After my recent post on the relationship of tempo to work and time under tension, I thought I’d take a look at the role of slow eccentric actions in hypertrophy training. In my research into tempo recommendations being offered around the net, the most common was to use slow eccentric tempos to maximize muscle growth. Despite the prevalence of this recommendation, more often than not it was offered up without any citations to support it.
There’s no question that controlling the eccentric portion of the lift is important for technique, but does exaggerating the eccentric phase by slowing the movement really confer a hypertrophic advantage? Sure, nobody likes having a few cracked ribs after a set of bench presses, and I’m sure most of you don’t opt for careless eccentrics, but is there any hypertrophic value in prolonging the eccentric phase?
Eccentric overload: Are weight and time synonymous?
The popularity of eccentric training arose primarily from research indicating that eccentric training may produce greater hypertrophy than training with concentric contractions alone (26), and that eccentric overload may be superior to equivalent eccentric and concentric training (22). The literature is full of examples of the superiority of isokinetic (3, 4, 8, 10, 12, 28) and isotonic (5, 7, 11, 30) eccentric actions for strength and hypertrophy as compared to concentric contractions, however exceptions do exist (1, 2, 13, 15, 18, 21, 25)}. When put on a “level playing field” by work (18) or power (15) matching eccentric actions to the concentric phase, the strength and hypertrophy advantage of eccentric training seems to disappear. Despite some ambiguity in the results, a recent meta analysis has ruled a slight advantage in favour of eccentric actions for hypertrophy (26).
There is no confirmed, unifying mechanism into the potential hypertrophic superiority of the eccentric action. What does exist centres around differing fibre-type recruitment strategies between eccentric and concentric contraction, how this may produce more muscle damage (14), and how that may (or may not) promote greater hypertrophy (27). It is generally thought that eccentric actions result in a reversal of the size principle, preferentially recruiting type II fibres before type I fibres (16, 17, 19, 20). This results in fewer active fibres during an eccentric action and non-uniform force distribution within the muscle (16). Given the reduction in active fibres as compared to a concentric contraction, muscle damage is greater following eccentric-only actions versus concentric contractions alone (14, 16), and is greater following high rather than slow velocity eccentric actions (29). While data is mixed on whether muscle damage is essential for hypertrophy (27), the fact we have data that eccentrics produce greater hypertrophy and strength gains than concentric contractions alone (3-5, 7, 8, 10-12, 28, 30), may make any mechanistic speculation more of an academic endeavor anyway.
Somewhere along the way we equated the fact that we can use heavier loads eccentrically (9), the heightened effects of overloaded eccentrics (22), and the superiority of eccentric actions for strength and growth (3-5, 7, 8, 10-12, 28, 30) with the use of slower eccentric tempos. From a practical standpoint I can see how this evolution occurred, trying to overload the eccentric relative to the concentric portion of the rep is difficult to perform in the gym. Naturally then, since we can’t all have dedicated training partners there to hoist the bar off of us for the concentric phase, it only seems logical to emphasize eccentric time-under-tension by slowing eccentric velocities. Or perhaps the argument is even more simplistic than that, if eccentrics are good, why not spend more time in that phase of the lift?
Despite my recent posts on the indifference of training intensity and tempo as long as substantial fatigue is induced, I’m not convinced that the two conditions (heavy vs slow eccentrics) are equivalent in this case. The question is, do slow eccentric actions promote greater muscle growth?
Greater hypertrophy with fast eccentric tempos
Two isokinetic training studies have demonstrated the relative superiority of fast eccentric actions for strength and muscle mass development. Farthing and Chilibeck (4) investigated the effects of contraction mode (concentric vs eccentric) and velocity (30 degrees per second, slow; 180 degrees per second, fast) on muscle growth and strength. The groups performed 8 weeks of eccentric training randomized to fast or slow training, then a five week washout, followed by another 8 week period of concentric training randomized to fast or slow training (fast groups performed fast eccentric, followed by fast concentric and vice versa for slow). The unlucky subjects were randomized to a control condition, who remained sedentary over the training period to account for the potential effects of time throughout the experiment.
Following both training periods the authors found that, as far as strength was concerned, fast eccentric actions were superior. This pattern was more or less replicated for muscle thickness (hypertrophy), as fast eccentrics outgrew both concentric velocities, but was not statistically different from slow eccentrics (13% vs 7.8%). We could argue it was a limitation of their experimental design, or that they simply lacked power, however in either case this would suggest that purposely reducing eccentric velocity provides no additional hypertrophic benefit, as is often recommended.
