Eccentric Exercise- How pro athletes aim for maximum muscle growth?
You are pumping iron like the superman in the gym for many years now. But, hardly have you reached to the gains you expected last year for yourself. There can be a lot of things you need to fix for maximum muscle growth. But, the one thing you have been missing all of these years is including eccentric exercise in your workout regime.
Eccentric exercise is one sure way to hit maximum muscle growth. It is often the most used technique by pro athletes for maximizing their muscle growth. It is often used but is sure to be missed by your trainer. So, you should not waste any time further and learn the concept of eccentric exercise to improve your muscle growth. Let us first define you what is eccentric exercise?
Eccentric Exercise- The negative rep loading
The eccentric exercise is a negative lifting technique which engages your muscle when it is elongated. It involves movements which slow down the elongation of muscle, further challenging your muscles to grow stronger . It can be easily understood by the term negative rep loading or as a reverse braking mechanism.
Imagine yourself doing a bicep curl movement. You curl your way upwards for maximum peak contraction. Now think, what happens when you bring your arm downwards towards starting position? This is time your bicep muscle lengthens and is still under load. This lengthening under load refers to as eccentric loading or the negative reps. when you train for negative reps; you indulge in doing eccentric exercise.
So what it is so new about this eccentric movement. We mean you always do eccentric movement in most of your exercises. You always include your muscle when it comes back to starting position. Yes, it is true you always include your muscle during negative movement. But have you ever put notice on your eccentric movement before this?
We promise you will focus on eccentric movements in your future exercises before getting to the end of this article. And sure why will not you focus on negative reps if it can maximise your muscle growth. What if we tell you, the eccentric exercise has far more benefits than just maximising your muscle growth? Let us first help you learn how does eccentric exercise work for muscle growth before getting to other benefits?
How does eccentric exercise work for muscle growth?
Our muscles are made to perform different types of muscle movements which include concentric and eccentric movements. The concentric movements are the movements which controls the shortening of muscles. Imagine yourself doing bicep curls and contracting your muscle in upward direction. And, the eccentric movements are those which control the lengthening of muscles, as we already have mentioned earlier.
These two types of movements differ from each other in the areas of force generation and energy cost. The eccentric movement generate more force by spending less metabolic energy as compared to concentric movements . Since, the force produced is more in eccentric loading. The amount of stress and tension on muscle fibre is more as compared to that in concentric training. This leads to greater muscle tissue damage or the muscle hypertrophy which then increases the muscle protein synthesis. An increased muscle protein synthesis means an increase in muscle growth.
Dr. Jacob Wilson who is a PhD in skeletal muscle Physiology has also mentioned in one of his article about the increase in muscle protein synthesis due to release of phosphatidic acid during eccentric movements.
Also, doing eccentric exercises at high intensity can provide better results in terms of increased muscle mass . Furthermore, the eccentric training helps you build more muscle mass but by exerting lower cardiovascular stress . During eccentric loading, your body is resisting the force rather than producing it. So, it requires 80% less oxygen as it does in concentric movements .
Hope you have understood the mechanics of eccentric movements well. Let us now proceed towards the point where you will learn the benefits of eccentric exercise. There are many benefits associated with eccentric exercise but we are listing the five major benefits here.
Benefits of eccentric exercise
- Eccentric Exercise to build strength
When you focus on eccentric movement, the load develop on the muscle fibres are high. This high load causes more damage to your fibres and rewards you with more strength and power in your muscles. Including eccentric movements in your workout can help you break plateaus.
You can load more weight on your body during an eccentric movement as you would have been in concentric movements. You should definitely take up the benefit of eccentric loading once you reach towards failure. It will even force your muscles to a larger extent.
- Eccentric Exercise can improve your metabolism
Focussing on negative reps can help you boost your slow metabolism. Your metabolism is responsible for mainly all the processes occur in your body. An eccentric exercise can help you boost your resting metabolism by 9% . A study has also indicated towards the benefits of including eccentric exercise to raise your BMR. This raised BMR can last up to 72 hours after resistance training .
When you indulge in doing eccentric exercise, your body works hard to repair the affected muscle fibres. So your body has to spend more resources and energy to continue the healing process. This in turn causes a raise in your metabolic rate to carry out this process.
