Eccentric strength training is what's known as a negative workout. During eccentric training, your muscle tissue lengthens to improve muscular strength, as opposed to a concentric contraction, in which the muscle tissue shortens. For example, during an arm curl when you lift the weight, your bicep contracts concentrically. When you lower the weight, your muscle contracts eccentrically. Add eccentric exercises to your workout for variety in training, to increase muscle strength, to reduce injuries and to break through workout plateaus. Training the negative may leave you with more muscle soreness than your regular workout, but the strength gains are worth it.
Select a weight that allows you to complete eight repetitions of your strength training exercise. For example, you might use a 20-pound dumbbell for an arm curl.
Perform one set of eight repetitions of the arm curl, or other selected exercise. Rest for 60 seconds.
Bend your arm and curl the weight in one second. Straighten your arm and release the weight for three seconds. Allow three to five seconds for your eccentric, or negative muscle contraction. Increase the length of time as your strength improves.
Repeat this process eight times. Ask a partner to help you lift the weight as you near your final repetitions.
Use a weight amount equal to 105 percent of the amount you can lift 10 times. For example, if you use 100 pounds during a bench press, use 105 pounds for eccentric training. Ask a partner to help you with your training.
Lie on your back and allow three to five seconds to lower the weights toward your chest, if performing the bench press.
Ask your partner to help you lift the weight in one to two seconds.
Repeat Step 2 and 3 ten times. Rest for one to two minutes and perform another set if your strength ability is sufficient.
- Warm up before you strength train. Perform five to 10 minutes of aerobic-type movements such as walking, cycling, stair climbing, or dancing. If you are a beginner, add eccentric exercises one at a time into your training routine, over the course of weeks, until your strength improves and your muscle soreness decreases. Eccentric training is also used with weight machines. Allow three seconds to lower the weight and one second to lift.
- Speak with your doctor before beginning negative strength training, especially if you have any injuries.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.