Since it is known that the eccentric movement of exercises primarily contributes to muscle fiber damage and soreness, it follows that in order to get stronger and bigger it would be better to s-l-o-w down the extension of movements. There is some evidence that performing slow extended movements during exercise may help chronic tendon injuries heal. For example, a study in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery discovered that six weeks of slow eccentric exercise improved strength and reduced pain and tenderness in people with chronic tennis elbow injuries better than conventional treatment (e.g., massage, ultrasound, and heat/ice application). Be sure to be careful when performing slow eccentric movements when lifting relatively heavy loads as the risk of injury increases.
Here are some examples of the eccentric movement of several exercises:
- Elbow extension during dumbbell and barbell lat rows
- Elbow extension during front lat pulldowns
- Elbow extension during dumbbell and barbell bicep curls
- Elbow flexion during dumbbell and barbell overhead tricep extensions
- Shoulder extension during dumbbell and barbell chest presses
- Knee flexion during leg extensions
- Knee flexion during leg presses
- Knee extension during leg curls
- Ankle flexion during calf raises
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."