As Fast As You Can…
Max Speed No Rest…
As Many Rounds As Possible…
No Rest Between Sets…
Where is the Contrast?
Training hard and getting down with the grit is important to challenge yourself in the face of discomfort. But is that the only way to do the work and improve your overall ability to face difficult situations? Heck no!
Pushing your body faster and faster into stressful situations actually can decrease performance over time, leading to potential injuries or decreased levels of health and fitness. That would be the equivalent of having a car and only driving 75+ mph everywhere you went. Not before long, your fuel tank drops out, the car is taxed from high output, and something will have to give to keep that trend up.
Yes, speed matters in the heat of competition, but who said speed only equates to moving fast? What happens to your muscles and body by moving slowly in the same exact exercise, movement, or action?
To gain strength and improve performance, stop lifting things up, and start focusing on putting them down!
Your muscle undergoes two types of muscle contractions; concentric and eccentric.
Concentric Muscular Contractions are when the muscle shortens, bringing two joints closer to one another. Concentric contractions are the large majority of the familiar exercises.
Eccentric Muscular Contractions are when the muscle lengthens, spacing the joints apart. This is usually known as a ‘negative’ repetition and is more fatiguing and taxing on the muscle to control.
The easiest way to digest and distinguish the two is to envision a biceps curl. As the
weight moves towards the body, it is easier to control because the force required to move the weight is less. But once the eccentric portion begins, you are fighting the weight and gravity acting upon the weight, making it more demanding on the muscle to go slow and be in control.
But never fear! There is a great reward for your body when you add them to your routine.
Here’s What You Need to Know…
- Eccentric training, or negative repetitions, requires less force production than its counterpart, meaning more load is on the muscle to work harder, resulting in increased strength stimulus to your muscle fibers (YOU GET STRONGER FASTER)
- It is the best way to increase overall muscle size. So if your goal is to have larger, visible muscles, slower can build that adaptation faster
- When performing lunges, step-ups, or squats, the development of that special strength and resiliency translates exactly to any type of running. As your leg is about to hit the ground, it is eccentric muscular forces that absorb impact in your joints and propel you forward to stride strong.
- It can take 7-10 days to fully recover from an eccentric-only workout, so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. This method of training can be added as a workout finisher, or as a supplement to break through a training plateau in a certain movement. That is why this is my FAVORITE method to train and improve Chin/Pull-Ups!
- “Eccentric training can improve power because it favorably alters force/time characteristics. Finnish and Norwegian sport scientists have demonstrated that eccentric training stimuli can be used periodically to improve or maintain the neuromuscular system’s ability to generate fast force production” – Charles R. Poliquin
So Now What?
For starters, I recommend starting off using light weights and familiar exercises that you know and get acclimated to the feeling of eccentric training. Once you begin to feel comfortable, and progress into multi-joint movements, follow me along on this challenging yet rewarding Eccentric & Concentric Combination! Be sure to try it out and tag #MindfulTrailrunner in your post to be featured!
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