The Science Of Eccentric Training!


eccentric training benefits

Eccentric training is one of the most effective training methods you can use to build muscle mass and strength. It is also one of the most controversial topics in the fitness industry. In this article I am going to cut straight through the BS and teach you the science of eccentric training!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Eccentric Training For Building Muscle And Strength
  • Part 2: Eccentric Training Forces Adaptations At The Cellular And Molecular Level
  • Part 3: Eccentric Training For Increased Muscle Fascicle Length
  • Part 4: Train With Supra-Maximal Loads Using Eccentric Training
  • Part 5: Eccentric Training For Targeting The Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers
  • Part 6: Eccentric Training Has A Lower Energy Cost Than Concentric Training
  • Part 7: Eccentric Training Is A Superior Tool For Rehab And Prehab

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about the science of eccentric training. Throughout the article I will also teach you some of the most effective eccentric training methods that you can start using right now to get better results in the gym!

There are three main types of muscular contractions:

  • Concentric muscular contractions
  • Isometric muscular contractions
  • Eccentric muscular contractions

Concentric muscular contractions occur any time you are lifting a weight up. For example when you perform a bench press and move the barbell from your chest to the lockout position you are performing a concentric contraction.

We say that the muscle is “shortening” during a concentric contraction because the muscle fibers are overlapping with each other as the muscle contracts.

Eccentric muscular contractions are the total opposite of concentric muscular contractions. They occur when you are lowering a weight down. For example when you lower the barbell down to your chest during a set of bench presses you are performing an eccentric contraction for your chest, shoulders and triceps.

We say that the muscles are “lengthening” during an eccentric contraction because the muscle fibers are sliding away from each other.

Eccentric training is so important because most of your size and strength gains in the gym come from eccentric contractions! Yes, you read that right – you actually build more muscle mass and strength when you lower a weight down under control than when you lift it!

Here is the 6x Mr. Olympia winner Dorian Yates talking about the importance of eccentric training for building maximum muscle mass:

The simplest way to perform eccentric training is to lower your weights under control using a 3-5 second negative phase. However, if you are more advanced then you can start performing accentuated eccentric training methods where you deliberately overload the lowering phase of a rep.

Some of the best options for accentuated eccentric training include forced reps, supra-maximal eccentric training and various post-failure eccentric training methods. We’re going to cover all of these training methods AND the science behind them right here in this article.

Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this cutting edge information!

Note: if you have any trouble reading the routines presented here then check out this article on how to read a training program. Now let’s get down to business…

Part 2: Eccentric Training For Building Muscle And Strength

Eccentric contractions are so important for getting bigger and stronger because your muscles AND your nervous system treat them as a completely different thing from concentric contractions (1). In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that the molecular pathways governing concentric and eccentric contractions in humans are completely different (2).

If you only ever focus on the lifting portion of your reps then you are missing out on the most important part of your reps!

One of the big differences is your body recruits fewer muscle fibers during eccentric contractions as opposed to concentric contractions (3). This means the tension on your muscle fibers goes WAY up during eccentric contractions!

In fact the research has shown that eccentric reps place up to 30% more tension on your muscle fibers than regular reps.

This is one of the reasons Christian Thibadeau uses eccentric training so often with his world-class athletes: the more tension you place on your muscles the faster you can build strength! One of Christian’s favourite eccentric training routines is the eccentric cluster set with weight releasers.

The idea is simple: you perform a set of 5 reps with 30 seconds rest in between each rep. You put the weight releasers back on the bar while you are taking your 30-second rest period so you are ready for the next rep.

Here is a video of one of Christian’s athletes performing bench press eccentric cluster sets:

There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that eccentric training builds WAY more strength and muscle mass than concentric contractions (4-5). In particular the scientific literature shows that eccentric contractions are superior for boosting the cross-sectional area of your muscles (6).

This makes sense. After all, the eccentric phase of an exercise is where most of the actual damage to your muscles takes place.

One of the really cool things about really heavy eccentric-only reps is they actually boost your concentric strength levels faster than traditional reps (78)! This means you might be better off just lowering heavy weights under control than performing traditional “up-and-down” reps for getting stronger!

