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    Christian Thibaudeau's Accentuated Eccentric Training

    Accentuated Eccentric Training
    How to apply this method and a bonus
    "Beastly Arms" program!
    by Christian Thibaudeau

    Eccentric Action Training

    The eccentric action of a muscle refers to a resisted lengthening of that muscle. In short, the muscle is exerting force while itís being lengthened. This type of action has also been called the yielding action (opposed to the overcoming action which refers to the actual lifting of the resistance) as well as negative action.

    Eccentric action is present in most free weight and machine exercises; however, since concentric strength potential is lower than the eccentric strength potential, the yielding portion of a movement is rarely fully stimulated: the relative weakness of the overcoming portion prevents a complete overload during the yielding portion of the exercise.

    As I'll explain more in-depth later, it's the yielding or negative portion of an exercise which gives us the most bang for our buck. So, an individual seeking maximum results should plan training methods emphasizing eccentric overload. How? I'm glad you asked.


    Eccentric Stress as a Superior Stimulus for Strength Improvements

    Itís been a while since weíve known that the yielding (eccentric/negative) portion of an exercise is responsible for more strength gains than the overcoming (concentric/miometric/positive) portion. For example, a study by Hortobagyi and coworkers found that the total maximal strength improvement from eccentric-only training brought more strength gains than a concentric-only program followed for six weeks.

    By total maximal strength, I mean the sum of maximum concentric, isometric, and eccentric strength. In that parameter, eccentric training gave a mean improvement of 85% while concentric training led to an improvement of 78%. Furthermore, this study used submaximal yielding actions and maximal overcoming actions. Surely this tells us a lot about the potential of yielding strength training, at least when maximum strength gains are concerned.

    It's to be noted that these results are in accordance with the body of scientific literature on the subject. For example, a study by Higbie et al. (1996) found a combined strength increase (concentric strength improvement plus eccentric strength improvement) of 43% with an eccentric-only regimen compared to one of 31.2% with a concentric-only regimen.

    We should also note a study by Hilliard-Robertson and coworkers which concluded:

    "A resistance training protocol which includes eccentric as well as concentric exercise, particularly when the eccentric is emphasized, appears to result in greater strength gains than concentric exercise alone."

    This is in accordance with an early study by Komi and Buskirk (1972) who recorded greater strength increases after an eccentric training regimen than after a concentric-only regimen. It was also found that omitting eccentric stress in a training program severely compromise the potential strength gains (Dudley et al. 1991).


    Eccentric Stress as a Superior Stimulus for Muscle Growth

    The last study mentioned above found that eccentric-only training led to an average muscle size gain of 6.6% over ten weeks while a concentric-only program led to gains of 5%. While the difference may not seems to be huge, any bodybuilder who knows his stuff understands that 2% more muscle over a ten week period can be important, especially in the long run.

    These results are backed by another recent study (Farthing and Chilibeck 2003) which concluded that eccentric training resulted in greater hypertrophy than concentric training.

    One recent study (LaStayo et al. 2003) even found accentuated eccentric training to cause 19% more muscle growth than traditional strength training over eleven weeks!


    Why is Eccentric Training Effective?

    Eccentric training allows one to stimulate greater strength and size gains than pure concentric training. Why is that? There are five major reasons:

    1) There's a greater neural adaptation to eccentric training than to concentric training (Hortobagyi et al. 1996).

    2) There's a more important force output produced during a maximal eccentric action (greater overload) because you can use a higher external load (Colliander and Tesch 1990).

    3) There's a higher level of stress per motor unit during eccentric work. Less motor units are recruited during the eccentric portion of a movement, thus each of the recruited motor units receives much more stimulation (Grabiner and Owings 2002 , Linnamo et al. 2002). Furthermore, since the nervous system seems to recruit less motor units during a maximal eccentric action, the potential for improvement could be greater than with maximal concentric action.

    4) There's some evidence that maximal eccentric actions will preferably recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are more responsive to muscle growth and strengthening (Nardone et al. 1989, Howell et al. 1995, Hortobagyi et al. 1996). In fact, eccentric training may stimulate an evolution towards a faster contractile profile (Martin et al. 1995).

    5) Most of the muscle microtrauma to the cells occurring during training is a result of the eccentric action performed (Brown et al. 1997, Gibala et al. 2000). It's been established that this microtrauma acts as the signal to start the muscle adaptation process (Clarke and Feedback, 1996).


    Further Benefits of Eccentric Training

    For most of us, strength and size gains are the name of the game. However, the positive effects of negative training donít stop there. We could also note the following "fringe" benefits:

    1) Greater cross-education will occur (Hortobagyi and Lambert 1997). Cross-education refers to transfer of strength gains from one limb/side to the other. In practical terms it means that if you were to work only your right arm using eccentric actions, some of the strength gains would transfer to the left arm. This can be very beneficial to prevent excessive strength loss if one limb is immobilized.

