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Deceleration: Braking Muscle

Perform these outdoor drills and train your ability to stop on a dime and make change — improving athletic performance and preventing injury.

Everyone trains to go faster, quicker, 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 — or decelerate — should be on your programming to-do list.

Like any skill, deceleration 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, and co-author of Jailhouse Strong: Interval Training (Back Arms Publications, 2013). “And with more than 200,000 ACL injuries a year you should take advantage of the variables you can control — deceleration training being one of them.”

Find a local track or outdoor green space and do these drills once or twice a week to improve your deceleration capacity, enhance muscular balance and power, and prevent injury.

Flying 30s

Mark off 30-meter intervals using cones or small rocks. Then perform your sprints as follows:

  • Meters 0-30: run, gradually building toward top speed
  • Meters 30-60: maintain top speed
  • Meters 60-90: decelerate gradually, knees flexed, taking short steps and keeping your center of gravity in front of the forward knee
  • Rest one to two minutes and repeat

Forward/Backward One-Legged Hop and Stick

Stand on your right foot with your arms at your sides, elbows bent. Explosively hop forward several feet and land, absorbing the impact and freezing momentarily in the down position, “sticking” the landing. Now, hop rearward on the same leg and again stick the landing. Use your arms to help generate momentum, forward and back. Do all reps on one side before switching.

Vertical Two-to-One Jump 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Quickly bend your knees and hips, then explode into the air as high as you can, reaching your arms overhead. Land on one leg, absorbing the impact and holding the landing for one count. Replace your other foot and repeat, alternating landing legs with each repetition.

Lateral Mini-Hurdle Freeze

Line up a series of four to five small hurdles with about a foot in between and stand sideways to the lineup at one end. Move laterally through the hurdles, performing high knees across and over each one, using your arms to help keep tempo. When you get to the end, freeze on the outside leg for one count. Repeat in the opposite direction to complete one rep.


Josh Bryant is the CEO and master trainer at and has authored or co-authored several top-selling books, including Bench Press: The Science, Complete Guide to Dumbbell Training and Built to the Hilt