Core strength and stability , Whats the difference ?

Have you heard people talk about core stability, but not know what they are on about?. Well, the two concepts are related, Both refer to the same muscle groups but have very different specifics.

Below we will look at both Core strength and stability so that we can work upon both areas. We will also Find out what makes core strength so separate from core stability.

I will show you how each type affects your body and what you can do to place more focus within your core workouts.

What are the core muscles

Your core is made up of the below main muscles

  • Rectus abdominis (“abs”)
  • Transverse abdominis (the deepest internal core muscle which surrounds your spine and sides.
  • Erector spinae ( lower back).
  • Internal and external obliques (sides of your abdomen)

What is core strength?

A example of core strength muscles

Core strength refers to the actual power of your core muscles.

For many people, the first thing that springs to mind when you mention the core is the abdominals, and we show you a few beginner workouts in another post.

Having a strong core can assist with various other exercises. Such as jumping, throwing and swinging.

However, Excessive strength training of the core will eventually lead to a plateau in results, and prolonged strength-training routines will not assist in improving your core stability. They will only assist with producing a more defined six-pack.

The most common exercises to aid core strength include.

  • Leg raises
  • V Holds
  • Side raises
  • Planks
  • Situps 

The workouts are all centred around various holds or lifts in a single plain. Holding a contracted pose as long as possible or lifting a weight or your body.

Increase the hold time or weight used to increase the intensity. They may not feel tough, but you will feel in the morning.

Testing core strength

Try this simple test.

  • Set up in a plank or push-up position,
  • lean on your forearms and not your hands.
  • Properly align your body – don’t allow you back to droop.
  • Tense your abdominals.
  • Hold for as long as possible and as still as possible.
  • Stop once your hips start to dip, your back droop or your knees touch the ground.

Then, compare the level of your core strength to the below table.

  • Weak core strength – up to 30 seconds
  • Average core strength – 30 seconds to a minute
  • Good core strength – 1 -2 minutes
  • Excellent core strength – above 2 minutes

Improving your core strength 

If your test shows that your core strength is below average. Why not work on improving it.

Exercise your core twice a week, Remember you will be working it while performing other activities as well, so don’t think it a low volume.

Head don over to Abdominal exercises for beginners for more information, Or perform a plank hold three times

Hold as long as possible

Rest for 1 minute and repeat

Re-check your maximum time every month.

What is core stability?

Core stability is your ability to keep your spine from movement during physical activity.

Keep the spine stable.

That can be anything from keeping solid while planking, keeping a flat back while deadlifting or holding a handstand.

Stability comes from the engagement of all the muscles within your core. Using All of these muscles rather than just your abs will help you to control your body more effectively.

The core muscles are the workhorses of your body and influence the way you move during every movement.

While you work, other muscle groups may I suggest you can try a few variations.

Lower the weight significantly and Increase the instability of each workout.

Try the below for instance.

Kettlebell squats on a wobble board

Adding chains or weights hanging from barbells or dumbbells

Hanging leg raises compared to floor raises

Ab rollouts with a Ball

The list is endless but remember the risks increase as you add weight and instability.

Improving your core stability

Moves such as planks help to engage the entire core, rather than targeting a specific section. An easy way to help identify movements that can improve your core stability is to see if they involve balance.

Begin with, a plank, which requires you to keep your body still and level with the ground, you know its engaging those muscles. Alternately, crunches typically only focus on your ab muscles and thus may not have a significant impact on your stability.

Testing core stability

Many studies have been completed to assess core stability, and each has received varied results and success.

These tests consisted of some below.

Hip extension

Truck flexion endurance – Norkin and White (1995)

Hip and Single limb balance assessments – Zazulak, Hewett, Reeves, Goldberg, and Cholewicki (2007)

As such, it is very beneficial to assess and measure your own stability – How long can you balance on a stability ball, How flexible are you?

The benefits of core strength and stability workouts

Ensure you focus on improvements to both your core strength and your core stability to avoid creating an imbalance in your body.

Despite the differences between core strength and stability, the two are very much related. One can be improved and impacted by the other. The key is to refrain from putting too much emphasis on either area.

Both types of core workouts will have a great effect on your overall health and your everyday life, core stability is most likely going to yield more noticeable results. This is because core stability is an essential element for performing so many activities, whereas core strength has a more limited field of focus.

Increasing your core stability helps you hold better form, and enables more control over your body.

You will also see benefits in being able to stop your body from moving during stretches allowing you to perform them more efficiently.

I hope you have been able to witness the differences and how to improve and test both areas.

Please list below any points you are not clear of or even your favourite way to add stability to your usual workouts.

Author Profile

Owner and author at , 25 years as a quality and health and safety professional with an in-depth knowledge of functional and corrective exercises. IHoS registered,lead auditor, personal trainer and human movement specialist.

4 thoughts on “Core strength and stability , Whats the difference ?”

  1. Hi Brian,

    A very enlightening article. I did not know there were two categories. Your comments on excessive strength leading to a plateau, sounds like you can build muscle to a certain degree. Outlining the testing for core strength I find very helpful. Thank you for showing us the way to increase core strength. Testing core stability, I wonder if yoga helps here. I have been trying to get that six pack for a while now, with no success. Just a lot of pain. I have bookmarked your page as I plan on using it as a guide to building core strength, and core stability. Great information, thank you for sharing.

    All the best,


  2. Hello there! Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of information with us. I am pretty sure everyone who come across this article would show great appreciation because it’s welldetailed with serious facts. Thank you for sharing. I really didn’t know there was a difference between core strength and core stability, I actually thought they were both same thing. Thanks for enlightening me more on this, good job 


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