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Using your off season to work on Eccentric Strength Training

Enhance Your Performance and Reduce Injury Risk

The off-season offers a unique opportunity for athletes to focus on refining their strength and flexibility, laying the foundation for a successful competitive season ahead. Among the various training methods, eccentric strength training stands out as a valuable tool for enhancing athletic performance and preventing injuries.

Understanding Eccentric Muscle Contractions

In conventional strength training, we primarily focus on the concentric phase, where our muscles shorten as we lift weights or perform bodyweight exercises. However, eccentric contractions, where muscles lengthen under load, play a crucial role in building muscle strength, power, and control.

Benefits of Eccentric Strength Training

  1. Increased Muscle Strength: Studies have shown that eccentric training can significantly increase muscle strength, particularly in the eccentric phase of muscle contractions. This enhanced strength translates into improved performance in sports that demand explosive movements, such as jumping, sprinting, and throwing.

  2. Enhanced Muscle Power: Power is the product of strength and speed, and eccentric training can boost both of these components. The slower eccentric phase allows for greater muscle activation and force development, leading to improved athletic power.

  3. Improved Muscle Coordination and Control: Eccentric contractions require precise neuromuscular control, as the muscles need to resist lengthening while maintaining stability. This enhanced coordination and control can help athletes maintain form and prevent injuries.

Integrating Eccentric Strength Training into Your Workout

  1. Slowing Down the Lowering Phase: A simple yet effective way to incorporate eccentric training is to slow down the lowering phase of exercises. For instance, instead of quickly lowering a dumbbell during a bicep curl, focus on a controlled descent over 3-4 seconds or as slow as 8 seconds.

  2. Using Lighter Weights: While eccentric contractions build muscle strength, they also place greater strain on the muscles. Therefore, it's advisable to use lighter weights than you typically would for concentric contractions. This allows for proper form and reduces the risk of injury.  Don’t let the lighter weight hurt your ego.  Eccentric lifting with the lighter weight will also increase your ability to concentrically lift much heavier weights than you are accustomed to.

  3. Employing Eccentric-Specific Exercises: Numerous exercises lend themselves to eccentric training. Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, hamstring curls, and leg press variations are all excellent examples. Focus on controlling the eccentric phase, rather than rushing through it.

Sample Eccentric Strength Training Workout

  • Warm-up (5 minutes): Light cardio, such as jogging or jumping jacks, to prepare your muscles for the workout.

  • Eccentric Push-ups (3 sets of 10-12 repetitions): Lower yourself slowly until your chest almost touches the floor, emphasizing control over the eccentric phase.  If should be performed with the hands elevated above the ground (on weights or chairs) so the chest muscles can lengthen further than they would during push-ups on the floor or when using a barbell. 

  • Eccentric Pull-ups (3 sets of as many repetitions as possible): Lower yourself under control, focusing on maintaining proper form.

  • Eccentric Squats (3 sets of 10-12 repetitions): Descend slowly, maintaining an upright posture.  Holding the bar in front of the shoulders instead of behind the head will allow you to squat down as far as possible while maintaining proper spinal alignment.

  • Eccentric Lunges (3 sets of 10-12 repetitions per leg): Lower your body until your front knee is almost at a 90-degree angle, keeping your back straight.

  • Eccentric Hamstring Curls (3 sets of 10-12 repetitions): Lower your heels slowly until they almost touch your glutes, maintaining a neutral spine.

  • Cool-down (5 minutes): Stretching to improve flexibility and promote muscle recovery.

Assisted Stretching with a trainer and athlete

Keep Moving

Eccentric strength training is a valuable addition to any athlete's training regimen. By incorporating eccentric exercises into your workouts, you can enhance muscle strength, power, coordination, and control, while also reducing the risk of injuries. Remember to listen to your body, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. For a consultation about a personalized program contact us at Performance Care Stretch Clinic.


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