How Strong is Your Core?

December 26, 2012 | Bryan McCall

Must See Strength Training Videos

Many fitness-minded individuals, members of the general public and even athletes lack true core strength. They may be able to rip out crunches, but they will colossally fail any true test of core strength. (Read about the death of the crunch.)

Training the core is about more than looking good. It's the foundation of athletic performance, because it transfers force between the lower and upper body and stabilizes movements. If your core is weak, then virtually all sports skills will suffer in one way or another. For non-athletes, core strength is critical for preventing injury during everyday movements, such as lifting objects overhead or even getting out of a car.

Before beginning a true core training program, it's a good idea to test your core strength and stability to see where you stand. You can then address your weaknesses and track progress until you finally achieve a truly strong core. (Read about training your entire core.)

Plank Test

The plank is a true measure of core stability and muscular endurance. It's relatively easy to perform, but it forces your entire core to fire to maintain the position.

  • Hold plank position for as long as possible
  • Stop timer when hips sag or raise

Test criteria

  • 0-30 seconds: needs improvement
  • 30-60 seconds: satisfactory
  • 60-90 seconds: good
  • 90-120 seconds: excellent

Leg Lowering Test

This test measures your ability to stabilize your spine. Lowering your legs naturally forces your lower back to arch upward. The stronger your core, the lower you will be able to keep it in a natural position

  • Lie on back with arms to sides and legs straight in air, perpendicular to ground
  • Have partner or coach place a hand under your low back
  • Slowly lower legs, keeping low back pinned against partner's hand
  • Stop test when lower back rises off hand

Test criteria

Degree of legs at end of  test

  • 90 degrees: extremely poor
  • 75 degrees: poor
  • 60 degrees: below average
  • 45 degrees: average
  • 30 degrees: above average
  • 15 degrees: good
  • 0 degrees: excellent

FMS Stability Test

For strength coaches reading this article, I recommend using the Functional Movement Screen Stability Test, developed by Gray Cook. This screening protocol identifies core stability, coordination, strength, mobility and endurance issues that can impair performance and put your client at risk during exercise.

Topics: CORE
Bryan McCall
- Bryan McCall, CSCS, is the performance director for the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center at SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio). He has worked in the performance...
Bryan McCall
- Bryan McCall, CSCS, is the performance director for the Michael Johnson Performance Training Center at SPIRE Institute (Geneva, Ohio). He has worked in the performance...
Must See
Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits Jadeveon Clowney on Making Big Hits
Views: 6,488,387
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,462
Brandon Jennings: Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 5,547,448

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,015,900
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,235
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 69,996
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,659
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,294
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,462
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,938
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,992

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

The Most American Workout Ever

The Most American Workout Ever

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

YardBarker