Eccentric is often defined as:
a person of unconventional and slightly strange views or behavior.
Wow, that sounds just like me! 🤪
However, when I say that I want you to be more eccentric when working out, I don’t mean wearing crazy colors and boogieing between sets to your favorite playlist (although, please send a video if you do!) What I mean is being mindful of the eccentric component of any exercise your perform.
When you work a muscle, there are three components that can contribute. Concentric, eccentric, and isometric*. This image will help explain the three:
*isometric contractions are more often found in core stability exercises, e.g. a plank or wall sits only use isometric, whereas a bicep curl (above) typically only uses concentric and eccentric contractions.
All can help with your muscle growth and strength, but many studies show that the eccentric component of an exercise can add the most improvement:
“The few studies available on trained subjects reveal that eccentric training can further enhance maximal muscle strength and power. It can further optimize muscle length for maximal tension development at a greater degree of extension, and has potential to improve muscle coordination during eccentric tasks.”
When we lift too heavy we often focus our efforts on the concentric contraction and then let gravity take over the eccentric component–e.g. letting that dumbbell fall quickly after you’ve curled it up. When we lift a weight that is more realistic–one where we can make a mind-muscle connection–we can focus on the eccentric component so that it is controlled, engaged, and extended.
So, yeah! Being eccentric when working out is something you can be proud of! Party on! 🤘🏽