Performance coach John Sinclair looks at Loaded Movement Training and where it fits in your current clients’ and athletes’ programs.


Many of the training programs I have designed for athletes include variations of weightlifting. These variations include clean, jerk and snatch. In addition to lifting programs for athletes, we also complement the program with reaction drills, agility drills, quickness drills, and speed drills (RAQS). Most often, these RAQS do not involve adding any more external load – until now. Loaded Movement Training bridges the gap between traditional linear strength training and RAQS.

In order to create an adaptation that is favorable to the athlete or client, we need to design the program with the intention of delivering a progressive overload in a systematic and specific manner. When I design programs, not only do I have to know what exercises to select but I also need to know what forces the clients need to overcome in their sport or daily chores.

On careful examination, it is clear to me that not only do people have to lift objects from position to position, but they also have to relocate them. If a nurse is having to move a patient from a wheelchair to a bed, they not only have to lift the person out of the chair, but they also have to hold that patient long enough in order to remove the chair and then shift them through gravity before placing them in the bed. This is defined as Loaded Movement Training.



Occupational health and safety requires learning how to lift. However, I would venture to guess that perhaps more injuries happen from shifting loads away from the body. We may need to add some shifting drills into their exercise programs to prepare them for the rigors of their occupation.

ViPR has become the tool of choice for Loaded Movement Training. The concept of Loaded Movement Training comes from the idea of task-oriented movement with load. It is a reality that farm kids are stronger than city kids, and task-oriented movement with load is exactly what farm kids do all day long.

I remember a friend of mine growing up. Christopher’s family lived on a farm where he had horses and cows. It was always really exciting staying over at his house, until you woke the next day and had to do chores with him. I was not a big kid but Christopher was. He was a young looking Arnold Schwarzenegger at the age of 13; he would carry pails of oats for the horses across the farm – five gallon pails loaded to the brim in both hands, through mud. I remember trying to drag one pail because I could not lift it. He held both pails in his hands and walked, maneuvering around machinery. It was in that moment that I knew being a grain farmer’s kid was not as challenging as being a cattle and horse farmer’s kid. Not only was Christopher a strong farm kid, but he was an outstanding athlete. Fast, strong and agile. Christopher was known across the region for how hard he shot the puck and how fast he could skate. Try to take the puck away from him? Forget about it.

As we evolve in our training programs and recognize there is a role for Loaded Movement Training, it is clear to me that we can fill a void needed in strength and conditioning programs. We spend so much time lifting and running that we need to address why we would shift and perform loaded movements.

As my good friend Jake Duhon (ViPR global master coach) wrote: The future of movement training lies in the simple understanding of our body’s daily requirement for stress, the magnificent ability we have to accommodate that stress and our own evolution from it. To step into this new era of constant re-genesis, we must begin to rely on the simple practice of human motion through an introduction of full-body, task-oriented movement patterns with load. This form of movement-based resistance training provides the body with an ability to adapt in a ‘true to life’ setting that any person – from a general fitness enthusiast to a performance athlete – needs, as they must all constantly adapt to a world designed for motion.”


Why include Loaded Movement Training in your programs?


It is clear to us that the body searches to mitigate forces before ever producing them. Don’t believe me? Stand up and jump vertically as high as you can. In which direction did you go first? Down or up? You went down. You loaded the body with the assistance of gravity and the ground to create stored potential energy in the tissues, allowing you the requisite force to overcome the gravitational pull and leave the ground. We accepted that force before we used it to transition.

Now try the same thing but change the direction you are jumping from in place to left lateral direction. Did the body receive force in the same way? No. The vector of force changed and the response of the ground reacted in the opposite direction to your intended destination. We need to provide the body variations in force direction (vector), speed and load (magnitude) and where we apply that force (point of application). That is sport! That is life!

The human body was designed to allow for that to happen. We are training the utility of the body out of it. Your body is the most utilitarian organism on the planet, with the capacity to move infinitely. Yet our programs have focused on lifting in minimal directions using the same force vectors, loads and speeds. We can do better.

As we play sports and compete in the game of life, we realize it is very rare that we have to replicate the same movement the same way repeatedly to the point of failure. This would be both energetically expensive and economically disastrous to the tissues and joints. My question to you is why do we set our programs up to always deal with training the body in the same direction with load (vertical)?

We do not believe that you have to remove weightlifting from your training programs.


We challenge you to determine with careful observation the requisite forces that the body has to use to overcome moving objects, battling for loose pucks, moving a patient, and carrying load while walking. We need healthy nurses to move patients, farmers to produce great livestock and hockey players that are stronger, faster and more skilled.