Many of the world’s strongest athletes have used accentuated eccentrics to build their super-human strength. The Olympic Weightlifting superstar Dmitry Klokov loves to use *extremely* slow eccentric reps to build up his squatting strength.

The “Klokov squat” was named after Dmitry and involves squatting with a 7/6/X/0 tempo. That is, you lower yourself down over seven seconds, pause for six seconds in the hole, then explode out of the bottom position. Dmitry performed his squats this way because he knows how beneficial accentuated eccentric training is for building a huge squat.

Here is a sample Klokov squat training routine you may want to try. Check it out:

Dmitry Klokov Accentuated Eccentric Squat Routine

  • A1: Back squat (medium stance / heels flat), 7-10 x 1, 7/6/X/0, 100 seconds rest
  • A2: Unilateral seated leg curl (Poliquin method** / feet neutral), 8-10 x 3, 3/0/X/0, 100 seconds rest
  • B1: Farmer’s walk, 3 x 100 ft, 75 seconds rest
  • B2: 90 degree back extension (barbell on back), 3 x 5-7, 2/0/1/1, 75 seconds rest

**The Poliquin method on leg curls involves dorsiflexing your feet on the concentric range and plantarflexing your feet on the eccentric range. This is a fantastic way to eccentrically overload your hamstrings on leg curls!

Here are the training videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise B2.

The moral of the story is if you are looking to improve both your concentric and eccentric strength at the same time then eccentric training is a clear winner.

In fact, Higbie et al. found a 43% increase in overall strength following an eccentric training protocol vs a 31.2% increase following a concentric training protocol (9). Other researchers have come to nearly identical conclusions (11). For example, Dudley et. al. found a 6.6% increase in overall strength following an eccentric training protocol vs a 5.0% increase in strength following a concentric training protocol (12). 

It isn’t just the strength gains that are profoundly increased though. In many cases hypertrophy gains are through the roof relative to more traditional training protocols!

Farthing et. al. found eccentric protocols to increase hypertrophy to significantly greater levels than traditional training (13), while other researchers demonstrated that hypertrophy gains appear earlier during an eccentric training program than a concentric one (15).

Lastayo et al. even found that eccentric training protocols resulted in 19% more muscle mass growth over an 11 week period of time (14)! Talk about incredible!

You don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other though. Hilliard et. al. found that the best approach may be to combine traditional lifting protocols incorporating both concentric and eccentric contractions with some accentuated eccentric sets thrown in for good measure (10). 

Setting up an eccentric training routine for hypertrophy doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, one of the best eccentric training methods you can do for all-out size gains is called “the 12+3 method”. This training method was originally popularized by Dan Duchaine in his book “The Body Opus” and it produces results unbelievably quickly.

The idea is simple: you first perform a set of 12 reps to one rep shy of failure. Next you increase the weight on the exercise by about 5-10% and perform 3 eccentric-only reps using an 8-second negative phase. Normally you need a spotter to perform this hypertrophy training method but there are ways around this if you are training by yourself.

Here is a sample 12+3 arm routine that you may want to try. Check it out:

12+3 Arm Training Routine

  • A1: V-bar upright dips, 3 x 12+3**, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • A2: Unilateral dumbbell preacher curls (supinated grip), 3 x 12+3**, 3/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Decline DB extensions, 3 x 15, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B2: 60 degree incline DB curls (supinating grip), 3 x 15, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest

**Perform 12 regular repetitions, then immediately increase the load by 5-10% and perform 3 eccentric only repetitions using an 8-second negative for the eccentric-only reps. For the dips simply increase the weight on your dipping belt, and on the curls just swap out your DB for a heavier one!

Here are some sample training videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise B2.

The 12+3 method is so effective because it overloads both the concentric AND the eccentric portion of the exercise!

First you train to failure with a weight you can lift about 12 times. On your last rep you are really going to strain on the concentric or lifting portion of the movement. Then when you increase the weight and perform your 3 eccentric-only reps you are overloading your eccentric strength levels.

