them into a single warm up session.

Prior to any workout, it is important to warm-up your muscles. A warm-up is designed to prepare the body for the efficient and safe functioning of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and muscles for vigorous exercise. A good warm-up will reduce any joint soreness that may be experienced during the early stages of an exercise program. A warm-up will also reduce the risk of injury.

Examples of warm-up exercises

The diagram shows a number of warm-up exercise and stretching, such as skipping, high knee pulls, kick backs and jump and jacks.

Cardiovascular training

Frequency of this routine: 3-4 times per week including one day of interval training
Intensity: Heart rate recommended in the target heart rate zone for individual's age group
Time: 30-60 minutes
Type: Aerobic activity such as jogging, cycling, swimming, stair climbing, paddling, etc.

Training for the PARE requires the incorporation of both aerobic (low intensity activities completed over a longer period of time) and anaerobic (high intensity activities completed over a shorter period of time or interval training) activities. It is important to train using both types of activities to be successful in the PARE.

To help improve one's potential for success, candidates should include the following aerobic and anaerobic sessions into their training program:

Some examples of cardiovascular activities include speed-walking, cycling, jogging, skipping rope or using a stair climber, stationary bike or elliptical machine.  At least one (1) of the cardiovascular training activities you engage in should involve supporting your own body weight (e.g. running instead of cycling, climbing stairs/hills, instead of swimming).

Example of a 12-Week Cardiovascular Training Program

The following is an example of a 12-week cardiovascular training program that could be used to help train for the PARE or improve one's overall fitness.  It does not guarantee success and results will vary from person to person.

For a program that will meet one's specific needs or goals, please consult a fitness specialist in your community.

Week Monday Intensity/Time Wednesday
Intensity/Time
Friday Intensity/Time Saturday-Sunday
Intensity/Time
1 65 - 75% / 15 min 65 - 75% / 15 min 65 - 75% / 15 min N/A
2 65 - 75% / 16 min 65 - 75% / 16 min 65 - 75% / 16 min N/A
3 65 - 75% / 18 min 65 - 75% / 18 min 65 - 75% / 18 min N/A
4 70 - 80% / 20 min 70 - 80% / 20 min 70 - 80% / 20 min N/A
5 70 - 80% / 20 min 70 - 80% / 20 min 70 - 80% / 20 min 60 - 70% / 25 min
6 70 - 80% / 22 min 70 - 80% / 22 min 70 - 80% / 22 min 60 - 70% / 28 min
7 75 - 85% / 18 min Interval 1 75 - 85% / 18 min 60 - 70% / 30 min
8 75 - 85% / 20 min Interval 2 75 - 85% / 20 min 60 - 70% / 33 min
9 75 - 85% / 22 min Interval 3 75 - 85% / 22 min 60 - 70% / 35 min
10 70 - 80% / 24 min Interval 4 75 - 85% / 24 min 60 - 70% / 40 min
11 70 - 80% / 25 min Interval 5 75 - 85% / 25 min 60 - 70% / 45 min
12 70 - 80% / 25 min Interval 6 75 - 85% / 25 min 60 - 70% / 50 min

Interval Training

As with any training session, begin with a 5-10 minute warm up at a moderate pace (60-70 percent intensity). Once you are properly warmed up, accelerate the activity to an intensity level of 80 90 percent and maintain it for about 30 seconds. Next, continue this activity at a slower pace (60 70 percent intensity) for one (1) minute and 30 seconds to lower you heart rate. Repeat this combination four (4) more times. Once you have completed five repetitions, end your session with 5 - 10 minutes of the same activity at a moderate pace to slowly lower your heart rate to a resting value.

The following is an example of an interval training plan that could be used to help train for the PARE or improve one’s overall fitness. It does not guarantee success and results will vary from person to person.

For a program that will meet one’s specific needs or goals, please consult a fitness specialist in your community.

Interval Sets Repetitions Work to Active Rest
(minute:seconds)
1 1 5 0:30  - 1:30
2 1 5 0:45  - 1:30
3 1 5 0:60 - 2:00
4 1 4 1:30 - 2:00
5 1 4 1:45 - 2:00
6 1 4 2:00 - 2:00
* Intensity at 80-90 percent

Resistance and strength training

Frequency: 2-4 times per week
Intensity: 2-4 sets per session. Repetitions vary with each exercise.
Time: Rest interval between sets should be between 45-90 seconds.
Type: Exercise with free weights or an individual's own body weight.
This program includes a "total body" workout using major muscle groups.