    2) Eccentric training is also a superior method to treat tendinitis when compared with concentric exercise (Mafi et al. 2001). It could be argued that this form of training is beneficial to injured athletes and that it's relatively safer than concentric training even if the loads used are greater.

    3) A last point of interest is that strength gains from eccentric training are maintained longer during a period of detraining than concentric-only training (Collinder and Tesch 1992, Housh et al. 1996). This may be very important for athletes who can't train as much during the season as they can in the off-season.


    In Laymanís Terms, Please!

    The last few sections were very dense in scientific information, but what does it all mean in the real world? It means:

    1) If you deemphasise the yielding portion of your strength exercises (lowering the bar very fast, not contracting your muscles during the eccentric portion, etc.) you might as well not be training at all, at least if maximum strength and size are important to you. Be careful though, it doesnít mean you should accentuate/emphasize the eccentric stress in all of your exercises, just that some exercises should target a very large eccentric overload.

    2) Accentuating the eccentric stress during a session will lead to more strength gains. The reasons are related to structural as well as neural adaptations.

    3) The eccentric portion of a movement is the main stimulus for muscle growth as it's the cause of most of the microtrauma inflicted on the muscles. This acts as the signal to kick the muscle-building process into overdrive.

    4) One more benefit I found from experience is that overloading the eccentric portion of an exercise allows one to get used to holding big weights and controlling them. This can have a very important confidence-building effect when attempting to lift maximum weights.


    Accentuated Eccentric Techniques

    The 2/1 technique

    This technique can be used quite effectively with exercises such as seated rowing, cable rope curl, cable rope triceps extension and most exercises that can be done using the triceps rope. It also works on most machines.

    The way it works is pretty simple: you lift the weight (overcoming/concentric portion) using two limbs (both arms if you're doing an upper body exercise, both legs if itís a lower body movement) and you return the weight (yielding/eccentric portion) with one limb.

    So the load during the yielding portion of the exercise is twice as high as during the overcoming portion. The load to use should be light enough so that you can accelerate it during the overcoming portion but heavy enough to make the single-limb yielding portion hard to do. A load of around 70% of your maximum two-limb result is a good place to start.

    The overcoming portion should be done as fast as possible while the yielding portion is to be executed in five seconds. Sets of three to five reps per limb are performed (so six to ten total reps per set).


    The Two-Movements Technique

    This technique works by doing the overcoming portion of the lift using a compound movement and the yielding portion using an isolation movement. The two best examples are the power clean/reverse curl (lift the bar as a power clean and lower it as a reverse curl) and the close-grip bench press/nose-breaker (lift the bar as a close grip bench and lower it as a nose-breaker or triceps extension). I've provided some photos of this further down.

    Using this technique will allow you once again to use a very heavy load in the yielding portion of the movement, thus placing a super-adaptive stimulation on your muscles and nervous system. I find that doing three to five reps work best with this type of training, too. Here are a few examples of possible movements with which to use this technique:

    Muscles to be overloaded
    Overcoming portion
    Yielding portion

    Biceps, brachialis
    Power clean from hang
    Reverse curl

    Triceps
    Close-grip bench press
    Nose-breaker

    Pectoralis major
    Dumbbell press
    Dumbbell flies

    Anterior and medial delts
    Dumbbell shoulder press
    Lateral raises

    Quadriceps, glutes
    Two legs squat with a DB
    One leg squat

    Hamstrings, erector spinea
    Weighted back extension
    One leg back extension

    Rhomboids, posterior delts
    Dumbbell bent over rowing
    Dumbbell rear delt raises



    Super Slow Eccentrics

    This technique is fairly simple: using a moderate to heavy load (60-85% of your max) you execute a super slow yielding phase while lifting (overcoming) the bar explosively. The following table gives you the parameters to use depending on the load you select:

    Load
    Time of the yielding portion
    Number of reps per set

    60%
    14 seconds
    3

    65%
    12 seconds
    3

    70%
    10 seconds
    2

    75%
    8 seconds
    2

    80%
    6 seconds
    1

    85%
    4 seconds
    1


    This type of accentuated eccentric training is fairly easy to do and can yield impressive muscle size and tendon strength improvements.


    Negative Training

    "Negatives" basically refer to performing only the yielding portion of an exercise and having spotters lift the bar for you. You should use a load that's between 110 and 130% of your maximum when performing negatives. The time of the action (lowering) depends on the load:

    10 seconds if the load is 110-115%

    8 seconds if the load is 115-120%

    6 seconds if the load is 120-125%

    4 seconds if the load is 125-130%

    When doing supramaximal negatives you should only do sets of one rep. Anywhere from three to ten singles should be performed in a workout. This type of training places a very serious demand on the nervous system and for that reason you should take relatively long rest intervals when using this technique.


