Try These 7 Eccentric Back Exercises for Strength and Hypertrophy

Adding eccentric back exercises into your training programme can be very effective for numerous reasons. The main two reasons being improving pull up strength and creating muscle mass. In this article I will provide you the reasons for which you should add these exercises into your programme, common mistakes when performing then and finally other consideration you may want to take into account.

6 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
Published on
06/03/24
Last updated
06/03/24
In This Resource
  • Benefits of Eccentric Back Exercises
  • Hypertrophy
  • Pull Up Strength
  • Skill Acquisition
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lower Back Positional Strength and Stability
  • Common Mistakes While Performing Eccentric Back Exercises
  • Holding The Prescribed Tempo
  • Fluidity of Tempo
  • Rushing Between Repetitions
  • Other Considerations
  • DOM’s
  • Hinge Technique Importance
  • Try These 7 Eccentric Back Exercises for Strength and Hypertrophy

Benefits of Eccentric Back Exercises

Hypertrophy

Using eccentric exercises is best know to induce hypertrophy (muscle growth) adaptations as they increase the amount of time under tension. When trying to grow the size of the musculature of the upper back using eccentric exercises will be a very successful intervention.

Pull Up Strength

These exercises will either help you build towards your first pull up or increase the amount you can currently perform. Through improving the strength and size of the muscles of the back by performing both eccentric vertical and horizontal pulling exercises you will be progressing your pull ups.

Skill Acquisition

When trying to learn the correct pulling technique using eccentric horizontal pulling exercises can be very beneficial. The horizontal pull is actually relatively difficult to master for a beginner when compared to some other movement patterns. When using eccentric horizontal pulling exercises with beginners for skill acquisition be sure to use exercises where there is three points of contact like the tempo 1-arm KB low row or the tripod stance row. This is important as beginners will not be able to maintain good back positioning while performing a horizontal pull like the alternating gorilla row.

Rehabilitation

Eccentric exercises are a great way to ease back into resistance training after serious injuries. Take for example the ring row eccentric in this exercise list, this is a perfect horizontal pull variation for someone coming back from a serious shoulder or elbow injury. Using a mixture of low load and eccentric tempos is perfect for rehab.

Lower Back Positional Strength and Stability

Eccentric back exercises where there is only two points of contact with the floor (the feet) are excellent ways to build strength and stability in the lower back as well as build muscle and strength in the upper back. This is because just maintaining good positions while performing these styles of horizontal pulling exercises is extremely challenging and therefore creates positive adaptations.

Common Mistakes While Performing Eccentric Back Exercises

Holding The Prescribed Tempo

Often times when a tempo (pace) is added to an eccentric phase of an exercise it makes it dramatically more challenging. This can lead to people not sticking to the tempo as the repetitions get harder and harder. This isn’t because people want to cheat, it is just very hard not to do. So be aware of it when you perform these style of eccentric exercises.

Fluidity of Tempo

Another issue that comes when performing eccentric back exercises is the keeping the speed of the tempo fluid throughout. By this I mean when performing the eccentric phase, an individual might go very very slowly at the start and then speed up dramatically towards the end. This is often the case when people are performing the eccentric pull up, it is often because the end part of the eccentric range of motion is the most difficult.

Rushing Between Repetitions

Finally, people will often rush between repetitions. By this I mean that they will reach the end range of motions and then start immediately the next repetition, this is often done when an individual doesn’t even move through the full range of motion. Make sure your arm is straight at the end of every rep, pause for an instant and then get started again.

Other Considerations

DOM’s

Eccentric exercises can generate a great deal of DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) so make sure you are using the appropriate weights and repetition ranges so as not to create to much soreness. When starting a training cycle with this eccentric exercises, start conservativly and build over time to manage fatigue successfully.

Hinge Technique Importance

The importance of good hinge technique cannot be understated when it comes to horizontal pulling. If you have poor hinge technique, give our article on learning to hip hinge a read. When performing horizontal pulling exercises you need to lower your chest towards the floor in exactly the same manner as when you do a hinge movement, making the hinge important to horizontal pulling technique. Obviously for the vertical pulling exercises this is of little importance.

Try These 7 Eccentric Back Exercises for Strength and Hypertrophy

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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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