When most of us hear “strength”, more often than not, someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to mind. That’s what strength looks like, right?
Big, muscular and aesthetic.
Sure. No doubt. But strength is not just about lifting heavy weights and being the most muscular person in the room; it's about controlled movement and the ability to exert power.
Achieving true strength requires a holistic approach that leverages various, evidence-based training techniques. One such technique that's gaining significant attention in the fitness world— is eccentric training. If you know much about Vitruvian, you’ll know just how much we get around this training style.
Why is it gaining so much traction? Why have we built a machine that enables you to leverage this style of training in more effective ways than ever? We’ll get to that, but first, let’s define it.
Eccentric training involves intentionally slowing down and emphasizing the muscle-lengthening phase of an exercise, often referred to as the “negative” or the downward phase. It’s true that we can lift more during this phase, which is why eccentric training (or optimizing load during this phase) stands to be so effective for building muscle strength and enhancing muscle control.
Keep reading as we delve into the five key benefits of eccentric training and how it can significantly impact your journey towards greater strength.
- Muscle Activation and Growth
During eccentric contractions, the muscles resist an external force or gravity, leading to microscopic muscle fiber damage. This damage is the good kind, of course, because it triggers the body's repair mechanisms, causing muscle tissue to grow stronger and larger as it heals.
Additionally, eccentric training recruits a greater number of muscle fibers and generates higher force output.
This combination of muscle damage, increased activation, and metabolic stress makes eccentric training the perfect stimulus for muscle development.
- Improved Muscle Control and Coordination
By this stage, it goes without saying— eccentric training demands a high level of control during the lengthening phase. Good thing too. This helps improve proprioception, or in layman's terms, the body's sense of its own position in space.
Better muscle control and coordination is a vital stepping stone to improved strength and performance. This is a major benefit of eccentric training, particularly for those who might be gearing their strength work towards peak sports performance.
- Reduced Risk of Injury
Now let’s talk about avoiding injury, which is something that matters to all of us— elite athletes and casual fitness goers alike.
Eccentric training contributes to a reduced risk of injury by enhancing muscle control, yes, but also by improving joint stability, and overall body mechanics.
By focusing on controlled lengthening, the muscles are forced to work together efficiently, reducing the strain on individual muscle groups and preventing overuse injuries or muscle imbalances.
As you progress with eccentric training, the muscles are forced to adapt to the management of higher loads. They become better at resisting external forces, and therefore, more resilient.
It’s no wonder we see so many athletes or recovering individuals start to place more emphasis on eccentric training.
- Increased Power Output
Now, this one is pretty straightforward. Eccentric training complements concentric training (the shortening phase of a muscle contraction) by enabling the muscle to store and release energy more efficiently.
Increased power output during explosive movements.
Hint, hint. If you’re a power-lifter, high jumper, or anything in between, you’ll want to make the most of eccentric training to enhance your performance.
- Enhanced Flexibility and Range of Motion
Finally, eccentric training promotes flexibility and an extended range of motion. As the muscles adapt to controlled lengthening, they become more pliable and capable of handling a broader range of movements.
This can greatly enhance functional strength, allowing us to engage in a wider variety of exercises and physical activities. As fitness enthusiasts, that can only be good news!
Incorporating eccentric training into your fitness regimen can be a game-changer in the pursuit of maximum strength gains. And that’s not just the Trainer+ talking, that’s science.
While it is possible to engage in eccentric training without specialized equipment, it gets rather complex (bands all over the place, numerous spotters needed… you get the picture). Tools like the Trainer+ allow you to benefit from eccentric training safely, strategically, and in a completely customized manner.
The machine automatically loads you up during the eccentric phase in our adaptive modes to the capacity you can handle, and releases load during the concentric phase, which leaves you with the peace of mind that if you fail, you are safe to do so. The Trainer+ will simply release all weight when you demonstrate signs of struggle.
Remember, true strength is about more than the amount of pounds you can squat. It's about mastering control, power, and resilience. By embracing eccentric training, you're setting yourself on a path towards a stronger, more capable you.
Some would even say, eccentric training is the Smart Way To Strong.