PAYING ATTENTION to your rep speeds and concentric and eccentric movements is vital to muscle progress. DAYNE HUDSON from FIT’N’FLEXED takes you through how attention to detail in these areas can make all the difference.
If the gym was as simple as walking in – throwing some weights around and walking out, then everyone would put on muscle mass easily.
As much as adding LEAN MUSCLE MASS might not be rocket science, it is in fact DAMN HARD TO DO.
Our bodies don’t really see the need to acquire large amounts of muscle mass. But still, day in day out, we show up to the gym no matter what – chasing the endless dream of perfection.
That is why we must focus on the LITTLE THINGS, and why I wish to focus on REP speeds in this article, with a focus on the ECCENTRIC muscle contraction (the way down aka the Negative movement) and the CONCENTRIC (the way up aka the Positive movement) of the repetition.
Here’s one of the most important statistics to focus on: Your muscles are 30% STRONGER during the ECCENTRIC movement.
This is a very valuable piece of knowledge.
Imagine you are doing a BARBELL CURL. After the barbell reaches up near your chin and you begin to lower the weight – your muscles at this stage have 30% more guts.
MAKING THE MOST OF IT
A study I’ve analysed published THIS YEAR on the NATIONAL CENTRE FOR
BIOTECHNOLOGY website, discovers that eccentric training increases your satellite cells (that play a big role in skeletal muscle tissue growth and repair) in your TYPE 2 muscles fibers. Your TYPE 2 fibers are the BIGGEST fibers, called upon during intense iron pumping (see my previous posts for more on MUSCLE FIBERS).
As part of the study 9 active young men did 300 eccentric contractions on the leg extension, with researchers analysing the Vastus Lateralis (outer SWEEP of your leg) both BEFORE and 24 hours AFTER the training.
The amount of Satellite cells was boosted significantly in type II muscle fibers at this point in time, whilst there was NO CHANGE in TYPE 1 fibers (The fibers used for endurance, ie, a cross-country jog.)
PUTTING IT INTO ACTION
Try this THREE WEEK rotation program for ALL MUSCLES, in order to obtain MORE MASS and STRENGTH.
TIP: A training partner is a HUGE plus, especially in WEEK 3.
On the LAST SET of every exercise, focus intensely on taking 4-6 seconds to LOWER the weight. Get the MOST out of every last set.
For EVERY SET, focus on the ECCENTRIC contraction. This will really be a killer. If you’re due for a WEEK OFF – then take one. This type of training increases what’s known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) so be prepared.
Add 30% weight to ALL EXERCISES. This is where your training partner needs to be as focused as you are. The 30% increase will be to the weight you were lifting in week 1, regardless of what you might have increased it to in week 2.
Your training partner will help you on the way up during the CONCENTRIC attraction – because you are NOT going to be able to lift it. Then – he or she is to REMAIN FOCUSED WITH THEIR HANDS ON THE BAR (or DUMBBELLS) as you lower the weight SLOWLY down – before assisting you to EXPLODE up QUICKLY for the CONCENTRIC contraction, making way for you to focus on the next ECCENTRIC contraction.
Believe me – you’ll be screaming.
Enjoy it – it’s doing you good!
Try using the cables or smith machine for the last sets in your final exercise. The resistance is a killer and will really put your muscles to the test.
BENCH PRESS: Your training partner will pull the bar RIGHT UP and VERY QUICKLY before you lower it back down to your chest over a 4-6 second period. Your partner will then be responsible for you heaving this 30% increased weight RIGHT UP back to LOCK OUT point – where you’ll be howling in pain to lower it again EVER SO SLOWLY – to work your muscles and spur on some growth that will frighten them like hell.
WHY YOU SHOULD DO THIS
I’ve already outlined the favours it will do for your TYPE 2 muscle fibers. But then there’s the fact that your STRENGTH will go THROUGH THE ROOF following this THREE WEEK program.
How much easier is your previous weight going to feel when you go back to performing NORMAL REPS that you were doing prior to week one? It’ll feel so light that you’ll be ready to move it up a notch. I’d recommend starting anywhere from 5-10%.
This is VERY taxing on your body and if you’re feeling sore then TAKE THE DAY OFF.
Listen to your body. Remember – you only grow AWAY FROM THE GYM – not inside it.
If you feel exhausted after week 2 or 3 – take the week off. Keep your nutrition spot on – going no longer then 3 hours without food.
BUT I DON’T HAVE A TRAINING PARTNER?
This is fine. Maybe suggest to someone in the gym who might need a little help to join you everyday – providing he or she is committed and available at the same time. If you have no luck, don’t stress. Try the SMITH MACHINE for safety and/or the cables for your whole workout. You might even want to try DUMBBELLS or BARBELLS for the first exercise – but just make sure you don’t get stuck.
For CHEST – you will always be safer with the SMITH MACHINE. But for BICEPS the barbell won’t be problem because if you drop it – that will pose NO DANGER to you at all as opposed to being stuck with 30% more weight on the BENCH PRESS when you’re lacking energy to even call for help – let alone lift it off your chest!
ALWAYS KEEP THE NEGATIVE MOVEMENT IN MIND
When you go BACK to your normal training, keep the negative movement in your top pocket always for your final sets.
I see guys in the gym all the time lock out after muscle failure, then come down during the ECCENTRIC movement at the speed of light and throw the weights away. Don’t EVER do this as you’re NOT getting the most out of every set.
When you know that there is absolutely NO WAY you’re getting another rep out as you lock out – take even 6-8 seconds to bring the weight back down SSSLLLOOOWWWWLLLYYYYYYY – then throw it away.
As ironic as it is, focusing on the NEGATIVES will build a BIGGER, STRONGER and more POSITIVE you.
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