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Eccentric training: benefits, disadvantages + FAQ

Maybe you've heard of it and want to know more about it or maybe you don't know it at all; eccentric training. This way of training is used in the gym to increase the time in which your muscles are under tension and thus stimulate more muscle growth.

In this blog, we explain what eccentric training is and why you should or should not use it. In addition, we answer a number of questions that are often asked.

What is Eccentric Training?

This way of training has to do with eccentric contraction. This means that the resistance provided by the object must be higher than the resistance provided by the muscle. With eccentric training, the muscle (group) that you are training therefore gradually becomes longer. Since the object (e.g. a dumbbell or barbell) is heavier than the amount of force being delivered, the muscle will move in the direction where there is no longer any tension on the muscle. This is the opposite of concentric training, where the focus is on the contraction.

Eccentric training

Very simply put, it is focusing on the negative movement of an exercise. So, for example, when you do the bench press, you don't focus on pushing out, but on lowering the barbell. With a cable pulldown you don't focus on pulling down, but on letting the cable come up again. This part of the movement is regularly 'ignored', while that is just a large part of the movement, from which there is a lot to be gained.

Below we have elaborated on the most important advantages and disadvantages of eccentric training. This way you know after reading this whether it is something for you or not.

The benefits of eccentric training

Here you will find the most important benefits of eccentric training so that you get a better idea of ​​why you should use it.

Increase in muscle growth

With eccentric training, you can use more weight than when the focus is on the concentric movement. This will allow you to put more stress on the muscle group you are training, which ultimately stimulates more muscle growth. Several studies show that training with eccentric contraction can build more muscle mass than concentric training.

By applying this correctly, you can therefore build more muscle mass, even if you have been training for a longer period of time. Of course, there are many other factors that play a role, but the various meta analyzes show good messages that eccentric contraction can provide just that little bit extra in your training.

Increase in Eccentric Force

The force you can deliver with an eccentric contraction will increase significantly. During the training, you will become stronger in both the eccentric movement and the concentric movement. When you only train concentrically, the proportions are different. In that case, the eccentric force increases a lot less. This makes eccentric training interesting to implement in your schedule to improve your overall strength on both fronts.

The disadvantages of eccentric training

Just about anything that has advantages also has disadvantages. Unfortunately, this also applies to eccentric training. Below are the two main disadvantages that this way of training can have.

Difficult to execute

If you really want to reap the benefits of eccentric contraction, the weight you use should be heavier than with the concentric contraction. This immediately entails a major disadvantage. To do the eccentric movement, you almost always have to do the concentric movement as well. That can sometimes get difficult.

Take the bench press for example. You use a weight heavy enough to do the negative move, but once the barbell is on your chest, you can't push it up again. This makes it virtually impossible to perform this type of training without a training partner. You need someone to help you push the weight back up on each rep so that you can do an eccentric movement again.

There are of course ways in which you can apply this, but they are often not ideal. So do you want to apply eccentric training? Then make sure you have a training partner with you who can help you.

Possible negative effect on explosiveness

In some strength sports, such as powerlifting or weightlifting, the intention is to have a lot of explosiveness in the concentric movement. If you often train eccentrically, this will in all likelihood have no positive consequences for the explosiveness of the concentric movement. So is your goal to build up more explosive power? Then it is probably not optimal to train a lot eccentrically.

When do you apply it?

You can use eccentric training if your goal is to build more muscle mass. It is not recommended to train just this way, but to see it as part of your training. This way you also continue to train the concentric contraction sufficiently. For example, you can do one exercise for each muscle group you train, focusing on the eccentric contraction.

Obviously, there are plenty of other ways you can apply it, but the main thing is to just try it. You automatically feel what is pleasant and what is not. So keep in mind that you will most likely need a gym partner for the majority of the exercises.

How long should the eccentric contraction be?

You can of course do the negative contraction slowly, but the question still remains: how slowly should this be done? From a meta-analysis by Brad Schoenfield, among others, researchers seem to conclude that anything between 0.5 and 8 seconds is acceptable. No notable differences were found between these different time periods.

However, they do indicate that longer than 10 seconds is not advisable and would be less efficient. It should be noted, however, that additional studies are needed to be able to draw really good conclusions about this.

Conclusion

Eccentric training is therefore a great way to build muscle mass. Simply explained, it is the negative movement of an exercise, which you can perform with more weight than what you would usually do. So some studies show that this can even be more efficient than concentric training because you can use more resistance and thus stimulate more muscle growth.

However, in many cases, it is difficult to apply this, because in almost all cases a concentric movement must first be made before the eccentric contraction can take place. Ideally, you train together with a training partner who can help you with this. It is also wise to train both eccentrically and concentrically in order to reap the benefits of both methods.

Frequently Asked Questions about Eccentric Training

We round off this blog with some frequently asked questions about eccentric training. Of course, it is possible that your question has not yet been answered. Let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.

Why eccentric training?

There are several studies that show that, when done correctly, eccentric training can provide more muscle growth than concentric training. That seems like reason enough to at least give it a try, right?

Eccentric vs Concentric, which is better?

Concentric is by far the most common and also much easier to apply. Eccentric training can provide just a little more muscle growth. All in all, both methods are important for building your muscle mass.

Which muscle groups can you train eccentrically?

You can train any muscle group eccentrically. Of course, this will not be easy for all muscle groups, but it is certainly possible. Ask your training partner for help so you can try it out per muscle group.

Want to read more blogs like this one? Then view all blogs in the muscle mass category.

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