How to Do Slow Eccentric Lifts
Start building muscle faster and improving fast twitch muscles with slow eccentric lifts! Building muscle strictly through volume and basic movements works well when you’re a beginner, but if you want to target muscle groups more aggressively there needs to be a unique stimulus.
Using slow eccentrics in your training is going to create that increased time under tension and help build that mind-muscle connection in any lift. The goal of slow eccentrics is to load a muscle group for an extended period of time that is longer than normal. So instead of doing a regular squat rep, slow the descent down to a 3 to 5 second period as you get into the hole. We’ll touch more on this in a second, but let’s take a quick look at the benefits of slow eccentric training.
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Why You Should Do Slow Eccentrics
Using slow eccentric movements is going to have multiple benefits not just for your overall progress in the gym, but also in terms of athletic performance. By slowing the eccentric portion of an exercise, you are stimulating a greater neural response from your body so that the weight is controlled as the muscle lengthens. This is going to increase the time under tension for the muscle you are targeting which causes the muscle to breakdown and fatigue faster.
You may ask, why would I actually WANT to break down a muscle? Well, so that when you recover over the next few days, there will be more muscle fibers to repair leading to increased hypertrophy. So in short, the overall benefit of slow eccentric training is going to be increased muscle building in a shorter period of time.
Using slow eccentrics is great for lifters that may need to be more aggressive on a certain muscle group to build strength or just for people that have limited time in the gym. If you only have an hour to train, using slow eccentric movements will help you achieve a similar level of fatigue as doing high volume rep schemes just because of the sheer intensity.
How to Do Slow Eccentric Lifts
You can do a slow eccentric with any lift really. You can do it with accessories, compound movements, and even plyometrics to help load muscles to be more explosive on the concentric portion of the exercise. So let’s take a look at a few examples.
Using slow eccentrics is great for leg strength, especially when doing squats or hamstring curls. For a squat, the eccentric portion of the lift is going to be the descent into the hole of a squat. This is where you can slow down the movement, load the hamstrings and glutes, and control the weight into the bottom of the squat.
Simply enough, you can slow the descent down to a 3 to 5 second period. Just counting in your head in “mississippis’ until you get to the bottom and then explode up to the top.
You can even incorporate slow eccentrics into olympic and very technical movements like hang cleans. The purpose of using slow eccentrics for these types of lifts is not just to build the targeted muscle groups, but to build that mind-muscle connection through correct positions.
For a low hang clean, the eccentric portion will be lowering the bar from your hip to just below the knee. The premise is the same as the slow eccentric squat. Take 3 to five seconds to allow the bar to travel from the hip to below the knee while maintaining that tightness in the core and back.
Once the bar reaches that stopping point, explode up to complete the lift by pushing your knees forward and catching the bar in the front rack position.
As mentioned earlier, you can even incorporate slow eccentricities into accessories like bicep curls or pull ups. In a pull up, that slow eccentric portion is going to be lowering yourself from that pulled up position.
Controlling yourself back to that starting position is going to build that stability in your biceps, forearms, lats, and upper back. With accessories, you may not want to have an eccentric that is too long since you are focusing on a smaller or more specific muscle. This is where you want to stick to just a 3 second eccentric so you can still do high-rep sets without overstressing the targeted muscle.
Summarizing Slow Eccentric Movements
As a lifter that’s looking to see growth in a shorter period of time, using slow eccentrics to your advantage will help you see gains faster. By addressing weak points in your body or compound lifts, you can determine which exercises require eccentric loading to meet a certain adaptation.
Whether it is a stronger mind muscle connection, building muscle for a weaker muscle group or trying to focus on an explosive concentric portion of a lift, using slow eccentrics in training will help with all the above. This is a very basic aspect of training that can provide many benefits regardless of the equipment you have access to. If you want to see other ways to improve your training with limited equipment or unique ways to improve your performance, sign up for the Peak Strength app to get custom programming catered to your goals. The app takes into account what you are training for and the resources you have to create a custom training experience for anyone.
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