Ballistic resistance training has been demonstrated in numerous research studies to be highly effective for increasing power output by increasing the athlete’s ability to rapidly apply large forces and to maintain that force output even during rapid muscle shortening. However, a problem arises in the very high impact forces experienced during landing from jumps or controlling the barbell when catching a throw. The Ballistic Braking System is the solution to this problem.
The purpose of this brake is to reduce the impact forces experienced when landing from a jump squat or bench press throw. However, the system can also be used to reduce the eccentric loading during traditional weight lifting. Click here to view of video of the BBS in action.
Research has shown that the Ballistic Braking System is effective in reducing vertical ground impact force (61%) and the impact impulse at landings (67%).
Humphries et al. The effect of a braking device in reducing the ground impact forces inherent in plyometric training. International. Journal of Sports Medicine, 16(2): 129-133, 1994.
These results may indicate that by successfully reducing these impact parameters the likelihood of sustaining an injury from excessive impact forces has been decreased. Furthermore, the braking mechanism did not interfere with the ballistic concentric nature of the jumping action. The use of the braking device not only has the potential to reduce injury it can also be used in rehabilitation of athletes where ballistic closed kinetic chain movements, such as jump squats, can be performed without large impact forces.
The effect of the Ballistic Braking System is clearly evident during these two counter movement jumps with and without the brake being used.
A recent study compared the effects of training with and without eccentric braking.
Hori, N. et al. Comparison of weighted jump squat training with and without eccentric braking. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(1):54-65. 2008.
Twenty male subjects were divided into two groups (n = 10 per group), Non-Braking Group and Braking Group. The subjects were physically active, but not highly trained. The program for Non-Braking Group consisted of 6 sets of 6 repetitions of weighted jump squats without reduction of eccentric load for 8 weeks. The training program for the Braking Group consisted of the same sets and repetitions, but eccentric load was reduced by using the Ballistic Braking System. Jump and reach, countermovement jump, static jump, drop jump, one repetition maximum half squat, weighted jump squat, and isometric/isokinetic knee extension/flexion at several different positions/angular velocities were tested pre and post the training intervention. The Non-Braking Group exhibited greater improvement in peak torque during isokinetic concentric knee flexion at 300deg/s [Non-Braking Group: (mean 6 SD) 124.0 6 22.6 Nm at pre- and 134.1 6 18.4 Nm at posttraining, and Braking Group: 118.5 6 32.7 Nm at pre- and 113.2 6 26.7 Nm at posttraining]. Braking Group exhibited superior adaptations in peak power relative to body mass during weighted jump squat [Non-Braking Group: (mean 6 SD) 49.1 6 8.6 W/kg at pre- and 50.9 6 6.2 W/kg at posttraining, and Braking Group: 47.9 6 6.9 W/kg at pre- and 53.7 6 7.3 W/kg at posttraining]. It appears that power output in relatively slow movement (weighted jump squat) was improved more in the Braking Group, however strength in high velocity movements (isokinetic knee flexion at 300deg/s) was improved more in Non-Braking Group. This study supports load and velocity specific effects of weighted jump squat training.
In addition, it is possible to mount a second brake system below the bar and thus provide braking resistance against the upwards bar movement. One application of this configuration is during vertical jump training in which braking can be applied at the bottom of the athlete’s dip, they push upwards against the resistance, it is released and they can now explode upwards.
The brake is manually controlled simply by turning a dial to adjust the tension anywhere from 0 to 100kg of resistance. The system only requires mains electricity to operate and is very quiet in operation. In combination with the Ballistic Measurement System the computer can provide very fine control over the brake switching it off or on at certain points in the movement. For example, one option is to apply the brake only while the athlete is in the air following a jump, then release the brake when they land to provide the full eccentric load during the next jump but with the impact of landing greatly reduced. Using such a system allows the strength coach to program very heavy jump squats (e.g. 100kg on the bar) with little risk of injury to the athlete. This is a great stimulus to developing vertical jump performance.
Utilizing the capacity of the Ballistic Measurement System the brake can also be controlled by the software to switch off and on at specific phases of the movement. This is termed eccentric loading control. The Ballistic Braking System is best used in combination with the FT700 Power Cage.
Further information is available from the manufacturer Fitness Technology.