What is eccentric training?
Eccentric training is a type of strength training that involves using your muscles to control weight as it moves in a downward motion. This type of training can help you build muscle, improve your athletic performance, and reduce your risk of injury.
How does eccentric training work?
First, muscle fibers have three different types of activation: concentric, eccentric, and isometric. When scientists discuss eccentric strength, they are referring to the amount of force produced when a muscle is stretched. This contrasted with concentric strength, which is the amount of force produced when a muscle shortens.
Isometric muscle action involves muscle action in a very stable position. Such as standing in front of a wall and using your hands to push against it, or sitting with your back against the wall and remaining still-stable for 30 sec.
An example of a concentrated action of the gluteal muscles is when, during the execution of the Squat exercise, you rise from a sitting position to a standing position (lifting). While eccentric movement, it is the lowering phase of the movement. That is when your muscles work in their lengthening phase.
Eccentric training can create up to 1.3 times more tension in muscle fibers than concentric training, which in turn causes greater biological adaptations.
However, due to the high intensity, attention should be paid to the following:
A) You should enter this training mode only after you have a solid foundation in strength training because the neuromuscular activity is suppressed during maximal eccentric muscle contraction in untrained individuals. If you rush, this can cause damage to the connective tissue and therefore put you at a high risk of muscle injury.
B) The assistant you choose should be properly trained.
1. Faster muscle gains
Eccentric training builds muscle mass and strength more than concentric strength training. Several scientific studies support that eccentric training can further enhance peak muscle strength and power. This is because it favorably alters the force/time characteristics.
This strength provides an increased ability to decelerate movements, in a very short period of time, and in this way, perform fast actions of the extension-shortening cycle (e.g. a quick jump), while simultaneously allowing rapid displacements (e.g. quick changes in direction).
Finnish and Norwegian sports scientists have demonstrated that eccentric training stimuli can be used periodically to improve or maintain the neuromuscular system’s ability to produce rapid force. It is considered by experts to be the best method for enhancing strength levels in elite athletes.
2. Greater increase in metabolism
Research shows that if you slow down the pace of an exercise during the eccentric phase of muscle contraction, your resting metabolic rate increases, meaning you’ll burn more calories when you sit and read your favorite book or watch your favorite show.
3. Improving elasticity
Recently, it has been shown that with exercises that favor eccentric training, muscle elasticity is improved. The key is, during the eccentric phase of the movement, which is when the muscle you are working is lengthening, to move through the full range of motion. So with each repetition, the range of motion will increase.
4. Improvement of technique
Eccentric strength can also improve your technique when performing an exercise. It is widely accepted that eccentric muscle contraction plays a key role in the production and control of movement.
When performing strength exercises that involve the stretch-shortening cycle, such as sit-ups and bench presses. This technique plays a very important role in properly activating the muscles as well as preventing injury. American studies of elite powerlifters showed that the athletes who could lift the heaviest weights were the ones who could lower their weights the slowest.
5. Injury prevention
Eccentric strengthening exercises strengthen not only the muscles but also the body’s connective tissues. It helps to rehabilitate and prevent injuries ranging from tendonitis to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) disease. The high eccentric contraction force in the antagonist’s muscles provides an increased ability to slow down and stop movements, at the end of the range of motion.
For example, a gymnast or skier, after a jump, or an athlete performing vertical jumps from a high box, needs enough eccentric force to control the landing if their lower body muscles are not strong enough to absorb the stress of landing, their joints will be strained and this will increase their risk of injury.
Eccentric exercises are vital for the rehabilitation of athletes and are even great for people who are out of exercise due to injury, as well as older people to reduce the risk of falls e.g. while descending a staircase.
An ideal tool for eccentric training is the Swedish-made KBOX4 Flywheel Training By Exxentric. More information can be seen here.