Course Notes: FMS Level 2

Mobility, Stability, and the Like

I recently attended the FMS Level 2 course after rocking the home study. In my quest to take every con ed course known to man, I got into the functional movement people because the idea of improving movement over isolation exercise interests me. I find the way they build up to the patterns very logical, namely because they liberally use PNF and developmental principles; and they do so quite eloquently.

The whole weekend was kinda like this.
The whole weekend was kinda like this.

But really, I wanted to go to this class so I could meet and learn from Gray Cook. And his segments did not disappoint. While I may not agree with everything he says, he is a very brilliant man and knows movement.

The only disappointment I have to say about this course was that I did not get enough Gray and Lee. I would say I probably saw them teach 30% of the time, with another FMS instructor just running us through their algorithms. I am sorry, but if you are going to advertise Gray Cook and Lee Burton as the instructors, then I want Gray and Lee instructing me!

A lot of these exercises were review for me, but there were definitely some tweaks that I liked a great deal. I think if you are new to more motor control-based exercises, this course is great for you. Just make sure you are taking it from Gray and/or Lee.

Mad props to this fellow.
Mad props to this fellow.

Why Screen?

The FMS is predominately used to manage risk and prioritize exercise selection. They look at fundamental movement patterns to rule in/out asymmetries and dysfunctions, which ultimately allow someone to safely train in the weight room.  If you are unfamiliar with the FMS, check out this previous post from my review of the Movement Book

Lee Burton mentioned that his goal is to look for 0’s and 1’s; once we get to 2’s we’re good to go. This number ensures we have movement compentency as opposed to excellence, which is a requisite to loading these movements.

One thing I will say positively about this group is that they are all for doing and testing whatever you want, as long as you are consistent. But if you plan on doing the FMS, the research is done in the same manner taught in the home study course and the Movement Book.

Prioritizing Correctives

Within the FMS model, we choose corrective exercise based on a particular hierarchy. Mobility impairments are attacked first via the active straight leg raise (ASLR) and shoulder mobility (SM) tests. From those two screens, ASLR is first corrected. We go after this part first because developmentally we have leg control before we do arm control. Moreover, ASLR is purely sagittal plane, versus the triplanar shoulder screen.

Once we get good mobility, we then work on developing improved motor control via rotary stability (RS) and trunk stability pushup (TSP); done in that order.

Once these areas are squared away, we go after functional patterns. We first hit the inline lunge (ILL), then the hurdle step (HS), then the deep squat (DS).

Followed by this
Followed by this

In-depth Screening

The FMS actually started incorporating more movements to look at once you get into level 2, which eerily look like the SFMA. Likely because it is the SFMA 🙂 Here is where to screen next once you get past the basics.

  • ASLR –> Toe Touch –> crocodile breathing
  • SM –> Cervical ROM–> Impingement testing –> AC impingement testing –> Seated T-spine rotation –> Grip screen –> Crocodile breathing
  • RS –> Spinal flexion clearing –> Crocodile breathing –> Upper body rolling –> Lower body rolling
  • TSP –> Spinal extension clearing –> Crocodile breathing
  • ILL –> Ankle mobility (goal is 40 degrees in half-kneeling)
  • HS –> Ankle mobility
  • DS –> Ankle mobility –> Toe Touch

Let’s Correct

The corrections for each movement progress from mobility, to static motor control, to dynamic motor control, and finally strength. Here were some of my favorite correctives for each screen (Many videos courtesy of the IFAST folks).

ASLR

Mobility work goes after the hip flexors and performing leg-lowering patterns.

Static motor control involves working in half-kneeling, and dynamic involves patterning from double leg to single leg deadlifts. One of my favorite correctives was utilizing RNT to facilitate the lats during deadlifts.

I also liked the way he patterned the deadlift by using a squat to get into the position

Once you get the deadlifts down, load-up for strength

SM

Mobility predominately went after the t-spine via various rib-rolls and such:

Motor control involved deadlifts again, as well as various drills that involve shoulder packing:

We can progress these drill dynamically to armbars, get-ups, pushups, working toward a press in the horizontal and vertical planes. And of course, don’t forget the beastly real row:

RS

The correctives usually build on from previous one’s the further you go in the screen. Mobility involves rib rolls and ASLR derivatives. Eventually you work toward quadruped and bird-dog activities.

Once you get past the easy stuff, we go into rolling a la SFMA, with the hard-roll being next in line (Thank you Perry Nickelston):

We can then progress to single leg deadlifts, presses, and pulls.

TSP

Mobility work involves hip flexors and half-kneeling. We go after motor control via planks, mountain climbers, and quadrupedal activities. From here, we just go into pushup progressions; culminating into various presses.

ILL

The big mobility work goes after hip flexors and calves. With the famous brettzel stretches being incorporated here:

Motor control exercises go from half-kneeling building up to lunge variations. Eventually, we will load these patterns.

HS

Mobility work builds further onto previous exercises; leg lowering, ASLR, dorsiflexion. We also go into stride stretches, which are basically mobilizations in a hurdle-step position.

Motor control goes from half-kneeling to single-leg chops and lifts, all the way to single leg deadlifts. The ultimate strength exercise for this pattern is step-ups

DS

Mobility work goes after ankle dorsiflexion, hip flexors, and any SM corrections.

Motor control involves working in tall-kneeling (foam roller behind to cue upright posture) and progressing from deadlifts to squats

Eventually we work toward performing an overhead squat.

Other random exercises

I also liked how Gray added some nice tweaks to the Turkish get-up which you will see below:

“Gray”te Quotes…Get it? It’s funny because I combined Gray Cook with the word great…just read on

  • “Tightness and fatigue feel the same way.”
  • “If I could pick four exercises to do, they would be chops, lifts, deadlifts, and Turkish Get-ups.”
  • “Your people with total hips and total knees should get up from the floor.”
  • “Stabilizers have to be fast, not strong.”
  • “Everyone develops differently.” (Haha DNS)
  • “3 degrees of extra mobility leads to 300 degrees of increased proprioception.”
  • “The best entertainment you can get is results.”
  • “There’s a difference between good and bad and good and can’t.”
  • “We’re not laying down new motor programs, we’re getting old ones back.” (This was from Lee)
  • “First step in correctives is to remove the negatives.” (Also from Lee)
  • “Any wasted rep is costing you success.”
Please remove the negatives.
Please remove the negatives.