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Here's how to test your core strength

The core plays a big role in helping us do our everyday activities, as it connects the four major extremities of the body and transfers energy

Vahdaneh Vahid

Published: Updated:

Being able to perform a 90-second plank or doing 300 crunches does not necessarily mean you have a strong core.

The core muscles start from the top of the shoulders to the bottom of the pelvis, and have many other abilities than just performing these isolated exercises.

The core plays a big role in helping us do our everyday activities, as it connects the four major extremities of the body and transfers energy from upper to lower body.

Since core function is important in movement, having a basic understanding will help you determine how well it is working for you. Here are some tests you can carry out to see for yourself.

Pushup

Push ups
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A pushup is a great way to see how well your core muscles work as a unit, and functionally work to stabilize the spine.

- lie flat on your stomach, palms facing down directly under your shoulders
- tuck your toes under, draw in your belly button and push up until you are in a straight-arm plank position
- lower yourself down without touching the floor, keeping your chin tucked in
- perform 10 repetitions, ideally filming yourself

The entire body should leave the ground at the same time, as if you could draw a straight line from ear to ankle. The most common indicators that your core is not working harmoniously are sagging hips or torso.

Bird dog

bird dogs
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This is a calisthenics, pilates, yoga and total-body exercise that tests your balance, coordination, and how well your core stabilizes when the arms and legs are moving around it.

- get down on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips, keeping an even distance between the two
- simultaneously extend your left arm and right leg, hold them both out for a few seconds, then slowly bring them back in at the same time
- repeat the movement, this time using your right arm and left leg
- do each side between six and eight times, ideally filmed

The arm and leg should leave the floor at exactly the same time. The back should stay even from side to side, and hips should remain parallel with the ground. You should remain equally as steady throughout the movement when comparing one side to the other.

Half getup

turkish getup
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This is a highly-functional movement that requires all the muscles of the body to work together to accomplish the task. It is the mechanically-correct method of coming from a position lying on the floor to sitting while supporting a weight locked out overhead.

You will need a dumbbell or kettle bell no heavier than 5kg.

- lie on your back, bend your right knee and hold the weight in your right hand straight up toward the ceiling
- keep your right foot flat on the floor, and extend the left arm on the floor at a 45-degree angle
- keeping your gaze and the weight always aimed at the ceiling, roll up onto the forearm that is on the floor
- lifting up your ribcage and chest, come up from the forearm to a flat hand
- perform this eight times with the weight in each hand

There should be no curling up using the abs (as with sit-ups or crunches), and the back should remain straight - this way it is much more efficient and should involve more total-body coordination.

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