Forget Fat Loss For Now! Quality of Movement Before Quantity of Exercise

Quick Tips

Out of the gates fast here.

Two things…

1)   Gray Cook is a genius.

2)   “People would do better if they knew better”.  –Jim Rohn

If you aren’t familiar with Gray Cook, it’s quite alright.  The trickling down of human performance and corrective exercise information coming from Gray isn’t targeted to the average Joe and Jane.  Gray is the guy that teaches professionals.  You can probably guess how influential he is judging by the fact that he is the person who is teaching the people who you folks think are the experts in their field.

Gray Cook FMS


Did you catch all of that?  Make some sense?

Anyways, Gray developed a system of assessing human movement called the FMS, or Functional Movement Screen.  Some years ago, he noticed that the movement industry lacked a protocols for assessing the quality of a person’s movement.  There was no baseline from which to build from.  Sure, you could watch a person squat and determine that it didn’t look right, but what then?  What is the course of action to fix that squat?

All we really had outside of the rehabilitation setting were “quantity” protocols.  By quantity, I am referring to the stereotypical physical assessment that you can still get in many gyms around the world. These assessments commonly included:

–       # of squats to failure

–       # of push ups to failure

–       # of chin ups/pull ups to failure

–       some assessment of cardiovascular performance (treadmill, bike, etc)

–       flexibility testing

Sit and Reach Test

I enjoyed my time in my college Kinesiology program as much as the next person, but how relevant is the data that I’m gathering from Sit and Reach Test (pictured above)?  Look at that guy!  That test is largely designed to measure lower back and lower extremity (hamstrings, etc) flexibility.  Check out the amount of spinal flexion he’s got going on that will increase his numbers.  Sit up straight son!  Even if he did sit up straight, and the test was legit, what are you going to do with the data gathered from the test?  What is your course of action?  Stretch the hamstrings?

We know that the lower back demands (primarily not only) stability for health and the hamstrings have become long, weak, and dormant in most people (from sitting all day).

So, using something like the sit and reach rewards a person that has flexibility in the hamstrings and flexibility in their lower back.  Pure tunnel-vision.

It’s not enough.  Tests like this are ancient and it’s just not enough anymore.

Quantity.  Do you see what I am talking about now?  Everything was based on physical performance qualities like strength, endurance, flexibility, etc.  I have no beef with any of these qualities, as they are definitely worth improving, I simply have shifted my thought process of what we should be assessing on people from the beginning of our relationship.

Personally, I now promote establishing quality of movement, then adding quantity of movement.  Move right and then burn tons of fat.  It’s a pre-requisite of sorts.  Adding quantity of movement with high volume methods (circuits, complexes, interval based, etc) only serves to make pre-existing movement problems worse.

Dust under the rug

 It’s like sweeping dirt underneath the rug.  Dirt is still there, you just can’t see it.

That shift led me to favor the FMS and everything that it stands for. 

It took me a while to understand what the hell the Functional Movement Screen was all about.  It’s complex.  It takes a great deal of studying, reading and experimenting to grasp the concepts.  Every single time I listen to Gray speak; it’s easy to pick up that he is on a whole other level of knowledge and understanding.  He’s a pioneer for sure.

Messing around with the FMS and the associated corrective exercises is a blast.


Because in a matter of minutes you can fix a person’s faulty movement.  You can go from testing horribly in one of the seven FMS screens, to testing near perfect from leveraging a number of highly impactful corrective movements, each designed to improve a specific movement pattern test.


The FMS to me is the pre-assessment to the assessment. 

—> Personal Trainers:  Don’t Sell Yourself and Your Clients Short…

If you an exercise professional stopping by this blog, you need to get educated on the FMS.  It is a disservice to ask a client to perform bodyweight squats to failure when they can’t even squat properly in the first place.  I would also like to add that the inability of a person to squat often not a grooving problem.  In other words, having a person perform more and more ugly squats is not going to improve a person’s squat form.

Motor control definitely has something to do with movement technique, yes, but there are so many underlying issues revolving around primarily mobility and stability that need to be addressed to work out the kinks.

Personal trainers, you’ve got to establish your identity.  People come to you to lose weight and get “ripped”, but you’ve got to have standards.  Articulate the importance of moving properly and then moving to burn fat and lose weight.  We live in a world that feeds off instant gratification, but you’ve got to resist the urge to do the activities that make your clients happy at times.  You’re the professional, you’re in control.

So, my shift in thinking is from quantity to quality.  I adopted the concepts of the FMS quite a few years ago, and it’s been nothing short of fantastic.  I can’t even say that I am “drinking the Kool-Aid” anymore… I am officially doing a full-blown keg stand with the Kool-Aid.

You should to.  I’ll hold your legs while you drink.

—>  Average Joes and Janes read and watch now…

If you’re not an exercise professional, take a glance at this video from Gray.  Many of you are familiar with the Turkish Get Up, and Gray does a fantastic job describing how it fits into a training program.

Wrapping it up for now… address your movement quality and the ramp up your training regimen to burn fat, build muscles and all kinds of crazy athleticism.  Sustainable movement is more important than some rapid flash in a pan fat loss training program.  You’ve got the rest of your life to strip fat off your body.  Literally, years I tell you.  Habits are made over time and broken over time.  Stay dedicated and consistent in your workouts and fat loss with lean muscle gain will be pleasant reward.

*** If it feels like I only provided a hazy glimpse into what the FMS is and why we should apply it right now to our own situations, you’re accurate in with that feeling.  As I mentioned, the FMS is complex and articulating it’s importance and application to your own workouts is something that I want to address over time and multiple articles, not in one shot.

All in good time friends, all in good time.

—> Speaking of friends… if you like anything that you read or see on this blog, subscribe to it.  All subscribing does is notify you of a new posting when it drops.  I have stated that I want to build a community using this blog as my vehicle.  Humble beginnings, yes, but it will grow.  Let’s connect and move mountains together.<—


Cheers on this Superbowl Sunday 2013!





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s