The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the abdominal curl up test to measure the endurance capabilities of the test subject's abdominal muscles. Abdominal strength is important for having good posture and performing various daily tasks. Your abdominal strength is also important for athletic performance. The ACSM test has strict guidelines for how to set-up the test and rules for how to administer the test.
The abdominal strength test requires a padded exercise mat that is comfortable for the subject. The mat needs two pieces of tape that measure 10 cm apart. These should be placed horizontally across the mat. A metronome is also required. A metronome is a device that helps control rhythm by making a “clicking” or “knocking” noise for each beat of the metronome. The final piece of equipment required is a stopwatch to keep track of time.
The person being tested needs to lay with their back flat on the mat so that their arms are flat on the ground and finger tips are at the edge of the first line of tape. The person should reach as far as they can with their hands when setting up their initial position. Their knees should be bent so that their feet are flat on the floor. Their head should be looking straight up. The metronome needs to be set at 50 beats per minute or 100 “clicks” per minute to signal each portion of one repetition.
On the “Go” command, the subject needs to perform repeated abdominal crunches. The tester should also start the stopwatch to keep track of the 60 second time limit. On the first signal from the metronome you should crunch up until your fingertips touch the edge of the second line. On the second signal, you should have the back flat on the ground with your fingertips back on the first line. This motion is repeated for a maximum total of 25 repetitions and you are allowed to stop at any time for any reason. The test is also stopped when you are no longer able to keep pace with the metronome. The final termination criteria occurs if you begin to roll your neck forward. Your neck needs to remain in a neutral position throughout the lift.
For all age groups and genders, the best possible score of excellent is awarded to individuals who complete all 25 repetitions in the allotted time. Performing a total of 17 to 24 earns you a score of "very good." A score of “good” is given to the average person being tested who completes 12 to 17 repetitions. A “fair” grade is scored for six to 12 repetitions. Finally, the “needs improvement” category normally is given to repetition counts under six for the average person.
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010
- "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2007
- SportFitnessAdvisor.com: Core Strength Training - Not Just About Your Abs