Lower slowly please…benefits of eccentric training

I am always trying to spice up my workout with new exercises and techniques. In order to keep seeing change in our bodies from exercise, we must keep our muscles guessing. One often overlooked way to shake it up is to focus on eccentric training. There are 3 basic ways we train our muscles: isometric (static hold), concentric (contracting or shortening a muscle), and lastly, eccentric (lengthening of a muscle).

The easiest way to explain this is to think of a bicep curl. As you lift the weight, you are shortening the muscle which is a concentric movement. As you lower the weight, you are lengthening the muscle which is an eccentric movement. By combining these movements you will get the best strength training results.

When you combine them, you need to GO SLOW. Slowly raise the weight and slowly lower the weight at the same speed. You will most likely be picking up lighter weights at first using this method, but that is okay. Studies have shown that combining eccentric and concentric movements give greater strength gains as well as better hypertrophy of the muscle. Eccentric exercise  produces more microtrauma to muscles which will make our muscles stronger. This may also require an extra rest day at first as your body becomes a little more accustomed to the new workout.

Some good beginner eccentric exercises include: bicep curl, shoulder press, hamstring curl, leg extension, side leg lifts and lowers, and pushups. Try a few basic exercises even with your own body weight at first to get the form correct. Form always wins over reps or amount of weight used.

So give your muscles a shock and practice some eccentric exercises during your next workout, and always keep your muscles guessing!

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