Unilateral Maximal Eccentric Loads/Overloads

Much respect to you, Dr. Darden! I learned about the 30-10-30 technique when I bought your Killing Fat book for Men’s Health. Since then, I have always been mindful about training the negative.

I just learned about an exercise device that allows for unilateral maximal eccentric loads/overloads. It can be done anywhere and without spotters. It uses a 4:1 mechanical advantage pulley system like rock climbers. So while one arm exerts 100 pounds of force, the other arm controls it with 25 pounds.

I am not affiliated with the company. Rather, I just purchased the device and await delivery.

But I was wondering if Dr. Darden had seen it or used it and what your impressions of it are? From the looks, you can maximize your concentric and eccentric loads thereby burning all your muscle fibers for total exhaustion. It seems like a game changer but I’d never heard of it until last week.

It’s called Synapse CCR. Many thanks for any insight.

Several of the new digital machines with motorized resistance allow for true overload on the eccentric. I’ve often wondered what Dr Darden would think of those.

I haven’t used one but I am curious how you like the Synapse.

It seems like it would take some effort to coordinate the resistance but once you get past the learning curve, it could be valuable.

Well the unit came in today! Here are my initial impressions after toying with it.

  1. Form factor is quite small. It says it is rated to 660 pounds, which is more than enough for unilateral work.
  2. I clipped on some hard handle grips to both ends. The OEM grip on the working side is semi-rigid plastic tubing. The other side is a fabric loop.
  3. With a 4:1 advantage, the guiding arm moves four feet for every foot the working arm moves. There are a couple of consequences to this:
    A. It’s very hard to do a one second negative and maintain a tight rope and max effort throughout, especially on longer movements. Looks like a 2.5 to three second negative is the functional limit on cadence. I will probably be using a 6 up/3 down cadence.
    B. On longer moves, it is better to position your body slightly “Open” to the non-working side to give yourself maximum distance in the non-working arm. If I am doing a row with my left arm, my right foot, hip and shoulder are slightly back. I don’t know how this affects the biomechanics.
  4. The Synapse requires more effort when the body is leaning away from the anchor. Like a suspension trainer. The leverage gives you some starting tension to work with both on the positive and negative. Thinking long term, aside from more sets/reps, I am not sure how you progressively overload body lean. Perhaps a weighted vest? Or gravity (find a hill)?
  5. You can also create starting tension by hooking the Synapse to a resistance band and hooking the resistance band to a door anchor. If you lean away from the door anchor with some pretension in the band, this works too. Progressive overload is easier to manage - just use stronger bands over time. However, as your arm moves up and back, half of that move is coming through the Synapse and half is the band stretching and contracting. I’m not sure how that affects the negative force as bands usually generate less force as they contract.

Interested to start this journey…

First Synapse workout this morning. Pec flys & reverse flys at hip door anchor level and triceps overhead extension from a bottom door anchor.

I am using it solo. Synapse is very easy to use with a partner or trainer. You just push or pull the handle as hard as you can and the partner manipulates the guide rope. No adjustments in form are necessary. In addition, your brain doesn’t know how far or fast the the guide rope will be moved, so you can focus on the move at hand.

Using it solo requires some body movement in order to get a full range of motion. Instead of articulating the joint around the body, at times you need to articulate the body around the joint. You are focusing on a couple of things besides the effort of the working arm.

Finally, I am trying it two ways: as designed and with a band. As designed, the guide rope always moves at a 4:1 pace to the working arm. With a band, moving the guide rope may not move the working arm. Rather it might stretch the band. This can be useful as stretching the band at the end of the positive overloads the negative. The band wanting to contract eventually overcomes your muscle. Also, pretension in the band makes the banded move feel “heavier” to me throughout.