/ August 12, 2016

3 Ways to Test Your Functional Core Strength

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There is a lot of hype out there about core strength. But core strength is not simply how long you can hold a plank or how many sit-ups you can do in a minute. Those activities do not translate into real life functional strength. We were made for living life, not exercise.

The Tummy Team focuses on functional core strength; not how your body looks but how it feels and how it functions. To have functional core strength means you can elongate and hold your body up against gravity while doing everyday activities like reaching overhead to get camping equipment off a garage shelf, carrying a sick toddler all day, cleaning the house or working in your garden. Functional core strength may look different for every person depending on the physical demands of his or her life, but ultimately it is your core strength that keeps you balanced, pain-free and able to do what you love.

We have 3 easy ways to assess your own functional core strength. Your muscles function on a “use it or lose it” strategy, so if you have not asked your body to use your core in these ways, you may notice weakness. You may find yourself stronger in one of these areas than the others, but they are all important. The following tests translate into real-life, tangible strength.

Core Strength Test #1: Active Sitting

Active sitting is when you sit in neutral alignment, with your core engaged to help hold you up.activesitting

1)  Scoot to the edge of a firm chair and adjust your bum so that you can feel your “sit bones” (the bones right at the top of your thigh bone).

2)  Sitting on your sit bones, keep your thighs and upper back relaxed

3)  Elongate your core as if a string is drawing you up from the crown of your head.

If you cannot maintain this aligned and active sitting posture for more than 5 minutes without fatigue, back pain or shifting your weight, your core strength is not where it should be.

Core Strength Test #2: Single Leg Stance


1)   Stand with both feet facing forward and hands on hips.

2)   Shift your weight onto one foot and keep your pelvis level (do not let either hip drop or sag)

3)   Elongate your core and maintain this position without dropping your hip or reaching out with your arms.

If you cannot maintain this active alignment for 45 seconds without loss of balance your functional core strength may be impaired.

Core Strength Test #3: Backlying Core Strength

Although it is not very functional to activate your core while lying on your back, most people think they are strong because of the quantity of backlying core work they can do. This test identifies if you are truly able to activate your internal corset muscle or if your core work is actually causing muscle imbalances.

1)   Lay on your back with both legs in a “tabletop position” (thighs vertical with floor and shins parallel with the floor)

2)   Keep your pelvis and rib cage neutral (do not push your back into the floor or arch your back, but allow a small natural lumbar curve).

3)   Place your hands on your tummy

4)   Slowly lower one toe to the ground without allowing your tummy to bulge or brace but keeping your tummy tight and pulled to the spine.

If your tummy bulges, braces, shakes or you are unable to maintain proper rib/pelvis alignment then your core is not as functionally strong as you may think.


Were you surprised at the results of these tests? If you identified weakness in any of these 3 areas, you would greatly benefit from our core rehabilitation and functional core training.

Find out more about our highly effective online programs and virtual appointments. We focus on retraining your internal corset muscles and integrating that functional strength into everything you do. We would love to help you be strong for the life you were meant to live!