12-Week Program – Option 1

Frequency of this routine: 2 to 4 times per week.

Tempo refers to the speed at which an individual is moving during exercise. For example a 2-1-1 tempo would translate to a two-second movement (as in lowering the load), followed by a 1-second pause, then 1-second movement (as in a lifting of the load.) A number "0", in a 1-0-1 tempo would suggest no pause, while an "X" in a 1-1-X tempo would suggest an explosive movement.

After completing any of these 12-week programs, a fitness consultant could advise which components may need to be changed to continue to get results.

Exercise 1: Dumbbell swing

A person is performing a Dumbbell Swing.

Objective: Power
Description: Keep your head up with your eyes forward, back straight and abs engaged (tight). Hold a dumbbell with both hands between your legs to start. Using your legs and your torso to lift while keeping your arms straight, swing the weight up above your head. Allow the dumbbell to return to the initial position in a controlled manner and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 (increase weight when exceeding 10 repetitions)
Tempo: (1-0-X)

Exercise 2: One-leg split squat with dumbbell

A person is performing a One Leg Split Squat with Dumbbells.

Modification (walking lunge)

A person is initiating a One Leg Split Squat without dumbbells. A person is ending a One Leg Split Squat without dumbbells

Objective: Single leg work
Description: Perform a squat with one foot on the floor and the other on a bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep head neutral, eyes looking forward, back straight and abs engaged (tight). Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 on each side (increase weight when exceeding 10 repetitions).
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 3: Pull-ups/chin-ups

A person is performing Chin-ups Medium Grip.

Modification (with a pulling assistance device, e.g. elastic)

A person is performing Chin-ups with a Pulling Assistance Device.

Objective: Upper body vertical pull
Description: Using a suspended bar, pull-up your body weight until your chin goes slightly above the bar. Keep abdominals engaged (tight) and torso straight.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 5+ (use assistance when required, e.g. elastic, partner assistance, jumping chin-up, a pull-up assistance device like a Gravitron. Additionally, an individual could step up from a bench and lower themselves in a controlled manner.
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 4: Dumbbell bench press

A person is performing a Dumbbell Bench Press.

Objective: Upper body horizontal push
Description: Keep abdominals engaged (tight), and back flat on the bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and keeping your forearms perpendicular to the ground, lower the dumbbell until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 (increase weight when exceeding 10 repetitions).
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 5: Dumbbell row

A person is performing a Dumbbell Row.

Objective: Upper body horizontal pull
Description: Keep back straight with your head in a neutral position aligned with the back. Pull the dumbbell up to chest height, keeping the elbows close to your body.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 on each side (increase weight when exceeding 10 repetitions).
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 6: Dumbbell hammer curl and shoulder overhead press

A person is initiating a Dumbbell Biceps Hammer Curl and Shoulder Over Head Press. A person is ending a Dumbbell Biceps Hammer Curl.

Objective: Upper pull and vertical push
Description: Keep your back straight, abdominals engaged (tight), knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Using a neutral/hammer grip (palms in towards the body), raise the dumbbells into a biceps hammer curl and then move up into an overhead shoulder press. Lower the dumbbells to the starting position and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 (increase weight when exceeding 10 repetitions)
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 7: Ball roll out

A person is initiating a Ball Roll Out. A person is completing a Ball Roll Out.

Objective: Core-bracing
Description: Keep your abdominals engaged (tight), your knees on the floor, and your forearms and hands in contact with the exercise ball throughout the entire movement. From the extended starting position shown above, roll the ball towards your knees until your shoulders and torso make a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for one (1) second. Return to the starting position in one (1) second, and pause for five (5) seconds. Repeat
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 (increase range of motion or transition to your feet when exceeding 10 repetitions).
Tempo: (1-1-5)

Exercise 8: Bird dog

The images depict a person performing a core exercise called Birddog.

Objective: Core
Description: On a mat, get down onto your hands and knees with your back straight, abs engaged (tight), and head aligned with your back. Extend one arm forward while extending your opposite leg backwards until both are parallel with the ground. Keep the foot neutral and the knee facing the floor.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 on each side
Tempo: (1-2-1)

12-Week Program – Option 2

Frequency of this routine: 2 to 4 times a week.

