If you have done any strength training at all in an effort to build muscle or strength,Muscle Building Secret of Eccentrics Articles you know that the goal is usually to lift heavy weights. While I certainly agree with this goal for those looking to add strength and mass, it should be pointed out that the actual lifting of weights is not the primary stimulus for muscle growth. Instead, muscle building seems to be induced primarily by the lowering of weights.
You see, most movements include three distinct phases:
This is the actual lifting portion of the movement. This is when you stand-up out of a squat or push the bar away from you in a bench press.
This is the lowering portion of the movement. When you descend into a squat or lower the bar to the chest you are performing an eccentric muscle action.
This is the portion of the lift where the weight is not moving. For most traditional strength training exercises this portion of the movement only lasts for a split second.
The strange thing is that exercise physiologists have determined that most muscle damage occurs during the lowering portion of the movement. Since we know that muscle damage is the stimulus for muscle growth, this has led many to focus on the eccentric phase in their muscle building efforts.
Whether or not this is a good strategy is still open to debate, but the majority of the scientific evidence and personal trial and error has led us to believe that emphasizing the eccentric portion of an exercise, while not neglecting the other two phases, may be worthwhile.
There are several ways in which you can do this. The most popular and easiest (no coincidence there) is to simply slow down the eccentric portion of an exercise. It is typically recommended that the eccentric phase take anywhere from 2-8 seconds. The testro-x before and after exact duration will vary depending on your specific goals and the exercise you are performing.
Another choice for emphasizing the eccentric portion of the lift is to add in some eccentric-only reps. For example, in the bench press you would simply lower the weight to your chest and then have a partner assist in lifting the weight. Another interesting fact is that you are stronger eccentrically than you are concentrically. What this means is that you can use more weight for an eccentric-only lift than you could for a traditional lift. The positives of this are huge, but so are the downsides. Eccentric-only lifts can lead to rapid strength and size gains, but the potential for injury is huge since you are using such heavy weights. For this reason I never recommend eccentric-only lifts with more than you could safely lift on your own, unless it is included in a properly designed training program under the guidance of a professional strength coach.
There are several other ways to incorporate eccentrics into your training program, but I think you get the picture. Just remember, if you are wondering how to gain muscle it’s not just how much you lift, it’s also how much you lower.