Christy Gasparino, CSCS
The society we live in today promotes instant gratification. If we have a question, we can ask Siri and within seconds we find what we are looking for. But when it comes to our health and fitness, the change doesn’t happen that fast. This change in mindset has our clients wanting results only after a short period of time. A comment was even made that they hadn’t seen results after four days…four days! Unfortunately it is unrealistic to have your body composition change overnight. So the point is, how can we get clients to their goals faster? While nutrition and supplementation are two major contributing factors, there can be other things implemented into our strength programs.
There are three different forms of muscle contractions: concentric, eccentric and isometric. Concentric muscle action is when the muscle is being shortened. This contraction requires greater force within the muscle in order to overcome an external force (bodyweight, dumbbell, etc). An eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle is being lengthened. Forces generated in the muscle are less than the external weight. And lastly, an isometric contraction is when there is no change in muscle length; the force within the muscle is equal to the external force. If we relate these three types of contractions to a squat, the eccentric phase would be lowering of the weight, the concentric phase would be standing back up, and an isometric contraction would be a squat hold.
Periods of eccentric training can help increase strength and hypertrophy gains. Eccentric movements are not only more metabolically efficient than concentric movements, but it is also capable of withstanding higher forces. All this means is “lift” (really lower) bigger weights and use less energy. Eccentric training was found to create greater eccentric, concentric, and isometric strength compared to concentric training. Not only does it increase strength in all three types of muscle contraction, but it also produces more rapid increases in muscle strength and hypertrophy. The reason for this is because of the greater tissue damage done during training. While the increase in tissue damage is needed to build up our muscles, this also creates a lot of muscle soreness. Delayed onset muscle soreness, also known as DOMS, can peak between 24-72 hours after exercise. Regeneration methods should be taken into special consideration during this phase of training, such as foam rolling, BCAA, and time for recovery.
Not only would this type of training be beneficial to clients who want to put on more muscle mass, but also for clients who are new to training. It can help someone with little to no training experience learn a movement with more control. It can also help with some of the harder exercises such as pull-ups. Rather than using assistance through bands, clients can increase their strength by jumping up into the pull up and lowering down for 4-6 seconds. Not only would this keep our clients interest by creating more variety, but we would also see an increase in strength and muscle size. Therefore implementing these training protocols can help our clients reach their goals faster.
Mike, J., & Kerksick, C. (2015, February 1). How to Incorporate Eccentric Training into a Resistance Training Program. NSCA. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.nsca.com/education/articles/
Siff, M. (2000). Eccentric Training. In Supertraining (5th ed., p. 229). Denver, CO: Supertraining Institute.
Zatsiorsky, V. (1995). Strength Exercises. In Science and practice of strength training (p. 156). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.