The 12+3 method creates a horrible amount of muscular damage and is extremely effective for boosting muscle mass. It really takes advantage of the research by Hilliard et. al. which shows you get better results when you combine concentric AND eccentric training methods in the same workout.

The bottom line here is that eccentric training is a potent stimulus for size and strength gains!

Part 3: Eccentric Training Forces Adaptations At The Cellular And Molecular Level

The research has shown for a very long time that most of your size and strength gains come from the eccentric part of the rep rather than the concentric part. Unfortunately we didn’t know *why* that was the case for a very long time.

In other words we didn’t understand what was happening on a cellular level when someone performed eccentric training. 

Fortunately there has been an absolute tsunami of new research on eccentric training sense the year 2000.  A ton of this research focused on the effects of eccentric training on the cellular and molecular level. Let’s dive right into the research!

First of all, eccentric training has been shown to substantially up-regulate the recruitment of satellite cells by your muscle fibers (19). These satellite cells will merge together with the damaged muscle fibers to help the muscle fibers grow back bigger and stronger.

This has HUGE implications for building muscle mass! After all, satellite cells play a huge role in the process of building muscle mass. Some researchers believe that satellite cell activity is one of the biggest between so-called “easy gainers” and “hard gainers.”

I don’t know about you but if the research shows eccentric training is the way to go for activating satellite cells then I’m going to take advantage of it! OK, let’s take a look at another sample training routine before you fall asleep.

One of the best eccentric training methods for increasing satellite cell activity is called “the 2/1 method.” The idea is simple: you are going to perform an exercise where you lift the weight up with 2 limbs and lower it down with 1 limb. You want to pick a weight that is really hard for 1-3 regular reps and then perform 6-8 of these eccentric-only reps.

In my experience the 2/1 method works extremely well for fast-twitch muscles such as the hamstrings.

Here is a hamstrings 2/1 method workout you may want to try. Check it out:

Hamstrings 2/1 Method Workout

  • A1: Bilateral seated leg curl (feet dorsiflexed / pointing straight)**, 3-5 x 6-8, 10/0/1/0****, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: Romanian deadlift against bands, 3 x 6-8, 5/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest

**Lift the weight with 2 legs and lower it down with 1 leg. Perform 6-8 reps on one leg, rest 2 minutes, perform 6-8 reps on the other leg, rest 2 minutes, repeat!

****No, that was not a typo: use a 10-second lowering phase!!

Here are the exercise videos: exercise A1, exercise B1.

It’s pretty cool that eccentric training increases satellite cell activity in your muscle cells. It gets better though: it turns out that eccentric training influences your muscle cells at a genetic level!

Studies show that eccentric training changes the way several muscle-building genes are expressed (16, 17, 18). In layman’s terms this means that eccentric training turns on various muscle-building genetic pathways in a way that regular training can’t!

This almost sounds too good to be true! I mean, do these changes in the way your muscle-building genes are expressed actually result in more muscle mass? The answer is a resounding yes!

Douglas et. al. among others found that eccentric training protocols appear to up-regulate various anabolic signaling pathways within muscle cells and to a much greater extent than either concentric or isometric training protocols (20). 

Perhaps this is why the 6x Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates was able to build his super-human physique in the 1990’s! Dorian was a huge fan of using forced reps to break through hypertrophy plateaus. Forced reps are a high-intensity technique that allow you to train beyond muscular failure and eccentrically stress your muscles.

The protocol for performing forced reps is simple: first you perform a set to failure in the 5-10 rep range. Then your training partner helps you perform an 1-3 extra reps. Your partner helps you through the concentric range for these extra reps but you have to lower the weight all on your own.

These 1-3 additional eccentric reps allow you to tax your eccentric strength levels after first achieving concentric muscular failure. Talk about a potent hypertrophy stimulus! 

