Tag Archives: eccentric training

Increase Time Under Tension to Get Stronger, Build Muscle

17 Dec

There are lots of strategies for getting stronger and building muscle.  One such strength- and muscle-building strategy is a concept known as time under tension (TUT).  The rationale for this approach is that the longer you can keep tension in your muscles during a set, the more you’ll exhaust them, forcing them to get stronger and grow to adapt.

How to Increase Time Under Tension

There are a few ways to increase the amount of time your muscles spend under tension:

  • Do more repetitions
  • Increase the amount of time you take to lower the weight
  • Pause an exercise at some point in its range of motion and hold it for time

(also see related articles: Get Stronger with Isometric ExercisesAdd Isometric Exercises to Your Training Regimen, and Take the Negative Chinup/Dip Challenge)

How it Works

Doing a lot of repetitions — 12-15 or more — is great, but there are also some potential problems that accompany this approach.  The more reps you perform, the more likely it becomes that your form and technique tend to break down, increasing your risk of injury.  More repetitions also forces you to use lighter weights, sacrificing muscular tension.

Time under tension can be increased, for virtually any exercise, by increasing the time of the eccentric (lowering) phase of the exercise, or by incorporating isometric “holds” (pausing during a movement), effectively creating a longer-lasting set.

For example, when doing the squat or bench press exercises, you could lower the weight to a six-second count, for each repetition; or you could pause at some point during the eccentric phase of the exercise and hold for 3-4 seconds before continuing the movement.

Try to incorporate this strategy into your workout routine and you’ll see how more tension in your life can actually be a good thing.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Advertisements

Take the Negative Chinup/Dip Challenge

1 Nov

Want to challenge yourself in the weight room and improve your strength and fitness?  Try the Men’s Health Negative Chinup/Dip Challenge.  The goal of this challenge is to do 1 negative dip and 1 negative chinup.  Sounds simple enough, right?

First, some background: Eccentric training, which involves focusing on the lowering (or, “negative”) phase of an exercise, can potentially trigger greater strength gains than concentric (lifting-focused) training, according to Ellington Darden, Ph.D. and author of The Body Fat Breakthrough.

“Your muscles can handle more weight during the lowering phase,” Darden says. “And if you draw out that phase to a minute, as you will with the negative dip and negative chinup, you can recruit up to 40 percent more muscle fibers and enjoy a surge in muscle-building hormones.” The result: more power and strength in significantly less time.

Here’s how to perform these exercises:

Negative Chinup

Grab the bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip and hang at arm’s length with your ankles crossed behind you. Pull your chest up to the bar. Lower yourself slowly, half an inch at a time.

Negative Dip

Grab the bars of a dip station and lift yourself so your arms are straight. Lean forward slightly and lower your body slowly — half an inch at a time — until your upper arms are below your elbows.

The Challenge: You’ll be completing only two reps total (one per move), but they’ll probably be two of the hardest reps you’ve ever done. “Take one minute to lower yourself for each exercise, and rest two minutes between them,” says Darden. If you can’t last longer than 30 seconds, your eccentric strength needs a lot of work.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Eccentric Training Improves Strength and Force Development

20 May

Bench%20Press%20with%20Spotter[1]Eccentric (ECC) actions, when emphasized during resistance training, may elicit greater strength adaptation, muscular hypertrophy, acute increases in subsequent concentric (CON) force capabilities, and favorable acute inflammatory response compared with traditional ECC/CON actions and CON muscle actions alone,” according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (Kelly, et.al.)

Multiple studies show that athletes can augment traditional, concentric training with eccentric training to increase force capabilities.

The eccentric phase of an exercise (also known as the negative phase) is usually when the weight is lowered in preparation for the next concentric (push) action.  For example, an eccentric bench press would consist of lowering a barbell from a fully extended elbow position to the chest in a continuous, controlled manner for 3-4 seconds.

Try adding an eccentric set to your usual training.  If you usually perform three sets of a particular exercise, make the last set an eccentric set.

Or, make one training day per week an eccentric training day.  If you train three days per week, perform all exercises and sets eccentrically on your middle day.

For more advanced, proficient athletes (in the weight room), if you have access to a spotter or two, try overload eccentric training, using 100% or more of your 1RM.  (Note — a spotter is usually a good idea for many exercises, including weighted exercises done eccentrically, even with lighter loads)

This strategy is not only for weighted exercises.  Eccentric training also works well with body-weight exercises, such as the squat, pushup, chinup, dip, etc.

