Thank you for reading my second posting on Coaches’ Corner. Today I’m going to discuss why we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), how we us it, and what that means for you the student. As you know, every student at Iron Monkey Strength has to be FMSed every 4 months. What you might not know is how that screening figures into our programming. We use the Smart Group Training (SGT) system to use the FMS as a way to customize our programs to our students needs and mitigate the opportunities for injury.

 Pictured: The FMS kit being assembled for a screening at Iron Monkey Strength

Let’s start with the FMS. What is the Functional Movement Screen and why do it? The FMS is a movement screen that uses strict criteria to “flag” a movement as dangerous, dysfunctional, functional, or flawless. It’s important to understand that this is just a screen. It’s not clinical. It’s not without flaws. It is, however, a very good “bird’s eye view” of how a person in moving. The screen is composed principle movement patterns. By principle I mean a primary block of all athletic movement. Like DNA the Deep Squat, Hurdle Step, Inline Lunge, Shoulder Mobility, Active Straight Leg Raise, Trunk Stability Pushup, and Rotary Stability are combined to create any movement. We screen on a scale of 0-3 with 0 indicating that the movement triggers pain and a 3 the movement is theoretically perfect. We want to identify any movements that trigger pain (so we can avoid them while seeking medical help). If there are any patterns that the FMS flags as dysfunctional it’s possible to avoid injury by not working in the faulty pattern until the movement screen results in a two or functional rating. We do this to make training as “safe” as we can.

What is Smart Group Training and how does it tie into the FMS? SGT is a system designed by Steve Long and Jared Woolever. The idea behind the system is to make it easy for Coaches to quickly know what movements are flagged as dysfunctional or painful on a student’s FMS and direct them to the appropriate alternative movement in a given program. For the student the system does a few things. It prevents you from building strength on a movement that probably is problematic. It also provides you with healthier alternatives that will lead to a better movement base. Finally it provides a positive feedback loop by rewarding the student with new training possibilities because of their work and success in improving their screen numbers. Once a student or athlete earns a 2 on a movement they are cleared to start building strength in that movement pattern.


 Pictured: The charts we use to help students and coaches ID what Lifts or Activities should be avoided, and what correctives to do instead.

Sounds cool right?! But why do students have to rescreen every 4 months? This is exactly what makes our program different from most other fitness and training programs! We care very much that you, the student, are able to continue training with as few interruptions (via injury) as possible. So we rescreen you every 4 months just to make sure nothing has started getting funky. Think of it like a safety inspection for your car. You see, with training sometimes you can develop mobility restrictions or asymmetries (right side more mobile than left for example). The sooner we catch it -the sooner we can start implementing a strategy that prevents something more serious. The best part is: It’s included! We do this for you, and we do it because it aligns with our values.

In the past the FMS only screened the movements, but in recent years Functional Movement Systems has added to the screen some mobility and coordination screens that we think are super helpful. Ankle dorsiflexion (foot moving towards the knee) is the first mobility metric we look at via an Ankle Clearing screen. Basically want to see how far you can move your tibia (shin) forward past your toes without the heel coming off or you experiencing pain. Then we screen your ability to lower your body on one leg while reaching the other leg forward and returning upright with control and balance (basically like a pistol squat). Finally we look at your upper body cross body reach which screens the stability of the system when coordinating a PNF patterned upper body movement. All together this is referred to as the Motor Control Screen (MCS) and is a nice addition to the original FMS. We like to include the MCS for 2 key reasons. For one, it gives us more information on how your ankle moves. Could the lack of movement potential at the ankle be part of the reason why you have a hard time squatting? Or maybe you have great mobility at the ankle so that’s not why you find the squat or lunge to be so challenging. Secondly, it gives us a measure of how well your nervous system is integrating movement and balance. This can give us both a metric for how well you move upper/lower body and clues as to whether you truly have a mobility restriction, or a lack of stability is resulting in poor movement. It’s all about gathering as much intel about you to help you move better in your training and in your life.

 Pictured: Coach Jason demonstrating the MCS Upper Body and Lower Body Reach

At Iron Monkey Strength we take your training and health very seriously. We want you to be as successful as you can.  We’re constantly looking for things to implement that will aid us in that endeavor. I hope after reading this you have a better idea as to what the FMS is and why we use it. It results in superior training program for you. Please feel free to comment on this blog with your questions or email us at [email protected]. Thanks again for reading, and check back next month for the next Coaches’ Corner at