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A Primer on Cable Training - Brad Reid.pdf

A Primer on Cable Training - Brad Reid.pdf

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04/18/2014

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A Primer on Cable raining  By Brad Reid Introduction
 Beore I begin to lay out my thoughts on cable training, I should mention that I wrote a biographical articleor the September, 2000 issue (Volume 8, Number 2) o MILO titled Jack Reid: A Pure Play on Cable rain-ing. In addition to my article, Fred Hutchinson has written cable-oriented articles that appeared in theollowing MILO (Volumes/Numbers: 6.3, 6.4, and 7.1). Ordering some o these specic back issues wouldbe a great starting point or readers wishing to acquire some basic and preliminary acts and ideas aboutcable training. Also, contemporary strongman, John Brookeld, recently authored raining with Cablesor Strength and it’s available through IronMind Enterprises, Inc. or those who’d like to read his invalu-able thoughts. I gleaned several interesting ideas rom Brookeld’s book; you know, an exercise angle hereor there or a act I had not previously known. o this we can add Matt Furey’s video on cable pulling, Dick Hartzell’s various videos on stretching large rubber bands, Mike Brown’s book, Te Strength o Samson: How to Attain It, and Bill Hinbern’s various oerings o historical physical culture books (at least one o which iscable specic) as additional sources comprising what one might say airly constitutes a good portion o theavailable contemporary items on cable training.My Jack Reid biographical article (that’s Jack Reid reposing on a beach in the photo at le) was proposed toand accepted by MILO’s editor, Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D, as sort o a continuation o Hutchinson’s articlesas I thought it might be o interest to readers to see and read an account describing the ull eects availablerom perorming much o the very cable work described by Hutchinson in his articles. My ather’s special-ization with cables was not by choice, but out o circumstances related to his polio aiction. So, instead o doing cleans and presses or squats, he did ront cable pulls, overhead pull downs, ront and back presses, andso orth. It worked well ¾ remade him quite literally both physically and I think spiritually ¾ and lie wenton more merrily and positively by his serendipitous encounter with cables. But, most readers I assume havechoices, so the theme o this primer will ocus on tting cable work into the broader training spectrum avail-able to today’s strength athletes. At least a air share o the people with whom I’ve communicated desire cableknowledge adapted to today’s training environment. How does cable training t in with barbell and dumb-bell work? Whats special about cable resistance? What sets and repetitions would you recommend? Whatare the best traditional movements and what are some good contemporary applications o cables? In whatollows, I’ll cover these issues and several more. On the issue o contemporary cable matters, many o you know that some o the powerliing training tech-niques currently espoused by Louie Simmons employ heavy rubber bands as a source o elastic resistance(these giant rubber bands are available rom Dick Hartzell’s company, Jump Stretch, Inc., at 800-344-3539).
 
No, Simmons doesn’t teach the traditional cable movements; in act, he has intuitively adapted elastic resis-tance specically to the three competitive power lis, but it’s denitely “cable” work at the core o its eective-ness. And, or anyone who works with the powerul hand grips on the market today, you surely know thecoils and springs that provide resistance as you attempt to close these devices are “elastic” in nature: startingrelatively easy but getting harder and harder the arther you squeeze the grips. I mention these exampleso elastic training to convey their existence or us even now, contemporarily, but in manners and orms notintuitively conducive to orming associations with traditional cables. Finally, I might mention that cable or strand pulling was a popular sport in England, perhaps other places inEurope too, or many years. I recall owning a small black book I believe was written by David Webster oncable pullers and competitions, and it revealed incredible statistics by some o the best “modern” competi-tive pullers. I my memory serves me correctly, most o the cable sets shown were o the steel spring variety and many o the various pullers illustrated by the book’s photographs appeared to have what I’d call “wiry”physiques. A couple o photographs o David Webster himsel accompanied at least one o Fred HutchinsonsMILO articles and Webster, too, gave me the impression o possessing a very economical build. Like many o the best arm wrestlers, sometimes looks can be deceiving and so it is I think with some o the best Europeancable specialists. oo, the pullers there seemed to contort their bodies in various ways to complete the com-petitive pulls. Tis is oreign to me, that is, the competitive version o the sport. I cable pulling still existsin a competitive ormat overseas, I have not been able to nd reerences to it through my various Internetsearches. It would all outside the realm o this article anyway as I will be discussing cable pulling or physi-cal development and diversied strength, not as a competitive event in and o itsel. I’d deer to David Web-ster and other experts who could give us some o the unique history o competitive pulling. For this article, Ido reerence the one and only cable contest I know o held in the United States.
Cables – What gives?
 Readers may recall that Arthur Jones invented a series o unique exercise machines in the very late 1960sand early 1970s based on a “nautilus-shaped” system o pulleys, hence the name “Nautilus” or the machines’snail-like curly-cue shaped components. Te various pulleys employed eectively changed the lever-armlength as a particular exercise progressed rom its starting point to its completion. Jones contended that hismachines’ resistance patterns more perectly opposed the muscles throughout their ull contraction. Temovements o the majority o those machines were nothing new, but the way the resistance was appliedthroughout the motion itsel varied rom traditional barbell exercises. I’ll leave it to others to debate whetherNautilus resistance is better suited to the development o muscle mass and strength than barbells and simply acknowledge that it is dierent. And, so it is with cables. I you attach a cable set to some overhead anchor and suspend weights rom its reeend, it stretches arther and arther as you hang additional weights and builds up what is known in physics aselastic potential energy. Using the analogy o a ully cocked bow, the greater the amount o elastic potentialenergy stored, the greater orce exerted on a released arrow and the arther and aster it will y. Contrast thisto, say, a barbell deadli. I a bar is loaded to 500 lbs., applying 501 lbs. o pressure will li the bar, but 499lbs. will not budge it. So, to perorm a press, a deadli, or a squat, the exertion required to li the weight canbe relatively static and uniorm throughout the whole movement. For elastic cables, the arther you stretchthe cable ¾ like a bow, a slingshot, a bungee chord, or a trampoline ¾ the more resistance you encounter. Amovement that begins with 60 lbs. o resistance may terminate at 100 lbs. So, I’ll ask a question about cables:Is the resistance generated by cables better suited to the development o muscle mass and strength than, say,barbells? You’ll have to answer this or yoursel aer working with them or a while, but at least or now, I’dacknowledge that like Nautilus, or Hammer machines, or barbells and dumbbells, cable resistance is de-nitely “dierent.” 
Describing that “Diference”
 I suppose parachutists would tell you that they certainly preer the manner in which an opened parachute
 
