Fitness Test #2: Core Stability

Jul 2, 2009
Outside Magazine
Illustrations of Core Stability

   Photo: Illustrations by Chris Philpot

Remedial Training

Complete this series at least twice a week.Renegade Man MakersGrip two dumbbells of appropriate weight (start light), place them on the floor shoulder width apart, and assume a push-up position. Complete a full push-up, then pull the right dumbbell to your shoulder, then the left. That's one rep; do two sets of ten. Easy? Add more weight and/or add a "burpee"—hopping your feet under you, then jumping up—at the end of each rep.
Wood ChopsWith feet shoulder width apart, hold a dumbbell, medicine ball, or the handle of a cable machine with both hands above your head and out to one side. Swing the weight so it comes down to your opposite ankle, as if splitting a piece of wood with an ax. Keep arms straight and concentrate on rotating your torso. T...

For most folks, core exercise is all about turning your snack pack into a six-pack. That's great if you're a Muscle & Fitness cover model, but if you're an athlete, it misses the point. What you want is core stability, achieved when your entire core—from lower back to upper legs—is equally strong. This will give you maximum control of your body and extremities during athletic movements.

a. Side Plank

Lie on your side, supporting your weight on your elbow. Hold your body straight. If you can hold this for more than two minutes without sagging, you pass; less than two minutes, hit the Remedial Exercises (far right).

b. Stability Push-Up

Lie facedown on the floor. Extend your arms out from your shoulders, flat against the ground and bent 90 degrees at the elbows. Tighten your core while pressing through your hands, forearms, and feet until you rise off the floor in one board-flat motion into a slightly extended push-up position. If you have to roll up, you fail; if you can do it smoothly, you pass.

c. Inchworm

From a standing position, bend at the waist and place your hands on the ground. Keeping your arms and legs perfectly straight—your heels don't have to remain flat on the ground—walk forward on your hands until you're in a push-up position. Now walk your feet back up to meet your hands, keeping arms and legs straight, and stand back up. If you can complete the move without resting, collapsing, or sagging when outstretched, you pass.