Tuesday, November 30, 2010


There are many ways that a student can improve and maintain outside of physical education class. On Friday, November 19th I created a post entitled "How can I prepare for the Trunk Lift Assessment?" In this post there are a few exercises that can be done a few times a week at home to improve and maintain strength and flexibility. However, I have decided to add some more exercises that can be performed at home, or anywhere for that matter. These exercises do not require any special equipment.

Mountain Climbers: Assume a pushup position with your arms completely straight. To start, lift your right foot off the floor and slowly raise your knee as close to your chest as you can. Touch the floor with your right foot and return to starting position. Repeat with your left leg and repeat for 30- 45 seconds. During the exercise your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles, while bracing your core. Don't change your lower-back posture during the movement phase of the exercise.

Lying Glute Stretch: Lie faceup on the floor with your knees and hips bent. Cross your left leg over your right so that your left ankle sits across your right thigh. Grab your left knee with both hands and pull it toward your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice.

Cobra Stretch: Get down on your hands and knees, then stretch your legs outward and lower your hips so that they lie flat on the mat. Separate your legs so that each foot touches each corner of the mat or is pointed toward each corner. Keep your hips and legs flat on the mat. Make sure that your hands are aligned to the width of your shoulders. You should begin to feel pressure in your lower back. Hold your head back so that you are looking up at the ceiling. Make sure that your head isn't pulled back too far. You don't want to feel any pressure in the back of your neck. Just hold your head back enough to glance up at the ceiling. Now take a deep breath and inhale. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Relax your body, then repeat again for another 30 seconds.


To improve our scores and maintain increased flexibility, we will be doing a variety of stretches and exercises on a daily basis. All of the stretches that are performed before daily activities are designed to work the muscle groups that will be activated that day. Majority of the stretches will target the legs, and core muscles. All of our exercises will work to improve muscle strength and endurance, such as body weight squats, lunges, crunches and planks. One of the units that we will work on in class is a dynamic fitness unit which will last for nearly 3 weeks. The unit will focus on a variety of exercises that can be done in class, at home or any fitness center.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


For privacy reasons, students names will not be posted. Each individual student has received a copy of their scores. These scores should be kept in a safe place, so the student can revisit them to compare future results. The instructor will also record the scores to keep track of throughout the year.

As a class, the students performed very well. There were 24 students who performed the test. The average score was 10.45 Inches, which is passing. The standard deviation was 1.67, which determines that all of the students were close to the average mark. The scores ranged from 6.5 Inches to the Maximum of 12 Inches. Of the 24 students, 10 of them are boys, 14 are girls. 9 out of the 10 boys received a score of 9 Inches or higher. 12 out of 14 Girls received a score of 9 or higher. These results show that gender doesn't play a major role in the outcome of this test.


The trunk lift test is part of the Fitnessgram, which has a variety of fitness tests used in schools all over the country. Many states, such as New York and Texas, have made Fitnessgarm testing a requirement in their schools. All of the tests have shown to accurately gauge students fitness levels in a safe and effective manner. Instructors are able to record the tests results and use them in the future to measure for improvement on future tests, while also giving students an idea of their overall fitness level. As part of all of the Fitnessgram tests, instructors are able to help students prepare for the test, and improve on low scores, while maintaining or improving passing scores. 


In order to make sure the test is run accurately and reliably, the instructor will only allow a small number of students to perform the test at one time. A demonstration and explanation of the test will be given to ensure that students understand how and why they should perform the test. Each student will have a marker to make sure they keep their eyes down and are not looking up causing cervical movement. While the test is being performed the instructor will be looking for proper form and correct any students who are not performing the test properly. This will allow for 100% accuracy during the test. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


The next trunk lift assessment will be performed on Monday, November 15, 2010. The test will take place in the gymnasium. Along with the trunk lift, we will also perform the sit and reach test.


To prepare for the assessment, we will be doing a dynamic fitness unit in class. The unit is designed to build muscle strength and endurance, as well as improve flexibility. Students can also practice some of the exercises performed in class, to prepare themselves for the test. Majority of the muscles used for the test are located in the back, abdomen and hamstrings. Some of the exercises that will target these regions are listed below.