Tempo refers to the speed at which you are moving during the exercise. For example, a 2-1-1 tempo would translate to a two-second movement (as in lowering the load), followed by a 1-second pause, then a 1-second movement (as in a lifting of the load.) A number "0" in a 1-0-1 tempo would suggest no pause, while an "X" in a 1-1-X would suggest an explosive movement during a rapid contraction.

Exercise 1: Jump squat

A person is performing a Jump Squat.

Objective: Power
Description: Keep your back straight, head neutral with eyes forward, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump as high as possible by pushing yourself up with your legs. Repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 (increase weight when exceeding 10 repetitions)
Temp: (1-0-X)

Exercise 2: Push-up

A person is performing a Push-up.

Objective: Vertical push
Description: Keep your back straight, abs tight (engaged) with the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and head aligned. Raise your body up with your arms and then lower yourself down until your elbows are in a 90-degree angle and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 repetitions or more
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 3: Burpees

A person is completing an exercise called Burpees. A person is completing an exercise called Burpees.

Objective: Conditioning/speed
Description: Keep your back straight, abs tight (engaged), hips shoulder-width apart, and head aligned with shoulders/back. Start from a standing position and go to a crouching position. Quickly follow this with a push-up, back to a crouching position and then a vertical jump. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10

Exercise 4: One-foot hip raise

A person is performing a One Foot Hip Raise.

Objective: Hip dominant
Description: Start by lying on your back on the floor, bend one knee to a 90-degree angle with the foot flat on the floor. Raise the other leg up with the foot flexed. Lift your hips off the floor, keeping abdominals engaged and you back straight. Return to the starting position and repeat with other leg.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 repetitions on each side.
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 5: Inverted row

A person is starting an Inverted Row. A person is completing an Inverted Row.

Objective: Upper body vertical pull
Description: Grip a low-hanging bar while keeping your feet on the floor and your body straight so that your body forms an incline angle of 20-45 degrees with the floor. Pull the body up to the chest, keeping your elbows in. Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10
Tempo: (2-1-1)

Exercise 6: Plank

A person is performing a Front Plank.

Objective: Core
Description: Facing the mat, raise yourself up on you forearms so your arms are in a 90-degree angle and your feet are resting on the tips of your shoes. Keep your abs tight (engaged) and your back straight. Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.
Number of sets: 2-3

Exercise 7: Shuffle (between two cones)

A person is starting a length of a Shuffle Between 2 Cones on the left side. A person is ending a length of a Shuffle Between 2 Cones on the right side.

Objective: Conditioning/agility
Description: Shuffle from side-to-side in a straight line between two cones set 15-20 feet apart from each other. At each end, lean down and touch the cone with your hand before standing up and shuffling to the other side. Complete as many lengths as possible in 20-30 seconds.
Number of sets: 2-3

Exercise 8: Walking lunges

A person is starting a Walking Lunge. A person is performing a Waling Lunge. A person is starting another Walking Lunge.

Objective: Single leg work
Description: Start in a standing position and step forward with one leg while simultaneously lifting up onto the ball of the back foot. While keeping your back straight and shoulders back, bend the knees and drop your hips down towards the ground without letting your back knee touch the ground or your front knee go past the tip of your toe. Press up while bringing your back foot forward to standing position and repeat.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 on each side
Tempo: (1-2-1)

Exercise 9: Mountain climber

A person is starting a Mountain Climber with the right knee in front. A person is completing a Mountain Climber with the left knee in front.

Objective: Conditioning/core/speed
Description: Keep your back straight, head in a neutral position with your eyes forward and abs tight (engaged). Assume a push-up position with your arms straight and your body in a straight line from your head to your ankles. Without changing the posture of your lower back, raise your right knee toward your chest. Pause then alternate legs until all of the repetitions have been completed.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 on each side

Exercise 10: Side jumps (using a bench)

A person is completing a Side Jump Holding Bench. A person is completing a Side Jump Holding Bench.

