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Cable Pulling for Horizontal Eccentric Braking Capability?

November 10, 2021
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Have you ever tried cable single leg horizontal decelerations? Just want to continue that theme of developing horizontal braking ability so thought I’d share some research we did a few years back which was interesting. Join me in a five-minute read, which may unlock some interesting training applications for you.

Change of Direction Performance

As discussed in the previous post, the ability to accelerate and then decelerate your body’s momentum and then immediately re-accelerate in a new direction can have a profound effect on your change of direction (COD) performance. The majority of research and S&C practice in this area has focused on training acceleration to improve COD ability and very little attention has been given to the deceleration phase.

Injury Resistance/Prevention

Furthermore, the research around deceleration or landing has mainly focused on the prevention or causes of ACL injury. It has been reported that non-contact ACL injuries often occur in the landing or deceleration phase of a COD movement. This suggests that strengthening this phase of a COD movement may be beneficial in terms of injury prevention.

Force Vector Specificity

It may be that unilateral eccentric strength training that has a horizontal decelerative component could intuitively be the strength quality that would likely have the best transference to linear deceleration COD ability due to its contraction type and vector specificity.

What We Did

We progressively overloaded athletes by attaching them to a weight stack via a tether as shown in Figure 1 and in the video above. Thereafter the athletes were asked to jump forward and land on one leg on a marked area on a force plate (1.5 m from the take-off line). On landing they were asked to resist the stimulus provided by the falling weight stack. Horizontal and vertical ground reaction forces were measured by the force plates.

Figure 1: Subject standing on a force plate and attached to a cable pulley machine.


As you can see from Table 1 the horizontal forces increased from 15% to 54% with loads progressing from 4 to 16% of body mass. However, the vertical forces hardly changed at all. Athletes could not resist/control loads safely and with good technique that were greater than 16% BM.

Take Home Messages

It seems that eccentric deceleration ability can be overloaded using the methods described above as substantial horizontal braking forces were associated with this type of loading. This type of training has interesting implications for performance, injury prevention/resistance and rehabilitation given how the training stimulus can be overloaded in a systematic manner.