The eccentric phase is the most important muscle contraction for developing an injury-free musculoskeletal system.
Based on our observations, some eccentric exercises are better for reducing injuries.
This is why my team of fitness professionals and I tested more than 40 eccentric exercises and singled out only the best.
Read below to learn about the best eccentric exercises, the best training methods, and how to get the most out of eccentric movement training.
- The best eccentric exercises include reverse push-ups, lunges, Romanian deadlifts, abdominal rollouts, precision depth jumps, and Kbox squatting.
- Some of the best training methods include eccentric isometric, 12+3, 4+2, forced reps, negative singles, and more.
- Eccentric training has been proven to reduce injuries in all stages of life due to building the ability to absorb force with your muscles.
7 Eccentric Exercises to Add to Your Workout
My fitness team and I tested all the exercises from the list and ensured all were safe to perform.
Both beginner and advanced lifters can perform all exercises, but amateur and professional athletes will experience the most benefits.
The reason is that eccentric training has the biggest carryover to the world of high-impact sports.
Read below to learn the 7 best eccentric exercises to add to your workout and reduce the risk of injury.
"Most workouts incorporate all three, but eccentric training often gets neglected."
- Autumn Calabrese, NASM & AFPA-Certified Trainer
1. Reverse Push-Ups
Push-ups are essential compound upper body movements targeting upper body muscles such as the pectoral, tricep, and anterior deltoid.
Reverse or negative push-ups are excellent for ballistic sports since you teach the anterior muscles of the upper body how to properly decelerate the projectile in your hands.
Push-up follows a horizontal push movement pattern and is one of the most functional upper-body calisthenic exercises.
How to Perform Reverse or Negative Push-Ups:
- Assume a push-up position where your hands are in 30 degrees of internal rotation, 45 degrees of flexion, and 60 degrees of abduction. This is called the functional shoulder position.
- Keep your glutes and abdominal muscles tight, your back flat, and your eyes looking in front and to the floor.
- Start the exercise by lowering your body toward the floor.
- This entails bending the elbows and extending/abducting the shoulders.
- Hold that position for one second when your chest reaches 1 cm above the ground.
- Put your chest on the ground and bring yourself up without doing the rest of the push-up technique.
- Assume a push-up position again and repeat the process.
- The tempo of the eccentric phase should be 3-5 seconds, while the isometric hold is 1 or 2 seconds.
- Repeat for 12 reps and 4 sets.
2. Reverse Pull-Ups
Reverse or negative pull-ups follow the vertical pull movement pattern and represent basic upper-body pulling exercises for building strength.
The negative or eccentric phase builds initial strength in the latissimus dorsi before proceeding to the concentric training.
Performing eccentric exercises such as negative pull-ups will decrease the likelihood of upper-body injury.
How to Perform Reverse or Negative Pull-Ups:
- Assume a hanging position from the bar where your elbows are fully extended, back flat, and the grip pronated.
- Your feet should be on the ground, but if the bar is too high, place a plyo box below.
- Jump towards the bar and place your chin above it, simulating the last portion of the concentric phase.
- Start the exercise by slowly lowering your body through an eccentric contraction.
- The eccentric portion of the movement entails abducting the shoulders and extending the elbows.
- When you reach the hanging position again. Hop on the box and jump back to the top position to perform the next repetition.
- Repeat for as many reps as you can and 3-4 sets.
3. Reverse Lunges or Split Squats
Reverse or negative split squats force your lower body’s anterior and posterior chain to work more, which produces better hypertrophy effects.
Reverse lunges or split squats follow the lunge and squat movement pattern, activating muscles such as the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
If you experience patellar issues, you should speak with a doctor or physical therapist before incorporating eccentric training through the lunge movement pattern.
How to Perform Reverse Lunges:
- Pick two dumbbells to perform up to 6 negative reps with each leg.
- Assume a split stance with your right leg forward and left backward.
- Brace your core, look forward, and keep your back flat.
- Start the exercise by slowly lowering your body towards the floor by bending the right knee.
- When your left knee reaches the floor, drop the weights and hold that position for one second.
- Return to the starting position with the concentric portion, but only with your body weight.
- Pick the weights from the floor and start the eccentric portion of the lift again.
- The eccentric phase should last 4 seconds, while isometric or bottom 1 second.
- Repeat for 5 reps with each leg and 3 sets.
4. Romanian Deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts are one of the best eccentric movements for preparing your body for a traditional barbell deadlift.
