This is an observation test of how the person moves.
Does the person move from their hips?
Or lower back?
This is a good screening tool to use to asses how someone will position their hips underload on a deadlift and in fact, if they use their hips correctly, or relying on their lower back to do the work of the hips.
HOW TO and WHAT IT TELLS YOU:
Be more concerned with how they move than the range of motion. The forward flexion test is not a flexibility test. Give as little instruction as possible. Usually, the only instruction you should give is “reach down and touch your toes”.
Do they load the hamstrings?
Do they bend from the lower back?
The hips should remain high throughout this test.
This test gives you insight into what will most likely happen when loading a deadlift and what their instinctual movement pattern will be. It’s is not a stand-alone test. It will give you some insight into the potential of the athlete or client.
IF THIS DO THAT:
Example, if the client can deadlift 200 kilos and moves from the lower back on this test, it’s a pretty good indicator that the client has a strong lower back but is leaving a lot of tonnage untapped due to poor lifting mechanics. This finding should be extrapolated and used in programming; improve the hip hinge movement pattern by programming it (Goodmornings, Stiff legged deadlifts, or using blocks to shorten range of motion to correct movement mechanics).
Likewise, if a client moves from the hips, less programming consideration will be needed to be given to hip-hinging and you can move on.
Often athletes and clients who have a preference for a front squat and a high bar squat will perform poorly on this test.
All movements that teach hip hinging:
Low bar squat
Stiff legged deadlift
45 degree back extension (done correctly)
Cable pull through
And their variations.
Again, all the above movements can be utterly useless if not instructed correctly. The load must be transferred on to the posterior chain and vertical tibias are the ideal.