Why You Need A Functional Strength Test

Why You Need A Functional Strength Test

Author Cory Fagan
When it comes to fitness, we often get caught up talking about the best ways to lose weight, burn fat and put on muscle. These are all important topics, but the basics focusing on functional fitness and movements seem to get forgotten. Once you understand the importance of your foundation and the role it plays in your fitness it will quickly move to the top of your list. Without a strong foundation, you’re not going to reach the goals you have set – and you’re also increased the chance for possible injury. So what does focusing on your foundation even mean? We will try to explain below.

How You Currently Move

When we are talking about foundation, we’re referring to the baseline movement fundamentals we should each have before beginning any workout workout program. It’s how you squat, lunge, step up, and twist. Creating a solid foundation means being able to perform functional fitness movements in a safe, efficient, and controlled manner with perfect balance – without any compensations or asymmetry. One issue that we often see is clients all want to push themselves, increasing fat loss and more performance but increasing volume and resistance that ultimately lead to injury. Mastering the fundamentals is crucial to maximizing your results and performance while remaining injury free.

The TCR Approach

We encourage all clients to first get a baseline of how your foundation is functioning. And then, once we have a solid understanding of our functional movement, we can begin attacking our workout programs. There are numerous studies that support this approach to fitness, proving that exercises focusing on core muscle activation, neuromuscular control, dynamic stability, and static stabilization result in reduced injury rates and high performance output. See journal of strength study of FT vs TT. Basically it comes down to helping you have better body awareness and control over how it moves. How can you test your foundation? All TCR clients that enroll with our personal training team perform a simple evaluation that analyzes your fundamental movement patterns for weaknesses, referred to as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

The Functional Movement Screen

Developed in 2001 by physical therapist Gray Cook, the functional movement screen measures your fundamental movement patterns, motor control within these movement patterns, and helps determine if any asymmetry or deficiency is present. Bottom line, it evaluates how you do basic movements – squats and lunges etc. and looks for any imbalances that might need correcting. The simple grading system of the Functional Movement Screen was designed not only to assess movement patterns, but to develop specific programs based on the results. It allows our trainers to become aware of imbalances in movement before beginning a program, so they can first correct it. The test consists of a series of numerous mobility and stability movements that will reveal any imbalances in the body. Whether you have a flexibility issue on one side of the body versus the other, or show less stability on one side, this test will reveal it.

Minimize Injury Risk

A major reason we use Functional Movement Screens is to lower your risk of being injured. Since good stability and mobility are the foundation of correctly performing functional movements, calling out any weaknesses here will help you avoid sustaining an injury. Completing a Functional Movement Screen can also help avoid aggravating any weaknesses you currently have. Understanding the weakness is important while making changes in your training routine, most of us ignore the nagging injuries and work through it. We increase volume with incorrect technique which results in more severe injury leading to more time away and delaying your fitness growth in its tracks. Now compare this to if you had performed a Functional Movement Test, we would have identified the weakness and corrected it, then moved forward with a customized workout program. Potentially you could save yourself from an injury, and progressed further and faster than if you had not addressed the weakness.

Improving Functional Movement

The beauty of understanding Functional Movement is its ability to analyze patterns for weakness in everyday moving, which then allows you to create a program that includes a corrective exercise strategy.

Should you get a Functional Movement Assessment?

If you are interested in increasing performance and reducing injury then this test is a MUST! As I mentioned before, using corrective exercises to overcome a weakness will enhance performance down the road by improving your entire functional foundation. Once the foundation is perfected, we can work at a higher level with fewer chances of setbacks.

How to Get a Screen

The screen only takes about 30 minutes to complete, I highly recommend that everyone looking to start a fitness regime or enhance performance get one. Even if the screen scores perfect functional strength, you can rest easy knowing you’re progressing with less risk for an injury. If your screen shows imbalances, however, don’t think of it as a setback. Instead, it’s a chance to integrate exercises into your program that corrects these imbalances and you will come out stronger. If you have any questions we are alway eager to hear from you. Fill out the comments below or give us an old fashioned phone call so we can chat! TCR Sports Lab

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