Functional Leg Strength Tests
The following tests assess functional leg strength using squats. Most people do squats improperly, increasing their risk of knee and back pain. Before you add weight- bearing squats to your weight-training program, you should determine your functional leg strength, check your ability to squat properly, and give yourself a chance to master squatting movements. The following leg strength tests will help you in each of these areas.
These tests are progressively more difficult, so do not move on to the next test until you have scored at least a 3 on the current test. On each test, give yourself a rating of 0, 1, 3, or 5, as described in the instructions that follow the last test.
- Sit up straight in a chair with your back resting against the backrest and your arms at your sides. Your feet should be placed more that shoulder-width apart so that you can get them under your body.
- Begin the motion of rising out of the chair by flexing (bending) at the hips-not the back. Then squat up using a hip hinge movement (no spine movement). Stand without rocking forward, bending your back, or using external support, and keep your head in a neutral position.
- Return to the sitting position while maintaining a straight back and keeping your weight centered over your feet. Your thighs should abduct (spread) as you sit back in the chair. Use your rear hip and thigh muscles as much as possible as you sit.
Do five repetitions.
Your rating _______________
- Stand with your feet placed slightly more than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out slightly, hands on hips or across your chest, head neutral, and back straight. Center your weight over your arches or slightly behind.
- Squat down, keeping your weight centered over your arches and actively flexing (bending) your hips until your legs break parallel. During the movement, keep your back straight, shoulders back, and chest out, and let your thighs part to the side so that you are squatting between your legs.
- Push back up to the starting position, hinging at the hips and not with the spine, maximizing a straight back and neutral head position.
Do five repetitions.
Your rating ____________
Single-Leg Lunge-Squat with Rear-Foot Support
- Stand about 3 feet in front of a bench (with your back to the bench).
- Place the instep of your left foot on the bench, and put most of your weight on your right let (your left leg should be bent), with your hands at your sides.
- Squat on your right leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Keep your back straight, chest up, shoulders back, and head neutral.
- Return to the starting position. Do three repetitions for each leg. Your rating: _______________
Rating Your Functional Leg Strength Test Results
- 5 POINTS
Performed the exercise properly with good back and thigh position, weight centered over the middle or rear of the foot, chest out, and shoulders back; good use of hip muscles on the way down and on the way up, with head in a neutral position throughout the movement; maintained good form during all repetitions; abducted )spread) the thighs on the way down during chair squats and double-leg squats; for single-let exercises, showed good strength on both sides; for single-leg lunge-squat with rear-foot support, maintained straight back, and knees stayed behind toes.
- 3 POINTS:
Weight was forward on the toes, with some rounding of the back; used thigh muscles excessively, with little use of hip muscles; head and chest were too far forward; showed little abduction of the thighs during double-leg squats; when going down for single-leg exercises, one side was stronger than the other; form deteriorated with repetitions; for single-leg lunge-squat with rear-foot support and single-leg squat from a bench, could not reach parallel (thigh parallel with floor).
- 1 POINT
Had difficulty performing the movement, rocking forward and rounding back badly; used thigh muscles excessively, with little use of hip muscles on the way up or on the way down; chest and head were forward; on un-weighted squats, had difficulty reaching parallel; and showed little abduction of the thighs on single-leg exercises, one leg was markedly stronger than the other; could not perform multiple repetitions.
- 0 POINTS
Could not perform exercise.
Using Your Results
Are you at all surprised by your rating for muscular strength?
What factors , if any, influenced your ability to perform these assessments?
Are you satisfied with your current level of muscular strength as evidenced in your daily life? For example, are you happy with your ability to lift objects, climb stairs, and engage in sports and recreational activities?
Muscle Endurance Assessment
For best results, do not do any strenuous weight training within 48 hours of any test.
The 60-Second Sit-Up Test
- Stopwatch, clock, or watch with a second hand
DO NOT TAKE THIS TEST IF YOU SUFFER FROM LOW-BACK PAIN.
To prepare, try a few sit-ups to get used to the proper technique and warm up your abdominal muscles.
- Lie flat on your back on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your fingers interlocked behind your neck and your elbows wide. Your partner should hold your ankles firmly so that your feet stay on the floor as you do the sit-ups.
- When your partner signals you to begin, raise your head and chest off the floor until your chest touches your knees or thighs, keeping your elbows wide, then return to the starting position. Keep your neck neutral. Do not force your neck forward, and stop if you feel any pain.
- Perform as many sit-ups as you can in 60 seconds.
Number of sit-ups: ______
To rank your results, please see the chart on page 16.
Ratings for 60-second Sit-up Test:
The Push-Up Test
Mat or towel (optional)
In this test, you will perform either standard push-ups, or modified push-ups, in which you support yourself with your knees. The Cooper Institute developed the ratings for this test with men performing push-ups and women performing modified push-ups. Biologically, males tend to be stronger than females; the modified technique reduces
the need for upper-body strength in a test of muscular endurance. Therefore, for an accurate assessment of upper-body endurance, men should perform standard push-ups and women should perform modified push-ups. (However, in using push-ups as part of a strength-training program, individuals should choose the technique most appropriate for increasing their level of strength and endurance, regardless of gender.)
- For push-ups: Start in the push-up position with your body supported by your hands and feet. For the modified push-ups: Start in the modified push-up position with your body supported by your hand and knees. For both positions, your arms and your back should be straight and your fingers pointed forward.
- Lower your chest to the floor with your back straight, and then return to the starting position.
- Perform as many push-ups as you can without stopping.
Number of push-ups: ________________
Number of modified push-ups: ________
Rating Your Push-Up Test Result
Your score is the number of completed push-ups or modified push-ups. Refer to the appropriate portion of the table on page 19 for a rating of your upper-body endurance.
Record your rating below and in the chart at the end of this lab.
Ratings for the Push-Up and Modified Push-Up Test:
SOURCE: Based on norms from the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research, Dallas, Texas; from the Physical Fitness Specialist Manual, Revised 2002.
Used with permission.
The Squat Endurance Test
- Stand with your feet placed slightly more than shoulder width apart, toes pointed out slightly, hands on hips or across your chest, head neutral, and back straight. Center your weight over your arches or slightly behind.
- Squat down, keeping your weight centered over your arches, until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Push back up to the starting position, maintaining a straight back and neutral head position.
- Perform as many squats as you can without stopping.
Number of squats: __________
Rating your Squat Endurance Test Result
Your score is the number of completed squats. Refer to the appropriate portion of the table for a rating of your leg muscular endurance. Record your rating below and in the summary at the end of this lab.
Ratings for the Squat-Endurance Test:
Number of Squats Performed
SOURCE: Top End Sports. www.topendsports.com/testing/tests/home-squat.htm
Summary of Results
Using Your Results
- Are you at all surprised by your ratings for muscular endurance?
- What factors, if any, influenced your scores?
- Are you satisfied with your current level of muscular endurance as evidenced in your daily life, for example, your ability to carry groceries or your books, hike, and do yard work?