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Gray Cook’s new book, Movement

As by now you know (since I babble a lot), I spent most of my working hours between January and June editing and putting the packaging around Gray Cook’s new book, Movement: Functional Movement Systems, Screening, Assessment & Corrective Strategies. Today that book ships from the printer, and tomorrow, Gray, his co-authors and I get our first look at the results of our efforts. A few days after that, those of you who have preordered will get a shipping confirmation of a book on the way.

Gray Cook's new book
Movement: Functional Movement Systems
Screening, Assessments & Corrective Strategies

by Gray Cook
with Lee Burton, Kyle Kiesel, Greg Rose & Milo F. Bryant

I don’t have the writing skills to even begin to tell of the insights I’ve gained while working closely with Gray these past months. Prolific in writing, he’s not, er… all that great at email, so most of our interactions are by phone. Gray’s this brilliant guy from whom those gems of how the body works just flow during a conversation. Plenty often, I’ve had to make him stop talking to give me a chance to sort out a thought lingering from two sentences before.

And that’s what will happen to you as you read his new book–nearly every page has a buried nugget that you’ll have to stop reading to ponder, insights you’ll be thinking about for the rest of the day. Still, you probably want to know about the structure of the book, after all this talk, what’s it really about anyway? I spent a day distilling the content into a couple of sentences per chapter to help you decide if this is the right book for you.

I can say with confidence: Anyone who trains, coaches or treats individuals or teams will find value in this text.

Chapter 1–Introduction to Screening and Assessment
This introductory chapter builds the foundation you’ll need to fully understand the purpose of screening movement. You’ll learn the concept of movement patterns and how to recognize these patterns in action, as well as the history and primary goals of movement screening.

Chapter 2–Anatomical Science versus Functional Science

The next 16 pages expand on the differences between authentic movement and scientific anatomical function. The functional systems of muscles, joints and ligaments are covered, as are the fascial matrix, breathing and the neuromuscular network. Understanding movement deficiency and dysfunction and how these develop will illuminate your work, and clarify your explanations to your athletes, clients and patients.

Chapter 3–Understanding Movement
In Chapter 3, you’ll gain an appreciation of the natural laws of basic movement before specific, with an overview of how to use screening, testing and assessment to classify movement proficiency or deficiency. You’ll also get a summary of the differences between the two systems, the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA).

Chapter 4–Movement Screening
Where in your intake process should you screen? Can you screen an injured client or athlete? This section will help you place movement screening in your existing business model, or it will show you where your program structure might be improved.

Chapter 5–Functional Movement Systems and Movement Patterns
This summary explains the differences between the two systems, the FMS for fitness professionals and strength coaches, and the SFMA for medical professionals. You’ll get a brief look at the systems, and finish with an appreciation of primitive and higher-level movement patterns.

Chapter 6–Functional Movement Screen Descriptions
The chapter used to cover the FMS will teach you the seven basic screens in detail, including where to stand, what to watch for during the movements and how to plan your modifications. You’ll get a description of each screen, the purpose of each, tips for testing, implications and photographs showing how to score each test.

Chapter 7–SFMA Introduction and Top-Tier Tests
The top-tier assessments of the SFMA are covered in these 26 pages, which contain a discussion of the overlying considerations of functional versus dysfunctional and painful versus non-painful, the overriding criteria of the SFMA system. The seven elements of the top-tier will direct you to the breakout tests found in Chapter 8.

Chapter 8–SFMA Assessment Breakout Descriptions and Flowcharts
Taking 58 pages and 66 photographs to cover the SFMA breakouts will serve to remind medical professionals of the individual assessments, and at the same time make fitness trainers and strength coaches aware of the tests used by professionals to whom they refer clients and athletes. The rationale for each of the breakout regions will pull the process together for you as it simplifies the overall approach.

