Slow It Down: The Power of Eccentric Training for Muscle Growth

Nov 16, 2023

When weight training, the tendency is to focus on lifting the weight - the concentric phase. But the eccentric portion of the lift, where you slowly lower the weight, is just as crucial for efficient muscle building. Here’s why you should slow it down and emphasize eccentrics.

Time Under Tension Matters

To spur muscle growth, you need adequate time under tension during training. This means your muscles should be under strain for 25-60 seconds per set. Lifting a weight quickly doesn’t provide enough time under load.

Eccentric movements, where you slowly and with control lower the weight, increase time under tension dramatically without having to grab heavier weights. This places greater mechanical stress on the muscles to prompt adaptation.

More Muscle Damage = More Growth

Eccentrics actually cause greater muscle damage at the cellular level compared to concentric lifts. This damage acts as a signal for the body to repair and reinforce the muscles, resulting in growth.

With traditional lifting, you miss out on much of this muscle breakdown stimulus. But emphasizing eccentrics introduces greater damage, leading to more significant hypertrophy.

Prevent Injury and Build Functional Strength

Lengthening contractions during eccentrics are mechanically taxing on muscles and tendons. Going slow during the lowering phase helps connective tissues handle this stress, making them more injury resilient.

Eccentrics also build functional, real-world strength since daily activities like walking downstairs involve controlling eccentric movements.

Tips for Eccentric Training

To take advantage of eccentrics for efficient muscle building:

  • Choose exercises that allow for slow, controlled lowering like squats, deadlifts, and presses
  • Take 3-5 seconds to lower the weight
  • Use lighter weight than normal concentric training
  • Consider partner-assisted training to impose extra eccentric load
  • Aim for 8-12 reps per eccentrically focused set

By honing in on the lowering phase, you can trigger greater muscle growth and strength gains over time.

Questions, let us at Phoenix Fitness know!