Eccentric Exercise is also known as negative training. It’s the opposite of concentric, or positive training, which is what you typically do when weight training. In concentric training, the muscle is working against weight as it shortens (i.e. curling up during a bicep curl). The opposite is performed with eccentric training, and the and the concept is to have the weight put tension on the muscle as it lengthens (i.e. lowering the weight during a bicep curl)
So what are the benefits of Eccentric Exercise? Well there are a LOT! When you perform negative training, your muscle can withstand a heavier weight load – which means a more effective exercise with more results! Also, negative training has been shown to decrease tendon pain. And increasing your strength with eccentric exercises can decrease your risk of injury.
Here are some reasons to add negative training to your workouts:
- You can reach failure quicker, because the larger load causes muscle fatigue faster – which means faster results!
- Increase in muscle strength.
- Increase in muscle size – a lot of bodybuilders use negative training to “bulk up”
- Strength gains obtained through eccentric work will carry over to concentric work, but not vice versa!
- Strength gains from eccentric training will be maintained longer while de-training, and muscle built using eccentric training (as opposed to concentric training) is better able to withstand the breakdown process that starts when muscles rest.
- Eccentric training requires less oxygen – so less stress on the ol’ lungs and heart!
- Eccentric training works the entire joint – leading to increased stability and decreased risk of injury.
- It’s a good way to switch up your workouts, avoid plateau, and challenge your muscles in a new way – I love switching up my workouts!
The one warning I will give you, however, is that there tends to be more delayed muscle soreness with eccentric exercise. This is only meant to be done a couple times per week. Your muscles need adequate rest, since there is more weight put on them. And if you are new to weight training, I wouldn’t recommend this type of training until you get a good muscle base down. Generally speaking, most people can use weight that’s about 40% heavier with eccentric movements than with concentric. With that being said, do not start out with that much weight. Start at a low weight and work your way up.
Negative Training Workout
Here’s a workout for you to try with some standard eccentric exercises. You can do all or just try some of them. During the eccentric move, lengthen the muscle in about 5 counts. This is meant to be a slow, controlled and resistance-based movement. The concentric movement should be only 1 count.
Complete 3 sets – and base your number of reps on your muscle strength.
Bent Over Row (10-15 reps) – Stand holding a barbell or sandbag, hinged forward at the hips. Bring weight up to your chest with elbows bent back behind you and slowly lower the weight, straightening your arms (eccentric movement). Bring the weight back to start, pause and repeat.
Reverse Curl (8 reps) – Use an overhand grip on a barbell or dumbbells curled up at your chest to start. Lower the bar slowly all the way down and keep your elbows at your sides (eccentric movement). If you prefer, perform a regular bicep curl with an underhand grip.
Bench Press (8-10 reps) – Lie on a bench, holding a barbell at your chest. Press the bar straight up, pause, then lower slowly under control (eccentric movement). Press the weight back up and repeat.
Squats (10-15 reps) – I’m going to give you 2 great options for the squat. The first is a traditional squat, holding a barbell/sandbag on your shoulders. Slowly lower down into a squat, pushing your hips back (eccentric movement). Come up in one count, pause and repeat.Another option is to place a medicine ball between your thighs and squeeze as you slowly lower into a squat. Return to standing still squeezing the ball to hold it between your legs, pause and repeat. These will work your inner thighs too!
Seated Shoulder Press (8-10 reps) – Sit on a flat bench, holding dumbbells at your shoulders with palms facing out. Press the weights overhead, then slowly lower the weights down (eccentric movement). Press back up when they reach your shoulders and repeat.
Dumbbell Pull Over Crunch (8-10 reps) – Your abs can even benefit from eccentric exercises! Lie on the ground with legs extended, holding a dumbbell in each hand overhead. Crunch up as you bring your knees to chest, pulling the dumbbells up and to your shins. Pause at the top and lower slowly back to start (eccentric movement). Crunch back up and repeat. If you can, try to straighten your legs without them touching the ground.
Hanging Knee Lifts (8-10 reps) – Do these from a pull-up bar or from a roman chair. Hang legs straight and crunch knees to chest. Slowly lower your legs until straight (eccentric movement), pause and then lift them back to chest.