Training the negative or eccentric portion of a movement — where the muscle is lengthening and often resisting the pull of gravity, such as in the lowering phase of a biceps curl or squat — boasts numerous benefits, explains strength-training expert Cassandra Forsythe, PhD, RD, CSCS, CISSN, coauthor of The New Rules of Lifting for Women and an advisory board member of Girls Gone Strong.
These include better body control, improved exercise technique, increased muscle mass, and strengthened connective tissue, says Forsythe. Isolating the negative is also useful for progressing challenging body-weight moves. Try homing in on the lowering phase of exercises like pushups and pull-ups; focus on form and a slow, steady speed.
Moreover, new methods of training — eccentrics included — mix up your existing routine, helping you bust out of ruts, boredom, and plateaus.
Forsythe notes that eccentric training is not designed to make up your entire program, but rather to complement training the full range of motion. In the case of body-weight moves like pushups and pull-ups, think of it as a progression to full range of movement, increased intensity, and increased volume.
Be forewarned: Eccentric training may result in more DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) than the workout plan you’re used to.
Learn more about eccentric training at “Put the Weight Down!”