Understanding Eccentric Training

eccentrics training

So you have mastered isometrics and want to get back to posting your WOD on Instagram? Before I transition athletes back to performing what’s written on the whiteboard, there is a step known as eccentric training that should not be skipped. The full transition process I use looks like this: isometrics-eccentrics-full range of motion exercises.

What are eccentrics?

The eccentric portion of a lift is when the muscles you are working are lengthened. Think lowering into the bottom position of a squat, or lowering yourself from the top of a pull-up.

Why do we need to incorporate eccentrics?

With any eccentric portion of the lift an athlete can typically lift roughly 1.3 times more than they can in the concentric portion of a lift. This is important in the rehab process because when returning an athlete back to normal function it isn’t enough to get them back to their perceived 100 percent, as this is the state where they got injured. The athlete needs to return at 110 percent or more to reduce the likelihood of further injury.

By incorporating eccentric training after isometrics you are going to:

  • Progress the tissue adaptations from isometrics.
  • Build angle specific strength and tissue adaptations.
  • Continue to cause progressive adaption through increased load application.
  • Give the athlete an opportunity to rehearse the movement in a more controlled environment.

Where does this fit into an athlete’s training?

Wherever you want it to! This is your opportunity to get creative. When programming this in the conditioning portion of a training session, I like to utilize EMOM’s as this puts strict parameters on the movements. An EMOM with an eccentric focus I recently programmed for someone returning from a shoulder injury looked like this:

EMOM x 15 minutes:

Minute 1: 3 reps of 10-second eccentric pull-ups, neutral grip (each rep takes 10 seconds)

Minute 2: 15 Russian KBS

Minute 3: 10 to 12 Assault bike calories

Eccentric training is not only going to build strength, but it will also induce neural adaptations with the goal of improving movement control. Even if you aren’t in the process of returning from an injury, I would argue incorporating eccentrics into training is not only beneficial but necessary to safely progress your athletes.

Wes Hendricks
Dr. Wes Hendricks graduated from the University of Western States with a doctorate in chiropractic and a bachelor’s degree in human biology. He owns and operates Rebuild Health and Performance in Charleston, South Carolina. Visit drwesleyhendricks.com or follow him on Instagram @drweshendricks.
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