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The Science of Movement

The science of movement is a common theme with Unleashed Training. In many ways this concept defines our core philosophy. But what does it mean?

The science of movement is essentially the science behind how and why the human body moves and how to improve it. It is also another way to classify the different aspects of human movement.

Human movement can be broken down into the following four components:

1. Freedom of Movement: Freedom of movement simply refers to the body’s range of motion and functionality of joints and how they interact to create overall movement.

2. Raw Physiological Capacity: This is the actual capacity of the body to perform a given output. Simple measures of fitness are what is meant here, such as vertical jumping power, anaerobic capacity, strength etc.

3. Neural Patterning: Neural patterning is the patterns your nervous system is conditioned to perform. For instance if doing a complex move like a handstand comes easily it simply means that this is a movement that the body is conditioned to perform. This also applies to things like running or swimming efficiency. It is the third wave adaptation of a given fitness activity.

4. Functionality and Applicability: This is the overall applicability that connects the trained components and aspects of fitness and physical ability to the applied objective. It is the gap between training/conditioning and the actual trained-for task at hand.

We have touched on each component of the science of movement so far. Now lets look at each one in a bit more detail and how they can be improved:

Freedom of Movement

Freedom of movement is the baseline components needed in the science of movement. In order to make full use of physical output in a range of useful and applicable forms, you must be able to move freely and easily with minimal risk to injury.

There are a few key points as to why freedom of movement is important….

The ability to move rapidly and powerfully needs to be backed by efficient foundational skills that develop freedom of movement. The primary reason being prevention of injury. The more capable your body is moving in more combinations the more resilient you are to injury.

Primal movement patterns, as in the patterns of movement you perform that are primal and native to humans, are patterns of movement that you simply need to be able to perform properly, as they are utilised in all of the training that we do.

Foundational support is built using the core basics of movement patterns that develop the science of movement in a chosen sport or physical domain. Being able to first go through the motions of a given range of exercises and/or physical task is non-negotiable. Remember, you need to walk before you can run.

Flexibility and range of motion are necessary in order to move efficiently and freely.

Freedom of movement overall is about being able to run, jump, lift, climb and swim without limitations imposed by lack of range of movement ability. A child or an animal can run and play without restriction from movement and posture related issues. This is what UNLEASHED Training promotes.

How is freedom of movement developed? Start by developing adequate flexibility in both a static and a dynamic capacity. On top of this you must take a generalist approach to fitness by building a solid foundation of general physical preparedness across a diverse range of movement patterns.

Raw Physiological Capacity

Fitness is based on output. When you run a given distance for example, the goal is to run that distance in the shortest possible time. The same applies to strength and power. The more weight you can lift the stronger you are, which translates to a higher physiological capacity for that given component.

There is one simple aspect on this concept that people need to understand. Training in modern times is generally focused around body composition and aesthetic appearance. It is important to look good in order to feel good, however this is not a primary goal, it’s a sideline benefit of correct physical development. Shift the focus of your fitness training efforts towards performance as opposed to appearance. UNLEASHED Training is the science of movement and is based around absolute maximum physical capacity at its core.

There are many methods that UNLEASHED Training employs in order to increase physiological capacity, one of which deserves a special mention. That method is Tabata.

Tabata involves 20 seconds of max effort followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated for a total of eight intervals. That’s one set. It is recommended to do no more than a total of four sets of Tabata within a single workout. This protocol allows for absolute maximum output in minimal time, which is a primary principle of UINLEASHED Training. Either do a single exercise like running or indoor rowing for a Tabata workout or pick four different exercises, one for each set. Ensure intensity is at an absolute max and that the exercises chosen are taxing such as burpees, scissor jumps, shuttle sprints, broad jumps etc.

Neural Patterning

Whenever you regularly perform a physical action it forms a neuromuscular pattern. Think of a complex skill like performing a pole vault. You might have an extremely high level of raw physiological capacity, however if you have never done a pole vault before you are almost certain to make a poor jump. This is because your nervous system is not patterned to perform this action. On the other hand, pole vaulters with a lot of experience and thousands of hours of training completed will perform the action easily simply because it is programmed into their nervous system.

