3 Tests to Gauge Core Stability

3 Tests to Gauge Core Stability

Your core is a complex series of muscles that extends far beyond the abs and is incorporated into nearly every movement pattern of human kinetics. The core’s primary function is to transmit power from one extremity to another, as well as isometrically and dynamically stabilize the spine. There are several aspects of core stability including strength, endurance, flexibility, motor control and function. All of these components combined work to transmit power during functional movements, protect the spine and surrounding musculature, as well as lower the risk of injury. Here are three tests to gauge your core stability.

FMS Trunk Stability Pushup Test

Many functional activities require the trunk stabilizers to transfer force symmetrically from the upper extremities to the lower extremities and vice versa. Movements such as blocking in football and jumping for rebounds in basketball are common examples of this type of energy transfer. If the trunk does not have adequate stability during these activities, kinetic energy will be dispersed, leading to poor functional performance as well as increased potential for injury. 

How to perform:

Men will have the palms of their hands in line with their chin and women in line with their clavicle (collar bone). In a single motion, perform a pushup while maintaining a completely straight body.

  • Proper start position is assumed and maintained (hands may not slide down lower)
  • The chest and stomach leave the ground at the same time
  • Spinal alignment is maintained with the body moving as a single unit (can use dowel to help determine and measure alignment)


Planks train the muscular endurance and stabilizing function of the core. They maintain the stability of the core muscles, which support proper posture by safeguarding an erect position and proper alignment of the spine.

How to perform:

Maintain a plank position from your forearms with upper arms and elbows directly under the shoulders. The spine should be fully erect and legs completely lengthened in one straight line from head, shoulders, hips, knees and toes.

Hold a plank on your elbows for 90 seconds. Strict posture must be maintained, with a flat back and level hips. A dowel may be placed length-wise along the spine to help evaluate postural alignment. Hands should be in front of shoulders, with forearms parallel to your spine, while elbows are located directly under the shoulders.


The king of strength performance is the dead-lift. The dead-lift is a full body exercise that also significantly trains the erector spinae, spinal anti-flexors, external oblique, rectus abdominals and iliopsoas. The ability to pull a heavy load from the ground with proper hip extension and a neutral spine is a true strength test of the care musculature.

How to perform:

Hold the barbell, keeping your shoelaces under the bar, maintaining a neutral spine and keeping arms straight and knees slightly bent. Slowly extend at your hip joint, squeezing the glutes, and raise the weights without rounding your back. Make sure you keep your spine neutral with a natural low-back arch, with shoulders down. Extend the hips fully until completely erect and standing straight.  Reverse the position.

Once you have properly mastered the deadlift form, perform a 1RM meeting the novice weight listed below in the strength table.

Deadlift Strength Table Deadlift Strength Table

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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