The Benefits of ECC – Eccentric Training
Eccentric contractions (negatives) are a potent strength-building tool that we’ve been using in our program. So what are eccentric contractions exactly? Well, there are thee types of action a muscle can perform. Concentric is where the muscle shortens or contracts. This is the actual lifting phase or “up” phase of a movement. Your muscles shorten and load is lifted. There is also an isometric movement when there’s tension in your muscle but there is no change in muscle length. Then there is the eccentric portion, which is the “down” phase. During an eccentric muscle action there is tension in the muscle but it is lengthening at the same time. The down phase of your front squat, sumo deadlift and bench press are examples. Eccentric actions are much more stressful for your muscle fibers than any other form of muscle action. You can actually move more load with an eccentric action because you are recruiting more muscles to work at all the same time.
Theory states “during the eccentric contraction phase, the muscle is being damaged, therefore causing tears and consequently DOMS” (delayed onset muscle soreness). The good part about muscle soreness is that when the body has to repair the damage done, the muscle is stronger than it was before.
Bottom line with eccentric training; we are helping the body to become stronger. We like strength. Strength is good.
This is not to say that our muscles aren’t stressed during high repetition lighter movements as well. Tony Webster outlined this well in a 2008 CrossFit journal article, “The emphasis on quality full range of movement performed at high intensity is a perfect recipe for muscle damage and repair.” Muscle damage and soreness are essential for greatest muscular adaptation.
So, between the two, we are getting stronger. Everyday. Have a great week!
- Muscle Physiology – Types of Contractions, “Muscle Physiology – Types of Contractions”, June 05, 2014, http://muscle.ucsd.edu/musintro/contractions.shtml
- Webster Tony, “Muscle Damage and Soreness”, CrossFit Journal, 2008
Written by Connie Keathley
Connie is a Coach at Four Barrel CrossFit. Her coaching credentials include CrossFit Level 3, CrossFit Kids, CrossFit Movement & Mobility, Gymnastics, Advanced Gymnastics and Endurance. She is also a Level 1 USAW lifting coach. She’s coached and trained under 9-time USAW National Champion Olympic Weightlifter, Chad Vaughn as well as Olympic competitors Ursula Garza and Matt Bruce. She’s trained people from age 3 to 81, and has always had a heart to help others! Being a CrossFit coach has given her the avenue to do so!