You might want a flat stomach to look good in a swimsuit, but there's more to abdominal strength than good looks. The abdominal muscles play a key role in posture, trunk stabilization, gait and balance. Weak abdominal muscles are also strongly linked to lower back pain. A good measure of ab strength is the America College of Sports Medicine’s abdominal strength test. The world’s largest exercise science organization, ASCM publishes guidelines for trainers, athletes and ordinary folks trying to get in shape. The ACSM’s abdominal strength test is a widely accepted measure of how well the abdominal muscle group is functioning in a given individual.
What You’ll Need
- Masking Tape
- Metronome (If you don’t have one handy, there are virtual ones online.)
- Padded Mat
- A Hard Floor
- A Friend
To get a reliable score, do a few practice sessions to familiarize yourself with the drill, including repetition duration and range of motion. A reliable score gives you a baseline to track your changes over time.
First, place two strips of masking tape on the floor 10 centimeters apart, long enough to extended several inches wider than the exercise mat you'll be using.
Next, lie flat on the map across the tape with your knees bent at 90 degrees, your feet on the floor and your arms at your sides. Palms are facing down with fingertips touching the nearest strip of masking tape. This is the resting position. To reach the top position, flex your spine forward to a 30-degree angle — about 2 o’clock position, reaching your hands forward until your fingers touch the second strip of tape. It is important for the validity of the test to make sure you elevate trunk to 30 degrees.
Set the metronome at 40 beats per minute. At the first tick, begin your curl-up in time with the metronome so that you reach the top position at second tick. Return to the starting position at third tick, reach top position at fourth, and so on.
A repetition is counted each time you reach the bottom position. The test is concluded when you reach 75 curl-ups, or fall out of sync with the metronome.
Completing all 25 repetitions within the time limit means your rating for abdominal strength is excellent, regardless of age or gender. If you completed between 17 to 24 repetitions, your rating is very good. If you completed between 12 to 17 reps, your rating is good. If you did six to 12 repetitions, your rating is fair. If the score is six or less, it means your abdominal strength needs improvement.