How to perform eccentric training best
In popular video recordings of bodybuilders, you can often see stars lifting barbells and dumbbells explosively. You see how tired you are when you bend your arms and squeeze on the chest, wheezing and panting at the same time, all in order to achieve the feeling of exorbitant inflating muscles. In the act of exhaustion, they throw weight on the stand, slamming mercilessly. Maybe a bit of Hollywood beautification, but somewhere along the way, bodybuilders, personal trainers and strength trainers have forgotten how to lift and put weight on the spot, not to mention the eccentric training.
To make sure we speak the same language, here’s a small cheat on skeletal muscle contraction. We distinguish three basic types of muscle fiber contraction
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Concentric. Muscle tension increases, which causes movement.
Isometric. Muscle increases muscle tone, however, the length remains the same, which does not cause changes in the external position.
Eccentric. Lengthening of the muscle, by separating its attachments from itself, while producing muscle tension, which in turn controls or inhibits the speed of movement.
Thus, in the bench press in the phase of lowering the weight on the chest, eccentric muscle work is involved, the momentary pause with the neck on the chest represents isometric contraction, and lifting the weight to the position of straight arms – concentric contraction. According to scientists from among three types of skeletal muscle contraction, it is eccentric work that causes the greatest muscular pain as well as its proper growth.
You must also consider two different types of eccentric, fast and slow contraction. Performing a squat with a heavy load requires free eccentric work of the muscles included in the so-called posterioir chain (mm of the back kinesthetic chain – lower back, mm buttock, back group, thigh, mm calves) and quadriceps, but all kinds of jumps require a quick eccentric phase. Eccentric training characterized by a fast pace, such as plyometric training should only be applied in the start-up season.
The eccentric strength is characteristic of many movement activities in sport. During a baseball game, the pitcher muscles involved in this movement must provide significant inhibitory contraction so as to protect the functionality of the joint. Very interesting is the fact that many books on chronic sports injuries caused by excessive use of the joint recommend eccentric training for rehabilitation purposes, however, it is not recommended for preventive purposes.
Eccentric strength is extremely important in many sports that require extremely developed motor skills, which is jumping. This group includes figure skating and gymnastics. Athletes training these sports must demonstrate a high level of eccentric strength, so as to control the landing phase and minimize the forces affecting their joints during this time. In his research work, Warren Frosteland, a research scientist in the field of sports, classified sport disciplines depending on the level of eccentric power involved in a given sport activity. And so the discipline in which the largest percentage of eccentric force is observed is American Football, figure skating, gymnastics and downhill skiing. However, in sports such as golf, field hockey and baseball, the advantage of concentric contractions has been observed. (As a curiosity, poker and chess have also been observed.) As a result of the research revealed a surprising conclusion that both types of activity do not require a high level of concentric and eccentric strength – it is good to know)
Because in the course of eccentric work, fewer motor units are activated, eccentric training is able to generate up to 1.3 times more muscle tension in relation to concentric training. Higher tension translates into a greater stimulus applied to muscle fibers, resulting in greater biological adaptation. Per Egil “Pella Refsnes, a respected strength trainer from Norway, who unfortunately passed away in the last days, preferred eccentric training to all others, claiming that it is the best method to increase muscle strength among the elite strength athletes. In fact, eccentric strength can improve the results achieved in many exercises. The researchers proved that the weightlifters (without the use of additional equipment) who could perform the bench press test with the highest load were also able to leave the weight the slowest.
Of course, there are disadvantages of eccentric training. Starting this training in an athlete at a too young age can damage the connective tissue and expose it to an injury to muscle tissue. In addition, the body needs much more time to rest after the training unit, which emphasizes eccentric training in relation to concentric training. Specifically, full regeneration will take seven to ten days after the eccentric training session. Therefore, this type of training should be avoided during the start-up period.
In the case of many exercises requiring a lot of weight, such as squats, we recommend the assistance of a couple of well-trained spotters (training partners). It should be added that there are some really good training devices that are specially adapted for eccentric training. We can include the so-called eccentric hooks, which after contact with the ground release the additional weight suspended on them (therefore, during an eccentric portion of movement we have more resistance to overcome than in the case of concentric up.) The company recently presented Atlantis a new machine for grasping exercises, which, by the way, I helped to design. It is especially beneficial for eccentric training
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