Here is how Dorian structured his triceps workouts for maximum growth. Check it out:

Dorian Yates Triceps Workout

  • A1: Standing bilateral cable push down (straight bar, pronated grip), 1 x 8 + 3 forced reps, 1/0/X/1, rest as needed
  • B1: Lying Ez-bar extension (to forehead), 1 x 6, 1/0/X/1, rest as needed
  • C1: Standing unilateral cable push down (supinated grip), 1 x 6 + 2 forced reps, 1/0/X/1, rest as needed

Here are the exercise videos: exercise A1, exercise B1, exercise C1.

Dorian was a huge advocate of using slow negatives and forced reps and it really shows in his physique. He was the poster-boy for that thick, dense bodybuilding look.

In hindsight I think it’s pretty obvious that Dorian’s use of eccentric training methods played a huge role in his success as a bodybuilder. They don’t call him the mad scientist of bodybuilding for nothing!

Part 4: Eccentric Training For Increased Muscle Fascicle Length

Eccentric training does more than just stimulate muscle growth on a cellular or genetic level. It also fundamentally changes the structure of your muscle fibers to stimulate strength and size gains!

Proske et. al. found that the actual muscle fiber fascicle length was lengthened following eccentric training protocols (26). The increased fascicle length is caused by an increase in the number of sarcomeres within the muscle fascicle. Of course the sarcomere is one of the contractile components of a muscle fiber. This is absolutely incredible stuff!

Research shows that the driving factor for this structural change in the muscle is eccentric contractions when the muscle is in a lengthened or stretched state.

I am sure you have heard someone talk about the importance of using “stretching” exercises to stimulate hypertrophy gains. This is more than just “broscience.” In fact the research is very clear on the benefits of loaded stretching for muscle growth!

Numerous studies have shown that eccentric contractions with the muscle in a stretched position creates more damage than eccentric contractions with the muscle in a shortened position (27). In fact, these stretched position eccentric contractions preferentially increase hypertrophy at the distal portion of the muscle (28)!

This means that it may actually be possible to develop “regional hypertrophy” (hypertrophy at a specific portion of the muscle) by using heavy eccentric contractions when the muscle is stretched!

One of the best ways to do this is with loaded stretches. The basic idea is to place a muscle under a heavy loaded stretch for 30-120 seconds at the end of your workout. These loaded stretches are extremely effective for increasing muscular hypertrophy because they eccentrically overload your muscles.

Here is Christian Thibadeau talking about the benefits of loaded stretches for building muscular hypertrophy:

The “bro-scientists” who say that you have to stretch out a muscle for maximum hypertrophy may have been right all along! There are many bodybuilding training programs that take advantage of loaded stretches to build muscle mass. However, the most famous program is definitely DC Training.

Loaded stretches are one of the core parts of the DC Training program. After you train each body part you are going to hold a loaded stretch for 60-90 seconds.  These stretches are extremely painful but many bodybuilders swear by them for building muscle mass.

Here is Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating a chest stretch with dumbbells:

And here is Dusty demonstrating a stretch for the lats:

Of course there are many other ways to incorporate loaded stretches into your program. John Meadows has invented many ways to incorporate loaded stretches and eccentrics into his “Mountain Dog” training program just to name one example.

However, DC Training is easily one of the best applications of this training concept.

Part 5: Train With Supra-Maximal Loads Using Eccentric Training

Early in this article I talked about how most people never really overload their eccentric strength. This is because it is much easier to eccentrically lower a weight than it is to lift it concentrically. Your muscles are going to fatigue on the concentric range before you are ever challenged on the eccentric range.

Just think about it: even after you reach muscular failure on an exercise you can still lower the weight back down under control. If you have never overloaded the eccentric range of an exercise then you are missing out. It is one an unbelievably effective way to train!

One of the best ways to overload the eccentric portion of a lift is with supra-maximal eccentric training. The basic idea is to lower a weight that is more than 100% of your 1-rep max. In reality most advanced trainees can safely train with anywhere from 110% – 140% of their 1-rep max with eccentric training.

There are many ways of performing these “supra-maximal eccentric” reps. For example, weight releasers and the 2/1 method are two of the most common ways to do it.