Objective: Conditioning/power
Description: Start with your hands on a bench and your feet together on one side of the bench. Bend your knees and jump over the bench to the other side then back to the side you starting on. Continue until the repetitions are complete without pausing between jumps.
Number of sets: 2-3
Number of repetitions: 10 on each side

Cool Down and Stretching

Frequency: At the end of every workout
Intensity: Low
Time: 5-10 minutes, followed by stretching to help prevent injury. Each stretch should be held for 20-30 seconds.
Type: At the end of a workout, slowly reduce the intensity of the exercise. For example, after running, slow down to a jog or walk for 5-10 minutes. Follow the cool-down with stretching exercises to help prevent injury.

All training and conditioning sessions should conclude with a cool-down. During the last several minutes of the workout, individuals should slowly reduce the intensity of their exercises for their cool down. For example, after running, slow down to a jog or a walk for 5-10 minutes. Follow the cool-down with stretching exercises to help prevent injury.

When stretching remember:

The tension you feel at the beginning of the stretch should ease gradually. If it doesn't, you are overstretching and you could injure yourself. Ease off the stretch a little.

Stretching Examples

The diagram shows a number of stretches for various body parts that include, the back, neck, calves, shoulders and hips.

Know Your Heart Rate

During structured cardiovascular workouts, individuals should monitor their heart rate. To help determine one's heart rate, here are two (2) simple ways to take one's pulse at rest and during exercise:

Radial pulse

The diagram shows where to find the radial pulse.
Using the index and middle fingers, apply gentle pressure at the radial artery on the wrist, it is located just below the base of your thumb.

Carotid pulse

The diagram shows where to find the carotid pulse.

Place the index and middle fingers of the right hand on the Adam's apple. Slide those fingers to the right, approximately one (1) inch, and one should feel a pulse when applying gentle pressure with the tips of their fingers.

Note: Do not apply too much pressure on the carotid artery as this may cause a "reflex" which could slow the heart rate.

To obtain one's heart rate, count the number of beats during a 15-second period and then multiply this number by four for a one-minute count. For example, 35 beats in 15 seconds x four equals 140 beats per minute.

Target Heart Rate Zone

The intensity at which you should train is determined by the percentage of your maximal heart rate, which varies according to one's age and gender. The target heart rate zone is used to determine the intensity at which individuals should be training and they were established by predicting the maximum heart rate for each age group. The most commonly used prediction method for calculating maximum heart rate is 220 minus an individual's age for males; and 226 minus an individual's age for females.

Any activity that raises the heart rate to 60-70 percent of an individual's maximum is considered moderate intensity and offers many health benefits. To have an effect on cardiovascular fitness, activity must raise the heart rate to the 60- 90 percent range.

MEN-Target heart rate zone corresponding to different intensity levels
Estimated%/max HR 60% 65% 70% 75% 80% 85% 90% 100%
Age Heart Rates
20 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 200
25 117 127 137 146 156 166 176 195
30 114 124 133 143 152 162 171 190
35 111 120 130 139 148 157 167 185
40 108 117 126 135 144 153 162 180
45 105 114 123 131 140 149 158 175
50 102 111 119 128 136 145 153 170
55 99 107 116 124 132 140 149 165
WOMEN-Target heart rate zone corresponding to different intensity levels
Estimated%/max HR 60% 65% 70% 75% 80% 85% 90% 100%
Age Heart Rates
20 124 134 144 155 165 175 185 206
25 121 131 141 151 161 171 181 201
30 118 127 137 147 157 167 176 196
35 115 124 134 143 153 162 172 191
40 112 121 130 140 149 158 167 186
45 109 118 127 136 145 154 163 181
50 106 114 123 132 141 150 158 176
55 103 111 120 128 137 145 154 171

Rate of Perceived Exertion

If an individual has difficulty taking their pulse at the wrist or the neck, and they wish to determine whether their intensity level is adequate, they should use the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. This is a well-known scale (the Borg Scale) used in the fitness industry.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) & Relative Intensity
RPE (0-10 scale) % of Maximum
Heart Rate (MHR)
Classification Talk Test
2 Very, very light Regular conversation
3 < 35 Very light Regular conversation
4 35-50 Fairly light Regular conversation
5-6 55-65 Moderate Some pauses in conversation
7-8 70-85 Hard Short phrases
9 ≤ 90 Very hard Short yes/no answers
10 100 Maximal Can't talk
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