3 methods to build muscle whilst maintaining strength: The eccentric method
Firstly, click for the first part on building muscle whilst maintaining strength just in case you missed it!
The second method is one that I use on a pretty regular basis with various athletes.
The Eccentric Method
Charles Poliquin, the canadian strength coach, states that in order to develop hypertrophy there is a time under tension requirement of 40-70 seconds per set. If the emphasis is on the strength element as well as pure hypertrophy, this time under tension requirement needs to be at the lower end of the spectrum, around 40-50s in total per set which allows for more load to be used in the exercise. The higher the load the greater the emphasis on strength which is our goal.
In addition to this we know that there needs to be a significant amount of intramuscular tension to cause that stress response in the muscle. Eccentric training produces both these meaning that strength and hypertrophy can be developed simultaneously.
I like to incorporate eccentric training for periods of 2-3 weeks for my athletes using the key strength building movements that we all know and love. I’m sure many of you have experimented with eccentrics for developing hypertrophy, it’s nothing new however in this method the goal is to gradually extend the length of each rep, with an overall increase in the TUT of each set using a given load of around 83-85% 1RM or a 5-6RM on any given day.
You need to keep that loading constant for the entire 3 week phase of training so you know that your increasing the TUT with that given load and building eccentric strength.
Here’s how it could work:
Your first week the goal is to introduce the added eccentric stress to your body, so go with a total TUT of close to 40 seconds. Your second week look to add an additional second of eccentric tension to each rep so go from a 6s eccentric to a 7s eccentric. For a 6 rep set that will add 6s of overall tension with the same load. Powerful stuff no question!
Here’s some examples of formats you could use in the first week of training:
Back squat: 6 reps with 6s eccentric, 1 second concentric. TUT = 42s
Chins: 6 reps with 4s eccentric, 2s concentric, 1s hold at top position. TUT = 42s
Dumbell Bench Press: 5 reps with 4s eccentric, 2s isometric at bottom position, 2s concentric. TUT = 40
You get the picture, other movements that this works well with are TRX Rows, Split Squats, military presses, stiff legged deadlifts and the list goes on.
The eccentric method is so versatile it can be applied in many ways. You can even play around with isometric pauses which add another dimension to the session.
Give this method a go, it will add another dimension to your training!