Functional Training Institute

Functional Assessment Of The Back Squat

For many trainers and coaches, functional movement assessments such as the overhead squat, and others due to their complexity, are a barrier to performing the important task of observing movement competency, before progressing to load.  Given, the squat pattern is fundamental to many of the functional training movement patterns, utilised with kettlebells, functional bags, battling ropes and suspension cables, having an objective test to determine the extent of movement competency in this pattern, is important.  Given this conundrum, a more simplified assessment of the squat is warranted.  Previously, a group of prominent researchers that included Brad Schoenfeld and Professor Stuart McGill;  published a research paper that provides a simple, yet very objective functional assessment of the squat.  The table below is an exert taken from this research paper (Myer et al. 2014) and provides a 10-point competency assessment of the back squat:

The suggested method to instruct a client through this assessment is as follows:

  1. Have the client hold a dowel rod in the back squat position with the forearms parallel to torso and upper back musculature contracted.
  2. Feet are placed with heels shoulder width apart and toes forward or slightly outward
  3. The client is then instructed to “squat down until you believe that the top of your thighs are parallel to the ground, and then return to the initial starting position. Perform 10 continuous repetitions at a consistent, moderate pace, or until you are instructed to stop:
  4. The client should be referred to a medical or allied health professional if at any time, they report pain or discomfort throughout this assessment.

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