T Nation

Does the Eccentric part of an exercise constitute a stretch?

Uh, I wonder if this makes sense at all, but here goes… When I lower weights during a set, I feel the muscle stretching quite a bit. This happens especially when the muscle’s are a bit tight. So now, I’ve begun to wonder whether lowering the weights has anything to do with stretching the muscle and lifting it is a form of shortening it.
To be very clear, I don’t know what to make of this theory. I’m no weight-training expert, lifting just two times a week with very time devoted to it. But since I’m always short of time, I would like to know if treating eccentric training as stretching can help me get me more value out of the time I put in the gym. Thanks in advance.

Be very careful with such things. The stretch at the bottom of the preacher curl has torn more biceps tendons than anything else. The stretch at the bottom of the seated French press has done likewise for the triceps tendon.

A slower negative, meaning a controlled descent, is OK.

Heck yes. That’s why you want to lower the weight in a controlled fashion, and lower the weight all the way. As well, pausing at the bottom of the movement for 4 seconds is a great way to get the eccentric stretch. What I do is end my second last rep with a 8 second eccentric. Then I explode the weight up for the last rep so that I end the exercise in a contracted state. I’m sure the editors did a short topic on this. As well, Poliquin and Haycock favor the eccentric stretch.

thats why heavy enough ecentrics with proper form make you grow. laters pk

I do get some stretch during the eccentric part, but nothing major that benefited me significantly. What I mean is, if you want to be remain flexible or become more flexible, I think you should devote some time to stretching. When I stopped spending time on stretching, my flexibility went down real fast, and my muscles always felt tight, and one time I almost pulled inner thigh muscles doing summo squats. (had to terminate the session and spent the rest of it stretching; it was very painful and I had to limp for several days afterwards)

These days I spend more time stretching, I feel great when I lift and do HIIT. And my flexibility is better than ever. Actually better than when I was in high school. :)

Interesting question which has got me thinking.

Would it be possible to perform a variation of PNF stretching by holding the weight at the bottom of the eccentric (ie the point at which the the muscle being stretched is at it’s longest) with an isometric contraction?

excercising definitely does not count as stretching time in the gym. these are 2 seperate aspects of weight training. You have to analyze the motions that are involved when doing excersises and the motions involved when doing stretches. a lot of the time they are totally different. Eccentric motions will cause even more muscle damage and so you will require even more stretching in order to help recovery. laters pk