So what does UNLEASHED do with the component of neural patterning? This is used on multiple levels with multiple layers of applicability and skill. The first layer is foundational conditioning, in which you develop general physical preparedness by becoming proficient in a broad range of skills. Taking it further than that, neural patterning applies to the third wave adaptations of specific skills. Think of the skill of swimming. A person that does a lot of swimming has gained physiological capacity within that given pattern of movement and they have also improved the efficiency of their stroke. This is a third wave adaptation, meaning neural patterning.

How can you apply this? Learn the movements taught by UNLEASHED Training and master them in generalised terms. Practice using these movements in faster and more dynamic combinations and in a more free-flowing manner. Once the solid foundation of physical skill and ability is established start picking out highly specific skills to further develop the neuromuscular patterns required to perform them efficiently, hence increasing both your physiological output and your efficiency and skill in performing these chosen domains.

The science of movement is a multi-tiered beast. It involves foundational conditioning all the way to third wave adaptations designed to increase specific skill and efficiency for a given end-state/outcome.

Functionality and Applicability

Functionality and applicability is the culmination of the other three components of the science of movement. This simply refers to how applicable a given level of conditioning is to a specific task or outcome.

You may see the term “functional training” thrown around rather freely in modern exercise literature and media. So much so that it has lost the original meaning. Functional training is simply a term referring to the relevance and transferability of a given exercise or training method. As we are here discussing, there are varying layers of functionality and transferability as it relates to the task at hand.

In order to illustrate layers of functionality in a manner that is easily understood, we will use an example.

Contact football codes (American football, rugby, Aussie rules etc)….

LAYER ONE [least specific/foundational]: General strength training using large compound movements or body weight conditioning such as squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, overhead press etc. why? These sorts of movements and a foundational development of strength are essential components to be developed in order to apply more specific principles of strength, speed and power.

LAYER TWO [the link between foundational conditioning and highly specific skill development]: Transference of foundational and broad components into skills more applicable to a sport or activity. This includes the transference of raw strength into strength applied at velocity, AKA muscular power. Why? Contact sports involve strength applied at a high velocity. As a result, strength alone is of limited use to a high performance player. Plyometrics training and other power development techniques can be applied in order to better express force in the required context under the required conditions.

LAYER THREE [final layer of functionality]: This includes the development of specific mechanics and movements applied in specific patterns related to the sport.

Football, as our example, is performed at high speed and predominantly upright position with external forces experienced laterally. As a result strength, power and stability must be developed in these ways. Specific training may include strength exercises involving a lateral force being resisted and moved from a position in which the feet are supporting the body on the ground. A good example includes the standing barbell Russian twist, pushing against a scrum machine or even tree etc.

Further to lateral strength is rapid velocity power performed in motion and an unstable environment. Running and throwing a heavy object in multiple directions such as a medicine ball, resisting force and impact at high speed, agility training and random physical reaction drills.

Why? Most sports and life in general are somewhat unpredictable in nature, however there are certain patterns and characteristics that can be planned for. In this particular example high speed, force and stability are key components. As a result conditioning is built from the ground up, starting from foundational raw strength, transference into velocity and finally third-wave adaptations that are highly specific to the nature of the activity.

Layers of functionality are a sliding scale. At the base level are essential components such as raw strength development which are the basis for further, more specific components. Functional training is not a throw-away term, it bears meaning that pertains to the end task that the conditioning is being applied to. Every time you train be mindful of why you are doing what you are doing, don’t just blindly go through the motions.


UNLEASHED Training is based on being the science of movement. Human movement in the natural and primal sense is being lost in modern society. UNLEASHED Training aims at teaching efficient movement and restoring some of the physical freedom many people have not had since childhood. This is achieved through hard work, good planning, remaining competitive and making it a way of life.

Have fun with it and…..MAINTAIN THE RAGE!!!

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YOUR COACH – Chris Lyons

Chris Lyons is an experienced strength and conditioning coach, having trained athletes of all ages and levels since 2002. Chris specialises in coaching athletes for speed and power specific to fast-moving sports such as rugby league, rugby union, soccer, Aussie rules football etc. Since 2002 Chris has conducted close to 15,000 hours of training and coaching directly with athletes and members of the general population. From this experience comes Sprint Ninja, based on tried and tested training methods combined with up to date research. Chris continues to challenge himself not only as a coach, but also as an athlete, competing in sprinting events, strongman and Olympic-style weightlifting.

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