It follows the bend movement pattern, and bilateral and unilateral Romanian deadlift variations should be incorporated into the single training program.
Romanian deadlift eccentric exercise will include muscles such as the hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, and latissimus dorsi.
How to Perform Romanian Deadlifts:
- Load the barbell with the appropriate weight to perform 8 repetitions.
- Place it on the floor, and assume a standing position with your shins touching the bar and your back flat.
- Pick the barbell from the floor, so it hangs freely from your hands.
- Start the exercise by slightly bending your knees.
- Bend your torso forward without changing the angle of your knees and lower the barbell to the floor against your body.
- When the barbell reaches below the level of your knees, reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
- Exercise tempo should be 3 seconds eccentric, 1 isometric, and 1 concentric.
- Repeat for 8 reps and 3 sets.
5. Abdominal Rollouts
Abdominal or ab wheel rollouts are one of the toughest core exercises following an anti-extension movement pattern.
You may experience significantly delayed onset muscle soreness after finishing the workout or ab rollouts.
You may consult the physical therapist before implementing advanced eccentric exercises such as ab rollout.
How to Perform Abdominal Rollouts:
- Pick a quality ab wheel and assume a kneeling position.
- Inhale, brace your core and keep your back flat during the movement.
- Start the exercise by rolling out in front and stretching your body.
- During the movement, your abdominal muscles should be highly contracted to support your back from lumbar lordosis.
- When you reach the bottom position, where the shoulders are almost fully extended above the body, drop your body to the floor.
- You don’t want to incorporate the concentric version of this exercise before strengthening the whole body through an eccentric version.
- Return to the starting kneeling position and repeat.
- Complete 6 reps for 3 sets.
6. Precision Depth Jumps
Precision depth jumps are excellent eccentric movements that will force the eccentric portion of the jump to teaching your body how to absorb force.
Depth jumps are widely used in sport-specific scenarios to train your body how to absorb before it teaches you how to produce force.
How to Perform Precision Depth Jumps:
- Set two boxes, one in front of the other.
- Stand on the first box, looking towards the one in front.
- Start the exercise by dropping to the floor and absorbing the impact from the depth jump.
- Quickly react by jumping from the floor onto the box in front.
- Return walking to the first plyo box and repeat.
- Do 4-5 repetitions for 3-4 sets.
7. Eccentric Kbox Squatting
The advantage of the Kbox squatting machine is the ability to put a significant amount of weight due to the lower necessity for stabilizing your body.
Kbox eccentric-focused training will help you develop the necessary strength before doing more explosive squat variations for power and speed.
How to Perform Eccentric Kbox Squatting:
- Enter the Kbox machine and set the resistance so you can perform up to 6 to 8 repetitions.
- Start the exercise by lowering your body towards the floor while keeping your back flat.
- Hold that position for one second when your thighs parallel the ground.
- Reverse the motion by extending at your knees and hips to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 6 reps in 3 sets; the eccentric phase should last 3 seconds.
10 Eccentric Training Methods
Eccentric training has numerous benefits, but only if you use appropriate eccentric reps methods to develop strength and hypertrophy.
In the eccentric phase, muscles lengthen, which causes the muscles to tear.
This effect will force your body to adapt and increase muscle mass and strength.
Add eccentric training to your training program using the methods described below.
"One of my favorite benefits of eccentrics is that you can get great results with way less load than normal reps. By exaggerating the eccentric tempo, we engage the muscle fibers for more time and can get muscle engagement and fatigue without using our normal load. "
- Avi Silverberg, Head Coach for Team Canada Powerlifting
1. The 3-5 Seconds Eccentric Tempo
The 3-5 eccentric tempo is the basic and most beginner-friendly training method for increasing hypertrophy and strength.
It entails prolonging the lowering or eccentric phase of the lift for up to 5 seconds.
You should start with 3 seconds and progress for one second to the next training session, for 5 seconds in total.
Ensure to properly warm up before attempting this method since you may experience delayed onset muscle soreness after the first workout.
2. Eccentric Isometrics
Eccentric isometrics is the technique that will require you to create small pauses during different positions of the eccentric phase .
You may perform up to 6 isometric contractions before finishing the full range of motion of the eccentric portion of the lift.
However, you should start with 3-4 isometric contractions per eccentric phase and progress every following workout for up to 6 isometrics.
