3 Ways to Test How Strong Your Core Is

Written by Amy Roberts FMS

As a trainer, I often hear people lament that they have a “weak” core, but I’m not always sure what they mean—and I’m not sure they do, either. Is it that they can’t hold a plank all that long? Or they find doing crunches and situps to be really hard or unpleasant? Sure, being able to perform a 90-second plank or 300 situps in a go is impressive enough it its own right, but those feats only tell part of the core’s story.

Fact is, the core—the muscles that make up everything from the tops of the shoulders to the bottom of the pelvis—is so much more than its ability to perform such isolated exercises. The core "helps us do what we do, connecting the four major extremities of the body, transferring energy from upper body to lower body and back and forth,” says Gray Cook, a physical therapist and strength coach and founder of Functional Movement Systems (FMS), an approach to physical fitness that looks at body limitations and asymmetries through movement patterns that the body is designed to do. Because the core is so integral to movement, it therefore makes sense to look at how it reacts to the postures and patterns that it’s involved in every day. “You may have a great core reaction in your running but very poor core reaction in climbing, crawling, pushing up, or planking patterns,” says Cook.

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