In training, most athletes focus on the concentric part or concentric training. In this phase, the corresponding target muscle contracts because you lift a weight, for example. In the so-called static phase, you do not move any further and maintain the tension in the muscle. Finally, there is the eccentric phase, which is all too often neglected. This means that the target muscle, which was just tensed, is lengthened again as you move back to the starting position.
The concentric movement phase is usually also called the positive execution phase, while the eccentric phase is also known as negative repetition.
In this phase, the target muscle shortens because, for example, you lift a weight or push yourself off the ground during a push-up.
This is where you generally don't move, even if only for a brief moment. The isometric phase is often between the concentric and eccentric phases. For example, in the highest position of the pull-up. Your muscles are holding tension at this moment without shortening or lengthening.
In the eccentric phase, which is too often neglected in training, the target muscle contracted by the previous movement phases is lengthened again because you move back to the starting position.
In training, most athletes focus on the concentric part or concentric training. Many athletes only count their repetitions if they have managed to master the concentric phase. For example, when they have managed the way up during the pull-up. The lowering back down the slope is often neglected.
Meanwhile, there are important findings about the work of our muscles in the different movement phases, which can help you to make your training more effective. Now you can learn how to use the eccentric phase in particular to build muscle and strength:
As we have explained before, the muscle shortens during the concentric muscle contraction. The resistance, for example a weight or, in the case of self-weight training, your body weight, is overcome by means of force.
In the eccentric muscle contraction, the muscle is lengthened under resistance against a weight. The muscle tries to slow down the movement by the applied force.
In everyday training, this phase is often performed too quickly. For example, when doing a pull-up, the muscle is dropped in order to return to the starting position. Since the muscle does not have to perform a braking action in this way, it saves energy for the next concentric repetition.
Doesn't sound bad at first, but we can maybe complete one more pull-up due to the saved energy, right?
Studies have shown that you are up to 40% stronger in the negative phase than in the concentric phase! The reason is that in the eccentric phase, more muscle fibers are active and stimulated than in the concentric phase. However, if you do without a controlled eccentric phase, a certain amount of muscle activity will disappear with each repetition, and therefore growth stimuli for muscle building.
In addition, you can take advantage of the negative phase in your training in other areas:
Exercises that are still too demanding for you concentrically, you can learn by starting with the eccentric movement part. Since you are stronger in the eccentric phase than in the concentric phase, you have the opportunity to train the necessary muscle and strength development that you need for the concentric phase. At the same time, you learn the control and the movement of the exercise.
A good example is negative pull-ups. These are ideal for building the strength and coordination for the proper pull-up.
You know the situation: You're in top shape, and then a sudden injury hits you. But don't worry! With the right strategy, you can successfully get back into training. Your secret weapon? The eccentric phase of training.
Eccentricity is a true powerhouse that can help you regain control over your exercises. This way, you can gradually rebuild your muscles and your locomotor system. Sounds good, right? And the best part is, eccentric muscle contraction has not only proven its worth in rehabilitation but is also used in pain therapy and hypertrophy training. If you want to learn more about how to get back into training after an injury, take a look here.
So, you've already noticed that the eccentric phase is worth its weight in gold when it comes to strength and muscle building, but also for training your ligaments and tendons. You want to utilize these benefits for your training? Then there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Control is key. Perform the eccentric phase at a pace where you can stop the exercise at any time. Focus on slowing down the movement. A good guide for a pull-up could be 3-4 seconds.
Use the entire range of motion and stretch your target muscle as far as possible. This way, you'll gain maximum flexibility and efficiency in your training.
If you're looking to learn new skills in bodyweight training with negative repetitions, practice in moderation. Progress gradually and don't push yourself too hard.
So, with a few tricks, you can optimize the eccentric phase for your training. And if you're looking for an app to support you in this, check out the DIE RINGE app. But remember, everything in moderation. After all, training is not a sprint but a marathon. Good luck!