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How to Perform Eccentric During Max Effort?


#1

Hello CT,

i got a question about how to perform the eccentric (lowering, negative) of a maximal effort rep (90% +) for strengt training (powerlifts, but also in general)

For strength:
1.)
I have read that you should control the weight down that means not to fast or to slow. However does that mean I should try to get faster with the lowering ? For example with lower weights 70-90% that I try to lower the bar faster and faster and also try it with heavy weights 90%+ ?

For "speed " sets with 40-60% should you try to lower the weight faster or always "controlling down"?

2.)
Is there a difference between exercises like squat and bench press, and rows / chin pulls ups, overhead presses? (Regarding the eccentric performance)

Thanks in advance!


#2

IMHO with the big strength lifts that have an eccentric phase PRECEDING the concentric (squat, bench, front squat for example) you should learn to do the eccentric phase fairly slowly. DO NOT COUNT but it should take you about 3 seconds.

At first your results will be lower when training this way… meaning that you will likely lift less weight. But over the long run it has many many benefits.

First that eccentric emphasis will give you more strength gains. It will also improve your technique and precision as well as you capacity to hold proper positions under heavy loads. It is also safer on the tendons which will give you the chance to go heavy more often and also avoid injuries more easily.

HOWEVER studies have shown that a faster eccentric and rapid turnaround increases power production. So being able to “turn it on” and do a more rapid eccentric to utilize the stretch reflex is a skill that should be trained too.

I now believe that it is best to do most of your heavy lifting with a slower eccentric, trying NOT to use the stretch reflex (yes the rapid eccentrics lead to a greater power production but not because the muscles are producing more force: because the stretch reflex contributes more) so that the actual contraction of the muscle produce most of the force.

But use short blocks of training where you train your capacity to use the stretch reflex.

A 9 week blocks would have two 3-week blocks (6 weeks) where you do the eccentric slower and one 3-weeks block when you train to use the stretch reflex.

Or you could use a mixed method where you do a set of 3 reps as follow:

Rep 1: slow eccentric/pause/hard push concentric
Rep 2: more rapid (still controlled) eccentric/pause/hard push concentric
Rep 3: more rapid (still controlled) eccentric/no pause-quick turnaround/hard push concentric

But that second approach should only be used once you have spent some time with more controlled eccentrics.

As for “speed work” I don’t use it that much anymore. For building strength I’m not entirely convinced of it’s value. I think that most people do not use it properly anyway and I think that it works only for a small portion of the population.


#3

Funny you rarely use the second variation anymore. Sounds alot like the way most coaches describe a rep. Quick but controlled eccentric, pause, hard push


#4

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
Funny you rarely use the second variation anymore. Sounds alot like the way most coaches describe a rep. Quick but controlled eccentric, pause, hard push[/quote]

There is a difference between building strength and demonstrating it. The faster eccentric/rapid turnaround is better to demonstrate strength, but might not be as good to build it in the long run. And the more I experience using pauses at various positions of a lift, the more benefit I see to this type of training.


#5

to speed work, I must say that your latest words comfort me.

I told myself that I should not do speed work properly or that it gave me no deferral on my strength.

certainly the two eventually lol


#6

@CT perfect explanation, now everything is clear and I know what to do know, thanks CT! Really helped me!


#7

Okay now I got a question, what’s with lifts where the concentric phase comes first e.g military press, chin ups, deadlifts ? Would you still recommend the "3 sec " (no counting ) negative? And since there is no strech reflex ( I believe…) we can always lower the bar slow?(excluding the deadlift )


#8

[quote]Akidara wrote:
Okay now I got a question, what’s with lifts where the concentric phase comes first e.g military press, chin ups, deadlifts ? Would you still recommend the "3 sec " (no counting ) negative? And since there is no strech reflex ( I believe…) we can always lower the bar slow?(excluding the deadlift )[/quote]

There is a stretch reflex in the military press and chin-ups.

You were talking about max effort in your original question which normally uses sets of 1. When doing sets of 1 in the dedlift chin-ups and rows there isn’t a rep where the eccentric precedes the concentric.

But in a multi-rep set there is such a situation in overhead presses, chin-ups and rows. A such the same rule applies as for the squat and bench.

In the deadlift I believe in starting every repetition from a deadstart on the floor (“dead” lift). So there will be no stretch reflex involved.

I used to recommend not doing an eccentric on the deadlift for two reasons:

  1. If you use a proper form during the eccentric on the deadlift you will normally be forced to use much lighter weights than if you almost drop the weight down. It’s the lift where a controlled eccentric has the biggest influence on the loads you can use.

  2. The passage of the knees during the eccentric (going from above the knees to below them) is often badly done by most and in a way that puts a lot of stress on the lower back. When most people lower their deadlift they do so by bending the knees (almost like a squat) sliding the bar on their thighs. As a result the knees travel forward during the first part of the eccentric phase. That form is easier at first (which is why people do it instinctively) but the problem is when you have to lower the bar below the knees… the knees are forward and the shoulders will be slightly behind the bar… when you have to pass the knees the bar will move away from you and this puts a lot of strain on the lower back, not to mention that it is a very weak position to bring the bar back down to the floor. A correct eccentric path for the deadlift is almost doing a Romanian deadlift during the first half of the eccentric phase… the knees have to be pushed back and you lower the back toward the knees. This will allow you to keep the bar close to you when you pass the knees… when the bar pass the knees you finish the lowering part by bending the legs. So first part of the eccentric = hip hinge/truck flexion, second part = knee flexion.

In the past my deadlift was always proportionally much weaker than my squat. I attributed this to have a squatter’s body… but that didn’t explain everything. By dropping every rep I didn’t strengthen the muscles and positions as much. When I started doing the eccentric during a deadlift I got stronger. BUT I have to use less weight (if that makes sense).

But when I go for very heavy work I either drop the bar after the concentric or lower it under control to the knees then let it go down to the floor.


#9

Understood, thank you CT!


#10

CT, just a control question, to be sure I make it right since this thread was more about max effort eccentrics!

I use the “3” sec eccentric “rule” also on my assistance exercise (for example leg presses, overhead presses (multi joint movements)) with higher reps e.g 3 sets of 8-10 reps. Is that fine too? Or where you referring to more low rep sets?

It really reduces your load, especially on higher rep sets, but it feels good!