Eccentric training isn’t a word you typically hear at the gym, but it’s a crucial element to exercising effectively and more efficiently. What if I told you that for every exercise you perform, you’re only getting half of the benefit from the movement? This is where understanding how eccentric training works to ensure you’re getting more out of your workout.
What does it even mean?
Eccentric movement refers to when the muscles in the body are lengthened, which is typically the downward motion of an exercise. This is classified as the negative phase of a movement. For example, during the upward phase of a sit-up, the body performs a concentric movement and the muscles are shortened. When the body is lowered back towards the ground, the muscles are lengthened, and this is the eccentric phase.
If performed accurately, eccentric exercise has been shown to be a more effective way of building strength and burning calories. This is because the muscles are held in tension, which requires more effort and energy to perform.
But aren’t I already doing it?
Chances are, 50% of the total output potential of exercise is being lost. This is because when we are lifting weights we typically lose the control in the downward motion. For example, lifting a heavy weight, we’re more likely to perform the lift and then drop it to the ground. When really, the tension should be maintained in the downward motion for maximum benefit.
How to perform accurately?
Eccentric exercise is most effective when the weight or resistance of the negative phase is heavier than the concentric. This is difficult to achieve with static weights, however new equipment using algorithmic technology has evolved to be able to achieve eccentric exercise. The V-Form Trainer developed by Vitruvian is an eccentric focused, resistance training device that uses an algorithm to personalise workouts.
How does it work?
A weighted platform with two cables can load up to 200kg of resistance, which ensures the downward/eccentric motion is heavier than the upward/concentric movement. Controlled by an app, an exercise is performed three times so the device can calculate the baseline and then deliver the appropriate resistance. For example, when performing individual leg raises with a leg cable, the resistance and additional weight kicks in when lowering the leg.
The beauty of the technology is that it can detect when the user is struggling with the exercise, and so, the weight will taper off. The device will also record previous workouts and remember the baseline for subsequent sessions.
How often should eccentric exercise be performed?
With eccentric exercise, less is more. Rest in between workouts is encouraged, which allows the muscles to recover. The soreness in-between workouts also helps to burn energy, which adds to its effectiveness. Aim for two, 30 minute sessions per week with other exercise such as cardio or high intensity interval training for a rounded approach to fitness.
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