Eccentric isometric can be hard on the central nervous system, meaning you must incorporate longer rest periods between the sets.
3. Super Slow Eccentric
Russian sports scientists initially developed super slow eccentric and immediately incorporated it into the wrestling strength and conditioning program.
It requires you to perform only a few exercise reps for up to 1 minute of the eccentric phase .
Most of the time, you should do a longer period of eccentrics with your body weight, and when adding external resistance, lower the time.
Super slow eccentrics are excellent for developing local muscle and strength endurance if performed with external resistance.
4. Combination Style Reps
Combination style reps require you to use less advantageous body positioning for the eccentric portion of the lift and a more advantageous position for the concentric portion of the lift.
For example, you can perform the seated row and incorporate combination style reps.
For the concentric phase, use the momentum of your entire body for rowing the bar or tripod towards your torso.
However, when you enter the eccentric phase, make your body rigid and focus on working those lats, traps, and posterior deltoids without shifting your body forward to make it easier.
5. Bilateral Concentric – Unilateral Eccentric
Bilateral concentric and unilateral eccentric will require your body to perform the same exercise using less advantageous and harder settings for the eccentric portion of the lifts.
You may incorporate this eccentric training method for the following exercises:
- Lying Leg Curl
- Leg Extension
- Standing Calf Raise Machine
- Rope Press Down
- Scott Curl Machine
- Leg Press
For example, perform the unilateral eccentric leg press and then add the other leg to bring the machine to the starting position.
This will cause more muscle tears in the muscles while still performing the concentric phase of the lift.
6. Forced Reps
Forced reps are most often used within a strength training program since it requires your body to constantly adapt to new stressors and greater loads .
To use forced reps, you will choose the weight so you can perform between up to 6 repetitions.
After completing the sixth rep, you will ask your partner to assist you by bringing the weight to the top portion of the movement and allowing you to complete the eccentric phase without help.
This can be a maximum of two extra reps since everything above will cause negative neuromuscular adaptations, which may cause injuries or unnatural fatigue.
7. The 12+3 Method
The Body Contract Workout invented this method.
Dan Duchaine initially wrote the program in 1996.
The method requires you to complete 12 reps with the normal tempo and then increase the weight to perform three additional slow eccentric-only reps.
You will need a training partner for this method to help you increase the weight and control the movement.
This isn't the same as forced reps; your partners should help with most of the movement of those three additional reps.
8. The 4+2 Method
This method is similar to the previous one, favored by the strength coach Charles Poliquin.
However, the main difference is that this method is executed with heavier loads since fewer reps exist.
You will need a training partner to quickly add plates and assist through the concentric phase.
This is because the partner must help you push the weight through the concentric range of motion.
9. Overloaded Eccentric/Explosive Concentric
This method can only be executed using eccentric hooks, a training accessory for overload training .
You must add the weight on each releaser and hang it on the sleeves of the barbell.
You should adjust the length, so it drops the weight at the bottom of the movement just before the concentric phase of the exercise.
From that moment, you should explosively perform the concentric phase of the exercise.
This method is excellent for developing strength.
10. Negative Singles
The negative single is a method where you perform a single exercise rep only throughout the eccentric phase.
You will use the weight above your 1RM (one rep maximum) and have a partner help you bring the weight back to the starting position.
The eccentric phase usually lasts between 3 and 10 seconds before your partner helps you with the concentric phase.
This method is excellent for developing absolute strength.
What Are Examples of Eccentric Exercises?
Examples of eccentric exercises include reverse push-ups, lunges, Romanian deadlifts, abdominal rollouts, precision depth jumps, and Kbox squatting. However, these aren't solely eccentric exercises but only the eccentric phase of the exercises.
What Are Eccentric Exercises Good For?
The eccentric exercises are good for teaching your body how to absorb force and reduce the risk of injury. However, they also efficiently induce the biggest muscle-building or hypertrophy effects.
Does Eccentric Build More Muscle?
Yes, eccentric build more muscles. The reason is that the eccentric phase causes more muscle tears since it includes lengthening the muscles.
How to Get the Most Out of Eccentric Training?
To get the most out of eccentric training, you should change the tempo of the eccentric exercise.
However, to count the seconds of the tempo, you must have adequate fitness equipment to help you.
Read our guide on the 10 best fitness trackers for weightlifting to get the most accurate fitness equipment for measuring the tempo of eccentric exercise.
Let me know which eccentric exercise is your favorite and why.
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