Eccentric Exercises

Add Size and Strength with Eccentric Exercises

Add Size and Strength with Eccentric Exercises

Back in the early 90’s there was a book called Bigger Muscles in 42 Days by Dr. Elliot Darden. The book took a revolutionary approach to training by advocating that people needed to spend less time in the gym but more importantly to emphasize eccentric contractions. If you look at most people training in the gym lifting, they pay very little attention to the eccentric or lowering phase of the lift. Lowering the weight under control brings gravity into play in another fashion. During positive work or concentric contractions, muscle fibers are shortening. During negative work or eccentric contractions, the same fibers are lengthening. Although lifting and lowering may seem like a very simple process, the physiological differences to muscle adaption are much different.

Emphasizing the eccentric contraction is associated with positive changes in strength and lean muscle mass. Eccentric contractions are so important that if you remove the eccentric contraction from the lift, strength gains are reduced.

In one study, researchers compared a concentric only strength training program to a concentric and eccentric program for five weeks. Subjects who performed the concentric/eccentric training had nearly twice the strength gains as those who only trained only with a concentric contraction only exercise regimen. Another study found that placing an emphasis on the eccentric overload experienced a 46 percent increase in strength in just 1 week! Also, eccentric exercise primarily activates the fast twitch muscle fibers are more likely to lead to greater muscle soreness and muscle growth.

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