Eccentric exercise: what is it and what is it for?

Eccentric exercise is the third phase of weight training, after the concentric and static cycle. It is also called the negative phase and is characterized by the contraction of the muscles as they move away from the weight insertion points, helping to retain the load to prevent falling.

The eccentric phase is usually the most difficult of all bodybuilding cycles, because it is traumatic for the muscular and aponeurotic tissues. Therefore, the recovery period after each session is of great importance. In fact, you should know that the risk of injury while doing the eccentric phase is greater than any of the other phases.

How does eccentric training work?

The easiest way to understand it is with an example. When lifting a weight in a biceps curl, the joints between the muscles and bones of the shoulder and forearm move apart so that the biceps contract to control the rate of descent. This means that eccentric contractions are those that occur in weight braking situations when performing any type of exercise with weight.

When performing eccentric exercises, the muscle builds strength as it lengthens. In contrast, during concentric contractions such tension is produced that the muscle shortens. It is important to note that, despite the complexity of the eccentric phase, it offers great benefits to the body.

Advantages of eccentric training

One of the great advantages of eccentric work is that it allows you to face very strong levels of tension, which are higher than those obtained with other forms of training. In this case, it allows 20% more capacity compared to the voluntary force of the concentric exercises.

In addition, the positive effects on the tissue in the eccentric phase are multiple, since it increases power and favors stretching and muscle strengthening , which improves the athlete’s abilities. Also, it is important to mention that, when working with very high loads, the mental tension is greater, so this type of training requires a lot of concentration.

Disadvantages of eccentric training

Eccentric work not only has advantages. Among its main negative aspects, it is worth mentioning the high risk of suffering injuries, especially when the athlete is close to his load and intensity limits. For this reason, in many sports institutions and gyms, eccentric training is recommended exclusively for experienced athletes who are more aware of their own abilities.

Also, you should know that the eccentric movement causes considerable muscle pain after performing the exercise, mainly characterized by muscle stiffness, which usually lasts from 48 to 72 hours, depending on the effort made. Due to this limitation, it is a method by which it is difficult to propose more than one session per week, especially for those who are just beginning to train. Therefore, eccentric work should not be taken lightly.

Importance of performing the eccentric exercise correctly

Despite the difficulties that the development of eccentric strength may have, this type of training serves to improve physical performance. It is only necessary to take some care to adapt the exercises to the level of experience and knowledge of each person.

Likewise, it is necessary to mention that there is no point in doing eccentric work if there is not enough experience in building muscle . Instead, there are concentric and isometric methods that offer different very effective exercises that are less risky for beginners.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that all movements must be performed with absolute awareness during eccentric training sessions, so attention must be paid to possible postural defects and incorrect movements during the exercises. For example, during weightlifting sessions, the fixator muscles of the shoulder blades begin to loosen, due to which the shoulders threaten to dislocate. In this case, it is necessary to be aware of this right at the moment it happens, to let all the weight go to the ground and thus avoid injuries.

Supramaximal exercise for eccentric training

Supramaximal exercises, also known as maximum dynamic strength, are one of the main exercises to improve the eccentric strength of an athlete. These types of exercises are governed by a person’s ability to lift a certain weight, which can put the eccentric force to the limit when supporting the load or dropping it. It is characterized by being a work of short duration and high intensity, where a weight load is used that exceeds your maximum oxygen consumption. For this reason, this is reserved for experts in muscle development, such as bodybuilders who have practiced many other methods and need to knock down their own limit of strength.

To perform this type of exercise, the most popular modality is 120/80, where you must do an eccentric repetition with a load corresponding to 120% of the concentric strength. Next, you need to immediately perform 4 to 6 repetitions at 80% of your maximum voluntary strength. For example, if your 1RM is 90kg, then you should lift this weight followed by 5 reps with 60kg. You can then take a 5-minute break and repeat the process 3-4 times.

Recommendations on eccentric exercise

It is recommended not to perform any type of training the day after performing eccentric exercise sessions, especially in supramaximal training, since the muscles need rest . In this sense, it is important to mention that eccentric sessions require long recoveries during and after.

As for the most appropriate clothing to practice eccentric exercises, it is clothing made of flexible fabric that can support the stretching of your muscles. Similarly, you can wear Skechers shoes or any other brand with non-slip soles, capable of guaranteeing maximum grip on the ground to avoid accidents during movements.

In conclusion, eccentric exercise is a very interesting and effective strength training method for improving physical development, but it is advisable to have professional help to be able to do it correctly.

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