I don’t want to sound all negative but this article is going to point out the benefits of being just that, negative. OK, that is a slight play on words. More specifically I wanted to talk about the benefits of focussing on the ‘’negative’’ part of the repetition, or if you want to sound more intelligent the ‘’eccentric’’ part of the repetition! Today I am going to really highlight the importance of focussing on the eccentric muscle contraction!
In the words of 6 times Mr Olympia, Dorian Yates – ‘’one of the biggest mistakes I see people make in the gym is failing to focus on the negative part of the repetition.’’ Now do you believe me that it just might be an important part of training?
The eccentric muscle contraction is when the muscle is resisting a force as it lengthens. On the way down during a bicep curl your biceps are working in this exact way. Unfortunately, so many people just allow the weight to fall with gravity instead of trying to resist it. As a result they lose out on the huge gains which you can achieve!
Muscle fibre recruitment
As you resist weight during the eccentric part of the repetition your body is forced to recruit a large percentage of muscle fibres! As a result you are potentially going to be able to stimulate additional hypertrophy simply by focussing on this part of the repetition. Imagine up until now you have never really resisted during the negative portion of the repetition, and now you start to with every workout you do. The difference in your development could be as much as 30% when you consider the amount of stress it places on the target muscle.
One of the best ways to get stronger is to pay close attention to your eccentric muscle contractions! Using a weight where you would fail between 5-8, really focus on the negative part of the repetition. This is particularly effective for stimulating myofribullar hypertrophy as it attacks your type 1 fast twitch muscle fibres. It is these muscle fibres which enable you to generate power within the muscle to shift large amounts of weight. Over time your level of strength will certainly increase and you will also develop a harder look within your muscle development.
Improved muscle recovery
Although eccentric muscle contractions are notorious for causing the most sever DOMS effect, over time it can in fact improve your ability to recover! In simple terms the reason this can occur is because the resistance which your muscles have to fight against is distributed more evenly across the entire muscle. As a result weaker muscle fibres become stronger through the process of myofribullar hypertrophy, thus leading to faster recovery!
There you have a bunch of very good reasons why focussing on the negative part of the repetition can lead to such positive results!