Prone Cobra: Lie face down on the floor with legs straight and arms next to sides, palms down. Contract your glutes and the muscles in the lower back and raise your head, chest, arms, and legs off the floor. Simultaneously rotate your arms so that your thumbs are pointed toward the ceiling. Your hips should be the only parts of your body touching the floor. Hold for 60 seconds. If you can't hold for 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 15 seconds, rest for 5 seconds and repeat as many times as possible for 60 seconds.

Back Extensions: Position yourself in the back extension station and hook your feet under the leg anchors. Keeping your back naturally arched, lower your upper body as far as you comfortably can. Squeeze your glutes and raise your torso until it is inline with your lower body. Pause, then slowly lower your torso back to starting position. Arms can be kept behind the head, or crossed over the chest.

Plank: Start in pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on forearms, instead of on hands. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were going to get punched in the stomach. Hold the position from 30 seconds to 2:00 minutes. 



The trunk lift test is easy to set-up and administer. The test administrator will set up mats in the gymnasium before class. The other materials needed will be 12 or 15 inch rulers, and pennies (Amounts vary depending on class size). The rulers can be made out of a heavy stock paper, poster board, or card board. This will allow for students to make a mark on the ruler, as well as be cost effective. The pennies will be used as a focus marker, for students to keep their eyes on during the test. The students will be split up into pairs, one student will perform the test, the other will measure and record the scores. The performer will lie face down on the mat (prone position). Their hands should be placed under their thighs and their toes should be pointed. The penny/ marker will be placed in line with the students eyes. During the movement phase the students must maintain focus on the marker to avoid looking straight. The student will lift the upper body off the floor in a slow, controlled manner, while maintaining their focus on the marker. Students should be informed to lift no higher than 12 inches to avoid injury. The students should keep their head straight, in alignment with the spine. The position should be held long enough for their partner to measure. The partner will measure the distance from the floor to the bottom of the performers chin. The ruler should be kept at least an inch from the performers face. After the measurement, the student will go back to the starting position and perform a second trial. The highest of the two scores should be recorded. Anything recorded as higher than 12 inches should be recorded as 12 inches.


The trunk lift assessment is important due to it's correlation with lower back health. The muscles that are used for the test (Hamstrings, Back extensors, and abdomen) all work together to maintain posture and low back health. One of the biggest complaints of adults is lower back pain. There are many things that can cause lower back pain, however, one of the most important reasons is a lack of core maintenance. Often, individuals fail to exercise their core muscles, or leave out some of the important core muscles. For example, doing abdominal exercises is a great core workout. But what about the lower back muscles? it is very important to perform exercises that will help maintain healthy core muscles throughout life. This test will help assess the strength and flexibility of the core, as well as give students an idea of how healthy they are, regarding core health. 


Each student will receive a worksheet that has the criteria for the assessment. The worksheet covers the critical components of the test, and lists the passing scores for specific grade levels. As long as students show up to class prepared, and participate in the assessment, they will receive credit. Students who meet the desired score will receive extra credit. The results will simply be recorded as Satisfactory or Needs Improvement.  Below is a copy of the sheet that all students will receive. It is important to remind your students that they should NOT lift over the 12 inch mark. Lifting beyond the 12 inch mark could lead to injury.

Trunk Lift Test
Assessment Task Sheet

Why is this test important?  The trunk lift test is extremely important, because of its relationship to lower back health. The test measures strength and flexibility in the muscles of the back, abdomen and hamstrings. Trunk extensor strength and flexibility is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy back.

Test Objective: To slowly lift the upper body off the floor, NO MORE THAN 12 INCHES, using the muscles of the back. Participant should hold the position for measurement.

Circle “Yes” if performed.
Circle “No” if not performed.

1. Face down with hands tucked under quads.

YES                        NO

2. Eyes stay down, looking at the marker/ penny.

YES                        NO

3. Lifts body up, NO MORE THAN 12 INCHES, in a slow and controlled manner.

YES                        NO

4. Perform 2 trials.

YES                        NO

5.  6 TO 12 Inches = Passing for both boys and girls K-8 
      9 TO 12 Inches = Passing for High School Students.

YES                        NO

Inches Attained:___________________________

Performers Name:____________________________________

Partner’s Name:_______________________________________