The “Learn to Coach” Series: The movement & workout assessments

March 11, 2021

Written in conjunction with Strength Coach Podcast Ep. 307

Today, in part two of the “Learn To Coach series” we dive into the movement assessment and assessment workout.

At Certified Functional Strength Coach we find the systematic approach of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to be the most useful tool for screening patterns before layering on strength and speed. The FMS tells us if the joints are able to get into the necessary positions to optimally perform the action. If they can’t, we intervene with a corrective exercise and retest the screen to see if it improved.

In coaching terms, our good friend and CFSC coach Drew Massey said it best:

“The FMS tells you when you can put your foot on the gas and when to put your foot on the brake.”

Don’t use the Functional Movement Screen or you’re unfamiliar with it?

No problem. Any movement assessment of your choosing can work here, what’s important is that you’re assessing and not guessing. This process will lead to better exercise selection based on the individuals current abilities and not exercise selection based on what you think they can do, what they tell you they can do, what they want to be able to do, or what they used to be able to do. 

We want to meet the client where they’re at today, then progress them safely to where they want to be.

After our initial movement assessment we take them through our “assessment workout”. If you use the same first workout consistently then every exercise can be a screen. We keep this first workout incredibly simple and scalable.

What does this initial workout include?

The Warmup (10 minutes)

  1. We begin with a full body foam roll circuit starting at the calves and ending at the thoracic spine. Here we can see how the client gets up and down off the ground, how comfortable they are getting into each position, and we also get a snapshot of their tissue quality based on how they verbally respond to the pressure of the roller. If the ground is too cumbersome we can foam roll standing against a wall.
  2. Next we do a spiderman stretch and lateral hip rock stretch to see how their hips move in all directions – flexion, extension, rotation, and abduction. If they should need a regression we can move them to table hip stretches instead.
  3. Next we perform a set of supported leg lowers, a set of single leg bridges, and a set of floor slides. This allows us to assess hip separation, glute activation, hip flexion, thoracic extensions and shoulder flexion in three very simple low risk drills. Regressions would be to add more support, move to a two leg bridge, or use rollers to elevate the hand in the floor slide. If these, or any drills, during this initial workout are determined to be “too easy” then we progress these exercises in the second workout. No need to progress and “shoot for the moon” during this first session.
  4. Now that we have addressed the hip and shoulder, we want to look at movement at the ankle. We do this by doing a set of standing ankle rocks for each ankle reaching for the wall.
  5. We finished the warmup with the lunge matrix. This includes a toe touch to squat, a split squat, a lateral squat, a rotational squat, and a single leg deadlift. Here we get to see how the hips, ankles, shoulders and core integrate to produce movement.

The Strength Circuit (20 minutes)

  1. Push Ups to a yoga block. The yoga block helps gauge depth. If push ups on the ground are too difficult, elevate the hands to a bench or a bar.
  2. Bodyweight Split Squats. If the exercise is too difficult use a dowel, a bench or straps for support. 
  3. Front Plank – The goal is to be able to hold a solid plank for up to 60 seconds. If they can’t, ask them to hold the plank as long as they can and record the time. Cut the set at 60 seconds if the front plank is too easy and progress to a more difficult anti-extension exercise in their 2nd workout.
  4. Bodyweight Reaching Single Leg Deadlift – If the exercise is too difficult use a dowel, a chair or straps for support. 
  5. Strap Rows – The further you walk your feet down the more difficult it will be. I have never had anyone not able to do some version of a strap row unless their arm was in a sling.

X 2 Rounds

Conditioning (3-5 minutes)

  • 1-mile bike ride. We ask them to ride at a pace they are comfortable at. The best thing about the bike is that it is very low impact. Again we are not here to break any records today. It’s to get them comfortable with you, the environment, the pace, the exercises. Do take note of their average RPMs and the time it took to complete the ride. Any fitness tests (such as a Max Aerobic Speed test, or shuttle run) can be done in the next workout.

Again we select drills that are low risk, easy to scale and simple to do. Your first conversation and initial assessment will take 25 to 30 minutes. The first workout assessment is meant to take 30 to 35 minutes for a total of 60 minutes. I hope this helps you with creating your own “assessment workout” that you can use with new clients that will give you vital information for creating phase 1 of their program along with issuing any follow up testing that needs to be done at a late time.

I’ll end this segment with one of my favorite quotes to describe the assessment process and that is: 

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” ~ Yogi Berra


Our Certified Functional Strength Coach Level 1 Online Course is designed to provide you with the same experience you’d get attending our live Level 1 workshop. Complete with the same pre-workshop materials, our Online Course includes a ‘Virtual Live Workshop’, where you will follow a CFSC instructor through an entire Level 1 Workshop complete with instruction, demonstration and question and answer as if you were spending the day at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. Keeping with our rigorous practical standards, all enrollees will be required to complete an online exam and a coaching practical featuring video and open ended questions to complete their certification.

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