My Movement Focus: Load

This article provides a high-level overview of one of the five Movement Focus categories from the Jump Scan.




What is Load?

Load is measured during the jump's eccentric (down) phase and represents how much force you can create and how quickly you create it.

Generating force quickly and efficiently requires:

  • Ability to move and flex through the ankles, knees, and hips
  • Anterior chain strength (front side strength)
  • Absolute strength 
  • Ability to absorb force quickly

Individuals with Low Load signatures tend to be limited by one or more of these qualities.


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Common Characteristics with Low Load

Those with low Load (relative to other variables) typically use momentum-based movement strategies to compensate for a lack of strength, rate of force, ankle mobility, or a combination of these things. This is often the case with younger, untrained, or detrained individuals. Ultimately, this leads to an over-utilization of momentum, which can create strain on joints and soft tissue (muscle, ligaments, tendons).

We all need general strength and force production qualities to ensure the health and integrity of our joints and soft tissue. Whether running an agility drill or walking down a steep hill, absorbing force through the ankles, knees, and hips is important for protecting our bodies from chronic pain or injury. Not to mention, it can improve overall performance in these activities.

The most common injuries for individuals with insufficient Load are typically to the knee and often due to a lack of strength or force absorption.


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Benefits to Improving Your Movement Efficiency

Efficient movers are:

  • Less susceptible to fatigue because each movement costs less energy
  • At lower risk of pain or injury because joint and muscle stress is dispersed appropriately (vs. overloading certain joints)
  • Higher performers because the body can produce and express more force with lower energy cost

In contrast, inefficient movers are:

  • More susceptible to fatigue because of a higher energy cost for each movement
  • At higher risk of injury because of the inability to absorb, withstand, balance, or disperse stress appropriately and adapt their movement
  • Lower performers because of competing compensation strategies

Following the Jump Scan, each individual is classified into 1 of 5 Jump Signature™ classifications based on their Movement Focus. Your Movement Focus is determined by the lowest variable(s) in your movement signature and explains your primary limitations or weaknesses, thus identifying your greatest needs and focus for exercise prescription.

No single Movement Signature is "best" or "worst" - they each have unique strengths and limitations, ingrained over time by what we repeatedly do. However, the goal remains the same: to maximize movement efficiency. Think about two race cars, one with poor alignment and suspension and the other in perfect pre-race condition. Which car would you pick to finish at the top of the leaderboard?


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How to Improve Load

Do More: Knee bending and overall strengthening

Train the front side of your lower body (trunk and quads)

  • Activities like walking down an incline, downstairs, or pulling a sled put more emphasis on the muscles in the ‘anterior chain,’ meaning the front side of your body  

Lower body weightlifting, resistance-training

  • Lower body strengthening, particularly knee-dominant or squat-like patterns

    • Cyclist Squats with Heels Elevated, Front Squats, Single Leg Squats

    • Maintain a more upright torso position 

Ankle mobility

  • Improving ankle mobility can help you get into a triple-flexed position 

Plyometrics with a vertical emphasis

Focusing on a stiff landing can help build more rate of force development

    • Vertical jump and Stick, Depth Drop, Single Leg Vertical Jump and Stick


Click here for the full exercise list

Do Less: Repetitive, endurance-style workouts

Bending at the waist

  • Bending primarily at the hips or waist instead of the ankle and knee joints can contribute to movement inefficiency.  This can often be a result of compensation from previous knee or ankle injury.

Long-distance, high-repetition circuit training

  • Slow, fatiguing exercises emphasize slow-twitch muscle fibers instead of creating and absorbing force at high speeds

Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs), Lunges, and Step Ups


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Improving Your Movement Health

In human movement, the path to improving efficiency begins with the analysis of an individual's Movement Signature™.  Load, Explode, and Drive are the three main variables measured during the Jump Scan and represent an individual's ability to Create, Transfer, and Apply force efficiently. These three phases capture the nuance of human movement. The more effectively each individual is able to utilize these different phases, the more efficient their movement is.

Load is a measure of how much force and how quickly this force is created. It is measured during the downward phase of the jump.
Explode is a measure of how much force and how efficiently that force is transferred. It is measured through the transitional phase of the jump.

Drive is a measure of how much force and how long that force is applied. It is measured during the upward phase of the jump. 

Load, Explode, and Drive collectively create an individual's Jump Signature, which is the visual representation of their unique movement strategy. Think of it as your movement fingerprint. Load, Explode, and Drive combine into your Sparta Score, a single measure of relative movement efficiency.

For example, imagine a boxer hitting a punching bag; Load would represent how much force and how quickly he accelerates his fist into the bag. Explode would represent the force transferred into the bag at impact, and Drive would refer to his ability to prolong or apply force through the bag. 

Different components of the Movement Signature represent different movement qualities and, based on the values, can represent different strengths and weaknesses that underlie an individual's movement efficiency, health, and physical capabilities. Boxers (and humans in general) have different genetic make-up, training backgrounds, injury history, and abilities, which play a role in what type of mover they are and how they execute this action. You may have two different boxers punch the bag with high force, but use a different strategy. These boxers will have different strengths and limitations shaping their strategies and approach in the ring. Ultimately, the more efficient the boxer is at producing force via their specific strategy, the greater their potential ceiling of performance becomes.


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