Data from Shepstone et al (29) clarifies the ambiguity of eccentric tempo, at least when trained with isokinetics. The participants were randomized to either fast (3.66 radians per second) or slow (0.35 rads/second) eccentric actions, performed in a progressive program over eight weeks. At the end of training, fast eccentrics were superior to slow, increasing strength across the range of concentric and eccentric velocities more so than in slow training. Whole muscle growth was increased in both conditions, however there was a trend (nsd, p=0.06 on the ANOVA) for increased growth in the fast eccentric group. Fibre-type specific growth found a similar effect on type I fibres between conditions, however growth of type IIa and IIx fibres was greater with fast eccentric actions.
Cumulatively, these two studies favour fast eccentric actions for the development of both muscle strength and hypertrophy over both concentric contractions alone and slow-eccentric actions. While such a response may be due to the fact that fast eccentric actions promote greater torque production and muscle damage than slow (29) (data from (23) disputes part of this) that may promote elevated hypertrophy (27), more experiments are required to clarify such relationships. We also cannot rule out that these results are dependent on use of isokinetic training, and as such may not translate to what most of us actually do in the gym.
The effects of altering eccentric and concentric time under tension with isotonic resistance
In researching this article, I’ve realized that despite the wealth of data on eccentric actions, there is very little regarding the use of tempo under isotonic (or dynamic, constant, external resistance if you’re paid by the syllable) conditions, or simply put, stuff we’d actually pick up in the gym. I did however, stumble across an interesting study from Gillies et al (6) that gets to the meat of the problem. The authors compared differing eccentric and concentric tempos but with total time under tension matched between conditions, answering our question of whether we should focus on eccentric or concentric time under tension when pursuing more muscle mass.
Participants were randomized to perform either the long concentric (2/1/6 tempo) or long eccentric (6/1/2 tempo) for a primarily lower body program performed three times per week over nine weeks. At the completion of training, strength was increased regardless of training condition, however muscle growth was not equivalent. Type I fibres were increased similarly in both groups, while only the long concentric training group had increased type IIa fibre cross sectional area. In addition, urinary cortisol was elevated in the long concentric group, a point the authors theorize to be linked to the greater metabolic stress associated with a longer concentric contraction.
This fibre-type data is interesting in the context of the reversal of the size principle (16, 19, 20), as I would have anticipated greater type II growth with the eccentric group more than the concentric. We cannot rule out the possibility that dramatically slow eccentric actions could have an impact on the previously documented neuromuscular properties of eccentric actions. This data does agree with the isokinetic work of Shepstone et al (29), that indicated equivalent type I fibre growth between slow and fast isokinetic contractions, but varies from Hortobagyi et al (12) who found 10x greater type II fibre growth with eccentric than concentric contractions. This indicates we may not achieve similar effects between isokinetic and isotonic studies, but cumulatively these studies indicate that using slow eccentric velocities to prolong time-under-tension may not be the hypertrophy holy grail we’ve made them out to be.
There’s always a limitation regardless of the study, or something that stands in the way of the overall applicability of how a research study applies to those of us who actually train. Oversimplified, machine-based programs is often one, sedentary, untrained participants is definitely another, but in this case, it would have been nice to have an additional training group that trained at a tempo more representative to how many of us actually train. This would give a clear picture of the effect of prolonging the eccentric or concentric phase relative to a standard tempo, and more specifically address the questions I’ve raised in this article. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen anyone in a gym perform something resembling a 2/1/6 or 6/1/2 tempo, and while I know many of you out there do experiment with tempos, I’d argue that in most cases a 1/0/1 tempo would be a generous description.
Don’t lower it slow to grow!
While tempo may ultimately be irrelevant for pure hypertrophic adaptations when training to failure, these studies suggest that there isn’t a hypertrophic benefit from exaggerating the eccentric phase with slow velocities. We could use another study or two in the area, however the existing literature supports that, even though eccentric overload may promote greater gains (22), extending eccentric time-under-tension with slow velocity eccentrics may not be similarly advantageous (4, 24, 29).
That being said, while I personally don’t prefer slow eccentrics (although I’d do them in a second if it meant more muscle mass), I do know that many of you have experimented with them in your own training. Take to the comments below to let me know what you’ve experimented with, what you felt worked or didn’t, and last but not least, why.
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- photo credit: elcamino73 via photopin cc
Awesome article, Dan!
