By Laura Ciotte |
Eccentric training (also known as negative training) is a training system which pushes your muscles past their normal point of failure, therefore allowing you to lift more weight and get your desired increases in muscular strength and size!
Eccentric training works because it allows your muscles to handle 20-30% more weight than they can handle in the concentric phase which leads to increased fatigue. This means that if you can military press 50kg you can slowly lower up to 65kg.
Understand Eccentric Training
To understand eccentric training and see the benefits of it you must first understand the difference between an eccentric and concentric muscle contraction.
The concentric phase
– Of the lift – is where your muscle shortens (usually when raising the weight). For example, the concentric phase of the bicep curl is where you bring the barbell up towards your chest or when pulling yourself towards the bar in a chin up.
The eccentric phase
– Of the lift – is where your muscles lengthen, usually when bringing the weight down, for example lowering the barbell back down towards your hips when performing a bicep curl or when lowering yourself back down in a chin up.
Including Eccentric Training In Your Programme
Forced repetitions with eccentric training: You will need a partner for this one.
Perform your chosen exercise e.g. bench press to failure – then have your partner assist you with the concentric phase for an additional 2-3 repetitions.
You will lower the weight and complete the eccentric phase without their aid.
This uses two intensity increasing techniques at once – so use this at the end of your workout before having your shake, and resting. You should take 3-5 seconds to lower the weight.
Types of Eccentric Training
✓ Bodyweight Negatives
Commonly used for pull ups, jump up to the top section of the pull up and slowly lower yourself down. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. You should take 3-5 seconds to lower yourself back down.
✓ 2-Up 1-Down Negatives
Simply use two limbs to move the weight up and just one to move it down for example when doing a dumbbell shoulder press use just one dumbbell in your left hand and support the concentric portion with your right hand
For the eccentric portion just use your left hand to lower the weight, repeat for the desire amount of repetitions and swap arms.
Take 3-5 seconds to lower the weight.
✓ Changing The Tempo
Perform the concentric portion of your chosen exercise as per usual but take 3-5 seconds to perform the eccentric phase. For example, with the military press take 1 second to raise the weight, then 3-5 to lower it back down.
Example Eccentric Chest Workout
|Eccentric Exercise||Sets & Reps|
|Barbell Bench Press||5 x 5 reps|
|Incline chest flyes||4 x 8 reps|
|Standing Cable Crossover||3 x 12 reps|
|Machine Chest Press||3 x 15 reps|
|2-up 1-down dumbbbell bench press||3 x 4-6 reps p/side|
Note: The slower you lower the weight back down the more damage will be caused to the muscle, resulting in increased strength and size gains.
Eccentric Training | Performing It Safely
1) Train with a partner, this will ensure you have someone to take the weight from you if you reach failure earlier than expected.
2) Do not expect you can safely handle 40% extra weight on the eccentric, start of with a lower weight and gradually increase it.
3) Ensure adequate recovery as eccentric training pushes your body past the point of failure which is taxing on the central nervous system (CNS).
4) Warm up and cool down properly as you should with any training system.
Take Home Messages
✓ You are stronger eccentrically than concentrically.
✓ Use negative reps and slower eccentric contractions to take advantage of this.
✓ Complete eccentric training at the end of your workout.
✓ Eccentric training leads to an increase in both muscular strength and size as it pushes you past your normal point of failure.
✓ Eccentric training is a great method to burst through plateaus and see increases in muscular strength and size –
However, you must limit the frequency at which this training system is used to avoid over-training.