Eccentric training is also known as ‘negative’ training simply because it is the opposite of traditional concentric training, which has always been labelled ‘positive’. In the positive training phase the weight is raised which means that the muscle shortens as it works. In the negative phase the opposite happens: the weight is resisted as it is lowered, which means that the muscle lengthens as it works. Negative training has many benefits (the summary below is a condensation of findings from a number of studies made over the two last decades. The most significant studies and review articles are referenced at the end of this publication):
•Muscles can work with much higher loads eccentrically than concentrically; a greater load means more efficient workout and faster results.
•More work can be done eccentrically in less time; to improve muscle strength you have to overload the muscle (progressive training) and because the eccentric loads are greater, the muscles fatigue (reach failure) sooner.
•Eccentric work forces the muscle to work in the fast twitch mode; this results in increased explosive performance.
•There is greater neural adaptation to eccentric training compared with concen tric training, along with a corresponding higher level of neural activity in each motor unit; the motor unit is the nerve cell controlling the action of a part of a muscle.
•Strength gains obtained through eccentric work will carry over to concentric work (cross education); but not vice versa!
•Compared with concentric training, strength gains from eccentric training will be maintained longer while de-training; muscle built using eccentric training (as opposed to using concentric training) is better able to withstand the breakdown process that starts when muscles rest.
•Eccentric work requires less oxygen than concentric, thus taxing the heart less; the slow eccentric phase does, however, tend to increase blood pressure during the workout.
•Eccentric training works the entire joint structure; this results in increased strength, stability, and range of motion as well as improved healing ability.
•Most preventive and post surgical physiotherapy is now eccentrically-based; muscles are forced to work under greater loads and this makes them more stable which in turn benefits joint structures; eccentric training gives more stimulation to the so called passive structures – bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage – making them stronger and healing them faster and better.