Plank: Core muscular endurance

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Recently the ACSM removed the "Curl-up test" which was their dynamic core muscular assessment. With no official replacement, this isometric core muscular endurance assessment is a great and some might even say, superior replacement. The testing norms were taken from the IAFF, and this test measures the muscular endurance of the core stabilizer muscles and assesses the ability of the upper and lower kinetic chain to work together.

A potential downside to this assessment is that it is limited to those whose bellies do not touch the ground during it, therefore will keep a many weight loss clients from doing this assessment. An alternative would be a tall plank, from the hands, and if necessary, from a box or bench depending on the client.

The purpose of this assessment is to evaluate the muscular endurance of the core stabilizer muscles of the trunk.


  • Check for neck or back problems, before proceeding with this test

  • People who suffer from low back ailments may not be able to perform this test

  • Demonstrate

  • Instruct the participant to lay prone, keeping upper body and legs elevated and supported by the elbows. Raise hips and legs off the floor, supporting the body on forearms and toes. Position elbows directly under the shoulders. Maintain straight body alignment from shoulder through hip, knee and ankle.

  • The ankles should maintain a 90 degree angle, the scapulae should remained stabilized with elbows at 90 degrees. The spine should remain in a neutral position throughout the assessment.

  • Once the feet are in position, the participant then extends the knees, lifting off the floor. Start the stopwatch at this time.

-Have the subject perform one 5 second plank to check form

-MUST have the subject sit up & rest, after form check, before starting test.

  • Instruct the participant to contract the abdominals so that the back will remain flat in the neutral position for the duration of the assessment. Also, remind them to breathe regularly since people tend to hold their breath during isometric contractions.

  • Any deviations from the above posture will warrant 2 verbal warnings. If a 3rd infraction. occurs, stop the watch and terminate the assessment.

The assessor shall terminate the evaluation when the participant:

--Reaches 4 minutes; or

--Is unable to maintain proper form after the 2nd warning.

--Once the assessment termination criteria are met, stop the watch and record the time.


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