My FMS II Experience

I attended the FMS II certification last weekend and had an absolute blast. I wrote in June about how I liked my FMS I. I realized in that article I didn’t really write about what the FMS is, how it’s used, and why it’s used. Let’s have a look at this first.

The FMS (Functional Movement Screen) is a screening tool used to predict risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Various individuals in the health and medical field are using the FMS with their patients/clients. The screen consists of 7 functional movements. A few of the movements have extra screen which identifies if your client has a shoulder impingement problem and/or low back pain in flexion or extension of the spine. In the case that they do have pain, you know that they need to be cleared by a physio, chiro etc, before they can begin using resistance on certain exercises.

The screen also places movement patterns in order of importance. It allows you to score all the movement patters as well as screen for pain as was previously mentioned. The four primitive patterns are given the most importance followed by the other three functional patterns. The screen also enables the screener to see if the client has any asymmetries. Asymmetries take precedence, because they increase your chances of injury.

The FMS is first used to clear an individual to either leave care from a healthcare practitioner or allows a strength coach etc. to clear an athlete for weight training. These are just a few of the ways the FMS can be used. For athletes or even weekend warriors, it’s useful to use before you begin a resistance training program. Why you ask? Simple, if you have a dysfunctional movement pattern (such as a dysfunctions Shoulder) then adding strength to dysfunction is not only going to make the problem worse, but make it harder to reverse.

The screen also allows a coach to design a resistance training program for their athletes/clients that won’t injure them! If your coach/trainer isn’t screening or assessing you, how do they know what movements you can do safely and properly? Well the answer is: they don’t know.

The actual FMS is just a screen. It tell you that someone can or can’t do perform a movement pattern. It doesn’t tell you why they can or can’t do a certain movement pattern. This is where the FMS II course comes in. My instructor taught us how to use further screens and assessments to simply find more information.

Once I find what movement pattern needs to be worked on, further screening and assessment begins. For example, on the active straight leg raise (skip to 3:24 and on to see the active straight leg raise screen)
If an individual has a 1 on the right and a 2 on the left, then we want to get both these score to 2. So you would assess for mobility in the hips as well as stability in the anterior and posterior core. Only after further screening and assessing, can you prescribe corrective exercise.

The beauty of corrective exercise, is that you have an objective measuring tool in the FMS to test whether or not the corrective exercise you prescribe is actually working. So when you ‘prescribe’ corrective exercise, you are able to go back to the movement pattern and find out if the correction actually helped your movement pattern or not. Corrective exercise will literally improve your score on the spot if the the proper mobility/stability problems are addressed.

Mobility corrections will last approximately 30 minutes. As I’ve known for a while, and as my instructor stated, you can’t lengthen muscles in a matter of minutes. He said it takes 8 hours to actually add length to your sarcomeres. He also talked about a principle you’ve probably heard before; it takes 10,000 reps to master a movement. So it makes take a long ass time to clean up dysfunction you may have. There will be homework!

Anyways, I had a great time at the seminar. For anyone looking for an FMS practitioner just check out If you’re a coach or in the health field and are interested in getting certified go to the same site. You will be glad you did!

Caffeine: Implications on Fat Loss

I’m sure many of you have heard that caffeine can be used as a supplement to increase fat loss. In this article I will examine if this is true or not. I will also go over how caffeine may or may not hep us lose fat. As per usual, I’ll provide you with evidence and you can make your own mind up.

Caffeine is found in various drinks and even some food. Caffeine is present in beverages or food. It may be there naturally, in the case of coffee and tea. It may also be added to beverages and food, such as energy drinks, some sweets and certain medications. Caffeine found naturally in drink is going to be different than caffeine found in say energy drink. Coffee will have polyphenols present, your favourite energy drink won’t have these polyphenols.

According to Acheson et al metabolic rate increases significantly (16%) in non-obese individuals taking 8mg caffeine/kg. A 75kg individual would need 600 mg of caffeine. A regular coffee can have anywhere between 95-200mg of caffeine per cup. So that’s anywhere from 4-6 cups of coffee! That’s a heck of a lot. For someone with a metabolic rate of 2000 calories, you’d get ~40 extra calories burned over that three hour time period. That’s something, but it sure as hell won’t turn you into a greek sculpture overnight.

In another trial in the same study, they found that 4mg/kg of caffeine increased metabolic rate and fat oxidation in normal weight folks. However no increase in fat oxidation was shown in obese individuals. The last trial in this study found an increase in the thermic effect of eating with the inclusion of caffeine vs. no caffeine.

This study resulted ina 2-3% increase in metabolism over 150 minutes. For the same individual with a metabolism around 2000, this results in a paltry 6.25 extra calories burned over that time period.

While perusing the internet, I came upon something that said that caffeine had appetite suppressing effects. As usual, I wanted to see what the research said about this. Maybe I suck at searching for research, but the only thing that even came close to backing the claims in that article was this study on the combination of caffeine and nicotine.

Since this is just not an option for anyone who doesn’t smoke I don’t feel that it can be used for the general person looking to lose weight. You can’t say caffeine alone causes a suppression in appetite because this study used it in conjunction with nicotine.

Another study examined how the consumption of caffeinated coffee vs. non-caffeinated coffee effected acute appetite. There was no effect on appetite beween either groups. it should be noted this study was done on healthy young males.

So there you have it. Caffeine can increase metabolism and fat oxidation (in normal weight individuals). However it’s a very small amount. Removing 40 calories of food from your diet is not an impossible task for most. However, for those looking for some kind of edge in fat loss (provided they have no blood pressure issues) caffeine may be able to help you slightly. I personally wouldn’t bother wasting money any crazy supplements. It’s not worth your money in my opinion!

