Eccentric loading/eccentric weight training/eccentric lowering is the process of lengthening muscle tissue from the point of origin to the point of insertion (lowering the weight as opposed to raising it). Incorporating eccentric loading in training will benefit breaking through strength plateaus as well as aiding in a rehabilitation program. We use this as one of the key principles to ensure continued success with our personal training clients.
Strength plateaus are caused through a few variables, but the most common and relevant to weight training is lack of neuromuscular facilitation. In order to increase the brains ability to connect with the body, conventional compound strength training should be incorporated using low repetition ranges with perfect form and maximal weight. However eccentric loading is the strongest phase of the contraction cycle, which physiologically makes sense when we look at the interaction of actin and myosin in relation to calcium and the release of the two fibres tension.
Understanding that the eccentric phase of contraction is the strongest when concerning isotonic contraction it only makes sense to incorporate it into a plateau breaking program. Time under tension of an eccentric movement can be up to 3 times longer than a concentric contraction with up to 30%more weight this would also aid in enhancing neuromuscular function and further break through those training plateaus. In athletes concerned with hypertrophy it is important to increase strength plateaus as this will help increase intensity of training and muscle growth.
Rehabilitation training can benefit highly from eccentric weight training as risk of injury would be lower as well as aiding in actively stretching rigid muscle tissue. Partial eccentric movements should be utilised before full range eccentric movements are employed as this will lower further injury and make training progressive, not regressive. Start movements off at a 30 degree range of motion in the given joint angle and only further the eccentric range once a concentric contraction can be achieved in that particular partial range.
In conclusion, eccentric weight training/lifting should be considered the base of any progressive strength training/bodybuilding program not an add on, as the benefits of this type of training are not only physiological but also psychological. Be aware though that it is highly demanding and seek out a great personal trainer or strength coach to at least help you initially.