Are you able to rise from the floor without the help of your hands or knees? It turns out that this simple act is more than just a party trick—it could be a predictor of your overall health and longevity.
A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology shows that the strength of your musculoskeletal fitness—specifically, your ability to sit and rise from the floor without support—can provide a glimpse into your overall health and longevity. Those in the study who were not able to pass the sitting-rising test (SRT) were associated with having a higher mortality rate.
But if you aren’t able to pass the SRT yourself, don’t panic; it doesn’t require any superhuman strength or a black belt in martial arts to learn. However, it will take a little conditioning.
And as a formerly ISSA-certified personal trainer, I can help you learn how to pass the SRT with flying colors. But remember, this isn’t really about passing some test – it’s about embarking on an ongoing journey of health and resilience.
You’ll not only be working towards improving your functional muscles but also potentially boosting your lifespan.
Sound like a good deal? Good! Let’s get started.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician before changing your exercise regime or lifestyle. There are affiliate links below which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one, I may earn a commission.
How to Do the Sit-to-Rise Test
Step 1: Clear Space
Ensure you have a clear and safe space around you. The ground should be even. (I recommend performing this test on a yoga mat to protect your joints and help cushion you in case you fall – especially if you have sensitive knees!)
Step 2: Stand Straight
Stand in a standing position in the middle of the clear space. Keep your feet at hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
Step 3: Lower Yourself to the Ground
Without leaning on any object or using your hands, knees, or sides of your legs, lower yourself to a sitting position on the ground. Try to do this in a controlled and smooth manner.
Step 4: Sit Cross-legged
Once you’re on the ground, sit cross-legged. Make sure you’re comfortable and balanced.
Step 5: Rise Up
From the cross-legged position, stand back up without using your hands, knees, or any other body part for support. Try to rise in a smooth and controlled manner.
Step 6: Scoring
The test is scored on a scale of 0-10, with 5 points for sitting and 5 points for rising. You start with a full score of 10. For each support used while getting to stand or sit (like a hand or knee), you subtract one point. For instance, if you used a hand to help you sit and then to rise, your score would be 8.
Remember, the goal is not to rush but to perform the test in a controlled and safe manner. It’s okay if you need to use support initially. With practice, your balance and strength should improve. Always listen to your body and stop if you feel any discomfort or pain.
Understanding the Importance of the Sit-Rise Test
The fact is, functional movements like getting up from the ground indicate and improve your overall mobility and balance. In turn, this can reduce the risk of falls and other accidents, which is especially important as you age.
Moreover, such functional movements contribute to overall physical performance by:
Preserving independence: The ability to stand from the floor easily can help you maintain independence in daily activities and ensure you can care for yourself even as you grow older.
Improving health: Regularly challenging your physical abilities can improve your overall health and prevent age-related declines in strength and flexibility.
So, don’t underestimate the importance of being able to stand without using your hands or knees. This seemingly simple act can actually make a big difference in your overall health and quality of life.
To that end, here is what you need to pass the SRT and improve your mobility, balance, and longevity.
Building up to a Hands and Knees-Free Rise
If you struggle to pass the SRT, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start improving strength, balance, mobility, and flexibility to improve your overall health. Here are some exercises that will help:
Exercises for Core Strength, Leg Strength, and Balance
To improve your ability to rise from the ground without relying on your hands or knees, start by working on your core strength and balance. This will make the movement easier and more controlled. Implement exercises like:
Squats are excellent for strengthening your lower body and core. They mimic the motion of sitting down and standing up, which is essentially what you do in the sit-rise test. Start with bodyweight squats and as you get stronger, you can add weights for more challenges.
Lunges work on your balance while also strengthening your legs and hips. They can be done in various ways – forward, backward, or side lunges, each targeting different muscle groups.
Plank is especially great for building core strength but strengthens many other areas of your body all at once. Try starting with a 20-second plank and extending by 5-10 seconds every 3-4 days. If you cannot hold a plank for more than a few seconds, try a plank variation on your knees.
Do these exercises regularly as part of your workout routine, and you’ll notice improvements in both strength and balance.
