T Nation

"Why Can't I Build Muscle?" - Eccentrics and Muscle Damage

I respect Thibadeau as a coach, but
I’ve been wondering about one thing in this article:

“True hardgainers respond well to slow eccentrics and to a slightly reduced range of motion when they use multi-joint movements (to cause less muscle damage).”

“De-emphasize the eccentric/negative to get the least amount of muscle damage possible.”

In both cases, you don’t want to cause a lot of muscle damage, but one time you use eccentrics and one time you want to avoid them.

Does anyone have an explanation for this?

The first quote about slow eccentrics is not done with heavy weights. We are talking about 6-10 sec eccentrics here (even up to 30 if you use the darden method). Hence you don’t create as much muscle damage and focus more on the muscle fatigue/ growth factor pathways. These are easier to recover from. However, training muscles eccentrically will still put a lot of stress on the muscle fibers because less motor units are recruited to resist the weight when the muscle is being stretched.

I don’t know where the second quote came from as I don’t have time to search through the article. In what context is it presented? If you de-emphasize the eccentric, the focus lies more on the isometric or concentric. For muscle hypertrophy these contractions are mostly used with medium weights (relative to the strength of each individual) to stimulate the growth factor/ muscle fatigue pathways as well as they will cause a lot of metabolic stress, which is also a precursor to muscle growth next to mechanical stress.

I believe what CT meant whas that true hardgainers need a different hypertrophy pathway than muscle damage (mostly stimulated by movements where the target muscles are being stretched under heavy load or explosive movements done with heavy weights) to cause their muscles to grow because muscle damage takes the longest to recover from. Offcourse there are a lot of other factors involved as well but when it comes to training this can make a world of difference.

He’s talking about a True Hardgainer in the first quote and an Endo-Hardgainer in the second quote.

Well, both hardgainer types are slow twitch dominant which means they are build for endurance. Their muscles respond better to metabolic stress because it increases the recruitment of both the slow twitch and the fast twitch fibers (come into play near the end of the set when it gets hard) and it spurs growth in them faster. Metabolic stress triggers the muscle fatigue/growth factor pathways.

The true hardgainer does not respond well to muscle damage because of his genotype, higher cortisol levels and higher myostatin expression.

The endo hardgainer does not respond well to muscle damage because of his genotype and higher insulin resistance.

Thanks a lot for the great replies, I just had a hard time imagining eccentrics with low weights, but it might be useful.

You don’t necessarily use light weights, it’s just the nature of how you perform the exercise that will automatically reduce the weights you can use.

A guy who squats 400 pounds with a 3010 tempo is not going to squat 50 pounds with a 6010 tempo. It’s not the weight that matters anyway, it’s staying in the right intensity zone (1-2 Reps from failure for intermediate-advanced lifters, 2-5 reps from failure for beginners) to reap the benefits for muscle growth.

I see.

Have a great day.