Athletes are increasingly interested in eccentric training. In this phase, the muscles are more damaged, which leads to an increase in mass. Find out more about this style. In all bodybuilding exercises, the muscles work in two phases: concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering). During the lifting of a sports equipment, the muscles contract, and when it is lowered, they lengthen.
As you know, for the growth of muscle tissue, it is necessary to load the muscles and inflict microdamage on them. At the same time, the load must constantly progress or muscle growth will be impossible. One of the most effective methods for increasing muscle mass gain is the use of maximum eccentric contractions. Unfortunately, athletes have only recently noticed this and still do not use this training method very often in their training programs.
Why is an eccentric phase better than a concentric one?
The fact that eccentric contractions have a greater intensity has been known since the middle of the last century. The fact that the eccentric phase is almost 40 percent more intense than the concentric phase is scientifically proven. Thus, it can be assumed that it is the eccentric phase of the exercise that better stimulates tissue hypertrophy. This assumption is correct if only for the reason that a larger number of sarcomeres are injured.
Scientists have not yet fully revealed the secrets of the mechanism of muscle growth, but it has been precisely established that eccentric contractions require almost 1.5 times more efforts in comparison with concentric ones. This may indicate that with an emphasis on the eccentric phase during exercise, hypertrophy can be achieved faster.
Scientists have found that in the eccentric phase, two types of muscle tissue damage can be distinguished:
- Primary - the sarcolemma and connective tissue are damaged;
- Secondary - intracellular protein compounds and histological mediators are released.
Let's consider these types of tissue damage in more detail.
Primary structural tissue damage
Scientists are still establishing the exact mechanisms of myofilament damage caused by eccentric exercise. The most popular theory is the rupture of the bridges between actin and myosinin elements. In a recent scientific experiment in which athletes performed exercises with maximum eccentric contractions in bodybuilding, it was found that the biceps tissue received 80 percent of the damage. At the same time, after the usual concentric movements, this figure was significantly lower and amounted to 30 percent.
At the same time, it was found that the longer the training experience of an athlete, the less effective eccentric contractions are in terms of the number of injuries. But at the same time, significant injuries to the sarcomeres were observed.
Secondary damage to histological activators
After damage to the cellular structures of tissues, enzymes are released from them, which leads to muscle proteolysis or fiber breakdown. With intense eccentric contractions, the circulation of intracellular enzymes increases sharply, which leads to the activation of various immunological processes, for example, an increase in the number of leukocytes and neurophils.
Scientists also investigated the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs on the release of intracellular enzymes. As a result, it was found that drugs such as ibuprofen negatively affect the anabolic background in muscle tissues after training. Thus, we can safely talk about the need to use anti-inflammatory drugs only for serious injuries. If used to suppress post-workout pain sensations, it will noticeably reduce the rate of muscle growth. Inflammatory processes in the tissues after training are an important factor in enhancing the synthesis of muscle protein compounds.
How to use eccentric exercises in your training?
There is no doubt that exercises with maximum eccentric contractions in bodybuilding are very effective. This has been confirmed by numerous scientific experiments. All that remains is to figure out how best to use them in your training program.
The main problem is that virtually all sports equipment in existence today is designed for conventional concentric exercises. Experienced athletes understand the effectiveness of maximum eccentric contractions in bodybuilding and try to find a way out of this situation. So, let's say they can straighten their legs on the machine with two legs, and in the eccentric phase with one. You can also attract a friend who will help raise the sports equipment, and the athlete himself lowers it.
It should be noted that some manufacturers of exercise equipment have already begun to produce specialized sports equipment designed to work in the eccentric phase. It is likely that more specialized equipment will appear alongside further research to prove the effectiveness of eccentric contractions.
In the meantime, it is necessary to independently look for a way out of this situation. For example, you can use a sports equipment with a working weight of 80 percent of the maximum during training of the pectoral muscles and ask a friend to push on the equipment during the eccentric phase of the movement. After the projectile is in the lower position of the trajectory, your partner helps you to lift it.
This technique can be used for any pressing movement. It should be remembered that exercises with maximum eccentric contractions in bodybuilding cause more damage to the muscles, and they should be used in dosage.
You can visually familiarize yourself with the technique of performing the exercise with maximum eccentric contractions in this video: