June 13, 2024

F1000 Scientist

Health to Life

Your Guide to Eccentric Training

8 min read

The bodybuilder that’s most strongly linked to eccentric training is also someone that is known for idiosyncrasy: Arthur Jones. Jones caught the attention of followers thanks to his passion for alligators and his love of going on safaris in Africa. He was also a marketing master that helped make Nautilus and MedX a success. Of course, eccentricity isn’t something that people are just born with. No one described Jones as an eccentric until after he was one of the fitness industry’s most successful members.

People don’t describe a person as an eccentric unless they’ve managed to accomplish great things. Along the same lines, if you want to utilize eccentric training, you need to properly condition your body.

Because this is an advanced training technique, it may not be suitable for someone that’s just starting to delve into the world of fitness and Strength Training. Even though Jones increased awareness of eccentric training, he wasn’t its creator. As with the variable resistance cam that Jones installed on Nautilus machines, this was simply something that he popularized. If you read books on strength training from Europe, you’ll see detailed guidelines for eccentric training.

Here is how Eccentric Strength Training can benefit you

The term “eccentric strength” is used to describe the degree of force that’s created as muscles lengthen. When muscles shorten, it produces “concentric strength.” Why spend time on eccentric training? These are six of the many advantages it offers.

– It Boosts Strength: Eccentric training is able to generate a lot more tension than what would be created during concentric training. This tension helps to stimulate muscle fibers. This aids in the development of muscles. Eccentric training is ideal for athletes that want to become stronger.

– It’s An Effective Way to Increase Muscle Mass: People often assume that lifting weights is what helps the body to create muscle mass. However, the hypertrophic response is actually triggered when weights are lowered. Equipment like isokinetic machinery is lacking in eccentric stimuli, which means it’s less than ideal for muscle mass development. While isokinetic equipment is often used in North America, it’s far less popular in Europe. This equipment isn’t designed to help athletes build muscle mass. Instead, it’s best to focus on eccentric contractions during workouts.

– It Can Help Athletes Increase Power: The amount of fast force that an athlete can generate is limited by their neuromuscular system. However, researchers have found that eccentric training can be a way to maintain the power the body has or to increase what an athlete is capable of.

In countries that have produced some of the strongest weightlifters will do every second workout that only include eccentric contractions. The initial workout would be conventional. The second workout, which is focused on eccentric contractions, allows the athlete to perform above their maximum levels.

– It Can Be Tailored to Athlete’s: While eccentric training is often linked to bodybuilding, it can benefit many types of athletes. Eccentric strength plays a role in many different sports. To keep joints healthy, muscles need to decelerate after accelerating. By building eccentric strength, athletes can increase the amount of control they have over their own movements. It can help athletes to jump, pitch, and much more.

-It Can Reduce the Risk of Injury: As previously mentioned, a lack of eccentric strength can make it difficult for athletes to fully control their movements. This can greatly increase the risk of injury. Athletes need to strengthen the muscles in their lower body so that they can reduce the amount of stress placed on their joints. While eccentric strength training can help athletes to recover from injuries, it can also be a way to prevent them.

– It Can Help Athletes Get More from Exercise Sessions: Technique plays an essential role in exercise. This is especially true when it comes to exercises used for strength training, like the bench press and squat. Eccentric training can be a way for athletes to increase the amount of control they have as they exercise. This can be a way to improve technique. Improvements to technique are likely to lead to better results later on.

Things to consider

Eccentric training is an excellent way to build strength. With that said, it needs to be done properly for best results. For many exercises, it’s necessary to have help from a training partner. If the spotter is not paying attention, or if the spotter is lacking in training, eccentric training could be risky or even dangerous.

It’s also common for people to underestimate just how intense eccentric training can be. As it was mentioned previously, eccentric training designed for people that are already in great shape. People that haven’t gone through the proper training may not be able to handle these intense training sessions. Athletes should start by focusing on strength training. If they start eccentric training without building that base, their connective tissue could be damaged, leading to serious injury.

Eccentric workouts also have a long recover time. Experts typically recommend that eccentric training should be done no more than three times a week. Even that may be too much for many athletes. It can take more than a week for the body to recover from an eccentric training session.

That’s why it’s important to implement the right protocols if you want to take advantage of the benefits of eccentric training. These guidelines can help you to train safely and effectively.

