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Loaded Movement 101

We need to load our bodies with mass and move around to function optimally.

loaded movement

Loaded movement training has been part of the coaching lexicon for some time now, but it often gets omitted from programming. When is the last time you thoughtfully wove multi-dimensional, loaded movement into a program that would help your client to move better, and gain strength and confidence?

Studying biological and morphological behaviors reveals key basic adaptations inherent in the human body. Namely, changing postures and taking on external loads are critical to our health and survival. We need to load our bodies with mass and move around to function optimally. If we don’t, our bodies fall into dysfunction and decay.

See also: The author explains Loaded Movement

Moving with external loads provides the motion that our biology requires while subjecting our bodies to various “lines of stress” that trigger the remolding of tissue. This is how muscle, fascia, bone and skin self-assemble (Kjaer 2013).

See also: Loaded Movement Training

But what is the simplest way to incorporate loaded movement training into a fitness program?

  • Add loaded movement training into your current protocols. You don’t have to stop anything you are doing. Think of this new addition as a body exercise rather than a body-part exercise.
  • Get systematic. With loaded movement training, as with any new training element, you should take a systematic approach in order to appropriately manage stressors and demands on the body. Begin with lighter loads, simpler movement patterns and smaller ranges of motion before progressing. As always, exercise stressors should be managed along with all of the other daily stressors a client/athlete encounters.
  • Rest more between sets. During loaded movement training, the complexity of movement may be novel. It is important to remember that a client may experience more neural fatigue than usual and require more rest between sets.
  • Mind the back, hips and feet. With loaded movement drills, always remember to maintain length in the spine, initiate the drill with the hips, and move the feet as needed. When reaching, use the scapulae instead of the hands.
  • Offer more sessions. Because loaded movement training is integrated, force and mechanical trauma will be mitigated and not localized. That means clients should be able to tolerate more frequency in a given week.

Timing Considerations

  • Most beginners can comfortably perform loaded movement training twice a week.
  • More experienced people can perform this training three times per week.
  • Seasoned clients/athletes should perform some loaded movement training with every session.

Matching Training Tools With Training Concepts

As you study loaded movement training, it is important to reexamine proven training and conditioning concepts.In the table below, broad concepts in the left column link up with specific fitness tools in the right. These concepts have been studied, validated and popularized, which clarifies the “why” and “when” of these tools.

Once the why and when have been answered, tools can be used more authentically and correctly. We begin to move away from dogmatic arguments—such as, “One tool is better than another”—and begin to adopt the perspective that all tools may be useful, if used for the right reasons.

Training Style Table

Always Bear in Mind . . .

    • The power of understanding what makes up the core structure, what its biomechanical functions are and why core function is critical for well-being reinforces the use of stability balls and other tools.
    • Appreciation for the authentic transfer of speed, agility and quickness into activity strengthens the need for tools such as speed ladders, cones and so on.
    • Knowledge of strength training, its concepts and their vital role in biological adaptation supports the use of barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells in training.
    • Insight into the need for mobility and flexibility development or restoration fuels the concept of self myofascial release and the need for tools like foam rollers and grids, etc.

In the end, what makes training tools relevant for the health and fitness professional is a clear awareness of a concept that is sound, justifiable and defensible.

See also: Whole-Body Strength Training Using Myofascial Lines


Kjaer, M. 2013. Load induced remodelling of collagen and matrix. Connective Tissue in Sport Medicine Conference, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.

Michol Dalcourt

Michol Dalcourt is an educator, author, trainer, inventor and an industry leader in the areas of human movement and performance training. He is a director for the Institute of Motion, adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco in sports science and co-founder of PTA Global certification. Michol is also the inventor of ViPR™, a fitness tool being rolled out in top clubs and with professional athletic teams. His innovative techniques have been adopted by many of the top international fitness certification bodies.

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