Muscular Strength and Endurance Test
Tue, 3 Nov 2009
Muscular strength and endurance is critical to both your health and
ability to carry out daily activities, such as performing household
tasks (yard work, carrying groceries) or job-related tasks (lifting or
moving heavy objects). There are many ways to measure your muscular
strength and endurance, often with a focus on a specific group of
The Half Sit-Up Test
One of the most
frequently measured muscle groups is the abdominal (stomach) muscles.
Several tests (for example, sit-up and curl-up tests) have been
developed to measure mainly abdominal muscular strength and endurance.
We are going to use an abdominal muscular strength and endurance test
called the “YMCA Half Sit-Up” test, which is a curl-up test since you
lift your trunk only partially off the floor.
- Mat or rug,
- Stopwatch or watch with a second hand,
- Four strips of tape to place 3.5 inches apart on mat or rug to provide start and end position for the curl-up.
the mat or rug with the tape strips as shown in the picture. You need
to be able to feel the tape as your fingers move across the mat or rug
from the starting and ending positions. We recommend that you do the
test with a partner.
* The half sit-up test is re-printed from the YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual, 4th edition, 2000, with permission of YMCA of the USA, 101 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606.
- Lie face-up on mat or rug with knees at a right angle (that is, 90º) and feet flat on the ground. The feet are not held down.
- Place hands palms facing down on the mat or rug with the fingers touching the first piece of tape.
your lower back to the mat or rug, and half sit-up so that your fingers
move from the first piece of tape to the second. Then return your
shoulders to the mat or rug and repeat the movement as described. Your
head does not have to touch the surface. Keep your lower back flat on
the mat or rug during the movements – if you arch your back, it can
- Your partner will count the
number of half sit-ups performed in one minute. Pace yourself so you
can do half sit-ups for one minute.
- Record your results.
Standard and Modified Push-Up
Alert! If you have shoulder, elbow, or wrist pain, doing this test may aggravate your condition.
muscles of the upper body and shoulders are another frequently measured
muscle group. Several tests (for example, pull-up and push-up) are used
to measure the strength and endurance of these muscle groups. Less
muscular strength and endurance of the upper body and shoulder group
may increase the chances that a person may have shoulder pain in middle
or older adulthood.
In the standard push-up test,
you push your body up and down using muscles in your arms, shoulders
and chest, while keeping your body straight with your feet serving as
the pivot point. Your body weight is your workload. Females can reduce
the load by having their knees touching the floor and acting as the
pivot point. In this test, only the upper body is the load. We are
going to use standard push-ups and modified push-ups as our tests for
upper body and shoulder muscular strength and endurance.
* Normative data for the push-up and modified push-up are based on a
population that is 20 years of age and older. These data and the test
protocol are used with permission of The Cooper Institute, 12330
Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75230.
- Males start in the standard
push-up position (elevated). Hands should be shoulder width apart, arms
extended straight out under the shoulders, back and legs in a straight
line, and toes curled under. Females do a modified push-up with knees
bent and touching the floor. Starting in the up position, hands should
be slightly ahead of the shoulders so hands are in the proper position
for the downward motion.
- Lower until the chest is about 2 inches from the floor and rise up again.
the test until you cannot complete any more push-ups while keeping your
back straight and, if you are a male, keeping the legs straight as
well. The key to completing the test properly is to maintain a rigid
position and keep the back flat. If necessary, you can take a brief
rest in the up position (not lying on the floor).
- Record your results.
What the results mean
The half sit-up test is mainly an indicator of your abdominal muscular
strength and endurance. However, you also use other muscle groups while
performing the test. Scoring in the “below average” to “very poor”
category shows that your muscular strength and endurance may be low and
needs to improve. Low abdominal muscular strength and endurance may
lead to muscle fatigue and may lead to back injury.
The push-up test score is an indicator of your upper-body and shoulder
muscular strength and endurance. Scoring in the “below average” or
“poor” category shows that your muscular strength and endurance may be
low and needs to improve. Poor upper-body and shoulder muscular
strength and endurance may lead to shoulder pain. Remember, better
strength and endurance make everyday activities easier to do.
How to improve muscular strength and endurance
can improve your strength and endurance by repeating the same exercise
more often, or by working against a heavier load and keeping the number
of repetitions the same.
You can repeat the half
sit-up movement and vary the load by having your arms in front of you
(easiest) or placing them folded across the chest or behind your head
You can repeat the push-up
movement and make them easier by doing them against a wall or harder by
doing the standard push-up (most difficult).