As the nice weather continues and we welcome in the Summer months, less clothing will be worn by both males and females. Lots of us who have worked hard over the winter months will want to show off, look great and feel good about ourselves by being able to wear a fitted t shirt or a nice dress. The question is, have you worked hard enough to be able to do this? Fear not if you haven't, there is still a bit of time left before you have to worry. Here is how you can maximise your training sessions over the next couple of months...
Is weight training all about the lifting phase? How many of you when you are in the gym are just solely focusing on lifting the weight? Do you put all your efforts into the concentric (lifting) phase and ignore everything else? Concentric lifting is important during your sessions, without it you wouldn't get anywhere. However, when was the last time you paid more attention to the negative phase of your repetition?
The other end of the spectrum of lifting is focusing more on the negative (eccentric) phase. Take for instance your bench press, most of us are heavily focused on lifting the bar up from our chest that we forget about the lowering phase of the exercise. Lowering of the bar is also known as the eccentric phase and this is just as, or in some cases more important than the concentric movement. Slowly lowering the bar could increase muscle breakdown and therefore increase muscle mass/tone if this is your overall goal.
So performing eccentric moves creates a bigger stress on your muscles which means they have to adapt. If you think about it, when you are performing an eccentric rep or two, you are putting the muscles under more tension and more stress, this naturally equates to bigger muscle gains providing you are doing it correctly. So how do you do it?
What To Do?
Ideally you will be lifting a load towards the end of your set or workout where you can max out and really concentrate on breaking those muscle fibres down.
How Do You Do It?
Pick a weight which is 100% or 130% greater than your concentric lift so you really have to stress the muscles, a good tip is having a spotter with you when you do this. Tempo is really important during these final few reps, try and stick to approx 2-3 seconds with strict control of the weight. Again, let your spotter help you with this and watch how you are doing.
Exercises To Use This On?
Pretty much every exercise you perform can be slowed and altered as a eccentric movement to maximise muscle breakdown. In case you need some help deciding which are the best ones, here is a quick list.
- Bench press
- Barbell Row
- Shoulder Press
- Leg Press
- Bicep Curl
- Tricep Pulldown
- Side Raise
- Leg Raise
Why not give these exercises a go when you next perform them. Don't forget that when you include eccentric movements you are more likely to breakdown muscle mass, therefore you could feel it more the next day. So make sure your recovery programme is good and consist of whey protein to help rebuild those muscles :)