Eccentric doesn’t just refer to the strange guy down the street or wearing weird clothes while working out…it also applies to a specific motion in exercise.
I was recently looking for some scholarly research around strength training to see what the latest and greatest information is around frequency and intensity and found a study that compared eccentric to concentric strength training. That would be resisting while the muscle is lengthening vs. contracting.
Back in the day, when I was weight training a lot, a negative (eccentric) was something we’d frequently add in at the end of the last set for a particular muscle group but not every workout. The reasons for that in my mind were that it was difficult to do – it absolutely required a spotter to take the weight from you at the end of the repetition, so it stood to reason that you wouldn’t want to do a whole set of negatives or you’d wear out your spotter. It was also felt to be an excellent way to bust a plateau or get that extra little bit out of a workout.
Most people are far stronger in the eccentric motion. To do an effective negative with conventional weights requires a weight you could not lift in the positive direction. So we’d do it when we had already fatigued our muscles in the positive/concentric motion. You had to have a spotter (or more than one) for most exercises, and to be safe, that spotter had to be “on it” during that repetition.
So what did the study conclude? The eccentric motion is more effective at making the muscles get stronger and also superior at making tendons thicker. You can read the study here. Indeed, if you read the discussion section of the study they make it clear that the benefits of eccentric training extend beyond just strength and tendon thickness.
I am babbling on about this because our ARX machines give you a safe way right here in Atlanta to work your muscles at maximum effort in both concentric and eccentric. That is the secret to the 20 minutes once a week.
Give it a try and see for yourself – schedule here.