Fortunately for us there is a lot of research on the benefits of supra-maximal eccentric training. Doan et al. found that performing eccentric reps with a load representing 105% of a subject’s 1-rep max resulted in a 5-15 lb improvement in all of their concentric 1-rep maxes in a matter of weeks (23).

Of course supra-maximal eccentric reps are also great for building muscle mass. LaStayo et. al. showed that supramaximal eccentric reps builds 19% more muscle mass after 11 weeks than a more traditional training program (24)!

Many strength training researchers have concluded that supra-maximal eccentric training is a fantastic training tool for both the average trainee and elite athletes alike (25).

So what the heck would a supramaximal eccentrics workout look like? I’m glad you asked! If you are primarily interested in getting stronger then performing singles with weight releasers is one of the best training methods. The weight releasers make the exercise heavier on the way down and lighter on the way up. This is exactly what we want!

Here is a sample squat workout you may want to try. Check it out:

Supramaximal eccentrics squat workout

  • A1: Back squat w/ weight releasers (medium stance / heels flat), 7-8 x 1, 10/0/1/0**, 4 minutes rest
  • B1: Front foot elevated split squat, 3 x 5-7, 2/0/1/0, 90 seconds rest
  • B2: 45 degree back extension (barbell held in front w/ snatch grip), 3 x 7-9, 2/0/1/1, 90 seconds rest

**That was not a typo: use a 10-second lowering phase!

Here are some sample training videos: exercise A1, exercise B1, exercise B2.

One of the hardest parts about this routine is picking the right amount of weight to use on the bar and on the weight releasers. I recommend you use about 70-80% of your 1-rep max on the bar. You can add an extra 5-20% in weight for each weight releaser.

Ideally you want the total weight on the bar AND on both weight releasers to be around 90-120% of your 1-rep max. The exact percentage isn’t that important. The important thing is that you can perform your reps with a true 10 second lowering phase.

If you cannot lower the weight over 10 seconds then it is too heavy and you need to reduce the weight at least a little bit. 

Be warned: supra-maximal eccentric training with weight releasers is an extreme training method! It should only be performed by individuals with AT LEAST 2 years of hardcore training experience under their belts. It’s also a good idea to have some experience with easier eccentric training protocols before you attempt this routine.

If you you are new to eccentric training then I recommend you try something like a Klokov squat routine before you experiment with weight releasers.

OK, weight releasers clearly work well if you are primarily interested in getting stronger. But what if you are a bodybuilder? Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to use supra-maximal eccentric training to build muscle mass.

One of the best methods is to train in the 5-10 rep range and have a training partner assist you through the concentric portion of al 5-10 reps. This way you can still train with a weight that is more than 100% of your 1-rep max but you get enough reps and time under tension in during to stimulate TONS of muscle growth.

Here is John Meadows giving a perfect demonstration of this partner-assisted training method on the seated dip machine. Check it out:

Notice that John’s training partner is pushing down on the machine to help lift the weight. Then the training partner backs off so John can lower the weight all on his own. Performing eccentric dips like this is an AWESOME way to stimulate growth in the triceps.

Research has shown that dips are one of the best exercises you can perform for the triceps. Dips hit all 3 heads of the triceps harder than other mass-building triceps exercises such as the close grip bench press.

The bottom line is supra-maximal eccentric reps work well for building strength and muscle mass. You just have to be a little bit creative with how you incorporate them depending on what your goal is.

Part 6: Eccentric Training For Targeting The Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers

When I first started lifting weights I quickly read everything I could about strength training. I was obsessed!

The experts used to say that it’s impossible to change your fast-twitch muscle fibers into slow twitch ones or vice versa. If you were born with a lot of slow-twitch or fast-twitch muscle fibers then you were stuck with them and there was nothing you could do about it. It turns out this is completely wrong!

Research shows there is one training method that DOES make your muscle fibers take on more of a fast-twitch profile: accentuated eccentric training!

There are a few reasons for this. First of all, accentuated eccentric training preferentially recruits the fast twitch muscle fibers. Normally your body recruits the slow-twitch muscle fibers first during a set and only taps into the fast-twitch fibers if it really has to.

