Fitness Articles

The Crunch Test

A DIY Fitness Assessment

Measuring your fitness level regularly is one way to find out if you're making progress. Most fitness centers have trained staff who can evaluate your body composition, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance, but it can be pricey. If you don’t have access to all the toys and tools of your gym, don’t panic. You have everything you need to measure your fitness level in your own house!

The Crunch Test, technically referred to as the "partial curl-up" test, measures abdominal strength and endurance, a combination that more truly reflects your fitness level than strength tests alone. This test is a better choice over the standard sit-ups because crunches are safer for the lower back and target the abs better. A timed crunch test can also be done anywhere.

Equipment needed: A stop watch or timer that can measure one full minute; a ruler; a friend to help keep count and time you (optional).

Goal: Do as many crunches as you can in one minute.

Execution: Although this test involves regular crunches, it has some specific guidelines. Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your heels about 18 inches away from your behind. Place your arms at your sides, palms down, fingertips next to your hips. Place a ruler next to your fingertips in this position and measure 6 inches further. You can put a piece of paper, the ruler itself, or a piece of tape at that 6-inch marker.

Keep your hands on the floor throughout the test. Just like abdominal crunches, engage the abs to lift your head, neck, and shoulder blades off the floor, but allow your fingertips to slide toward the 6-inch marker. Return to the starting position to complete one rep. Repeat this as many times as you can in 60 seconds, counting only the number of repetitions that your fingertips successfully reach the 6-inch marker. You may rest in the starting position (relaxed), but the clock continues to run.

What this measures: Strength and endurance in your abdominals.

Scoring: Here are the age-adjusted standards based on guidelines published by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Ratings for Men, Based on Age
Rating < 35 years 35-44 years > 45 years
Excellent 60 50 40
Good 45 40 25
Marginal 30 25 15
Needs Work 15 10 5

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About The Author

Jason Anderson Jason Anderson
Jason loves to see people realize the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. He is a certified personal trainer and enjoys running races--from 5Ks to 50K ultramarathons. See all of Jason's articles.

Member Comments

  • SP please add this to your links to make testing easier. It is free.
    - 10/21/2014 10:53:31 AM
  • Can't read the chart for my age range for women because the How Fit Are You? link is blocking it. This is the second test that has that problem with the chart. - 9/28/2014 10:51:30 AM
  • 51. Nine away from excellent for my 31 year old self. - 9/1/2014 6:27:50 PM
  • I got 40, which is pretty decent. I did better on the pushup test, I guess I'll have to practice crunches more and try again next month :) - 7/18/2014 4:50:17 PM
  • Thanks for this article. - 12/20/2013 6:07:25 AM
    Pretty neat test, I'll have to do this to see where I'm at. - 12/17/2013 8:09:04 PM
  • Instructions say keep hands by floor and photo shows crunches being done with hands behind the head. - 8/9/2013 10:09:18 AM
    Not sure why this test has an easier goal for women since they generally have less upper body weight and crunches should be easier. Overall I think we set too low an expectation for women's fitness. - 12/15/2012 12:36:46 PM
    I’m only 5’ 0” tall so the crunch test measurements were too much for me. The 18 inches away from your behind and the 6” marker were modified. I did a 5 inch marker and had more than excellent results for a woman my age. Even if it was not 100% correct or accurate it certainly gives me a reference number to test again in a month. Thank for your advice. Good luck to everyone!
    - 10/29/2012 11:00:00 AM
    61 years old and did 35/minute! Not bad for someone who would much rather be a couch potato! - 10/20/2012 7:32:45 PM
  • I did this with a trainer just this week. I got in 34, which, according to her chart, placed me in excellent category for my age group. (over 60) - 10/19/2012 3:06:12 PM
  • I have a body of arthritis aches and pains. Have had both knees replaced. Hand surgery on joints. Both shoulders get shot. I go to the gym 5 days a week, Aerobics,, walk a minimum mile a day.
    I am able to do 50 crunches with ease. Three years ago weighing 335 I couldn't lay down flat ,let alone get up without help. Losing 200 lbs made a world of difference.
    - 10/19/2012 11:03:45 AM
  • I am 42 and managed 45. Great motivation doing this!
    - 10/19/2012 10:50:54 AM
    This made me very happy , I am over 50 years old and I can do 45 crunches without equipment. It took me about a year to build to this point, I combine these with bridges to work the gluts and a total core. - 10/19/2012 10:45:48 AM
  • Well, stomach crunches give me motion sickness, quite a common problem apparently.

    To work my abs I use my legs not my upper body or I get dizziness and nausea. - 10/19/2012 9:56:47 AM

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