Try These 6 Eccentric Upperbody Exercises For Strength and Muscle Gain

Eccentric training is one of the most effective tools in resistance training when used appropriately. In this article I will discuss why it is beneficial and how you can use it in your training to the best effect. The exercises provided range from beginner to advanced so make sure you select exercises that you feel you can perform with technical proficiency.

6 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
07/02/24
Last updated
07/02/24
In This Resource
  • What Is Eccentric Training
  • The Benefits of Eccentric Upper Body Exercises
  • Building Muscle Mass (Hypertrophy)
  • Building Strength
  • Skill Acquisition
  • How To Incorporate Eccentric Training Into Your Routine
  • It Is an Effective Tool, Like Many Other Effective Tools
  • A Few Exercises Per Training Cycle
  • Awareness of DOMS
  • Progressing Eccentric Exercises Throughout a Cycle
  • Eccentric Focus Can Be Used on All Exercises
  • Try These 6 Eccentric Upperbody Exercises For Strength and Muscle Gain

What Is Eccentric Training

Eccentric training is where we put emphasis on the eccentric contraction of a movement. The eccentric contraction is the part of a movement where the muscles are getting longer. The contrast is the concentric contraction, which is where the muscles are getting shorter. Therefore eccentric training is where we apply load (throughout free weights or body weights) to the eccentric contraction whilst often using a slow tempo (pace).

The Benefits of Eccentric Upper Body Exercises

Building Muscle Mass (Hypertrophy)

Increasing the time under tension through applying resistance training is an extremely effective way to improve muscle growth (1). Applying volume through sets, repetitions or time under tension through eccentric training is a well known technique to cause muscle mass growth, so for those who are trying to see gains in muscle mass, applying eccentric training can be very effective. It is important that we do not disregard the importance of the concentric contraction when it comes to muscle growth, just because the eccentric contraction is effective doesn’t mean that the concentric is not.

Building Strength

Eccentric training is an extremely effective way to increase your muscles contractile strength. People who are looking too increase their strength levels should consider implementing training cycles that incorporate eccentric training on the upper body movements. A perfect example of gaining strength through eccentric training would be the eccentric press up , it can be an excellent exercise to help you build the strength required to perform your first full press up.

Skill Acquisition

Gaining the basic skills of resistance training is crucial to long term training success. This makes it an important part of the resistance training journey. Eccentric training can really help with the skill acquisition phase of resistance training, I use it with all my beginner clients because of how well it can be implemented. It is so beneficial because through slowing the movement down it allows the individual to have more time to understand how they need to move their body.

How To Incorporate Eccentric Training Into Your Routine

It Is an Effective Tool, Like Many Other Effective Tools

In resistance training, we have a huge number of effective training strategies, these include eccentric training, pauses, speed, high volume, low volume ect. Eccentric training is a very effective tool, and it should be viewed as such. However it should not be viewed as some sort of training secret that is going to be the be all and end all of resistance training. Some coaches and individuals get caught on specific techniques because they have been effective for them, convincing themselves that they have found the secret to performance when in reality they have just successfully used one of the many tools available them to apply overload (stress).

A Few Exercises Per Training Cycle

Using a few eccentric exercises per training cycle is by far the best way to add these sorts of exercises into your training regime. Do not feel the need to replace every exercise you do to an eccentric exercise, just because it is effective doesn’t mean it needs to be used for all your training.

Awareness of DOMS

When adding in eccentric training into your training cycles you need to be aware that it is very likely to cause a great deal of DOMS (delayed onset of muscular soreness). This is because eccentric contraction creates more muscle soreness than concentric contractions. This doesn’t make them inherently better than concentric contractions in any way, just different.

Progressing Eccentric Exercises Throughout a Cycle

An excellent way to apply progressive overload to an eccentric exercise is to increase the length of the eccentric contraction. This is a fun and novel way to add progressive overload into your training, rather than just the typical addition of weight and volume, making the eccentric contraction can add a great deal of intensity to an exercise.

Eccentric Focus Can Be Used on All Exercises

Through adding a slow tempo to the eccentric phase of any exercise we are able to turn all exercises into an eccentric exercise. Do not be under the assumption that we can only use eccentric exercises when performing eccentric style training. For instance, if we look at the bench press, it has both a concentric and eccentric phase, through adding a 5 second tempo to the eccentric contraction we are creating a predominantly eccentric stimulus and making the concentric phase far more challenging at the same time due to the accumulation of fatigue.

Try These 6 Eccentric Upperbody Exercises For Strength and Muscle Gain

References

  • Bernárdez-Vázquez R, Raya-González J, Castillo D, Beato M. Resistance Training Variables for Optimization of Muscle Hypertrophy: An Umbrella Review. Front Sports Act Living. 2022 Jul 4;4:949021. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2022.949021. PMID: 35873210; PMCID: PMC9302196.
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    This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

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