Gym & Training

My name is Kelley, and I am a Plankaholic.

September 12, 2013

It may not look like much, but the plank is the single best core-strengthening exercise on earth. You see, in plank position, the muscles of the upper and lower body are activated to resist the force of gravity pushing down on your entire backside.

In case you’ve forgotten, “core strength” refers to the muscles of your abs and back and their ability to support your spine, and keep your body stable and balanced. A strong core basically supports every physical movement you make. It’s the body’s center of power, the stronger your core, the easier your life will be. This means, riding your bike, running, picking up your kid or a watermelon, surviving that killer boot camp class, or simply getting out of bed.

Wondering how your core measures up? I was, so I found a test for us all to take. The senior athletics coach with the United Kingdom’s National Governing body for Track and Field developed it. It’s a good one! Give it a try — it only takes three minutes.

The Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test

Kelley Heye - Plank

The objective of this evaluation is to monitor the development and improvements of core strength.

To prepare for the assessment you will need a:
  • Flat surface
  • Mat
  • Watch or clock with second counter
Conducting the Test:
  • Place the watch or clock where you can easily see it.
  • Start in the forearm plank position (elbows on the ground, shoulders over elbows, back flat like a plank, abs contracted). Hold for 60 seconds.
  • Lift your right arm off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your right arm to the ground and lift the left arm off the ground. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground
    . Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your right leg to the ground and lift the left leg off the ground
    . Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground
    . Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Return your left leg and right arm to the ground. Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground
    . Hold for 15 seconds
  • Return to the forearm plank position (elbows on the ground). Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Results:

Good Core Strength – If you can complete the test fully, you have good core strength.

Poor Core Strength – If you cannot complete the test fully, your core strength needs improvement. If you are unable to complete the test, practice the routine three or four times each week until you improve. By comparing your results over time, you will note improvements or declines in core strength.

In case you’re wondering, I took the test. It was fun (sort of), but unfortunately I didn’t pass in full. Darn! Guess I need to get to work.

13 Comments

  • Reply cindy September 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

    The test says to start in the forearm plank position – yet the picture shows the woman on her hands (arms straight) plank position…..which is it supposed to be?
    Thanks for the clarification

  • Reply kelley September 12, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Cindy, good catch. You can do the plank/test on your hands or forearms. It will be kinder to your wrists if you use your forearms however. Good luck!

  • Reply Carri September 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Kelley, you could always do the forearm version the first round then move on the the full version w hands down like the photo once the forearm version becomes too easy.
    BTW Kelley – I’m a plankaholic too…and I have those same shoes! 🙂
    Did you know the world record for holding forearm plank is 80 minutes?!

  • Reply Kelley September 12, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Yikes Carri! 80 minutes!? That’s impressive! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Tara Miller September 12, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I do forearm planking often. I struggle with 60 seconds without lifting body parts. I’m going to try it though! I can feel it working within seconds, and I might add that I use the planking technique right before I go to bed because it makes my muscles tired, and I find I fall asleep a lot faster!!!

  • Reply Trailmomma September 13, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Planks are AWESOME! Agreed, best exercise around.

  • Reply carri September 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Oops, Kelley when I posted my original comment, I meant to address it to Cindy (since she had asked which is was supposed to be).
    Which is why I then say “BTW Kelley”…because then the shoes & forearm part WERE directed to you..just didn’t want you to think I was trying to tell you how to do your own plank test! 😉
    I know, no biggie, but just correcting myself.

  • Reply kelley September 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Carri,
    You are very sweet! Thank you for taking the time to clarify! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

  • Reply Jannine Myers September 19, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Great core strength test Kelley! I am going to share the test on my running group blog – thank you 🙂

  • Reply Kelley September 19, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Hey Jannine, glad you like it! Love your blog! Let me know how the crew does!

  • Reply Jannine Myers September 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Thanks Kelley, will do 🙂

  • Reply mims September 27, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I switched last month from stationary plank to this
    seems more effective for real life stability and it is HARD
    http://q.equinox.com/articles/2013/09/plank-workout

  • Reply diane October 8, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Hi Kelly,

    I teach elementary physical education, and I do this activity with my students weekly. I’ve been doing it daily, and I like the challenge of going to your hands. I’ll have to encourage my expert students to try this. Thanks for sharing.

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