I can perform 21 push ups using a 3/4 tempo, for a total time under tension of 147 seconds.
When using a 1/1 tempo, I can perform 34 push ups for a total time under tension of 72 seconds.
So, with the faster tempo, my volume is greater and I reach failure more quickly.
I guess the longer eccentric phase acts as a partial respite and allows for a greater time under tension?
Great observation Drew, that's the trade off between work and TUT that occurs with tempo. Slower tempos mean greater TUT, but less total work. In my previous post, when training to failure, it probably doesn't make a difference which one you use. If you train short of failure it may be a different story though.
Excellent article!!! I have many of these papers and had a similar hunch, so it's great to see it all laid out. I agree – we need a couple more studies examining this topic, but at the moment it doesn't appear that slow confers any advantage over fast eccentrics. Nice work Dan!
Thanks Bret! I was really surprised how little there actually is outside of the isokinetic studies. Definitely room for some investigation there.
First off, I know you will do great at your upcoming oral defense. Whooo ha!!!
Have you read the book Triphasic Training? I would be interested in your thoughts since Cal Dietz uses some longer eccentrics in training to get a faster eccentric speed (which creates a faster concentric).
Great post and thanks for sharing. This is a like a mini lit review!
Mike T Nelson
Thanks Mike, just a little more than a week to go now before the defence. I haven't read Triphasic Training but I'll check it out and let you know.
Thanks Dan. When you say "fast eccentrics" you still mean under control right? Most people don't even control the eccentric. Also, a lot of weight lifting data doesn't take into account a 40 something that never lifted before.
We still should be explosive as possible in the concentric though correct? Or is this data suggesting slowing the concentric for better muscle gain?
I think playing with slower tempos is a great way to safely increase ones training age, help them build essential skill, before getting more serious about progressing the load. Personally I still will use various tempos including super slow eccentrics, I just want to be cautious not to pass on false info…
Yes, I like to keep the eccentrics under control, but for me that is still pretty quick. The only exception for me is bench press as I'm still paranoid from my pec tears and can't bring myself to lower it as fast as some of my other lifts.
As for the concentric, I prefer explosive, as I attempt to contract the muscle as fast as I can to maximize motor unit recruitment from the start. This may not matter in the long run (see my posts on fatigue and low-load hypertrophy), but I still prefer to lift that way anyway.
I would like to make a suggestion. If contraction in the concentric at higher velocities produces greater motor unit recruitment, unless one uses chronic high intensity, don't we have to wonder about the effects of momentum?
Perhaps, if momentum is a negative factor, change the makeup of the concentric part of the rep? Instead of one inertia point of contraction at the base of a movement, why not add another to reduce momentum and perhaps engage more neurological stimulus from the new engagement point? Consider the squat, from the bottom of the movement, squat half way up and stop, hold for a couple of seconds and contract again from this new inertia point to the top. I would also not squat to the full top of the movement to maintain muscular tension. Return with a controlled eccentric, perhaps 30 degrees per sec..
Fast Eccentrics: This is one of the method I've found successful for my powerlifts.
Box Squats: I have found that literally dropping to the box with loads of 45-65% of 1RM and then rebounding back up elicits a positive training effect.
Bench Press: The same is true with the bench press.
Deadlift: I use the same training principles with "Deadlift" training. However, I use auxiliary movement instead of deadlifting…another topic.
Accommodating Resistance: Both movement are trained with Bungees, Band and/or Chains attached. I have a personal preference for Bungees.
Fred Berman: The Accommodating Resistance attachment to the bar, as we know, insure that resistance is maintained throughout the full range of the movement.
"Depth Jump" : Both the Squat and Bench Press are with loads of 45-65% of 1RM are trained with a "Depth Jump" mentality.
From my personal use of "Fast Eccentric" Box Squats and the Bench Press, it appears to me some of the same positive effects are evoked, as with Depth Jumps.
Strength Movements: Other movement are utilized to increase strength in the powerlifts.
Ballistic Eccentrics: Ballistic meaning a body/object become airborne.
Eccentric meaning the lengthening or downward movement of a body/object.
Thus, a Ballistic Eccentric are movement examples are jumping off a box and sticking the landing like a gymnast.
Laying on the floor and catching a ball dropped down to you.
Back in 2001, I co-wrote an article on Plyometric Bench Pressing for powerlifters.
In doing my research, I interviewed Jay Schroder (Arizona Strength Coach).
We wondered slightly off topic to "Altitude Drops" (aka Depth Landing). Again, the landing is stuck like a gymnast, no rebound.
