Objective This study aimed to investigate how load expectations modulate neuromuscular and postural strategies in the anticipation of a freestyle lifting task with varying expected loads in individuals with and without chronic low back pain (cLBP). Methods Forty-seven participants, 28 with cLBP pain and 19 without, were recruited and completed a series of freestyle lifting trials (3 sets of box lifted for a total of 36 lifts). Verbal cues were used to modulate their expectations about the boxes' weight: no expectation, lighter or heavier load expectations. Following each set, participants rated their perceived exertion on a visual analog scale. During the lifting protocol, kinematics (time to maximal flexion, angular velocity and joint angles), electromyography muscle activity (erector spinae and quadriceps) and center of pressure displacement were simultaneously recorded. Results Results showed that time to maximal knee flexion was modulated by load expectations in both groups (mean lighter load expectations = 1.15 ± 0.32 sec.; mean heavier load expectations = 1.06 ± 0.31 sec.). Results also showed a load expectations X group interaction for that time to maximal hip and lumbar flexion. Time to maximal hip flexion decreased with heavier load expectations (mean lighter load expectations = 1.20 ± 0.36; mean heavier load expectations = 1.16 ± 0.33) for cLBP only. Time to maximal lumbar flexion increased with heavier load expectation (mean lighter load expectations = 1.41 ± 0.27 sec.; mean lighter load expectations = 1.46 ± 0.29 sec.) for participants without LBP. However, no difference in lumbar, hip nor knee angles were observed between groups or conditions. Results highlighted significant load expectation effects for erector spinae electromyography activity, as lower muscle activations was observed for both groups with heavier load expectations (mean = 0.32 ± 0.15), compared to lighter load expectations (mean = 0.52 ± 0.27). Force plates analyses did not reveal any significant load expectation effects. Conclusion Present findings showed that load expectations modulate movement strategies and muscle activation similarly but not identically in individuals with chronic low back pain and healthy adults during freestyle lifting. Results of the present study partially differ from previous studies and suggest only minor differences in lifting strategies between healthy individuals and individuals with cLBP experiencing low level of pain and disability. More studies are needed to investigate the potential role of load expectations in the development and persistence of chronic low back pain.