Are You Really That Strong? Here’s How You Can Easily Tell

The word strong is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as an adjective that describes “having or marked by great physical power.” But just how strong is, well, strong? Naturally, this broad definition brings to mind images of bulging biceps, tree-trunk legs, and a well-chiseled 12-pack abdominal region.

However, it takes more than glancing at someone’s developed muscles to know just how strong they are. And there are a few exercises out there that are perfect measuring sticks for physical strength. Want to know how strong you are? Here is the breakdown for strength throughout the body, and what you can do to easily test just how strong you are.

Core strength

Fitness female model torso with her hands on hips

A strong core takes more than just a good looking set of abs. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Contrary to popular belief, your core comprises more than just your abdominal muscles. Your whole midsection, wrapping around to your back, is part of the core party. “Your core muscles make up pretty much all of your torso, and then some,” Livestrong.com summarizes. So if you truly have a strong core, that means your obliques, lats, lower back, and even your pelvic floor are all as capable as your abs. Having a six-pack means pretty much nothing if you end up with back pain from lifting something that is mildly heavy.

To test how strong your core is, you should do…

Planks

young woman in sportswear doing plank

Put core strength to the test with this easy and familiar exercise. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

There really is no better test out there for making sure that your abs, obliques, and back are working together quite like doing a proper plank. Follow STACK‘s lead and time yourself holding a plank position, stopping your timer whenever your hips begin to sag. The key here is to keep your belly button sucked in toward your spine while the muscles from your torso down to your hips stay engaged.

You can measure how strong your core is by 30-second increments on your timer. (Holding a plank successfully for 30 or fewer seconds shows minimal strength, 30 to 60 seconds shows slightly better strength, and so on. The ability to hold for 120-plus seconds shows that you have a strong core.)

Upper-body strength

Beautiful group of women practicing the side plank yoga pose

Holding a side plank like this takes more than just toned arms. | iStock.com/Antonio_Diaz

You probably read that and think of bicep curls and push-ups. In fact, this region includes not just the muscles in your arms, but your shoulders, traps, and chest as well. In fact, having overdeveloped arms and, say, underdeveloped shoulders is basically a recipe for injuring yourself when you try to do a chin-up. If you want to see how strong your upper region is, you need an exercise that can work all of these areas at the same time.

To test how strong your upper body is, you should do…

Inverted rows

Young woman doing Australian Pull-ups

A strong upper body can be determined with just a few rows. | iStock.com/indykb

While the aforementioned chin-up seems like the ultimate test of upper body strength, it is also one of the most injury-inducing exercises. The inverted row, on the other hand, achieves the same task of lifting your whole body weight while engaging all muscles from your triceps up to your chest and upper back.

Active.com breaks down this exercise into a three-step measurement tool, which requires you to maintain three different body forms as you pull your body upward toward a secured bar. An at-home bar with grips or at the gym will work fine as you row upward with your knees bent, then with legs straight, and then with feet elevated as high as our shoulders. If you can maintain form for all three rows without a problem, you have a strong upper body.

Lower-body strength

man using a kettlebell weight at the gym

It takes a strong butt to hoist that kettlebell. | iStock.com

There are few things more giggle-inducing than a gym rat with a gargantuan upper body stacked on top of spindly little legs. It’s also a sad sight, given the importance of having a strong lower body. With your gluteus maximus acting as the foundation, a strong lower body can do everything from helping you lift more weight with your legs to allowing you to run faster. “Stronger legs and glutes propel you forward and enable you to move faster and fatigue less quickly,” Chron.com explains.

To test how strong your lower body is, you should do…

Wall sits

Woman checking activity tracker

Wall sits are a great test of lower body strength. | iStock.com/DragonImages

There’s really no better way to put your lower half to the test than to put your back firmly up against the wall and lower into a sitting position. The key is to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle. You want to be able to hold the position for up to one minute. According to a chart by Antiaging Wellness, the seconds you hold the squat are relative to your age, and will give you an idea of how strong your lower body is.

Explosiveness

Woman jumping on beach

It’s easier to jump for joy when you have good explosive strength. | iStock.com

Think about the high jump you watch on TV during the Summer Olympics. The athletes aren’t able to achieve those crazy feats without having explosive power as soon as they push their feet off the ground. “Explosive power drills are often used by athletes who need to generate a quick burst of maximal effort, such as movements required in football, track and field sports, court sports and even cycling,” Elizabeth Quinn of Verywell summarizes. “The types of exercises used to build this quick, explosive power are movements that require a maximum or near maximum power output from the athlete in a short amount of time.”

To test your power and speed, you should do…

Standing long jump

one woman praticing Long Jump

A good old fashioned long jump is the best way to measure your explosive power. | iStock.com/OSTILL

The only equipment you need for this strength test is a tape measure to determine how far you jumped. With your feet behind the starting point, bend your knees and swing your arms in order to propel yourself forward. As Topend Sports explains, the distance is measured from the starting point to the “nearest point of contact.” Using the website’s scale, a 4-foot-7-inch jump for females is considered a poor showing of explosive power, with a jump of 6-foot-6 marking excellent ability. (There are, of course, margins in between.) Do the jump and base your findings off of the longest jump.

Cardiovascular strength

Woman Running

There’s no strength like cardiovascular endurance. | iStock.com

That’s right — cardiovascular exercise is more than just running long distances and sweating out yesterday’s cheat meal. There is a measurement for how strong your cardio game is, which you have probably heard referred to as endurance. “Your cardio fitness refers to how well your heart, lungs, and organs consume, transport and use oxygen throughout your workout,” Verywell says. “When all of these systems work together efficiently, you increase fitness, allowing your body to last for a longer period of time.”

To test your cardiovascular strength, you should do…

The step test

woman running up on mountain stairs

Steps are a surefire way to see if your endurance is where it should be. | iStock.com/lzf

Also known as the Harvard Step Test or Cardiovascular Endurance Test, this measuring tool only requires a 12-inch high box — or park bench, even — and a timer. As FitDay explains, you simply step up and then off the box or bench at a steady pace for three minutes. You then check your pulse and see how long it takes for your heart rate to return to normal. (Mayo Clinic has an easy-to-follow chart for measuring target heart rate.) The shorter the span of time, the stronger your endurance is.