Thus, "Altitude Drops" are what I'd term as a Ballistic Eccentric.
An interesting point that Schroeder made was: "Before you can exert force, you have to be able to absorb it."
That meaning that first you have to stop the downward eccentric movement then transition to the concentric.
An excellent article on this is David Kerin's…
"What is the most direct means to achieve strength gains specific to the demands of jumping events?"
Great High Jumpers: One of the characteristics of great High Jumpers is their eccentric strength. This allows them to plant their foot (stop the horizontal force) and transition and use that force to vertically go over the bar.
As Kerin's research noted, as well as Schroder's, "Altitude Drops" (Depth Landing) are the most effective method of developing this type of strength.
Kerin References: One thing that I have learned is to read the reference articles.
This is one of Kerin's references and provide some great additional information.
Doug Schweigert " Functional Strength Considerations for the Advanced High Jumper National Strength & Conditioning Association, Vol 22, No. 5 pages 25-30 (2000)
This is one of Schweigert's is that provide great information.
"Strength Training of Jumpers"
Teoriya I Praktika Fizcheskoi Kultury, 10:62-64, 1978
L.I. Dursenev, L.G. Raevsky
Soviet Sports Review/1979/Yessis
Barrel of Monkey
Researching the research remind me of the Barrel of Monkey toy that I had as a kid.
I have to unscrew a lot of barrels to finally find the monkey.
I still have some barrels to go on this subject.
Kenny Croxdale, CSCS
I always do Compensatory acceleration on the possitive part of every compund move then slow eccentric (then inflitonics or omni contrations afterwards for more intensity).
I only do the slow concentrics on isolation and machine movents so far I feel the greatest results intensifying the negative portions using the techniques I mentioned above.
inflitonics is when a partner leans on the barbel on the negative portion of the move to generate more eccentric resistance ( I can even use ligher weights for this one)
Omni contractions is when I try to lift the weight again while lowering it and then have a partner push me back to avoid that for happening for three seconds each.
Off course I will have my partner assist me with lifting the weight once I can no longer perform the possitive portion of the move and continue to do so untill I cannot suppost the weight anymore even in the negative phase.
Does it work?
great articles..something which i never really give a thought on this.. i would choose a moderate eccentric after reading this..not too fast and not too slow either so i could maintain a balance between time under tension and total work..
here is something i tried before.. example while on eccentric on bench pressing, i have my friend pushing the bar hard towards me while my intentions is always to push it back.. i feel it really put a lot of micro tear to the pec.. and of course its very demanding to the CNS, thus i only incorporate it once in a while…
You completely missed the effect it has upon satellite cell recruitment and proliferation though. I think you need to reexamine the literature.
I didn’t mean to discount the role of satellite cells in hypertrophy, however their precise role and contribution to muscle growth following strength training is not well defined. In this case, even if satellite cell kinetics varied with eccentric tempo, does it really matter when total hypertrophy is ultimately similar? Perhaps you could provide your references to suggest that satellite cell population kinetics are sensitive to eccentric tempos and that the difference correlates with the degree of hypertrophy as your argument alludes. Would be very interested in seeing this.
“Two isokinetic training studies have demonstrated the relative superiority of fast eccentric actions for strength and muscle mass development. Farthing and Chilibeck (4) investigated the effects of contraction mode (concentric vs eccentric) and velocity (30 degrees per second, slow; 180 degrees per second, fast) on muscle growth and strength.”
This does NOT mean fast eccentrics were superior. It means that a heavier load (180 degrees per sec) was superior. 30 degrees per second using ioskinetic eccentrics is a very low resistance.
The opposite is true in the concentric using isokinetics.
You may want to check out the torque output/angular velocity relationship in the original paper (Farthing 2003, Fig 2), where the only differences detected were by mode (con/ecc) and not by velocity within each contraction mode respectively (30/180). ECC30 vs ECC180 did come out, but not as much as you’d expect.
“You may want to check out the torque output/angular velocity relationship in the original paper (Farthing 2003, Fig 2), where the only differences detected were by mode (con/ecc) and not by velocity within each contraction mode respectively (30/180).”
You’re not addressing the point I brought up. The point is that when using an isokinetic device in the eccentric mode, the FASTER the degrees per second is set, the greater the load imposed.
