Monday, February 23, 2009

Abdominal Strength Test

I've recently been working as a personal trainer in a gym. As an endurance coach this been great for me — and of course the whole point of doing it. I've seen a much wider range of clients than my typical ultra-distance athlete. This has caused me to do a lot of research, and a lot of rethinking how to best serve everyone. 

I have started to apply the following test for my gym clients. It's super easy to do. If you are an ultrarunner, endurance cyclist, triathlete or adventure racer racer - YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO LEVEL 4! The stress of what we do requires a strong core — it's a prerequisite. Before you delve into big weeks and overload — whether it be speed or volume or both — get that core strength up to par.
The test is just various forms of sitting up, that will progressively challenge you anterior core strength.
Level 1
Successful Body Transformation
Easy? You got it with no hitching or jerking, and kept both heels on the floor? Excellent. You're ready for Level 2.
Level 2
Successful Body Transformation
When I tried this on two Testosterone Muscle guys at a conference in September, the middle-aged editor passed, but the contributor who's a competitive bodybuilder couldn't do it without one leg coming off the floor. It can be humbling.
Level 3
Successful Body Transformation
It's harder than it looks.
Level 4
The key with this one is to keep your arms next to your ears throughout the movement. That means your shoulders, neck, and head all move up as one unit. The editor didn't get this one in September, but after months of training with the Level 3 exercise he says he can do several reps of Level 4 before his form breaks down.
Successful Body Transformation


King Arthur said...

Dang, 1-3 were super easy but I had no shot at number 4. Thanks!

AnthonyP said...

Ugh ! Matt, this is a great post, and it just made me realize that I am way too negligent in my core work. I have some work to do !

Missy B. said...

i guess my abs are stronger than i thought they were. i didn't think this was very hard. how many should i do?

Will Thomas said...

It seems impossible to keep those feet on the floor during level four. Guess it is time to incorporate your "around the world" core workout once or twice a week.

BradLeeRi said...

Interesting post Matt. Thanks.

One thing to keep in mind though is that strength in ab curling movements does not necessarily translate into midline or torso stability when the body is extended as it is when running, hiking, heck, almost anything. This stability and endurance is what helps to prevent injury and promote greater efficiency of movement and power transfer, i.e. better performance.

I'm sure you know this but I think way too much emphasis is placed on training or evaluating ab strength/integrity with these types of movements.

I'm a 4 FWIW. :)

Speedgoat Karl said...

Piece of cake, where's level 5?