Balance Your Physique With Deceleration Training

Everyone trains to go faster, bigger, harder, stronger — but once you’re going warp speed — then what? The ability to stop is just as important as being able to go from zero to 60, so unless crashing and burning is part of your plan, learning to slow down — decelerate — should be on your exercise to-do list. 

Deceleration is the series of movements that help you slow down, change direction or stop when playing sports. Like any skill, this needs to be trained, and teaching your body to control and dampen forces such as momentum and gravity can help prevent injury while improving overall performance.

“Improving the ability to decelerate is imperative for almost any athletic endeavor since one rarely runs in a straight line at a constant speed,” says Josh Bryant, CSCS, co-author of Jailhouse Strong Interval Training (Back Arms Publications, 2015). “And with over 200,000 ACL injuries a year, you should take advantage of the variables you can control — deceleration training being one of them.”

Bryant especially recommends deceleration training for women: We girls are actually at greater risk for knee injuries because typically our quad-to-hamstring strength ratio is imbalanced, with our quads typically being about 40 percent stronger than our hamstrings. “From a movement perspective, this means a female athlete is more likely to decelerate using the quadriceps first, resulting in greater knee instability,” Bryant says. “The good news is that this is a correctable issue.”

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