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Blog Fitness Buzzword Explained: Eccentric Training



Fitness Buzzword Explained: Eccentric Training

  • by Michelle
  • March 28, 2012

There are three different kinds of muscle contractions:

  • Concentric: A muscle develops tension causing movement to occur
  • Isometric: A muscle develops tension while its length remains unchanged, thus producing no external movement
  • Eccentric: A muscle lengthens while producing tension, thus braking or controlling the speed of movement

Traditionally the act of lifting weights is done using what is known as a “concentric” muscle contraction, this means a muscle is shortening whileEccentric Muscle Training working against resistance. Concentric muscle contractions are the most common way to train muscles, build strength, tone up, lose fat etc; however, eccentric training is something that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Definition of Eccentric Training

Also known as negative training, this is a type of muscle activation that increases tension on a muscle as it lengthens. Eccentric contractions occur when a muscle opposes a stronger force, which causes the muscle to contract as it lengthens.

Let me provide an example for better understanding. During a traditional dumbbell biceps curl the movement of curling your arm up is “concentric”, which means shortening of the target muscle (biceps) while it contracts. When you lower your arm back down from the curl position the movement is “eccentric”, which means lengthening of the target muscle (biceps) while it contracts.

The body is forced to perform eccentric contractions in many common activities like walking down stairs, running down hill, or sports where you need controlled or resisted types of movements such as landing from a jump or a football player having to resist someone pushing against them.

Core Benefits of Eccentric Training

  • Greater increase in muscular strength levels
  • Greater increase in muscular hypertrophy (muscle size)
  • Muscles can work with higher loads eccentrically than concentrically, with a greater load meaning more efficient workouts and faster results
  • Strength gains developed during eccentric training will carry over to concentric work
  • Can be performed with most equipment, including dumbbells and machines
  • Good way to switch up your workouts, avoid plateau, and challenge your muscles in a new way.

Precautions For Eccentric Training

  • Eccentric training may increase the amount of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) than traditional weight training; therefore more recovery might be required between workouts (read more about DOMS Here)
  • Eccentric training should not be attempted until a base level of strength has been established using proper progressions
  • Be sure to maintain a 5-10 second count for each repetition to reduce risk of injury and ensure the weight is being lowered in a controlled manner
  • Most people are approximately 40% stronger on the lowering portion of the weight compared to the lifting, but this does not mean you should begin an eccentric exercise at this weight. Work your way up to a heavier weight to reduce injury risk and degree of muscle damage.

If you feel you have reached a plateau in your muscular strength and hypertrophy gains, are an athlete training to excel or prevent injury in a sport with a large eccentric component, or are just looking for a new challenge, perhaps you should consider giving eccentric training a try.

There are millions of ways to add eccentric training to your workouts in Surrey, Cloverdale, Langley and all over in Canada. Get in touch with me at Michelle@CORE-Condition.com for more information and exercises.


Michelle Roots BA Kin, CSCS, PES