Want to get stronger and bigger? Eccentric training is one of the best ways to add muscle, get stronger, prevent injury and even increase flexibility. To do so you must use this approach properly.

Eccentric training involves focusing on the eccentric phase of the lift. This is the lowering or down portion of the lift. There is contraction during lengthening. The concentric portion of the lift is when the muscle contracts as it shortens, such as the upward motion of the bench press or squat.

Here are some of the facts and benefits of eccentric training:

1. Increased strength during the eccentric phase.
Quite simply, you are stronger during this phase; most people can lift 1.5-1.75 times as much weight during this phase. Since you can overload the muscle more during this phase, this will lead to greater strength and hypertrophy gains.

2. Greater hypertrophy
Several studies indicate that muscle synthesis is greatest after eccentric training. As there is more damage to the myofibrils during this phase, and there is more recruitment of fast-twitch muscle fibers, there is more stress on the fibers and motor units; this leads to more muscle hypertrophy. One way to maximize this training is to use a longer tempo for the eccentric motion- say 4-6 seconds- with a faster or explosive concentric phase – say 1 second.

3. Control
Always use control on all phases of the lift but make sure to focus on lowering the weight slowly, never let gravity just pull it down. Follow the tempo and never lose control; this will maximize gains and prevent injury.

4. Heavier negative reps increase exercise intensity
Doing heavier loads with eccentric training allows training at a higher intensity, which produces increased growth, stress, and adaptation; this triggers a greater anabolic response in the muscle.

5. Eccentric training increases concentric power
Proper eccentric training facilitates more power production for sports activities as well as for those simply trying to increase overall strength, growth, and power.

6. Eccentric training strengthens connective tissue
This type of training can strengthen tendons and other connective tissues. Eccentric training can be helpful for rehab of injuries as well as prevention of injuries in the first place.

7. Eccentric training can increase flexibility
Eccentric training has been shown to improve flexibility even more so than static stretching. It increases muscle fiber growth and mobility at the same time, which is crucial for lifting with proper form and technique. Focusing on the slow phase with lighter weights is a great way to actively stretch the muscle fibers, either at the end of a set or on an “off” day to improve flexibility and prevent soreness.

So be sure to include eccentric training in your routines as it will greatly facilitate muscle, growth, strength, flexibility, and help prevent injuries!

Thanks to Charles Poliquin for his articles on this topic.