With accentuated eccentric training it is the total opposite: the fast-twitch muscle fibers are recruited right away instead of the slow-twitch ones! This is especially true for the type IIX muscle fibers (the largest, most powerful muscle fibers responsible for very short but strong muscular contractions) (29, 30, 31).

This is why many of the best functional hypertrophy training programs ever invented use some form of eccentric training!

Things get even cooler when you look at the newer research. Friedmann-Bette et. al. demonstrated that eccentric training protocols actually cause a shift towards a more fast-twitch phenotype on a molecular level in humans (32)! This is incredible!

Basically this means that all of your muscle fibers (even your fast-twitch ones) start to behave even more like fast-twitch muscle fibers! Let me explain.

Everyone is taught that there are three types of muscle fibers:

  • Type I
  • Type IIA
  • Type IIX

The type I muscle fibers are the slow-twitch fibers. Your body mostly uses slow-twitch muscle fibers for high-rep sets and other endurance activities. For example if you perform a set of 20-rep leg presses you are primarily using your slow-twitch muscle fibers.

The type IIA and IIX muscle fibers are the fast-twitch fibers. The fast-twitch muscle fibers are used to lift heavy weights and when you perform explosive movements. They are also the ones with the greatest potential for size and strength gains.

Overall this is a very useful model. If you want a quick overview of the different types of muscle fibers then it works great. However, the model doesn’t show the whole picture.

In reality there are at least 7 different types of muscle fibers (39):

  • Type I
  • Type IC
  • Type IIC
  • Type IIAC
  • Type IIA
  • Type IIAX
  • Type IIX

As you progress down this list the muscle fibers have fewer slow-twitch and more fast-twitch characteristics. As you can see things aren’t so black and white.

The important thing for you to understand is that eccentric training (particularly supramaximal eccentric training) alters the properties of all of your muscle fibers to behave more like fast twitch muscle fibers. Essentially you can shift your muscle fiber distribution to the right of this spectrum if you train properly. How cool is that!?

There are a variety of ways that you can incorporate eccentric training into your training programs to turn your body into a fast-twitch machine. One of the best methods for a bodybuilder is to use exercises that automatically overload the lowering phase of the exercise.

Two of the best eccentric arm exercises are the seated zottman curl and the eccentric dumbbell french press.

The zottman curl is a really cool brachialis exercise. The basic idea is to curl the weight up with a supinated (underhand) grip and lower the weight down with a pronated (overhand) grip. For example:

You are stronger when you curl a weight up with a supinated grip than a pronated grip. This means you are playing with your grip so that you can lower a heavier weight than normal with a pronated grip. This is a brutal eccentric exercise for the brachialis!

The eccentric dumbbell French press is similar. The main difference is that it targets your triceps rather than your brachialis muscle. The idea is simple: you are going to press the weight up like a normal overhead dumbbell press. Then on the way down you are going to perform an overhead dumbbell extension. For example:

This exercise helps you to eccentrically overload your triceps because your are performing a triceps extension with a heavier than normal weight. Your triceps will be so sore the next day that you won’t be able to comb your hair! This is an awesome way to target the fast-twitch muscle fibers in the triceps.

Of course powerlifters are also interested in using eccentric training to target their fast-twitch muscle fibers. After all, it’s the fast-twitch muscle fibers that help you to perform a 1-rep max in the squat, bench press or deadlift.

One of the cool things about really heavy eccentric training is it helps you to recruit your “survival fibers.” These are the ultra-fast twitch muscle fibers that your body only recruits in a life-or-death situation!

These muscle fibers are very hard to activate with normal training methods. However, if you can teach your body to recruit the survival fibers then your strength gains will shoot through the roof!

One of the best eccentric training methods for recruiting your “survival fibers” was invented by Charles Poliquin. He calls it the “3 then 1” method. It is an advanced form of contrast sets where you alternate back and forth between a regular set of 3 reps and an eccentric-only single.