gradually slows a descent to any o the more abrupt alternatives. Likewise, it is bungee chord jumping thathas caught on as a thrill seeker’s sport, not jumping rom bridges with rigid, inexible ropes attached to yourankles. Bungee chords “gradually” absorb gravitational orces. Cables are similar, though not o course, coun-tering orces to gravity per se, but to the orces we create in our exertions upon them. As you begin a pullor press, the resistance is comparatively easy, but the arther you stretch the cable, the greater the resistanceyou’ll encounter. About a dozen or so years ago, a riend and I suspended some heavy cables rom a powerrack and ound the resistance curve (in terms o weight suspended compared to the stretch in inches) to beairly linear. So, a puller o cables starts out under a “relatively” small load equal to the elastic potential en-ergy stored in the cable or band at any particular stretched length and encounters increased resistance some-what linearly until the stretch is completed. 
Te Acceleration actor in “Force”
 Tis gradual increase in resistance allows a cable puller to build momentum early in the movement makingit possible or the exercise to terminate in a resistance that, in most cases, would be greater than a similarstatic weight lied with a barbell or dumbbell. Greater? Yes, compare the length a bungee chord is ultimately stretched by a man weighing 150 lbs. jumping rom a tall bridge with the amount o statically suspendedweight required to stretch the chord the same length. It might take a suspended weight o 500 lbs. to acquirethe same stretched length as the 150 lb. mass under acceleration. Te “orce = mass X acceleration” ormulais operative in my analogue and so it is with cables. Te terminal orces borne by the opposing muscles areheightened by the early acceleration o the cable strands and may well exceed a barbell lier’s more staticcreation o orce in a similar exercise absent the acceleration.
A Supportive Case Study 
 Te one and only ormal cable contest I know o in the United States took place in the spring o 1940. Terewere ve contestants that day and the winner was Dr. Leo Di Cara o New York. From the photographs I’veseen accompanying the article, Di Cara was a modestly sized, tightly knit gentleman with exceptional triceps,shoulder, and overall torso development. And, he didn’t just win the competition, he astounded the specta-tors and commentators as he pulled and pressed cable poundages that made observers wonder whether any o the better-known cable specialists o that era could have kept pace. In his one arm cable press, he suc-ceeded with 225 lbs! Te contestants were all “measured” or the three movements perormed that day: theront pull, the one arm press, and the back press. Di Cara’s one arm press was credited with the amount o suspended weight it took to stretch the cables the same distance as his press movement. In eect, Di Cara’sully locked out right arm extended overhead was under an equivalent pressure as i he held a 225 lb. dumb-bell alo!Now, I bring Di Cara up as a point o reerence since that very same year, John Grimek pressed 285 lbs. at the1940 Senior Nationals ¾ with two arms, o course. In my mind, Grimek no doubt, was the much strongerbarbell presser o the two, but he certainly couldn’t have strictly pressed 225 lbs. with one arm with either abarbell or a dumbbell. Te dierences between a barbell or dumbbell press and a cable press are notewor-thy: Di Caras press began with something much less than 225 lbs., and since it started lighter, he could buildunctional momentum in his pressing motion beore it encountered the ull load o 225 lbs at the lockout.Again, rom physics we know that, orce = mass X acceleration, so we might better understand Di Cara’sseemingly disproportionate perormance by understanding that his one-arm cable press compared to a presswith a dumbbell, might be analogous to a competition between a running long jumper and a standing long jumper, or a barbell push press to a strict barbell military press. Te ability to accelerate into a heavy lockout(a very powerul position in most lis) creates terminal orces exceeding those in more static presses wherea constant load rom the inception o the movement diminishes ramping up momentum as the movementunolds.o be sure, the application o acceleration is not unknown to weightliers: Olympic liers ease the bar o theground to start their pulling motions, and then accelerate. And, powerliers dare not piddle around, so in

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