Assessment in Fitness Training

Question:

I am working on tightening up my assessment process. Making a quick version of a movement screen and a more detailed assessment for special cases. I work alongside a massage therapist so we need a process that covers both of our needs so we can communicate about certain clients. The FMS is great, but definitely not enough in some cases and too much for other cases.

What general or specific assessments have you guys found helpful that are often overlooked?

Answer:

I’m just going to break this question down piece by piece to be more accurate. Here we go.

Creating your own assessment process is a bad idea – I can tell you from experience that this is a bad idea. I’ve made many screens that, at the time, I thought were better than the FMS. More details, easier, no kit needed, etc. However, after using these screens, I’ve seen the light and understand that the FMS is the standard for a reason. I will make my point with your questions below.

Need to communicate with others about results – This is why the FMS is so amazing! It gives you a baseline to communicate, it gives you a scoring system that tells you about the movement, and it’s the only system that defines what good movement is. If you can’t define good movement than what are you assessing? The Functional Movement Screen and the SFMA were designed for movement professionals to communicate with clinicians worldwide. Why reinvent the wheel?

Not enough in some cases – I can’t think of a case where the FMS is not enough to screen functional movement.  What movement is not covered by the FMS that wouldn’t be considered a performance test or an assessment that a clinician should be doing? If your client is in pain you should refer out. Know your scope of practice. Can they do they movement that you will be asking of them in the gym? The FMS is the best system to tell you which patterns you train, which patterns you correct, and which patterns you avoid.

0 – avoid and/or refer out

1 – correct or avoid

2 – Process with caution

3 – Feel free to rip it

Additionally, the FMS Level 2 workshop has many breakouts for each movement on the screen so you can dig deeper into correcting each pattern. I also have started a series on the SGT blog that shows breakouts for each movement. Between the screen and the breakouts, that should be more than enough information.

Too much for other cases – The FMS takes 8-10 minutes to perform with a client. I don’t’ know how to get this much reliable information in 10 minutes any other way. Doing some of the movements and not all of them gives you an incomplete picture of how someone moves. The FMS is basic movement, you will be doing basic movement with your clients, shouldn’t you at least look at those movements at a basic level without load before training them?

Also, you can always default to the Active Straight Leg Raise and Shoulder Mobility if someone is elderly or severely obese. I can’t think of any situation besides that where the FMS would be too much.

All of that being said – I completely understand that you want to learn more about assessment. I read and watch everything I can get my hands on about the topic and I also tweak my breakouts all of the time. You should always keep learning and questioning the status quo, so I commend you for that.

I’d check out the following resources to learn more:

Assess and Correct by Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson, and Bill Hartman

Functional Stability Training by Mike Reinold and Eric Cressey

SGT Building a Foundation

I do however strongly believe that the FMS should come first so we all can be on the same page with what movement is, and we all can communicate on how to make it better. Great question!