Here is Charles talking about the 3 then 1 method:

This training method works unbelievably well for helping advanced strength athletes blast through training plateaus. Here is what a full bench press workout might look like. Check it out:

Bench Press 3 Then 1 Workout

  • A1: Bench press (shoulder-width grip), 3 x 3, 3/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • A2: Bench press with weight releasers (shoulder-width grip)**, 3 x 1, 10/0/1/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: 75 degree incline DB press, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crushers, 3 x 6-8, 2/1/1/0, 60 seconds rest

Here are the exercise videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise B1, exercise C1.

Warning: this is an advanced bench press routine that should only be attempted by highly advanced trainees. If you cannot bench press AT LEAST 300-400 pounds then you have no business attempting this routine. There are plenty of other routines that will work much better for you.

If you are advanced enough for this routine then I highly recommend you give it a shot. It is one of the best ways to turn your body into a fast-twitch athlete!

Part 7: Eccentric Training Has A Lower Energy Cost Than Concentric Training

Eccentric training really is one of the strangest training methods ever invented.

One is craziest things about eccentric training is that it takes less energy for your body to perform eccentric muscular contractions than it does concentric muscular contractions. The scientific literature supports this statement.

Many studies have shown that eccentric contractions are associated with reduced energy cost and reduced oxygen demands relative to concentric contractions (33, 34). This may seem a little confusing at first. After all, if eccentric reps are so effective for building muscle mass and strength then how can they take less energy to perform?

One of the reasons is that your body actually recruits fewer muscle fibers during eccentric contractions than concentric contractions.

Research by Hoppler et. al. shows that you recruit up to twice as many muscle fibers during concentric reps as you do during eccentric reps (21). This is despite the fact that your muscle fibers receive 1.3 times more mechanical tension with eccentric contractions than they do with concentric contractions using the same weight (22)!

This difference in energy expenditure has huge implications for how you should design your strength training programs.

If your goal is fat loss then you should probably focus more on high reps and regular concentric contraction. Training programs like the 6-12-25 method and giant sets work awesome for stripping body fat.

On the other hand, if your goal is to get bigger and stronger then eccentric training protocols are a great choice. Because eccentric training methods use less energy you can actually perform more sets than normal without wearing yourself out. This is a good thing because higher training volumes are great for building muscle mass!

One of the best ways to design a higher-volume hypertrophy working is to perform eccentric-only reps AT THE END of your workout. Your first 2-3 exercises per body part would be performed just like normal in bodybuilding rep ranges. Then at the end of your workout you would perform several eccentric-only sets on 1 exercise.

This is a great strategy because eccentric-only reps take very little energy to perform. Even if you are exhausted from your first 2-3 exercises you will still have enough energy to perform a few eccentric-only sets to destroy every last muscle fiber in your muscles.

Here is a sample chest and back hypertrophy workout that you may want to try. Check it out:

Chest And Back Eccentric Training Hypertrophy Workout

  • A1: 30 degree DB incline press, 5 x 6-8, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A2: 30 degree DB incline fly, 5 x 5 10-12, 3/1/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • A3: Wide grip overhand pullups, 5 x 6-8, 4/0/X/0, 10 seconds rest
  • A4: Seated cable row, 5 x 10-12, 3/0/1/1, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips w/ forward torso, 3 x 3***, 8/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B2: Narrow supinated grip pullups, 3 x 3***, 8/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

***Performed as eccentric-only repetitions. On the dips you lower yourself down over 8 seconds then stand on the platform return to the starting position. On the chin ups you stand on a platform to reach the starting position then lower yourself down under 8 seconds.

Don’t be fooled: this workout is absolutely brutal! Here are the exercise videos: exercise A1, exercise A2, exercise A3, exercise A4, exercise B1, exercise B2.

For this workout you are performing some supersets for your chest and back early in the workout. Supersets are great for creating a ton of muscular damage and metabolic fatigue. Your muscles are going to feel extremely fatigued after 5 rounds of these 2 supersets.

Then you are going to finish off your chest and back with some eccentric-only reps. Dips and pull ups are great for eccentric training because you can perform them without a training partner. It’s extremely important that you use a true 10-second lowering phase for each of these 2 exercises.