The Different Levels of Eccentric Training

According to advice from professional personal trainers, the optimal loading for eccentric training is somewhere between 100 and 175% of your maximum. How can you determine the amount of weight you use during eccentric training? You should think about the tempo that you want to maintain during the workout. How much time do you plan on lowering before completing your set? It’s best to decide on a time and find a weight that will allow you to maintain that tempo. You should also keep in mind that if your muscles fail while you perform an eccentric exercise correctly, you can expect your muscles to shake involuntarily as you decelerate.

When you experience this kind of muscle fatigue, your focus needs to be on properly decelerating the weight. Decelerating at a rate that’s faster than the preset time you’ve decided on can cause issues. It’s best to stop the set if that happens. When deciding on a preset time, you should keep in mind that the lowering time will be longer if the exercise has a wider range of motion.

When eccentric training is slow, athletes aren’t able to build force as quickly. It’s a solid option for athletes that are focused on preparation. Eccentric training that is fast, which is also known as plyometrics, is best employed when an athlete is preparing for a competition.

Lowering heavy loads slowly is just one of the ways to combine different eccentric training techniques. Another option that is utilized by many athletes is to lift heavy loads at high speeds. This can be a way for bodybuilders to achieve the kind of musculature that can be seen on top bobsledders and rowers. An example of this would be to alternate between completing four to six sets of three to five reps using maximal weight and four to six sets of hurdle jumps. This type of routine is recommended because the heavy sets can help to body to achieve more during the sets involving jumps. It can also be a way to achieve hypertrophy thanks to the fiber damage that it causes. This is a goal for many athletes.

When athletes are focused on eccentric training, it’s likely that they’ll experience more damage to the fibrillar and the connective tissue. Athletes should take a proactive approach and make sure that their bodies have the nutrients they need to rebuild tissues. Supplements like glucosamine sulfate are an excellent option, as are antioxidants. Eccentric training can also increase the amount of cortisol that is produced by the body. A way to counteract that is to increase your intake of vitamin C. You may also want to discuss using aspirin with your doctor. Some research shows that it can help the body to store more phosphagens within muscle tissue. This could improve the body’s ability to handle cortisol.

Ideally, strength training should build up progressively so that the body has time to adjust and recover. If you’re looking to dive into eccentric training, you can use these protocols as a guideline. You may also want to work with a personal trainer that specializes in eccentric training. That way, you’ll have a training partner that can provide you with the level of support that you need.

Level 1:

This level is aimed at athletes that have been training for two years or less. Athletes do not need to use eccentric loads during training. Instead, athletes can focus on maintaining control as loads are lowered. Athletes should not move onto the next level of eccentric training until after they have at least two years of training under their belt.

Level 2:

This protocol requires athletes to utilize 70% of maximal load until reaching concentric muscle failure. From there, athletes should complete two to three repetitions using the same load. This should be repeated for two to three sets. Alternatively, athletes could complete a single forced rep. As the weights are descending, athletes should attempt to stop them for four seconds. This should be repeated three times.

Level 3:

Continue to use 70% of maximal load until reaching concentric muscle failure. After that, increase weight by 15% before completing two to three repetitions. This should be repeated for two to three sets.

Level 4:

Increase maximal load to 80% until reaching concentric muscle failure. Increase weight by 20% before completing two to three forced repetitions. This should be repeated for three to four sets. Alternatively, a training partner can push down on the weights to provide extra resistance during the eccentric component of these exercises. This should be done in place of adding additional weight. Once concentric muscle failure is achieved, the extra negative repetitions should use up the last of your your eccentric strength.

Level 5:

With a maximal load of 110 to 100%, complete four to six eccentric reps for four to six sets. Between sets, athletes should rest for around four to five minutes. The preset time for lowering the weights should be somewhere between 8 and 10 seconds.

Level 6:

With a maximal load of 125 to 140 percent, athletes should complete two to three reps that are fully eccentric. This should be done for five to six sets, with four to five minutes of rest in between sets. The preset time for lowering weights should be between four and six seconds.

For advanced athletes, it’s best to avoid any specific single exercise tempos during eccentric workouts. As an example, you shouldn’t try to spend twice as much time lowering a weight as you would spend raising it. This could work in the short-term, but it’s unlikely to yield results in the long run. You’ll see much better results if you focus on the training protocol listed above.

It’s important to remember that eccentric training has its name because it’s designed to push athletes to the limits of standard training. It’s a potent method of training that should only be utilized by serious athletes. Don’t feel like you need to rush into eccentric training. Focus on strength training first.

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