Functional Strength Test: 3 Strategies to improve your weakest link

Personal Training in Columbia - K.O.R.E. Wellness

Written by Elise Matthews.

The functional strength test has an uncanny way of revealing your weakest link.  Though for some people weak links may be quick fixes, for others exercises like pull-ups might reveal a need for much more focused attention.  No matter which, these three programming strategies when applied with consistency will lead you down the path towards success:


  1. Focus on form:  The first of the three strategies involves making sure that your form is as perfect as possible before moving onto any other practice.  Make sure you have a KORE trainer check the form of your weakest link and make suggestions on how to fix certain “less than perfect” areas.  If you have form issues and start to practice heavily to improve your weak link, you will quickly find yourself in one of two places: Injured or jogging in place.  Improving your form, while often this effort will cause you to have to step back or increase modifications will be the MOST necessary aspect of improving your weak link.

  2. Increase your volume: If you can do the exercise but find yourself having to take breaks during an exercise, losing form, or all out reaching failure, often times training volumes significantly higher than the reps you need to complete during the test will help eliminate the issue.  The key with training volume is to first see how many reps you can do with good form. After you know your number, take 2-3 reps away from that number and throughout your workout or your day, do as many sets as you can of that number, 10 sets would be a good number to shoot for.  Make sure you are recovered enough after each set that you can perform each set with good form. After doing this every other day for 1-2 weeks, re-test your max reps with good form and repeat. You should start to see that your numbers will increase on a weekly basis. If you find yourself stuck at a certain point with increasing volume, train negatives for 3-4 weeks then come back to your volume training.

  3. Train negatives: If the exercise you are looking to improve is absolutely out of the question unless you modify it, then doing negative will be a great strategy to apply to slowly build the strength you need to do the lift unassisted.  A negative is to get yourself in a position where you are doing the exercise in reverse only at as slow of a pace as necessary. For example, with a push up, you would start at the top of the push up position with arms straight and SLOWLY lower yourself chest down to the ground with perfect form taking 10-15 seconds minimum.  Don’t worry about how you get back to straight arms position, put your knees down, roll to sitting position, whatever works to get yourself back up. Start with 1 or 2 neg repetitions every other day and increase by 1 repetition per week until you’re doing 8-10 negative repetitions with perfect form. When you reach 10 negatives, retest to see how you’ve improved.  Once you can perform at least 2 repetitions or more with good form, start practicing increasing your volume.




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