fitness Richmond

I never thought I would say this, but…

Negativity DOES have a place in helping you become stronger.

Only in training, though. I really wouldn’t promote negativity in attitude, or beliefs, or thoughts about anything or anybody in your life.

In the world of strength training, however… Negative, or eccentric, training is considered by many experts and coaches as highly beneficial.

Eccentric simply refers to the lengthening of muscle. If you’re doing squats, the part of the rep where you descend, or go down, is eccentric. You can feel your hamstrings, butt, and quads stretching.

Conversely, you’re training concentrically when you fight the weight (and gravity) to stand up straight from squatting.

Our eccentric strength is well-documented as being 20-40% more than our concentric strength. What does that mean?

Say you’re doing 50-lb seated rows. Your eccentric strength is actually 60-70 lbs. You can eccentrically release up to 70 pounds – as long as it’s under strict control and you aren’t letting the weight jerk back.

Now… How do you train eccentrically?

Many people don’t know to control the lowering portion of the rep. They let gravity take over. Grave mistake! Every moment at the gym can offer you value.

Let’s take pull-ups as an example. All my clients think pull-ups are the bomb. Highly useful too – if we were to go with the worst-case scenario and the world was overrun by zombies, you need to be able to hoist yourself up over things to escape. Now, how would you accomplish that if you didn’t have the back strength (or bicep, or forearm) to complete a few pull-ups?

  1. At the pull-up bar, have a friend or a tall box elevate you high enough so that your starting position is head above the bars, elbows bent, biceps flexed – this is mid-rep.
  2. Lower yourself towards the floor as slowly as you can. Aim for a 5-second lowering tempo.
  3. Get back into the mid-rep position and keep being negative until you hit 20 reps.

This eccentric training example uses Tempo as the variable of control. The goal is to extend the amount of time you take to lower your bodyweight to increase your eccentric strength.

Here’s a short vid of me doing start-stop eccentric pullups.

Other variables you can manipulate to become even stronger as an eccentric freak:

  • amount of weight – from 20 to 40% extra
  • number of reps you do
  • length of rest periods in between sets, if any

Eccentric training is a rare instance where negativity can result in a positive outcome.

If you try this out, drop me a comment telling me how it went. If I can help even just one person escape zombification, my work here is done.

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