Build Strength & Power with Eccentric Movement

What is eccentric movement?

A movement where muscles:

  • Shorten = is Concentric
  • Lengthen = is Eccentric
  • Stay the same = is Isometric

In a bicep curl, the muscle gets shorter when we curl the bar up towards the body (concentric phase of movement). As we lower the bar down the muscle lengthens (the eccentric phase of movement). Eccentric movements are also known as "Negatives".

An eccentric movement can be many times more the weight of a concentric movement. Having a heavier load allows our neurologic system to get used to the heavier weight and because of this, eccentric training can build greater strength and power (speed).

Here are some examples of each:

Chin Ups for strength – Slow eccentrics are a great tool for getting past points of plateau in training. Many athletes have achieved their first chin up by focusing on the eccentric movement first. Try the "elevator" drill on eccentric chin-ups. As you reach the "floors" where you have the most difficulty, focus on going even more slowly through the movement.

Jumping for speed – Fast eccentrics are a great way to build speed and jumping ability. An over-speed eccentric phase of movement during kettlebell swings assists in building leaping ability. An experienced athlete can eccentrically throw a kettlebell on the downswing to generate much more force before then having to change the direction of that force to power the weight back up. This assists in building powerful jumping mechanics.

Eccentric training leads to muscle gain and stronger joints. As eccentric movements break down muscle more than concentric movements it takes longer to recover from these movements, therefore I suggest using them sparingly, especially in the initial phases of training.

Be sure to give yourself time to recover from these movements.

Kate Alderman - Challenge Coach