Bret Contreras: Last year, I created the load vector training model. Of course the system is not perfect, just like all other classification systems. Human movement is quite dynamic and complex, which makes any system of classification very challenging. However, the load vector concept is very intriguing and has merit in the literature.
Chi emailed me his thoughts regarding load vectors last week and I asked him to write a guest blog on the topic since he’s obviously put a lot of thought into it. For those of you who don’t know Chi, he’s a freaky-intelligent guy, a research machine, and an all-around nice guy! And he lives in the Netherlands!
Load Vectors: Less is More!
By Chi Chiu
How do you respond to a blog invite from a highly innovative guy, who turned the explanation of one exercise into a book of 600 pages? How about by writing the shortest guest post ever, about nothing new!
Bret has written extensively about the concept of load vectors (LV) which adds another layer to the use of planes by focusing on the direction of the resistance, instead of the movement. While doing so, he introduces 12 “new” words like anteroposterior, lateromedial, and torsional. Although I enjoyed the concept and love (bio)mechanics, I did not adopt the lingo, because in the weight room we already have less sophisticated, but adequate terminology like push, pull and rotate. If you combine them with the axes (axial, sagittal, and lateral), you basically get most of the LV concept, but on a more intuitive level.
The words push, pull and rotate are generic and tell you something about the forces acting upon the body, while the axes specify the direction. The squat is an axial push exercise and a chin-up an axial pull. The Pallof press however, is a movement in the sagittal plane and looks like a push, hence the press part. In the “new” LV lingo, however, it’s a lateral rotational pull. The LV dictionary for the weight room just got shorter and more intuitive. As a result of it, I’ve seen various people apply those principles on their program design, only minutes after I explained it to them. Just tweak it a little on upper, core, and lower body exercises and you have a general balanced or more specific adapted selection of exercises in no time. By using more intuitive and familiar words, the LV concept gets more accessible and therefore more applicable.
Axial – vertical plane
Sagittal – horizontal plane
Lateral – lateral plane
Push – moving away from the body
Pull – moving toward the body
Rotation – twisting
Axial Pull – chin up, deadlift, power clean, curl, shrug
Axial Push – military press, squat, lunge, dip
Axial Rotation – landmine, single leg box squat, single leg RDL
Sagittal Pull – inverted row, seated row, back extension
Sagittal Push – push up, bench press, hip thrust, sled push
Sagittal Rotation – bird dog, single leg hip thrust, single arm db bench press, renegade row
Lateral Pull – standing cable adduction
Lateral Push – x-band walk, slideboard lateral slide, lateral raise
Lateral Rotation – Pallof press, cable chop, cable lift