Mobility and Flexibility Exercises
Improving your performance on the sit-rise test can be achieved by incorporating certain mobility exercises into your routine. These exercises help enhance your flexibility and mobility, particularly in your lower body.
Sun salutations are a collection of yoga poses that are performed at the start of a yoga class and are a great way to warm up the body and improve flexibility. I like to do these before a workout. Refer to the diagram below to see the poses in a standard sun salutation flow.
Hip Flexor Stretches:
Tight hip flexors can limit your hip mobility and make it harder to sit and rise from the floor. Regularly stretching your hip flexors can improve your flexibility and performance in the test. Great yoga poses for this include pigeon, eye of the needle, and fire log pose.
Once your core strength and balance have improved, try progression exercises to gradually build up to hands and knees-free rise. Here are some incremental steps:
Practice sitting-to-standing transitions with the use of a chair, low bench, or yoga block.
Lower the support height gradually as you gain confidence and strength.
Attempt the full movement without support, still utilizing your hands or knees if needed.
Finally, strive for the hands and knees-free rise, keeping your feet close to your center of mass as you stand.
Using Props and Assistance for Support
Assistance from props and tools can help you develop the necessary strength and coordination for a hands and knees-free rise. Consider using:
Resistance bands: Loop a band around a sturdy object and hold the ends while practicing the movement. This can help you get used to the motion with added support.
- Yoga Blocks: Yoga blocks are a great, lightweight prop for any kind of balancing poses. When you no longer need a chair – but can’t quite get all the way down and up – the yoga block would be the next step in the progression.
Furniture: Chairs, benches, or even walls can provide adequate support for practicing standing and sitting transitions. Remember to gradually decrease the support to build your strength and independence.
Props that can help you work up to the sitting-rising test
By incorporating these exercises, progressions, and adapted exercises into your regular routine, you’ll get closer to achieving a hands-and-knees-free rise from the floor. Remember to stay consistent and patient, as this skill requires time and practice to develop.
Tips for Staying Safe and Comfortable
Ease Your Way into It
Start with easier exercises and gradually increase the difficulty. Practicing consistently will help enhance your body strength and flexibility, enabling you to get up from the floor without using your hands or knees with ease.
Bracing and counterbalance
Maintain steadiness and prevent falls as you rise by focusing on proper bracing techniques with the right body parts. Utilize your core to provide stability and counterbalance your body weight as you slowly get up.
Lead an Active and Healthy lifestyle
Incorporating a balanced diet and regular exercise routine will not only help you gain the strength and mobility required for this task but also contribute to overall health. It’s important to work on both cardiovascular fitness and strength training, targeting the muscles responsible for balance and movement.
Listen to your Body
Understand the limitations of your body. Do not force yourself to perform exercises or movements that cause pain or discomfort. Make adjustments as needed and reach out to a professional for guidance if you’re unsure about specific techniques or experiencing ongoing issues.
Here are some additional tips to remember:
Warm-up before practicing the movements to prevent injury
Utilize a safe and comfortable surface, such as a mat or carpet
Take your time, be patient, and don’t rush
The SRT is more than a display of agility—it’s a reflection of your overall health and longevity. While it may seem challenging at first, with consistent practice and the right exercises, you can improve your score and, more importantly, your functional fitness.
Remember, you’re not just working towards a hands-and-knee-free rise—you’re working towards a healthier, more vibrant life!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have bad knees, it’s essential to take extra care when transitioning from the floor to standing. One helpful technique is to use your stronger leg to support your weight while you push yourself up. Make sure you have a cushioned yoga mat to protect your joints.
Incorporating floor exercises into your fitness routine can contribute to your overall health. They can improve your balance, flexibility, and core strength. Additionally, floor exercises typically engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, which results in a more functional and efficient workout.
As we age, we lose mobility, flexibility, and strength if we don’t stay active. Strength and mobility training – along with a little good old-fashioned practice – will make getting up a lot easier.
Leg and core exercises will help give you the strength you need to rise without the use of your hands. In the meantime, use a chair or yoga blocks as a prop to help improve balance.