TikTok's Viral Strength & Mobility Test Will Humble You

It's harder than it looks.

Originally Published: 
What to know about the strength and mobility challenge going viral on TikTok.

Even if you think you’re super strong and mobile, the strength and mobility test going viral on TikTok just might surprise you. While it looks easy and straightforward, pretty much everyone who tries it falls halfway through in a way that seems to defy physics. If you nail it, though, you’ve definitely earned some bragging rights.

The strength and mobility test in question was created by Dr. Dan, DPT, a TikTok-famous physical therapist. In his video — which now has over a million views — he notes that a lot of people either have mobility or strength, but that it’s rare to have both. That’s because folks tend to either focus on strength training or flexibility when working out.

Here’s the deal: In the challenge, you begin by bending one leg, grabbing your foot, and lifting your opposite arm into the air. From there, keep your standing leg straight as you hinge forward at the hips and try to touch your hand to the ground. Slowly return to an upright position, then lower your body straight down. Lightly tap your bent knee to the ground, then stand back up.

“This is much harder than it looks,” Dan says in his video. If you can do it, that’s a good indication that you’re strong and mobile. If you don’t get it right away, then you know there are a few things you can work on in your fitness routine, like hip mobility or glute strength.

According to Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, an ACE-certified personal trainer, Dan’s challenge engages the muscles in your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core, while testing mobility in your hips, knees, and shoulders. “It primarily tests mobility, but it can also be an indicator of strength in these areas, as you have to lift yourself back up on one leg,” Sabat tells Bustle. There’s also a balancing element since the whole thing happens on one leg.

Within the challenge is a modified pistol squat, a super tough squat variation that tests your lower body strength, says Lalitha McSorley, PT, a physical therapist with Brentwood Physiotherapy Calgary. “It also tests core and hip stability muscles while the sugarcane pose tests upper body strength, specifically the shoulders and triceps, as well as core and hip stability muscles.”

In Dan’s original video, he demonstrates the movement along with a Pilates instructor, and it’s only the latter who is able to complete the entire thing. That’s likely because Pilates focuses on both strength and flexibility. One user commented on his video saying “This humbled me,” to which Dan replied “Same.” If a PT struggles with the test, you know it’s got to be hard.

Countless people are stitching Dan’s video... with varying degrees of success. TikToker @thearilarae seamlessly finished the first part of the challenge that tests hip mobility, then mega-struggled with the strength portion in the funniest way.

User @lee.ch04 gave it a try. While she thought she was “built different,” she too toppled over. And honestly, it’s a mood.

It looks like it’s the squat portion of the test that sends the challenge off the rails. When creator @khorapika gave it a go, she “folded like a lawn chair,” as one of her commenters hilariously pointed out. She eventually got it, though, after a couple of tries.

If you want to gain more mobility in your body (and slay this challenge), Sabat recommends incorporating dynamic stretches into your routine. It’ll also help to practice yoga or Pilates to improve flexibility, mobility, and balance. Regular foam rolling will also release any muscle tension that’s built up while increasing your range of motion, she tells Bustle.

To build strength and improve posture, McSorley recommends weightlifting, body weight-based and resistance band exercises, as well as Pilates. “It's also important to vary your routine and work all major muscle groups, including the chest, back, legs, shoulders, and arms,” McSorley tells Bustle. “Adequate rest and recovery, as well as proper nutrition, are also important factors in improving overall strength.”

Another pro tip? Practice some compound exercises — like deadlifts and lunges — to work multiple muscle groups at once, says Sabat. These moves will encourage all the parts of your body to work more cohesively together. Whether you want to pass Dan’s strength and mobility test, or just feel stronger in general, it’s a worthwhile cause.

If you can’t nail this challenge, that’s totally OK. There are plenty of other strength and mobility tests you can try. McSorley points to the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) test to zero in on your muscle weaknesses and the Y Balance Test to check your risk for injury. No matter what, remember that you can still work on your mobility and strength skills.

Studies referenced:

Shaffer, SW. (2014). Y-balance test: a reliability study involving multiple raters. Mil Med. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00222. PMID: 24183777.


Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, ACE-certified personal trainer

Lalitha McSorley, PT, physical therapist, Brentwood Physiotherapy Calgary

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