When is comes to strength training — think negative, gain positive.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How to Improve Force Production

4 Feb

revwads18cut-1[1]There are many factors that affect force production (the amount of force produced in a muscle, or muscles).  Improvements in force production can optimize sport-specific skill performance, including running, jumping, throwing, and hitting/striking.

Lift Heavy

Lifting heavy weight (e.g, 65-80% 1RM) produces greater tension in the muscle which, in turn, leads to greater motor unit (neuromuscular) recruitment, which affects force production.  The number of active motor units is directly proportional to the amount of force production.  (It should also be noted that heavy lifting and explosive concentric training [see below] have the potential to activate more fast-twitch muscle fibers)

Preloading

Preloading is the tension developed in the muscle before you move the weight.  When you bench press, deadlift, or squat, you can’t move the bar off the rack or floor until sufficient force is developed in the muscle to overcome the inertia of the barbell.

Overload Eccentric Training

Use very heavy resistance (≥ 100% 1RM) to perform “negatives,” which emphasize the lowering phase/movement of a lift.  For safety reasons, it may be advisable to use a spotter (or spotters) for certain exercises, such as the bench press, to assist in returning the weight to the original (up) position.

Explosive Concentric Training

When training for explosive concentric movements — where the goal is generating velocity — use relatively light resistance.

Plyometrics

Plyometric exercises exploit the stretch-shortening cycle to generate maximum force in minimum time.  This involves “prestretching” a muscle immediately before a concentric action to enhance force production during the subsequent muscle action.

Rest

It’s important to incorporate rest days into your training regimen in order to allow muscles time to recover and repair.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Increase Time Under Tension to Get Stronger, Build Muscle

15 Sep

squat-a-ex_0[1]There are lots of strategies for getting stronger and building muscle.  One such strength- and muscle-building strategy is a concept known as time under tension (TUT).  The rationale for this approach is that the longer you can keep tension in your muscles during a set, the more you’ll exhaust them, forcing them to get stronger and grow to adapt.

How to Increase Time Under Tension

There are a few ways to increase the amount of time your muscles spend under tension:

  • Do more repetitions
  • Increase the amount of time you take to lower the weight
  • Pause an exercise at some point in its range of motion and hold it for time

(also see related articles: Get Stronger with Isometric ExercisesAdd Isometric Exercises to Your Training Regimen, and Take the Negative Chinup/Dip Challenge)

How it Works

Doing a lot of repetitions — 12-15 or more — is great, but there are also some potential problems that accompany this approach.  The more reps you perform, the more likely it becomes that your form and technique tend to break down, increasing your risk of injury.  More repetitions also forces you to use lighter weights, sacrificing muscular tension.

Time under tension can be increased, for virtually any exercise, by increasing the time of the eccentric (lowering) phase of the exercise, or by incorporating isometric “holds” (pausing during a movement), effectively creating a longer-lasting set.

For example, when doing the squat or bench press exercises, you could lower the weight to a six-second count, for each repetition; or you could pause at some point during the eccentric phase of the exercise and hold for 3-4 seconds before continuing the movement.

Try to incorporate this strategy into your workout routine and you’ll see how more tension in your life can actually be a good thing.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Take the Negative Chinup/Dip Challenge

9 May

ParalellBarDip2[2]MH1006_BOBPSTR_03_SM_Body[1]The Men’s Health Negative Chinup/Dip Challenge is all the rage this week at Athletic Performance Training Center.  The goal of this challenge is to do 1 negative dip and 1 negative chinup.  Sounds simple enough, right?

First, some background: Eccentric training, which involves focusing on the lowering (or, “negative”) phase of an exercise, can potentially trigger greater strength gains than concentric (lifting-focused) training, according to Ellington Darden, Ph.D. and author of The Body Fat Breakthrough.

“Your muscles can handle more weight during the lowering phase,” Darden says. “And if you draw out that phase to a minute, as you will with the negative dip and negative chinup, you can recruit up to 40 percent more muscle fibers and enjoy a surge in muscle-building hormones.” The result: more power and strength in significantly less time.

Here’s how to perform these exercises:

Negative Chinup

Grab the bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip and hang at arm’s length with your ankles crossed behind you. Pull your chest up to the bar. Lower yourself slowly, half an inch at a time.

Negative Dip

Grab the bars of a dip station and lift yourself so your arms are straight. Lean forward slightly and lower your body slowly — half an inch at a time — until your upper arms are below your elbows.

The Challenge: You’ll be completing only two reps total (one per move), but they’ll probably be two of the hardest reps you’ve ever done. “Take one minute to lower yourself for each exercise, and rest two minutes between them,” says Darden. If you can’t last longer than 30 seconds, your eccentric strength needs a lot of work.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

 

%d bloggers like this: