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Haltere Loading for Increasing Propulsive and Braking Forces

October 29, 2020
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Have you heard of haltere loading? If you haven’t, jump inside this article for a few minutes and get a heads up on one of the training methods used by the ancient Greeks.

Change of Direction Performance

Recent posts have had a focus on developing horizontal eccentric braking capability, as it is thought a fundamental but often overlooked strength quality for change of direction (COD) performance. Let’s take a quick look at another method that can potentially enhance the decelerative capabilities of the leg musculature.

Haltere or Hand-Held Loading

Ancient Greek athletes were thought to carry loads in their hands to enhance jumping performance/distance. These hand-held loads, were termed “halteres,” and ranged from approximately 2 to 10 kg and were made of stone or lead. These halteres have been found buried beside Greek athletes and may be one of the earliest tools invented to enhance human performance. The term “haltere loading” will be used in this article to describe the arm swing motion with hand-held loads that are held during horizontal jumping as shown in the opening video and in Figure 1. We have done a little research in this area, so here is a quick share of some relevant findings.

Figure 1: Haltere loading sequence from left to right – backswing, take-off and landing.

What We Did

We were interested in quantifying how various hand-held loads affected ground reaction forces and subsequent jump distance. So we asked 16 sportsmen to jump off a force plate for maximum distance, thereafter the vertical and horizontal GRFs as well as distance were recorded.

What we Found

As you can see from Table 1 hand-held loading significantly increased horizontal jump distance vertical propulsive forces, and the predicted optimal loading of ~9% BM was estimated to increase jump distance by ~13cm.

Table 1: Summarised results from Cronin et al. (2014)

Take Home Messages

Even though horizontal braking forces were not measured, intuitively it makes sense that the leg musculature has to work harder to decelerate/eccentrically brake the additional momentum provided by the hand-held loading. Horizontal propulsive impulses were greater at the beginning of the jump so the braking impulse naturally will be greater. Haltere type loading has some interesting applications for acceleration and deceleration mechanics and COD performance. Furthermore, since this motion can be overloaded systematically, it has implications for performance, injury resistance and rehabilitation.


Cronin, J., Brughelli, M., Gamble, P., Brown, S. & McKenzie, C. (2014). Acute kinematic and kinetic augmentation in horizontal jump performance using haltere type hand-held loading. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(6) 1559-1564 DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000312