“Clean” Bulking

This was on my mind a few days ago. Why you ask? I remember when I first started training, I’d nearly always refuse to eat “dirty” foods. By “dirty” foods I am talking about foods that are considered by most to be unhealthy. The word dirty, in the context of food is undefinable in my opinion now. However, back in the day, I considered dirty food to things like pizza, fast food, pop, candy etc.

I used to think to myself that dirty food had an inherent characteristic, which made you fat. Through everything I have read and learned, I now know that just plain isn’t true. As I’ve discussed numerous times, the body will gain or lose weight with any kinds of food you put in your mouth. Remember the old low-fat (LF) craze, followed by the low-carb (LC) phase? This study performed on obese adults compared the effects of isocaloric diets using either LC or LF. What were the results you ask? Nearly identical weight loss.

This shows you that calories are calories. Yes carbohydrates, proteins and fats have different properties. Since diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome are all prevalent in our societies, it’s not as easy as saying eat whatever you want. Not to mention biomarkers of health will have an impact on macronutrient composition and vice versa. However in a true sense, with nothing holding you back (like diabetes etc) you can lose weight as long as you are consuming less energy than you are expending.

I realize I’ve been talking about weight loss thus far, but that was just to prove a point about the belief that various foods are inherently more fattening than others. Which just isn’t true. Now, back to my point. In order for individuals to gain weight you need to be in caloric excess.

If you are consuming more than you are expending you will gain weight. Depending on various factors such as: lifestyle and level of activity, you will will gain lean mass and/or fat. Obviously it is the goal of most people who are looking to put size on, to gain mostly muscle.

Eating healthy foods is great. You get nutrients and vitamins from various foods and it’s definitely the healthiest way to go. However, if you’re caloric needs are 4-5000 calories on training days, you’re going to run into problems eating only ‘clean’ food.

For this reason, I do suggest the addition of supplements like carb powder, protein powder, milk etc. You can stay on your high horse about only eating clean, but I’d like to see how big you really are. If you can eat 4-5000 calories in a day of clean foods then good on you, keep going. For others though, you may need to make additions to your diet that might not exactly be ‘clean.’ If you do add something like milk, don’t feel bad about it, it might be just what you need to reach your body weight goals!

Log Your Numbers Damnit!

Short post for Thanksgiving here. Sorry for the lack of content this week. I’ll get some good stuff up for you all next week. Anyways…

I rarely see people with log books when they go to the gym. I suppose they could have excellent memories… Although I highly doubt it. They’re most likely just going to the gym to go through whatever program they memorized from a magazine.

Well folks, I guess I haven’t gone over this topic much but you need to do better than this if you are looking to progress. Whether your goal is fat loss, or muscle gain, you should be logging your progress.

In terms of fat loss you may try to do as much work in as little time as possible. If you never know how much work you are actually doing, then you won’t be able to increase your workload over time! If you know how much work you did on one day, and you actually keep track, then you will know how many more reps or sets you need to do in order to progress.

In terms of muscle gain, you need to know how much you lifted in each session. If you aren’t following the principle of progressive overload, you simply won’t progress past newbie gains. If you want a truly impressive physique, you need to add weight to the bar. If you don’t know how much weight you are lifting, then how are you supposed to progress?

I go over progressive overload and log books more extensively in my book The Ultimate Beast. Stay tuned.

The Importance of Hip and Ankle Mobility For Athletes: Part I

Before I start anything, you should really read a little bit on the joint-by-joint approach to training. Check out this. Pretty much all sports which require running results in numerous knee injuries. In my case, I had numerous ankle injuries. Obviously injuries in general want to be avoided.

Mobility isn’t done nearly enough. How do I know this? I know quite a few athletes at my gym and I pretty much never see them doing mobility work. Is this applicable to everyone? Nope, but it never hurts to try right?

In the joint-by-joint approach to training the ankle requires mobility, the knee requires stability and the hips require mobility. If you are lacking mobility at the ankle or hips, you will regain this mobility in the knee. The knee is obviously a joint meant for stabilization, if it’s providing mobility, you will increase your chances of injury.

Let’s look at a few assessments you can do on yourself to assess whether your mobility is any good in your hips and ankles. We’ll start with the ankles. Generally speaking, athletes with ankle mobility issues will experience a loss of ankle dorsiflexion. [youtube]uFnsEEc-JFo[/youtube] A study on basketball players showed that ankle dorsiflexion range of motion should be ~36.5 degrees in order to prevent knee pain. There are numerous reasons why individuals lose ankle dorsiflexion ROM, I could easily write another article on that issue. To put it simply; shoes, posterior lower leg tightness, and hip positions lead to this limited ROM.

Let’s get to the test. It’s really quite simple. You’re simply going to stand infront of wall with your right foot closer to the wall than your left. Keeping your hips level, you will bring your right knee to the wall. You will want to keep going away from the wall until your heel begins to come off the floor as you dorsiflex your ankle.

As the study above notes, an ankle range of motion (ROM) less than ~35 degrees can be harmful. If you have access to a goniometer, by all means, use it. Otherwise, you can make an estimate. You would also like to see your ankle mobility to be symmetrical.

In this video, Bill Hartman goes over a couple excellent ankle mobility drills. He first goes over the actual assessment (which can be used as a mobility drill as well). Then he goes over how soft tissue work can be incorporated to increase ankle dorsiflexion ROM.

There are a couple other ones I like to use. Knee break ankle mobilizations are excellent. In this exercise, you will elevate your toes, and simply let your knees drift over your toes are far forward as you can:
You can do this unilaterally or bilaterally.

Rocking ankle mobilization is another good one I like to use. You will feel an excellent stretch in your calves doing this.
If your gastrocnemius is tight, keep your knee extended. If you want to target your soleus, flex your knee while performing the drill.

In the next installment of this series, I will cover parts of the hip!