Eccentric training produces results, period.
Eccentric training is training that focuses on the LOWERING phase of an exercise rather than the lifting (also called concentric phase) part of an exercise. Most lifters call this the “negative” phase.
Eccentric training has been known to increase concentric strength more effectively than concentric training can. For example, training on the bench press on the lowering phase can result in a bigger bench press than actually training the press.
So, why don’t more trainees utilize this method of training?
To do this kind of training well, you need to train with approximately 120% of your one rep max. This means more weight than you can lift one time.
Eccentric training ONLY works if you are attempting to lift the load, but the load is OVERPOWERING you resulting in a forced lowering of the weight.
It has nothing to do with lowering the weight slowly by design (as this implies you are just allowing the weight drop slowly, as if you are just slowing it down).
So…you need a REALLY strong spotter to do this, as every rep your spotter has to lift ALL the way up for you. That’s not practical for most trainees.
A good trick I’ve found to utilize this super effective mode of training is to do a pre-fatigue set of an exercise (like a barbell bench press), then perform 5 eccentric reps with the trainee in a fatigued state. This will allow for a lower weight for the eccentric training, making it easier on the spotter.
Another trick is to use a load supplied by the spotter, not just by the mass of the weight being lifted. For example, placing 135 pounds on the bar for a bench press, then the spotter presses down onto the lifter as he/she attempts to press up. This makes it A LOT easier for the spotter to lift the load back up (reference the pic that accompanies this article).
Eccentric training is an AWESOME method of increasing strength and size. It does typically produce more soreness (and muscle damage) than typical concentric training, so incorporating this method only once every two weeks or so is a smart idea.
For more ideas on the best exercises to train eccentrically, and how to program them in to your current routine, contact Emerge at 636-922-7559
It’s Your Turn. Emerge.
Matt Pirtle, MA CSCS