How Accentuated Eccentric Loading Leads to Greater Strength Gains
What do you do when you've hit the plateau in your strength gains and muscle building? If you're smart, you'll change things up. Perhaps you'll change from low volume, high-weight training to high volume, low-weight training, or switch to functional training, HIIT training, or bodyweight training.
Or, if you want to try something that's scientifically proven to work, give accentuated eccentric loading training a go.
A study published in mid-2016 discovered that just five weeks of accentuated eccentric loading training provided highly noticeable results, even among experience resistance trainees. A team of scientists from the Department of Biology of Physical Activity at University of Jyväskylä in Finland collected 28 male strength trainers and separated them into three groups: Group 1 used accelerated eccentric loading training, Group 2 used isoinertial training, and Group 3 continued their regular training program.
After just five weeks, Group 1 saw visible improvement in their work capacity, resistance, muscle activation, and force production. Both Groups 1 and 2 saw an increase in muscle cross-sectional area over the control group. Basically, their muscles grew visibly, all thanks to the isoinertial and accelerated eccentric loading training.
The fact that the results were so visible even among experienced strength trainees means that accelerated eccentric loading training could be a good option for anyone to get over their plateau. If you're not seeing gains for your efforts, it's time to switch it up and perform accelerated eccentric loading training.
What is accelerated eccentric loading training? It's basically the reverse of your regular training. Instead of placing emphasis on the concentric (shortening) phase of the exercise, the emphasis is on the eccentric (lengthening) phase of the exercise. The greater external load is applied during the eccentric phase of the lift.
Traditional training focuses primarily on the concentric phase of the workout. The eccentric phase is usually used to give the muscles a break between exertions, but according to the research, it could be the best time to push the muscle harder.
Paying more attention to your muscles during the eccentric phase of any exercise is a good way to essentially access untapped strength. It's like using a new exercise or hitting your muscle from a new angle—changing things up can yield results you'd never obtain doing things the way you always have.
The study only examined the effects of a 5-week training accelerated eccentric loading training program, so more research is needed to determine if the results will continue over the long term. However, for anyone looking to get over a plateau, a month or so or accelerated eccentric loading training is a great way to see serious increases in muscular strength, force production, and mass.
1. Simon Walker, Anthony J. Blazevich, G. Gregory Haff, James J. Tufano, Robert U. Newton, Keijo Häkkinen. "Greater Strength Gains after Training with Accentuated Eccentric than Traditional Isoinertial Loads in Already Strength-Trained Men." Frontiers in Physiology, 2016; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00149.