A quick way to wake up your
workout results involves a minor change that has major results.
Heres how it works. A
muscle contracts concentrically as it shortens. So, when you
do a bicep curl, the muscle from the front of your arm from
your shoulder to your elbow contracts. In a normal lifting
of weights, you would lower the weight while releasing the
contraction. If you introduce eccentric contractions to your
workouts, youll focus on generating tension in the muscle
as your muscle lengthens. You sort of resist the lowering
of the weight.
You can add small pauses as
you lower the weight or on the back side of the exercise movement
you are doing. Take around eight seconds to complete the movement
and return to the base position. This eccentric contraction
enables you to accomplish more in every exercise. It is especially
effective when you are working your abdominals.
Eccentric Abdominal Curls
Lets say you were doing
a basic "crunch" for your "abs." Lying
on your back with knees bent, start with an exhale, pressing
your lower back against the ground. Look at your navel as
you curl up, keeping your mid-section tucked in and your ribs
pressing downwards while reaching your torso upward in the
"crunch." (Hands are locked behind your head with
elbows pointing outward.) At the top of the "crunch,"
instead of quickly releasing the tension in your "abs,"
take eight seconds to return to your starting position. Maintain
the tension in your midsection all the way through the return
You can add all sorts of variations
to this midsection work. From the basic position, try reaching
upward with alternate, elbow-to-opposite-knee movements. Slow
the movement way down, once you are at the top of the crunch.
Hold the upright position and alternate elbows to opposite
In another variation, stretch
one leg out straight with the other still bent in the basic
stance. Stay tucked throughout the upward sit-up phase of
the movement. Then slowly return to the base position and
stretch the opposite leg out in front. The key words here
are, s-l-o-w motion!
Sprinkle eccentric contractions
often throughout your workout. If you mix up your workout
approach like this, youll find your body responds much
faster to your efforts.
- Pam Brooks