This article provides a high-level overview of one of the five Movement Focus categories from the Jump Scan.
What are Load & Explode?
Load represents how much force you can create and how quickly. It's measured during the eccentric (downward) phase of the jump.
Explode represents how much force you can efficiently transfer. It is measured through the transitional phase of the jump.
Generating force quickly and efficiently requires:
- Ability to move and flex through the ankles, knees, and hips
- Anterior chain strength (front side strength)
- Ability to decelerate force quickly
- Core strength and postural control
- Ability to transfer forces efficiently
Individuals with Low Load & Explode signatures tend to be limited by one or more of these qualities.
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Common Characteristics with Low Load & Explode
Those with low Load and Explode (relative to other variables) typically use momentum-based movement strategies to compensate for a lack of strength, poor body control, slow force creation, 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 such as the knee and elbow.
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 and transitioning movements efficiently 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 low Load & Explode are typically to the knee and elbow due to poor force absorption and transfer.
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?
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
Squats (Front, Back, Quarter), Deadlifts
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
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.