Fitness Test #1: Functional Flexibility

    Photo: Illustrations by Chris Philpot

Remedial Training

Work these moves into your routine twice a week.
Raised-Arm Walking LungesIn a field or gym, raise one arm above your head and connect 20 40 lunge steps, keeping your arm straight and stretched high. Switch arms and walk back. Easy? Add a dumbbell or kettlebell (start light, adding weight as you progress). Do two sets.
Assisted PistolsHitch a length of nylon webbing to a secure point tree, post, etc. about waist high. Face the hitch point, grab the webbing with both hands, and lower on a single leg with the opposite leg lifting and pointing forward. Stand back up, using webbing for assistance. Repeat 7 10 times on each leg.
Body-Weight Squat SetsStand with feet parallel and shoulder width apart, drop into a squat, then come right back to standing, quickly and smoothly. Perform as many as possible for 20 seconds, rest for ten seconds, then repeat. Do eight sets.

Functional flexibility is your ability to move completely through the range of motion required for a sport or activity. Any number of factors age, desk jobs, too much time watching SportsCenter make muscles chronically tight, limiting your full power potential and increasing your risk of injury. "Far too many athletes treat flexibility as an afterthought," says MJPC's Lance Walker. "It needs to be up there with the most important things we focus on." These tests gauge flexibility in your core, where most problems lie.

a. In-Line Lunge
Lay a two-by-four on the ground and stand on it so your right foot is several feet ahead of your left. Grab a towel and hold it in your left hand, behind your head, so it hangs down your back. Reach behind with your right hand and hold the loose end of the towel. Now lower into a lunge, until your left knee touches the board, and stand back up slowly. Switch feet and hands and try the other side. The goal is to keep your front heel on the board and to perform the motionwithout wobbling.

b. Depth Squat
Make a line with tape in a doorway, one foot to the side of the doorjamb. Stand with your toes at the line, feet shoulder width apart. Hold a ski pole or broomstick in both hands and straighten your arms above your head as you drop into a squat. The goal is to keep your heels on the floor and your knees above your toes (not forward of them) without the pole hitting the side of the door frame. You pass only if you can do this perfectly.

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