    The Beastly Arms Program

    Let's put the above ideas to work! The following program will have you train your upper arms twice per week with at least 72 hours between each workout. Biceps and triceps are done in the same session and no other muscles should be included in these sessions.

    This program is a shock program and thus shouldn't be used more than four weeks in a row. However, it can be repeated after using a different program for another four weeks.


    Arm Workout #1

    A. Biceps two-movements technique: Power clean/reverse curl



    5 sets of 5 reps
    Explosive overcoming with 5 seconds of yielding

    Use a load between 90-110% of your strict reverse curl

    60 seconds of rest between sets


    B. Triceps two-movements technique: close-grip bench/nose-breaker



    5 sets of 5 reps
    Explosive overcoming with 5 seconds of yielding

    Use a load between 90-110% of your strict nose-breaker

    60 seconds of rest between sets


    C. Biceps 2/1 technique: Preacher machine curl



    7 sets of 3 reps
    Explosive overcoming with 5 seconds of yielding

    Use a load between 70-80% of your two-arms machine preacher curl

    60 seconds of rest between sets


    D. Triceps 2/1 technique: Cable rope pushdown



    7 sets of 3 reps
    Explosive overcoming with 5 seconds of yielding

    Use a load between 70-80% of your two-arms cable rope pushdown

    60 seconds of rest between sets


    E. Biceps super slow eccentric: Straight bar curl



    7 sets of 3 reps
    Yielding portion in 12 seconds, overcoming as fast as possible

    Use approximately 65% of your best curl

    60 seconds between sets


    F. Triceps super slow eccentric: Reverse grip cable pressdown



    5 sets of 3 reps

    Yielding portion in 12 seconds, overcoming as fast as possible

    Use approximately 65% of your reverse pressdown

    60 seconds between sets


    Arm Workout #2

    A. Triceps negative: negative close-grip bench press

    5 sets of 1 rep

    Lower the bar in 8 seconds

    Use a load that's 110-115% of your maximum close-grip bench press

    3 minutes of rest between sets


    B. Biceps negative: negative barbell curl



    5 sets of 1 rep

    Lower the bar in 8 seconds

    Use a load that's 110-115% of your maximum strict barbell curl

    3 minutes of rest between sets


    C. Triceps timed speed reps: cable v-bar pushdown



    3 sets of as many reps as you can complete in 40 seconds

    The movement is done as fast as possible while still being strict

    Use a load that's 50-60% of your maximum pushdown

    2 minutes of rest between sets


    D. Biceps timed speed reps: Reverse incline hammer dumbbell curl



    3 sets of as many reps as you can complete in 40 seconds

    The movement is done as fast as possible while still being strict

    Use a load that's 50-60% of your maximum hammer curl

    2 minutes of rest between sets


    Conclusion

    Hopefully you now understand how to apply accentuated eccentric training to your program. If you do you'll be rewarded with a faster rate of muscle and strength gains than ever before!


    References

    Hortobagyi T., Barrier J., Beard D., Braspennicx J., Koens P., Devita P., Dempsey L., and Lambert J. Greater initial adaptations to submaximal muscle lengthening than maximal shortening. J. Appl. Physiol. 81(4): 1677-1682, 1996

    Higbie E., Kirk J., Cureton J., Warren GL., Prior BM., Effects of concentric and eccentric training on muscle strength, cross-sectional area and neural activation. J. Appl. Physiol. 81(5): 2173-2181, 1996

    Colliander EB., Tesch PA., Effects of eccentric and concentric muscle actions in resistance training. Acta Physiol. Scand. 140:31-39, 1990

    Hortobagyi T., Hill JP., Houmard JA., Fraser DD., Lambert NJ and Israel RG., Adaptive responses to muscle lengthening and shortening in humans. J. Appl. Physiol. 80:765-772, 1996

    Hortobagyi T., Katch FI., Role of concentric force in limiting improvement in muscular strength. J. Appl. Physiol. 68:650-658, 1990

    Johnson BL., Adamczyk JW, Tennoe KO., Stromme SB. A comparison of concentric and eccentric muscle training. Med. Sci. Sports Exercise 8:35-38, 1976

    Farthing JP., Chilibeck PD., The effects of eccentric and concentric training at different velocities on muscle hypertrophy. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. May 17, 2003

    Housh TJ., Housh DJ., Weir JP., Weir LL., Effects of eccentric-only resistance training and detraining. Int. J. Sports Med. Feb;17(2):145-148, 1996

    Colliander EB., Tesch PA., Effects of detraining following short term resistance training on eccentric and concentric muscle strength. Acta Physiol. Scand. Jan;144(1)23-29, 1992