“ECC (180 degrees s(-1)) training resulted in greater hypertrophy than CON (180 degrees s(-1)) training and CON (30 degrees s(-1)) training (P<0.01). ECC (30 degrees s(-1)) training resulted in greater hypertrophy than CON (180 degrees s(-1)) training (P<0.05), but not CON (30 degrees s(-1)) training. ECC (180 degrees s(-1)) training resulted in the greatest increases in strength (P<0.01). We conclude that ECC fast training is the most effective for muscle hypertrophy and strength gain."
You have to substitute the wording "fast training" for "greater resistance."
What we learn form this paper is the eccentric training with a stronger resistance (180 d/per sec) is superior to concentric training at all speeds, and, eccentric training at a low load was superior to concentric training at a low load.
I see the point you are making, but if I move through a defined ROM at 180d/sec vs 30/sec, which one would take less time?
“I see the point you are making, but if I move through a defined ROM at 180d/sec vs 30/sec, which one would take less time?”
Are you asking me in an isokinetic eccentric contraction? If so, you will be forced to move faster in the 180 d/s.
It’s not the speed of the contraction – it’s the LOAD imposed. If the dynomometer was set to say 360 d/sec, the eccentric would take ZERO time as you would not be strong enough to resist it for any amount of time.
A 30 degree isokinetic eccentric is a very light load. It move slowly because it is easy to resist.
In an isotonic eccentric, using the same load, a faster tempo is LESS effective. It it easier, given the same load, to lower it quickly than more slowly.
It actually doesn’t matter which contraction mode, as greater velocities will take less time to move through a defined ROM whether it is ECC or CON, hence they are faster.
And yes, as you noted, the ECC force-velocity does reach a point of declining torque outputs per increase ECC velocity. That is outside of the velocities used in the present study, as indicated by Fig 2 in the original paper, which is highly relevant to this discussion.
It is also important to remember these studies were performed on isokinetic dynamometers, so a 30d/s contraction “moves slowly” because of what the machine is set to, not “because it is easy to resist”. The velocity of the machine is independent of the effort of the user. In the case of the Farthing study, they were training using maximal contractions, so the user would have been instructed to maximally resist the machine regardless of velocity settings or contraction mode.
“It actually doesn’t matter which contraction mode, as greater velocities will take less time to move through a defined ROM whether it is ECC or CON, hence they are faster.”
****They are only faster in the eccentric because of a stronger resistance and faster in the concentric due to a lesser resistance. This is why slow isokinetic contractions are superior to fast isokinetic contractions for strength and hypertrophy.
“And yes, as you noted, the ECC force-velocity does reach a point of declining torque outputs per increase ECC velocity.”
***No. Not the velocity – the greater resistance. Imagine attempting to eccentrically control 100 pounds in the bench press. You’d have zero chance. It would just crush you. High velocity, Near zero force output.
“That is outside of the velocities used in the present study, as indicated by Fig 2 in the original paper, which is highly relevant to this discussion.”
****I said this to make the point that the greater the eccentric d/s, the greater the load imposed. At a certain load, there is little ability to resist.
“It is also important to remember these studies were performed on isokinetic dynamometers, so a 30d/s contraction “moves slowly” because of what the machine is set to, not “because it is easy to resist”.”
****I don’t think you understand what an isokinetic dynomometer is/does. When the servmotor is set to a low degrees per second in the ECCENTRIC mode, you are imposing a low load on the subject. The subject only has to lower the load at 30 d/s which is quite easy.
“The velocity of the machine is independent of the effort of the user.”
***No its not. In the eccentric, you are attempting to resist the movement arm. It is far easier to resist the arm at a slow d/s in the eccentric than a fast setting. The converse is true in the concentric. To match the degrees per second in the concentric, you have to output enough force/torque to keep the movement arm moving at the set speed. 30 d/s requires a VERY high force output, 180 much lower since the resistance is set much lower.
“In the case of the Farthing study, they were training using maximal contractions, so the user would have been instructed to maximally resist the machine regardless of velocity settings or contraction mode.”
****This is always the case in isokinetic training. In the concentric, you output as much force as you can. In the eccentric, you resist as much as you can.
This study shows that greater resistances produce greater results.
A few things:
1) I’m all for anecdote (and arguments), but if you say that slow isokinetics are superior to fast for strength and hypertrophy, please cite some supporting studies for the benefit of myself and other readers to discuss. If this is anecdote, please label as such. I don’t discount personal experience at all, just be clear when stating it so we know what we’re dealing with. While I’m interested in reading everything, it would also help if it relates directly to eccentric tempos given the topic of the post as well (eccentric tempo).
