Eccentric training (also known as negative training) is when the muscle lengthens while producing force, e.g. when you’re lowering the weight back down during a bicep curl (if the dumbbell is lowered slowly rather than letting it drop).

Standard strength training involves putting tension on a muscle so that the muscle shortens as it contracts. This is called concentric exercise. Eccentric exercise is performing your exercise the opposite way – performing a bicep curl quickly and then slowly extending your arm.


Why is Eccentric training important?

Including eccentric exercise in your workout seems to build more muscle then concentric exercise does. Eccentric exercise may be particularly helpful in older people, who are at greater risk for tendon injury. Eccentric exercises benefit muscles by absorbing the mechanical energy exerted by the heavy workload. That energy is then released with what is called elastic recoil, essentially a spring like action the facilitated the next muscle movement. This type of exercise also offers a way to vary your exercise routine.


Tending to Tendinitis

There’s some evidence that eccentric exercise can help hard to heal tendon injuries, including chronic tendinitis. A study in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery found that six weeks of eccentric exercise improved strength and reduced pain, tenderness and disability in people with chronic tennis elbow better than standard treatment (stretching, massage, ultrasounds and heat/ice).


Exercise Benefits

Muscle Function

– Rapid gains in muscle strength/mass

– Improvement of athletic performance (speed)

– Greater cross-educational effect

– Shift of the muscle’s length-tension relationship towards longer muscle lengthens

– Greater Neural Adaptations

– Health Related Parameters

– Gains in lean mass

– Fat mass reduction

– Increased resting energy expenditure

– Increased lipid oxidation

– Improvement of blood lipid profile

– Increased insulin sensitivity


Examples of Eccentric Exercises

– Lowering a weight during a shoulder press

– The download motion of squatting

– The downward motion of a push-up

– Lowering the body during a crunch

– Lowering the body during a pull-up



Possible Risks

As with any type of physical exercise there are risks. The downward force exerted on the muscle during eccentric exercise can protect against injury, but will likely increase the risk of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). With the increased weight needed for eccentric exercise you may lift weights larger than your maximum capacity. To avoid this, make sure you establish what your ideal lifting weight is before your start eccentric loading.


Here at Comfort Health

Eccentric training is part of many athletic training programs and treatments for various tendon problems. If you have a chronic tendon problem, get in contact with us today. We can suggest specific eccentric exercises, monitor your training and offer manual therapy to ease the discomfort and aid recovery.