    Grabiner MD., Owings TM., EMG differences between concentric and eccentric maximum voluntary contractions are evident prior to movement onset. Exp Brain Res 145:505-511, 2002

    Linnamo V., Strojnik V., Komi PV., EMG power spectrum and features of the superimposed M-wave during voluntary eccentric and concentric actions at different activation levels. Eur J Appl Physiol 86:534-540, 2002

    Nardone A., Romano A., Schieppati M., Selective recruitment of high-threshold human motor-units during voluntary isotonic lengthening of active muscles. J Physiol 409:451-471, 1989

    Howell JN., Fuglevand AJ., Walsh ML., Bigland-Ritchie B., Motor unit activity during isometric and concentric-eccentric contrction of the first dorsal interosseus muscle. J Neuro-physiol 74:901-904. 1995

    Komi PV., Buskirk ER., Effect of eccentric and concentric muscle conditioning on tension and electrical activity of human muscle. Ergonomics 15:417-434. 1972

    Dudley GA., Tesch PA., Miller BJ., Buchanan P., Importance of eccentric actions in performance adaptations to resistance training. Aviat Space Environ Med 62:543-550. 1991

    Mafi N., Lorentzon R., Alfredson H., Superior short-term results with eccentric calf muscle training compared to concentric training in a randomized prospective multicenter study on patients with chronic Achilles tendinosis. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 9(1) 42-47. 2001

    Hilliard-Robertson PC., Schneider SM., Bishop SL., Guilliams ME. Strength gains following different combined concentric and eccentric exercise regimens. Aviat Space Environ Med 74(4):342-347. 2003

    Gibala MJ., Interisano SA., Tarnopolsky MA., Roy BD., MacDonald JR., Yarasheski KE., MacDougall JD. Myofibrillar disruption following acute concentric and eccentric resistance exercise in strength-trained men. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 78(8):656-661. 2000

    Hortobagyi T., Lambert NJ., Hill JP., Greater cross education following training with muscle lengthening than shortening. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29(1):107-112. 1997

    LaStayo PC., Ewy GA., Pierotti DD., Johns RK., Lindstedt S., The positive effect of negative work: increased muscle strength and decreased fall risk in a frail elderly population. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 58(5):M419-424. 2003

    Brown SJ., Child RB., Day SH., Donnelly AE., Indices of skeletal muscle damage and connective tissue breakdown following eccentric muscle contractions. Eur J Appl Physiol 75:369-374. 1997

    Clarke MS., Feeback DL., Mechanical load induces sarcoplasmic wounding and FGF release in differentiated human skeletal muscle cultures. FASEB J. 10(4):502-509 1996


    http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/273acc.jsp

  2. #2
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Arthur Jones told people to emphasize the negative 30+ years ago, and I am sure someone else did before him.


    See how "cutting-edge" the guys are today?

  3. #3
    Player Hater PowerManDL's Avatar
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    Thing is, the recent research has shown that a faster eccentric not only leads to greater expression of MHC-IIx in muscle fibers, but leads to greater increases in both size and strength, both eccentric and concentric, than controls and groups using a slower eccentric.

    The force-velocity relationship is inverted in the eccentric action, so that faster = more forceful. Which is probably why.

    The implications of that mean that a fast, or at the very least not deliberately slowed, eccentric action is going to be a good idea not only for strength development (where the stretch-shortening reflex can be exploited) but for size gain as well.

    Its also a compelling reason to use bands as much as possible.
    Last edited by PowerManDL; 08-10-2003 at 07:11 PM.
    Vin Diesel has a fever.. and the only prescription is more cowbell.

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    So in other words Powerman, ought we chuck Thibaudeau's new article?
    Last edited by silles; 08-10-2003 at 10:38 PM.

  5. #5
    Player Hater PowerManDL's Avatar
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    Wouldn't say chuck it, no.

    The info's useful, and as long as "overload" is being applied, you'll get effective growth. Having supra-maximal loads in your hand is a *good* thing, and the slower eccentric contraction does leave you under adequate load for a longer period of time-- so its not like the information I mentioned totally negates the article.

    Just that, as usual, there's a time and place for everything.
    Vin Diesel has a fever.. and the only prescription is more cowbell.

    Budiak: That girl I maced
    Budiak: macked
    Budiak: heh maced
    Budiak: I wish

    ShmrckPmp5: a good thing people can't fire guns through the computer...your ass would have been shot years ago

    Y2A 47: youre smooth as hell
    Y2A 47: thats why you get outta tickets, and into panties

    galileo: you're a fucking beast and I hate you
    galileo: hate

    assgrabbers are never subtile, they will grabb ass whereever they go,public or not, I know the type, because I am one. - Rock

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