An Introduction to Functional Range Conditioning (FRC®) and Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)

Motive Training has grown a lot over the last 18 months; we have always been a movement-focused gym, but we recently kicked things up a notch by intertwining Functional Range Conditioning (FRC®) into our programming.

FRC is a joint health and mobility system that assesses, improves, and sustains joint strength, integrity, and resilience. Its goal is to make you a more complete, mobile human being, which is why it’s so easy to get behind their mission and use their protocols.

Our industry generally tries to work around joint issues, not through them. FRC turns that on its head and encourages people to have good independent joint health to move their joints better interdependently. For example, if you struggle to move your shoulder overhead without pain or compensation (e.g., moving your spine, bending your elbow, or straining your neck), perhaps you should improve your shoulder’s ability to move overhead rather than pretend it’s not an issue, to begin with.

How you go about improving your shoulder through the FRC system is where we come in.

Determining Joint Health: You Don’t Need to Be a Physical Therapist.

Contrary to popular belief, trainers are well within their scope to assess how well other human beings move their bodies. We’re not taught to be movement detectives, but we should be; the only way to truly understand how well someone moves is to get hands-on with them, which is precisely what we do.
motive training joint pain stretching

At Motive Training, we use the Functional Range Assessment (FRA®) to assess how clients move on a joint by joint basis, exploring everything from their neck all the way down to their toes. 

We look at how people can or cannot move certain joints to tell us where to begin our training. For instance, if someone is flexible (i.e., they have a good capacity to move their joints) but is not mobile (i.e., they cannot control where their joints move) we know what to work on first and how.

If someone comes in with pain that we can’t work with, we refer them to a clinic that can effectively diagnose and treat them within the FRC system.

Assessments Guide Programming, Always.

We utilize our FRA findings to begin training clients, teaching them how to improve global joint range of motion to do the things they want to do (e.g., play with their kids, lift heavier weights, etc.) 

Regardless of a client’s findings, we teach everyone how to perform controlled articular rotations (CARs).

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs)

CARs are joint circles that allow you to explore a given joint’s workspace but in a slow, methodical, and intentional way.

Standard shoulder exercises (e.g., push-ups) generally work the shoulder joint in a fixed plane, whereas CARs examine and load the entire shoulder joint through its biggest range of motion possible.

Your body feeds off of input, so the more consistent input we give it, the more likely it is to maintain its available range of motion, strength, and resilience; this is what makes CARs such a powerful tool in maintaining joint health. 

CARs are universal and applicable to everyone, regardless of their starting point. We use them to assess joint function, warm-up tissue, train range of motion, or cool down; no matter how they’re used, they’re beneficial. 

Below is a video that goes over how and why to perform the “core” cars: neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. All joint CARs are essential, but these four CARs utilize a pretty wide range of tissue and joint space that most people can begin with right away.

FRC: Reinventing What It Means to Train.

We don’t disregard standard training modalities. We can teach you to perform barbell back squats, kettlebell swings, and weighted chin-ups if that is what your goals and body require. However, we don’t start you there unless your joints and body have the prerequisites to do so. 

That is what good personal training should be about, and that’s why we’ve adopted FRC into our programming. Distinguishing where to start training and why it is crucial to your progress and longevity in and out of the gym.

FRC allows us to take training one step further to make you the most functional human being you can be, and that is a goal practically everyone can get behind.

Don’t leave results on the table or hinder your body’s ability to move and function at the highest level. Reach out to us, and we’ll show you how to implement exercises like CARs to drastically improve your body from your head all the way down to your toes.

Brian Murray, FRCms, FRA
Owner of Motive Training