If you can use extra weight on a dipping belt for the dips or chin ups then that’s great. However, the most important thing is to make sure you use the 10-second negatives. Don’t worry, eccentric-only reps don’t take much energy to perform so these won’t be too hard.

Part 8: Eccentric Training Is A Superior Tool For Rehab And Prehab

Eccentric training is an awesome tool that you can use to rehabilitate yourself from various injuries. It’s also great for strengthening your muscles and connective tissues to prevent future injuries from occurring.

Many studies have shown that eccentric training is a superior tool for treating various types of tendinopathies, or injuries to your tendons (36, 37). It turns out that eccentric muscular contractions are the single most important thing you can do for strengthening an injured tendon.

Eccentric reps do two really important things: they stimulate structural adaptations within the actual tendon AND they stimulate extra blood flow to the area. Eccentric training is like a one-two punch for building stronger tendons!

This is awesome stuff because have very little blood flow on their own and take a very long time to heal under normal circumstances.

Of course you don’t have to wait until you are injured to use eccentric training to build bigger, stronger, healthier tendons. Research by LaStayo et. al. shows that eccentric training is great for preventing injuries and even boosting performance in elite level athletes (35).

If your goal is to recover from an injury or prevent future injuries from occurring then you probably want to avoid extreme training tools like weight releasers. In my experience the “Poliquin method” on leg curls is one of the best ways to recover from a hamstrings tendon injury or prevent them from occurring in the future.

To perform the Poliquin method you are going to curl the weight up with your feet dorsiflexed (point your toes up towards your shins). Then on the way down you are going to plantarflex your toes (point your toes away from your shins). For example:

You are actually stronger when you perform leg curls with your feet dorsiflexed. This is because your calf muscle actually helps you to perform leg curls when you dorsiflex your toes. However, when you plantarflex your toes you can only use your hamstrings to move the weight.

With the Poliquin method you are playing with the angles of your feet so you can lower down a heavier weight than normal. How cool is that!?

In my experience performing multiple sets of 5-10 reps with the Poliquin method works great for recovering from hamstrings injuries and preventing them from occurring in the future. Just make sure you use a controlled 3-5 second lowering phase on each rep!

Before moving on I want to talk about a controversial topic: bodybuilders who use “performance enhancing drugs.” If you choose to use “performance-enhancing drugs” then eccentric training is even more important for you than it is for other trainees.

Performance enhancing drugs are known for making your muscles bigger and stronger but do little for strengthening your connective tissues. This is one of the biggest reasons why so many “enhanced” bodybuilders don’t try to get stronger over time. They are afraid of getting injured because their muscles are so much stronger than their tendons!

In my opinion a more effective strategy is to use eccentric training periodically throughout the year to strengthen your tendons. This way you can train continue to train progressively without injuring yourself. Sounds like a good deal to me!

Part 9: Conclusion

eccentric training benefits

Eccentric training is one of the greatest training methods ever invented. There is an overwhelming amount of research proving that eccentric training works awesome for getting stronger, building muscle mass and recovering from / preventing injuries. It is easily one of the most “science-based” ways to train.

If you want to learn more about eccentric training then here are some awesome articles you can check out:

Of course eccentric training is not for everyone. It is an advanced training method that should only be used by experienced trainees. I recommend that you have at least 2 years of hardcore training experience under your belt before you start experimenting with accentuated eccentric training.

You should pay extra attention to your recover when you start an eccentric training program. Eccentric training tends to cause severe delayed onset muscle soreness (38). You may find that you need more rest days in between your workouts than you are used to.

So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to use eccentric training to blast through your old training plateaus faster than a cheetah on PCP? Or are you going to stick with your “same-old, same-old” training program that isn’t giving you the results you want?

The choice is yours!

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

References

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Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

Thanks for checking out my site! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen and I'm the founder of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to reach your size and strength goals faster then you've come to the right place. My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world. So grab a seat, kick back and relax. There's never been a better time to lift weights or to learn the art and science of strength training program design.

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