2) I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on the other points as the argument is getting circular, and yes, I do understand how an isokinetic dynamometer works. I have addressed the resistance component (see FIG 2 of Farthing paper), and do agree that differential torque outputs by ECC velocity may be involved in the interpretation of the results. This is supported again by the idea that work-matching eccentrics to concentrics may remove their heightened effects over pure concentric training (Moore et al, 2012) and is mentioned in my original article. Since higher eccentric velocities have greater torque outputs (to a point, again Fig 2), they would be associated with more work for an equivalent number of repetitions in an equivalent ROM over slower eccentric contractions
3) There are submaximal isokinetic protocols in the literature, so cannot assume all isokinetic work is maximal.
I meant 1000 pounds in the bench press.
Ha, I should hope so or I’d be offended!
“1) I’m all for anecdote (and arguments), but if you say that slow isokinetics are superior to fast for strength and hypertrophy, please cite some supporting studies for the benefit of myself and other readers to discuss.If this is anecdote, please label as such. I don’t discount personal experience at all, just be clear when stating it so we know what we’re dealing with. While I’m interested in reading everything, it would also help if it relates directly to eccentric tempos given the topic of the post as well (eccentric tempo).”
****I’m not speaking in an anecdotal manner at all. The studies you cited show this. Take the Farthing paper. In the concentric, a slower degrees per second (30) was superior to the fast (180) for hypertrophy. “CON (30 s training) resulted in greater hypertrophy than CON (180 s).” The same was true for the eccentric. It’s NOT that the speed proved superior in the eccentric, the 180 degrees per second mode imposed a much greater LOAD. Do you understand how this works using an isokinetic dynomometer?
“2) I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on the other points as the argument is getting circular, and yes, I do understand how an isokinetic dynamometer works.”
****I’m not so sure you do given what you said above.
“I have addressed the resistance component (see FIG 2 of Farthing paper), and do agree that differential torque outputs by ECC velocity may be involved in the interpretation of the results.”
****The faster the d/s in the eccentric using an isokinetic device, the greater the load imposed. Since this is true, it is the greater load, not the greater velocity that is responsible for the superior results. Think in terms of isotonic exercise. The lighter the load in the eccentric, the slower you can lower it.
“This is supported again by the idea that work-matching eccentrics to concentrics may remove their heightened effects over pure concentric training (Moore et al, 2012) and is mentioned in my original article. Since higher eccentric velocities have greater torque outputs (to a point, again Fig 2), they would be associated with more work for an equivalent number of repetitions in an equivalent ROM over slower eccentric contractions.”
*****Higher eccentric loads do not necessarily mean greater velocities. EX: If your bench press weight load is 200 pounds, you can easily perform negative only training with the 200 pounds. If you raise the load to 250#, you can still lower the load at the same velocity (rep tempo) as the 200#. As you tire, the velocity will increase. But choosing to lower the 250# quickly is NOT superior to lowering the heavier load slowly. The faster you perform an eccentric contraction isotonically, the less effort / force is generated within the muscles.
“3) There are submaximal isokinetic protocols in the literature, so cannot assume all isokinetic work is maximal.”
****The overall point is this – the isokinetic studies show that greater load/tension is superior for hypertrophy/strength increases not velocity.
Like I said Fred the argument is getting circular, it was a gentle way of hinting that we should call it a day.
I have acknowledged the torque/angular velocity relationship numerous times but for some reason it isn’t clicking. I can tell from your last post that you still haven’t referred to Fig 2 of the paper and you may want to reconcile this with your previous comment regarding the concentric findings. It’s always important to reconcile our basic understanding of relationships to the actual observed, experimental data. You can’t remove velocity from a conversation about isokinetics, it’s not going to happen here.
“Like I said Fred the argument is getting circular, it was a gentle way of hinting that we should call it a day.”
***We can call it a day, sure. But our discussion is not a circular argument. Your recc to not lower a weight slowly is incorrect based on the isokinetic studies.
“I have acknowledged the torque/angular velocity relationship numerous times but for some reason it isn’t clicking. I can tell from your last post that you still haven’t referred to Fig 2 of the paper and you may want to reconcile this with your previous comment regarding the concentric findings. It’s always important to reconcile our basic understanding of relationships to the actual observed, experimental data. You can’t remove velocity from a conversation about isokinetics, it’s not going to happen here.”
