The Five Movement Signature Classifications

Sparta's Movement Signatures, Low Load,Low Explode,Low Drive,Low Load & Explode,Low Load &Drive are classifications that provide insights into how an individual moves. Practitioners can then use specific interventions to affect the variables.

Classifying Individuals by Movement Signature

When trying to understand what each variable means, it makes sense to talk about them in isolation. What is Load? What does it mean when it's high or low?  What are some common characteristics? What does that imply for injury risk? What are the ways that we can influence Load? These concepts are introduced and explained in the article Load, Explode, and Drive. But the truth is, these variables and qualities aren't expressed in isolation.  The combination of all of these variables make up The Movement Signature™ - and this is what most accurately represents movement qualities.

In the example below both individuals' lowest variable is Drive, and both have a Drive of 40.

While there are some similar qualities that both individuals may share, the overall movement strategy differs between the two, as do some of the intervention strategies.  The example to the left we often see in lean, wiry, explosive individuals whereas we often see the signature to the right we see in larger muscularly strong individuals.

 So, we probably need to classify individuals further than a shared weakest variable.  

Interventions Dictate Classification

To identify ALL the possible different combinations of Movements Signatures would an overwhelming and unnecessary task. While each individual is unique, we can (and should) create different groups, classifications, or "buckets" based on the trends and relationships we most often see.  The true GOAL of classification is to provide insights and recommendations for specific exercises or interventions to affect the variables.  So instead, we worked backward utilizing the data to FIRST identify the Movement Signature classifications we are able to affect or change. It would be pointless if not downright unethical to classify an individual into a group that had no recommended interventions!

Internal analyses have been performed consistently to identify how these different plans affect the results from Jump, Balance, and Plank Scans in a significant and predictable way. In 2018 an analysis from a subset of our database of 2,337 individuals over a four year period was published in a peer-reviewed journal and is available referenced below (1). But like what often happens when things go to print there is actually more up to date information available before the ink is even dry. (Our most recent findings and analyses will always be available and shared with our customers.)

As is turns out, every exercise and intervention has a combination of positive and negative effects, with varying degrees of significance.  For example:

  • The Front Squat has a large positive effect on Load, a medium positive effect on EXPLODE, and a large negative effect on DRIVE.  All of these effects were statistically significant.  
  • A Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat has a small negative effect on LOAD, a medium negative effect on EXPLODE, and a large positive effect on DRIVE.

Furthermore, our (and others) research has shown us that the combinations of exercises interact with each other in unique ways as well. To continue with the above examples, if we combine the Front Squat with a Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat we are able to see a medium positive effect on LOAD, a small (and insignificant) negative effect on EXPLODE, and a large positive effect on DRIVE. This shows us that with the right combinations of interventions we are actually able to have a positive effect on both LOAD and DRIVE simultaneously!

With this data in mind - we looked to find groupings of signatures that could be predictably influenced with consistent intervention.

The Five Movement Signature Classifications:

  1. Low Load 
  2. Low Explode
  3. Low Drive
  4. Low Load & Explode
  5. Low Load & Drive

With an infinite number of potential possibilities, these 5 Movement Signature classifications were developed based on the information that we are able to predictably affect or change these grouping with specific interventions.

 For a more in-depth discussion on each of the five Movement Signature classifications, click on the links below (coming soon).  A brief summary of some of the common tendencies from each classification are noted here:

 Low LOAD

  • Struggle to create force quickly due to a lack of strength or utilization of slower timing mechanisms.
  • Avoid the use of ankles and/or knees to bend due to movement or injury history, causing individuals to bend at the waist instead.

Low EXPLODE

  • Struggle to transition movements due to a lack of body control or poor strength relative to bodyweight.
  • Limited core stability or strength can inhibit the efficient transmission of force between body segments.

Low DRIVE

  • Struggle to get full extension of ankles, knees, and hips due to a lack of strength or mobility on the backside of the body (glute/hamstring).
  • Limited mobility due to movement or injury history, causing individuals to rely on short ranges of motion.

Practical Application: At this point, it is appropriate to discuss the ability to either expand and create further classifications or simplify to create less. As always practicality is going to dictate how simple or complex these classifications can be. In more limited situations, organizations can simply classify individuals based on a shared lowest variable, utilizing the 3 classes above. There are some inherent limitations to this model as all individuals with Drive as their lowest variable aren't the same. This simple classification may allow for a better end result if resources are more limited, the choice is ultimately up to the organization. While instead, some sporting organizations may create additional categories based upon position or training age. Instead of having only 5 classifications, there may be 15 (5 Movement Signature classifications for 3 different position groups).

Regardless of the classification system utilized, it is important to understand all of the five Movement Signature classifications as individuals will fall into each of the categories.

Low LOAD & EXPLODE

  • Struggle to create force quickly due to a lack of strength or utilization of slower timing mechanisms.
  • Struggle to transition movements due to a lack of body control or poor strength relative to bodyweight.

 Low LOAD & DRIVE

  • Avoid the use of ankles and/or knees to bend due to movement or injury history, causing individuals to bend at the waist instead.
  • Struggle to get full extension of ankles, knees, and hips due to a lack of strength or mobility on the backside of the body (glute/hamstring).

 

Common Questions:

Why can't we address Load, Explode, and Drive simultaneously?

Check out: The "Balanced" Training Plan

Can we utilize a "corrective exercise" approach to improving Load, Explode, and Drive?

Check out: "Corrective" Exercise

 

References:

  1. Mayberry, John K., Bryce Patterson, and Phil Wagner. "Improving vertical jump profiles through prescribed movement plans." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 32.6 (2018): 1619-1626.