Training Asymmetries with FMS Principles

1) When addressing an asymmetrical ASLR with Leg Lowering, which side do you keep up against a rack or held up with a strap? For example, lets say someone had a 3 on the right leg and a 2 on the left leg. Would I do more reps/sets with the the right leg up with the left leg moving in order to strengthen the pattern of raising the left leg or with the left leg up while the right leg moves?

First off, please don’t automatically assume a Leg Lowering variation is the right go-to movement when you see a 3-2.  It often is or can be, but I think if you check certain boxes, you’ll get exactly to where you will be successful.
So in this case, check into whether this is a motor control or mobility issue.
Can they execute a toe touch, 1-leg toe touch, seated toe touch, etc.?
If they can not, and quite frankly, this will be unlikely with a 3-2 and more likely with a 1-2 or 1-1, then I would suggest manual therapy, PNF strategies, or stretching.  You will need to determine where restriction(s) are which can include hamstrings on the left, hip flexors on the right, or lower back, or all of the above.

The more likely situation is that this person can touch their toes, and the Leg Lowering is a very appropriate option.
In this case, with both legs together, they can get to the 3 position with the same sacrum/lumbar position that you satisfy during the initial scoring.  If this is not the case, review the toe touch for 1) touching where the proximal phalanx meets the metatarsals, 2) a posterior weight shift, 3) rounding of the lower back, and 4) no “wild” lateral shifting during or at the end of the movement, and 5) a 70 degree sacral angle.

Your 3-2 or 2-1 should show up in this.  If not, you are not as far from pulling off the floor as you think.

Your 3-2 or 2-1 should show up in this. If not, you are not as far from pulling off the floor as you think.

So you’ve checked and double checked, keep one side up with or without assistance as long as it stays up in that 3 position.  When both legs moved together to the 3, you proved it has nothing to do with hamstring length because there is no anatomical connection of one hamstring to the other.  The legs inability to separate function is mitigated by hip flexor/anterior abdominal stabilization or stiffness.
Drop the right leg to the floor or to something you build up as long as the hip doesn’t rotate and knee doesn’t flex.  That distance should be comfortable to the point where you can cycle one full breath at the bottom or split of the Leg Lowering drill.  At the bottom of the Leg Lowering, that snap shot should score higher if it was the initial scoring situation.

My opinion would be to work both sides with this technique and double or triple time the more limited side.
The right leg lowering matching the score of Left-2 would start with say 5 reps.  Then 5 reps on the other side, then followed by another 5 reps on the more challenged side.

I don’t know that this double time approach is as steadfast as the preceding clearances.  It is more my opinion.  Ultimately you can defend an approach ranging to some homological carry over to the other side to covering the possibility that you screened inefficiently.

Bottom Line: Did the pattern change, and do you feel good getting into hinging and 1-leg hinging and then handling some load?
What is the best way to reconcile all the above?  Whatever way changes the pattern immediately.
If Leg Lowering is the right option, you should see improvement (maybe not a full score change) very rapidly.  It will be even faster if you apply appropriate manual therapy.  This is all IF Leg Lowering was the right option.  Plan A isn’t always correct even if you had all the reasons to believe it was.  Choosing the right regressions is really a guided hunt and peck.

And yes, I said very rapidly.

Toe Touch or not, this is horrendous.

Toe Touch or not, this is horrendous.

2) How many inches is an acceptable difference in similar SM scores. Lets say someone scores 2’s with a hand length of 7, and the right hand scoring 8 and the left scoring 9.5. Is one inch too much? Two inches?

For symmetrical 2’s on hand length of 7, the difference can range from 7″ to 10.499999999999″. 10.5 is a 1.
We can refer to the FMS Scoring Criteria PDF from
So I know this doesn’t answer your question directly, but perhaps it should.

Solid 2.  No wiggles.

Solid 2. No wiggles.

I will suggest that anything within 3.49″  is 100% acceptable as there is account for right-left organ/tissue position, possible -version of a throwing shoulder, or sport- or life-specific patterns that are inherent to the individual.

Qualifying previous injury may help you better decide if 3.49″ is acceptable for capacity training.
If this is a throwing athlete, we may move away from using a barbell.  Form may appear technically proficient, but the asymmetry may be getting wound up through the neck or spine.

  • September 24, 2014

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