Eccentric Weight Training

4th May 2019
After lifting a weight or dumbbell, you have to bring it back down. While most people associate the lowering part of the set with muscle relaxation, eccentric training uses it to maximize a workout.

Bicep curls: lift a dumbbell and after, quickly bring it back down; that’s what most people do to keep marching through the repetitions. But…what would you think if we told you that lowering a dumbbell could also add on to your workout? That’s what eccentric weight training is all about!

You might think that eccentric workouts require ties or resistance bands. But many dumbbells or weight exercises actually make great eccentric routines. The exercises aren’t too complicated: they’re all the same ones but with a slightly different execution.

Concentric and eccentric contraction

When we carry out a movement that contracts muscle fiber, shortening the muscle, we call that the concentric contraction, or positive training. In most weightlifting exercises, we focus primarily on concentric contraction.

After lifting a weight, when we return back into the rest position, the muscle that contracted shortly before, stretches out. This is called eccentric contraction, or negative training.

Imagine a simple bicep curl. When you lift the dumbbell, you train positively; but when you lower it, you train negatively. As you lower the weight, you control your arm and make sure the muscle doesn’t stretch out excessively.

We often associate concentric contraction as the only way to work out a muscle, but it’s not true. You can also train your muscles by adding resistance and more control during the eccentric contraction. In short, that’s the main idea in eccentric weight training.

Resistance becomes a source of strength

When you concentrically contract your muscles, you’re usually at 100 percent capacity of your natural strength. However, in eccentric contractions, your body can generate resistance of up to 140 percent, making negative training quite an impressive feat.

negative training 1

What’s more is that in this part of an exercise, the weight is always pulled down by gravity. This allows you to control your workout, which you need for hypertrophy. But…should you base your workouts on speed or weight?

Some experts advise doing eccentric workouts slowly. On the other hand, others argue that eccentric workouts shouldn’t focus on slowing down the muscle, but rather, lifting heavier weights. In any case, you should adapt your workouts to your physical condition.

Defining eccentric training

Having said all of the above, we could say that eccentric training focuses on eccentric contraction. By adding weights, the workouts are exactly the same dumbbell or bar weight exercises that we’re used to.

Concentric contractions can’t be exempt from these workouts. The implication of both contractions can make workouts considerably tiring, especially when using heavier weights.

Some coaches talk about pure eccentric workouts, but they use them only as a means to define its basis and concept. In any case, the only way to start eccentric training is by adapting it to personal strength, weight, experience, and goals.

Differentiate between the different movements that make up an exercise and train them intently. Going back to the bicep curl example, try moving one set quickly to work the concentric contractions, and focus on the eccentric part as well.

If you do a set of eight repetitions, use four of them to really concentrate on the negative workout. By doing so, your weightlifting exercises will be much more efficient.

eccentric 2

What will you get out of eccentric weight training?

Negative training will offer you the following benefits:

  • Strength: by working out your muscles more intensely, your body will be stronger and withstand more resistance. As a result, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights, which will build muscle mass.
  • Hypertrophy: you’ll produce more muscle fiber thanks to an intense workout. The slow movements really help build muscle mass.
  • Prevent injuries: you’re more likely to suffer an injury during concentric contractions than eccentric ones because, during the latter, muscles stretch out, preparing themselves to work.
  • Flexibility: flexibility is another benefit that eccentric workouts offer thanks to the fact that they stretch out muscles. They also help keep your joints in good condition.

To wrap up, doing eccentric weight training can help develop your muscles. Before you begin, think about your personal preferences and necessities.

 

  • Germán de la Torre. 2016. Entrenamiento excéntrico. Extraído de: https://centropronaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/TRI-44-78-81-ENTRENAMIENTO-EXCENTRICO.pdf
  • José Carlos Giraldo; T. Carlos Eduardo Nieto; G. Bases fisiológicas del entrenamiento con pesas. 2018. Extraído de: http://academia.utp.edu.co/basicasyaplicadas/files/2018/09/5.-Bases-fisiol%C3%B3gicas-del-entrenamiento-con-pesas-JCGT-CENG.pdf