****Figure 2 shows that the greatest torque output was the 180 degree eccentric – where the load imposed was greatest. There is nothing to reconcile. You’re misinterpreting the studies. The statement you made below is wrong:
“Don’t lower it slow to grow!
…these studies suggest that there isn’t a hypertrophic benefit from exaggerating the eccentric phase with slow velocities.”
The studies show that a greater load in the eccentric is superior to a lighter load and that eccentric work is more beneficial than concentric work for hypertrophy.
That’s the last I’ll say on the matter. Enjoy.
Best of luck to you, and again, agree to disagree.
1) Re: “incorrect based on isokinetic studies” – Based on these results of both Farthing et al 2003 and Shepstone et al 2005, if I were to jump on an isokinetic dynamometer today and perform maximal eccentric actions with the goal to increase growth, I would set the machine to a faster ECC velocity (180 d/s in Farthing, 3.66 rad/s Shepstone) as compared to a slow ECC velocity (30 d/s Farthing, 0.35 rad/s Shepstone). No misinterpretation at all.
2) My statement regarding the interpretation of Fig 2 was in reference to your previous comment regarding the concentric results, not the eccentric data which we have previously discussed. Despite what would be expected based on the force velocity relationship, the torque/angular velocity relationship was N.S.D in the CON phase between 30 and 180 d/s. That’s what I was getting at.
3) Gilles et al 2006 used isotonic conditions (perhaps most applicable to the gym), and concluded that for a matched total time under tension, time is better spent in the CON than ECC phase. This again indicates that prolonging the ECC phase is not superior to equivalent time spent in CON.
4) The conclusion of the article acknowledges the need for more work in the area, but the culmination of these studies DO NOT provide compelling evidence for specifically prolonging the ECC phase. I have seen this commonly recommended, but at present the existing literature does not support this claim.
These clarifications are for the benefit of other readers, and as I’m sure we both have bigger fish to fry, consider this the end of our discussion.
Responding because I must:
To point 1: The reason why you would choose the faster speed (180 d/s) is because it imposes a greater LOAD. The 30 d/s is a light load. Load, not speed, is the issue here. You always want to train with challenging LOADS whether training isokinetically or isotonically. If you were to perform negative only training isotonically, you wouldn’t choose a fast rep tempo – your choose a challenging load – one that would bring deep fatigue in ~30-90 seconds. And rather than perform a 1-2 second eccentric, you’d want to lower the load as slowly as possible to maximize the cross bridges. This is straight out of Brunnstrom’s Clinical Kinesiology textbook. You are equating speed with benefit and this is incorrect. Adequate load, not a fast speed, is the issue.
To point 2: I realize the torque output was NSD in the concentric 30 d/s compared to 180 d/s. So what? All this indicates is that fast concentric training is not superior to slow concentric training.
If you REALLY look at the table, you’ll see that the absolute difference between 30 d/s and 180 d/s within BOTH groups (ecc/con respectively) was minimal. 0.05 and 0.08. This is even more telling.
To point 3: You said “…time is better spent in the CON than ECC phase.” This is NOT what the Gillies study showed. It showed that a slower positive and a faster negative was superior to a faster positive contraction and slower negative. That’s it.
They did not have a slow positive and slow negative arm or a fast positive and fast negative arm. They changed two variables.
They could have kept it the same for both – 6 up, 2 down and 2 up, 2 down and 2 up 6 down and 6 up, 6 down. But either way, you cannot say from the current data that spending more time in the positive is superior.
To point 4: I suggest reading the chapter in Brunnstrom’s on muscle physiology. Studies are not the be all and end all of knowledge – you have to think things through using the current understanding of muscle physiology.
EX: If 100 pounds was your one rep max in a biceps barbell curl, in performing a negative only biceps curl set with 125#, for maximum hypertrophic benefit would you:
A. Lower the load in 1 second
B. Lower the load in 6 seconds
I think you know the answer. All the best.
Well I guess only one of us has bigger fish to fry ;), it’s time to move on.
1) Load is inappropriate for normalization of experimental groups in an isokinetic experiment as it is not constant. Referring to groups by velocity, as this is the clamped variable in the condition is appropriate. This is not and was never ignoring the resistance of the dynamometer, which varies according to velocity (Fig 2 perhaps), but also over the ROM and between individuals of differing strength. If I test two individuals at with maximal eccentrics at 30 d/s and one is stronger than the other, the dynamometer will provide greater resistance to maintain the eccentric velocity at 30d/s than for the weaker one. The stronger individual would be capable of producing more torque, and the dynamometer would move slower if dynamometer resistance didn’t change (feedback mechanism in action). Since the 30d/s is the constant, and resistance is variable between the two, dividing groups by velocity is appropriate when discussing the conditions. Also, the fact that isokinetic conditions are not replicative of isotonic conditions (gym conditions) is DIRECTLY acknowledged in the article, hence the additional search for isotonic data (Gillies, 2006), which is lacking (again, mentioned in the original article).
