Trying to figure out what is best with all of the different training methods out there can drive anyone crazy, so we are going to fuck you up even more now by introducing yet another one appropriately named ‘eccentric training.’
Before you blow it off, it’s really something that all of us have been subconsciously doing since the first time we ever picked up a dumbbell. But once some details are given about it, all of it sort of comes together and makes a lot of sense. So what is eccentric training? Let’s dive in.
THE SCIENTIFIC BULLSHIT PART
Yeah…we know that watching paint dry is more exciting than the science behind this stuff, but it’s good to know why you are doing something in the gym. So as painful as it may be, do the best that you can to read through this boring shit.
There are two parts to every rep: the lifting (or concentric) phase and the lowering (or eccentric) phase. Most meat and potatoes guys just call that the negative part of the rep. Well, a bunch of scientists came up with a theory about the importance of the negative part and that doing it in a slow and strict manner releases a chemical called phosphatidic acid, which increases protein synthesis. Even if you have no clue what any of that means, we’ll sum it by saying that is it good and will help you make solid gains.
THE EXECUTION PART
Now that you are armed with all of that new intelligence, let’s put it – and you – to work. When you control the weight on the down movement instead of just letting gravity do the work, you are taxing the target muscle (or muscles for compound movements) and making the most out of every rep.
How slow should you actually go? We’re glad that you asked, and the answer is…it depends. Other factors come into play, such as what exercise you are doing, your experience level and how much weight you are using. But a basic rule of thumb is one-to-three seconds at the minimum and approximately five-to-six seconds at the most.
What you are doing is causing maximal muscle fiber damage by keeping the tension going and that will result in better growth once the recovery and recuperation phase kicks in. You’re going to feel the difference in the pump if you have never taken advantage of this training style before.
It may sound ass-backwards, but you are actually using less energy when performing eccentric training. The reason is that you are not doing an explosive-type movement and it is more controlled, allowing you to expend your energy throughout the rep and having some in reserve for more.
Another attraction with eccentric training is that is strengthens your tendons and increases flexibility. If you ever have had to undergo surgery and attend physical therapy afterwards, you were put through exercises with light weight that was used in an eccentric manner.
The therapist gave you a small dumbbell and had you do whatever movement with it, but instructed you to do it in a slow and controlled manner. He or she then measured your range of motion and each week you went through the same thing to see if you have made any improvements.
All of that boils down to the fact that eccentric training works – in the physical therapist’s office and in the gym.