Functional Movement Screening

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a pre-participation screening tool designed to

identify movement patterns that are indicative of increased injury risk and inefficient

movement that causes reduced performance.

The FMS consists of a series of seven mobility and stability exercises and three

clearing “tests” that will reveal any imbalances in the body. This allows

individuals and trainers to become aware of imbalances in

movement before beginning a program, so they can first correct it.

The Functional Movement Screen assesses basic movement patterns to identify

tightness and weakness in the body - so you can correct them before they cause

major problems.

What is Functional Movement Training?

Functional movement training doesn’t just strengthen one muscle group at a


Instead, this kind of training works several muscle groups at once. As a result,

you build strength holistically, forcing your body to function as a single unit.

Because you’re using several muscle groups at once, coordination and

neuromuscular control is also improved.

Basically, functional movement training is all about training “movements, not

muscles.” It mirrors how humans were meant to move and helps to make us

move even better.

Functional Movement Exercise: Chair Squats

Sprinting, jumping, pushing, pulling, climbing, lunging, and squatting – we do

these activities in almost every sport. We also include them in many of our daily


You might be wondering why these movements are so important, and why

they’re better than traditional weight training when it comes to developing real-

world fitness.

Reasons Not to Train Like a Bodybuilder

Old-school body part training won’t get you the results you want.

Why? Because it:

1. Isn’t related to movements performed in everyday life.

2. Restricts range of motion.

3. Shortens and tightens muscle tissues.

4. Can lead to muscular imbalances.

5. Typically doesn’t develop important stabilizer muscles.

All of these points are huge problems if your goal is to become truly physically fit

and not just have bulging biceps.

Functional movement patterns allow you to become physically fit holistically,

while also achieving a lean and toned physique.

And they have lots of other benefits, too.

Functional Workouts Defy Injuries

The top goal of functional movement training is to lower the chance of injury.

Some of the top risks of injury for those starting a fitness regimen include: core

weakness, muscle imbalances, musculoskeletal abnormalities, and poor

neuromuscular control (1).

Functional training addresses all of those issues.

That’s because all functional training movements engage the core.

Your Body’s Core Muscles

That means they immediately help to correct core weakness. Functional

movements use your stability muscles (such as the deep core muscles that lie

beneath the muscles of our “six-pack”) that protect the spine from

excessive twisting and extending.

Not only that, but functional movement training addresses muscle imbalances

and asymmetries through corrective exercises that build a strong foundation.

This is opposed to traditional weight training, which attempts to build muscle

volume on top of potential asymmetries – which is a real no-no if you want to

reach your fitness goals without problems.

Neuromuscular control refers to the network of neurons and muscles involved in

the control of movement. Is also improved with functional movement training, as

these movements require balance and smooth transitions between motions.

In fact, studies have shown balance training – a key component of functional

training – to be more effective for neuromuscular control than strength training


The more you strengthen the neuromuscular system, the core, and correct

muscle imbalances and asymmetry, the less your risk factor is for injuries.

This is so important to keep in mind when you begin training and want to dive

right into intense regimes without taking the time to build a functional foundation.

If you’re feeling impatient, remember that any goals of weight loss or increased

performance will obviously be cut short if you were to sustain an injury.

Functional Exercises Boost Performance

The main goal of functional movement training – aside from preventing injuries –

is increasing performance both in and out of the gym.

While traditional training is often limited to movements you would perform in the

gym, functional training has what we call a “transfer effect” to real-life situations.

For example, doing knee extensions, no matter how heavy, is less likely to help a

person get off the couch than performing a squat, which is a functional


Not only can functional movement training increase physical performance, it can

also increase mental stimulation, which has been shown to lead to enhanced

cognitive ability (5).

This is due to the stimulating and – frankly – non-boring nature of functional

training, which includes balance, mobility, and stability challenges, rather than

simple muscle contractions. This encourages the brain to focus on and adapt to

new movement patterns.

Functional Workouts Burn Fat

Even though we’re putting emphasis on training “movements, not muscles,”

functional movement training is by no means lacking when it comes to producing

lean, toned bodies.

Take a look at gymnasts, who rarely carry an ounce of fat on them as they use

only their bodyweight to perform seemingly gravity-defying movements. They are

a prime example of the power of functional training.

The reason this type of training is so effective in getting individuals lean is due to

the fact that these movements are compound, meaning they use more than one

muscle group at once. This not only builds more lean muscle mass – which helps

us to burn even more fat – but also recruits more muscle fibers during the


This produces an effect referred to as “afterburn,” or excess post oxygen

consumption (EPOC). EPOC is the amount of calories burned after your workout,

and research has found that shorter, more intense full-body workouts burn a

greater amount of calories over time than longer, low-intensity workouts (6).

Functional Movement Training Exercises

Functional movement exercises involve full-body motion and engage the stability

muscles, which are extremely important in preventing injuries. While this list

doesn’t include every functional movement you can do, it gives you an idea of

what kinds of movements are classified as functional.

  • Front Squats

  • Kettlebell Swings

  • Planks

  • Deadlifts

  • Lunges

  • Squat Presses

Any of these exercises can be used in combination to create a full functional

movement workout.

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