- Eccentric exercise reduce chances of injury
Doing eccentric exercise can reduce the chances of injury during explosive sports. When you include eccentric movements in your training, your muscle and tendon work together to slow down the movement of your elongation. The kinetic energy produced during this elongation can cause a muscle injury if it is not controlled.
So including eccentric movements can help you control the kinetic energy thus reducing chances of injury. The athletes who play sports like cricket, tennis and basketball can take advantage eccentric exercise. Training with eccentric movements can reduce your chances of injury.
- Eccentric exercise to improve flexibility
Eccentric exercise is a great way to aim for muscle flexibility. It is even better than doing than static stretching . The eccentric movement increases the sacromeres in the series when your muscle is elongated . This repeated negative rep training can put emphasis on making muscle fibres elongated which helps you with improved flexibility.
- Eccentric exercise to improve sports injury
Getting injured is common in various sports. The most common injury during a sport is often related to your elbow and knee. These injuries in muscle fibres or tendon are termed as ‘Tennis Elbow’ and ‘Achilles tendinitis’ respectively. There are studies that suggest the benefits of eccentric exercise in healing these injuries over standard treatment .
How to include eccentric exercise into your routine?
Eccentric exercise is a great way to aim for maximum muscle hypertrophy with minimum chances of injury. So the question which arises here is how to include eccentric exercise into your routine? And, if eccentric loading is so superior to concentric movements, should you switch to only eccentric movements for muscle growth?
Let us first give you details on whether you should do only eccentric movements exercise and leave the concentric exercises? Then we will introduce the eccentric exercise program in this article
Eccentric exercise vs. concentric exercise
Eccentric exercise can appeared to be supreme over concentric exercise. They may look beneficial in terms of gaining muscle and reduce the chance of injury. But, the thing to understand here is that both the eccentric and concentric movements have a different approach. They differ in the way of targeting your muscle fibres. Saying that, concentric hits when your muscle fibres are contracted and eccentric hits when your muscles fibres are elongated.
Eccentric movements may seem to have more benefit in terms of muscle hypertrophy over concentric movements. Also, the eccentric loading involves less motor units or less muscle fibres as they are in the concentric loading. So, if you need to hit all the muscle fibres in your body. You have to create a perfect balance between doing eccentric movements and concentric movements. Then, how to include the eccentric exercise into your daily routine with concentric movements?
Eccentric Exercise Program for Muscle Growth
Getting all the benefits from an eccentric exercise program requires you to train with a workout partner. The partner will help you in performing the concentric part of your exercise. So that you can focus on eccentric movement during that phase. If you are unable to find a partner for yourself, try to include assisted eccentric movements. The assisted eccentric movements refer to lifting of weights with both your limbs. And, performing the negative rep with just one limb.
In order to reap the maximum benefits of the negative rep, you have to load 30%-40% more weight as you would lift during the concentric phase of the exercise. So, how to finally start with an eccentric exercise program? Basically, there are two ways you can include eccentric load in your exercise regime.
First Method of Eccentric Exercise Program
The first method of doing eccentric exercise is to dedicatedly do the negative reps only. During this workout, you will be including only eccentric load on your muscles and will not do any concentric exercise.
This method is preferable for old age people who lack concentric strength and wish to build muscle and strength. Also, it can help people recover from different types of tendon and muscle fibre injuries. These includes tennis elbow and knee tendon injuries.
Second Method of Eccentric Exercise Program
The second method of eccentric exercise program involves both the concentric and eccentric movements. In this method of eccentric exercise program, you will include 3-4 negative reps at the end of your exercise. Including the negative reps will explode your muscle.
This type of eccentric exercise program will be best suited for those who want to increase their muscle growth and strength. You can even take the advantage of this type of eccentric load to shock your lagging muscles.
An important tip: The eccentric movement with a heavy weight is good for muscle growth but using a shorter duration of maximum 3-4 seconds is advised. Anything beyond 4 seconds can damage your muscle fibre further hindering your muscle growth.
Furthermore, if you want to completely explode your muscle, include a drop set of eccentric reps. Start with two sets of 3-4 negative reps with 40% more weight. Then, try to lower down weights till you reach failure with maximum 8 reps.
The Bottom Line
Eccentric exercise is a great way to maximize muscle growth. But you should be cautious with this technique as excess of everything is bad. You can include various eccentric exercises including negative pull ups, eccentric bench press, eccentric squats and many more to take all the benefits of eccentric exercise.
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