Chapter 9–Analyzing the Movements in Screens and Assessments
Chapter 9 teaches how to analyze the various test results. Using the tests of the Functional Movement Screen as the base, you’ll learn what mistakes most beginners make in screening, how to distinguish between stability and mobility problems and how to determine asymmetries. Here you’lll get your first introduction to reverse patterning (RP) and reactive neuromuscular training (RNT), two of the primary corrective tools of the Functional Movement Systems arsenal.

Chapter 10–”Understanding Corrective Strategies
This begins the wrap-up: What do you do with the resulting screen and assessment information? The 20 pages of Chapter 10 comprise the performance pyramid and how to use it to form your corrective strategies. Understanding the differences between correct and corrective exercises, between challenging versus difficult, and having a selection of self-limiting exercises in your exercise menu will give you confidence as you assign and program exercises.

Chapter 11–Developing Corrective Strategies
Now that you’ve discovered dysfunctional patterns in your clients, athletes and patients, the next section will guide you in the corrective decisions that make up the three primary categories of mobility, stability and movement pattern retraining. You’ll get comparisons of conditioning and corrective exercise, movement prep and movement correction, skill training and corrective prioritization, and understand when each is appropriate.

Chapter 12–Building the Corrective Framework
This chapter provides a checklist for your corrective decisions: pain, purpose, posture, position, pattern and plan. Even though every person’s movement is unique, without this framework, your corrective path will not be as clear as it could be. You’ll also become familiar with the basic structure involving special considerations and populations that may make up part of your client or patient base.

Chapter 13–Movement Pattern Corrections
Chapter 13 builds on your knowledge of basic mobility and stability corrections and movement pattern retraining. Using passive, active and assistive techniques, you’ll be able to help your clients, athletes and patients recover lost mobility. Understanding stability and motor control, transitional postures and using facilitation techniques such as reactive neuromuscular training will give you the tools to challenge that new mobility. You’ll also become proficient at rolling after practicing the material in this rich chapter.

Chapter 14–Advanced Corrective Strategies
Finally, in the 24 remarkable pages of Chapter 14, you’ll learn how to make corrective exercise an experience. This is how corrective exercise actually works in the human body, and the thorough discussion found in this chapter will teach you how to create this for your clientele. Using PNF, RNT, reverse patterning, conscious loading, resisted and self-limiting exercises, you’ll grasp the concept of the manageable mistake zone, and you’ll be able to use these ideas and techniques to stand out in your crowded professional field.

Chapter 15–In Conclusion
This wrap-up section pulls the material together for one last review of where the industry is now, and where it’s heading. When you finish this section, you’ll have a complete understanding of the 10 principles of the Functional Movement System. These principles will guide you in learning and training authentic movement.


  • Michael Boyle: Joint-by-Joint Concept
  • Gray Cook: Expanding on the Joint-by-Joint Approach
  • Greg Rose: SFMA Score Sheets and Flowcharts
  • Laurie McLaughlin: Introduction to Breathing
  • Gray Cook: Introduction to Heart Rate Variability
  • Gray Cook: Functional Movement Systems Team List
  • Gray Cook: Early Perspective and the Jump Study
  • Phil Plisky: Core Testing and Functional Goniometry
  • Lee Burton: FMS Scoring Criteria and Score Sheet
  • Authors: FMS Verbal Instructions
  • Gray Cook: Conventional Deep Squat Evaluation Process
  • Patient Self Evaluation Forms
  • List of Illustrations
  • References
  • Index

About Movement, head of the StrongFirst and author of Enter the Kettlebell!, Pavel Tsatsouline wrote,

“Once a decade comes out a book that you will keep reading, rereading, and crowding with notes until it falls apart. Then you buy a new copy and enthusiastically start over. In the 1990s it was Verkhoshansky and Siff’s ‘Supertraining.’ In the 2000s McGill’s ‘Ultimate Back.’ Enter the 2010s and Cook’s ‘Movement.’ It is a game changer.”

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