- 1 Learn More About Eccentric, Concentric & Isometric Strength Exercises
- 1.1 Negative Training With Positive Effects
- 1.2 What Is Eccentric and Concentric Training?
- 1.3 The Idea Of Eccentric Strength Training
- 1.4 How Effective Is Eccentric Strength Training?
- 1.5 How To Perform Eccentric Training
- 1.6 An Exciting Training Concept
Learn More About Eccentric, Concentric & Isometric Strength Exercises
Facts About Eccentric Training
- It works your muscles during the extension-phase
- Working with weights greater than what you can lift the traditional way (> 1RM)
- It is often necessary to have a spotter (workout buddy) to help you
- The method generally provide greater muscle soreness after your workout
… With that being said let’s jump right into this insanely effective workout method. Here goes:
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Negative Training With Positive Effects
Eccentric strength training exercise is a concept that has been known, but not especially used, for many years. In recent years, more and more people have become aware of eccentric training, and you often see both fitness professionals and athletes who use the kind of strength training in addition to their regular workout.
But what is eccentric strength training really? How does it work? And is there scientific evidence that this training concept actually works?
….We have looked closely at the concept down below.
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What Is Eccentric and Concentric Training?
Basically, a muscular effort is contracted in three different ways:
- Concentric (that is, the muscle is shortened, also called positive training),
- Isometric (static)
- Eccentric (muscle work here during extension, also referred to as negative training).
During concentric contraction your muscle is shortened, while your muscle during an isometric contraction does not change in length and therefore carry a static work.
Eccentric contractions cause muscles to elongate in response to a greater opposing force. Traditional strength training works your muscle both concentric and eccentric.
The Idea Of Eccentric Strength Training
When a muscle is working eccentric, it can develop much greater force than it can be in both the concentric and isometric work.
In practice this means that the example bench press will be able to lower a barbell at arm’s length and down to the chest (the eccentric phase) quiet and controlled, although the weight of the barbell is so great that you subsequently will not be able to push it back to stretched arm again (the concentric phase).
Eccentric strength training allows so that you can wok with loads that are significantly larger than is possible in traditional strength training, where the cocentric muscle strength is the limit for the weight load.
The scientific literature is said that allows eccentric strength that can be trained with loads that are greater than 1RM where 1RM represents the maximum load that during conventional weight training, can be lifted exactly once.
This means that if, during the traditional bench press you can lift 150 pounds exactly once (1RM), then you can probably easily train with 175 pounds, if you only make the eccentric part of the movement. The basic idea of the eccentric strength training is that the weight can be trained with much larger loads than is possible in traditional strength training.
How Effective Is Eccentric Strength Training?
On paper, it seems obvious that eccentric strength training is the way to go because of the large loads. There is no doubt that eccentric strength training improves both the concentric and eccentric muscle strength.
Studies suggest, however, that eccentric strength training especially improves muscle strength during eccentric muscle work while muscle strength during concentric muscle work improved less.
Other studies also show that the eccentric weight training can increase the amount of muscle mass. A number of studies have shown that eccentric exercise is important if you want to increase your muscle mass.
The studies also show that if one fails the eccentric phase during traditional strength training, the training will not result in the same increase in muscle mass.
Eccentric training requires routine. Before starting with the eccentric strength training, it is important that you make two things clear:
Firstly, eccentric strength training is not a training concept that is appropriate for beginners or for people who exercise irregularly. This is because the risk of injury becomes too high because of the very large loads as the eccentric training requires. Ideally, you should therefore have at least been following regular traditional strength training for a year before you start experimenting with eccentric strength training.
Those who get the most benefit of eccentric strength training, are usually well-trained individuals who feel that their training has stagnated or has become too monotonous. Therefore this type of training typically involve people who are trying to increase their maximum muscle strength and mass.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the degree of muscle soreness will increase significantly after eccentric strength training. In fact, studies show that eccentric exercise is the kind of muscle work, which results in the most difficult degree of muscle soreness in the days following the workout.
How To Perform Eccentric Training
As mentioned previously, eccentric training takes place with weights that are greater than your 1RM in the exercise during conventional weight training. This means that you train with weights that are so heavy that you can only “lower” the weight, but not “lift” it again. In practice, this means that you will need to have a spotter (workout buddy) with you in many of the exercises.
Some machines are designed so that they have an “eccentric mode”, which means that you can do it without a spotter. For example, when exercising with dumbbells, you also have the ability to lift the weight with both hands and then lower it with one hand, which means you too can perform the exercise without a spotter.
Because of the heavy weights that are trained with, it can not be stressed enough that you need to be very aware of the injury potential. In the scientific world, it has been suggested that 120% of 1RM would be the optimal eccentric weight.
In a Finnish study they had a group of Olympic weightlifters perform 25% of their training as eccentric training, while another grou of Olympic weightlifters who trained as much, “only” strengthen the traditionally trained.
The weight during the eccentric training was 100-130% of 1RM. After 12 weeks of training the eccentric group had improved their performance in the discipline significantly compared to the group with traditional training. Although we do not know the optimal eccentric load, so does training loads about 120% of 1RM, which is quite a sensible choice. Using eccentric training!
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Eccentric strength training should be generally considered as a supplement to traditional strength training and therefore not as a complete replacement. There are various possibilities for how you can integrate the eccentric strength training in your regular training program.
One possibility is that you select exercises 1-2 times a week, start making 1-2 eccentric sets after you have completed your traditional strength training program. For example if you make 3 back exercises when you train back, then select 1 or 2 of these exercises and perform 1-2 eccentric sets after you have performed 2-4 traditional set.
Another option is to replace an entire training day with a clean eccentric program where you train all muscle groups with eccentric training. This means that after an ordinary warmup set in each exercise you do 2-3 eccentric sets. This training structure may trigger severe muscle soreness though.
An Exciting Training Concept
Eccentric training is an interesting concept that we will undoubtedly hear more of in the future. In addition, it must be emphasized once again that the heavy weights in eccentric strength training causes your body to go into overdrive which means that you have to be extra careful about safety during training.
Recommendations for an eccentric strength training program
- Consider only eccentric training if you have cultivated traditional strength training for a minimum of 1 year.
- Eccentric training should only be a supplement to the traditional strength training.
- Eccentric strength training can be done once a week replacing an entire training day with a clean eccentric strength training program where you go through all muscle groups
- Eccentric strength training means a sensible training weight based on 120% of your 1RM.