2) Again this was in reference to your previous comment, I’m not rehashing this again for you.
3) The Gilles et al 2006 shows that, for an equivalent total time under tension at an equivalent training intensity, a longer CON is preferable to a longer ECC. And yes, a longer CON or ECC phase means that velocity in the phase was slower. We are agreed that more experimental groups would have been beneficial, this is the case with most studies.
4) Ultimately, my interpretation of the scientific evidence to date is not supportive of prolonging the eccentric phase of the lift for the promotion of hypertrophy. I have no vested interest in this result, mainly because I haven’t constructed a training system based around the use of slow-training velocities. Rather, my philosophy is guided around the manipulation of multiple training variables in a way that is supported by a combination of personal experience, anecdote, and the scientific literature.
5) Clearly my views are in opposition to yours, I think everyone reading the site is well aware of that now (thanks to the power of repetition). You are entitled to your own opinion, you’ve had the opportunity to share it on my site, now call it a day. We require no further comment from you as you have given us all the info we need regarding your stance, even if you feel you must.
“I didn’t mean to discount the role of satellite cells in hypertrophy, however their precise role and contribution to muscle growth following strength training is not well defined. In this case, even if satellite cell kinetics varied with eccentric tempo, does it really matter when total hypertrophy is ultimately similar? Perhaps you could provide your references to suggest that satellite cell population kinetics are sensitive to eccentric tempos and that the difference correlates with the degree of hypertrophy as your argument alludes. Would be very interested in seeing this.”
Well, the eccentric portion is the main satellite cell recruiter as far as exercise is concerned. As a matter of fact, the stimulus triggers mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into satellite cells to increase myonuclei count. Now, if you’re talking about the sheer role of myonuclei and the myonuclear domains, as far as the big picture goes, the results are somewhat equivocal, correct. However, research does indicate reaching the proper lactic acid threshold in mmo/l (4.0) is ideal for hypertrophy.. this is achieved through slow eccentrics and 12-15 repetition sets.
Pgs 6/7: http://homepages.wmich.edu/~ccheatha/hper6760/files/Topic06-ResearchArticles.pdf
Now, let’s also establish that satellite cell activation is best achieved through high reps and high volume. It’s pretty clear that high volume is generally going to achieve the most optimal hypertrophic response, and we already know about the repetitions and TUT required. All I’m saying is, the correlation is there. By the way, the role of the proper lactic acid threshold being reached is proper rupturing of the sarcomeres. Any other questions, let me know.
Hi Shane, didn’t think I was going to hear back from you but your response doesn’t exactly address the original question.
1) Yes eccentrics induce damage and are effective at stimulating satellite cells, this is well established but alone is not an argument for a slow eccentric tempo. Do you have citations that slow eccentrics augment satellite cell activation over fast eccentrics?
2) Couldn’t see anywhere in your provided links that linked anything that you discuss to growth and hypertrophy. Could you provide some specific articles for us to review relevant to your statements? May be best to provide a link to it on Pubmed so we can retrieve it easily.
3) If you are going to say “research indicates” please provide the citation for us to review (re: 4.0mml/l ideal for hypertrophy)
4) Why are slow eccentrics optimal for getting us to 4.0mmol/l, do you have evidence that slow ECC are superior to fast? What about when matched to TUT, or work, or just to failure? Some citations also suggest that the if lactate is your goal, the response to a longer CON is greater than longer ECC for matched TUT. For example see http://home3/danogbor/public_html.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19430944
5) I meant a specific correlative analysis between satellite cell and hypertrophic response under various training velocity conditions, which I didn’t see in the provided links
6) Direct data trumps an indirect argument every time, so if we have data on whole-muscle hypertrophy or fibre-CSA, I wouldn’t discount that based on a theoretical argument.
First — and maybe last, why are we trying to equalize” TUT, days training per given time, work per workout or any other flippin’ thing across concepts? “Equalizing” just causes “concept lock”! Maybe I’m just getting slow in my old age but this “equalizing” BS is as archaic a concept as what the singular most advantageous resistance profile is!
That died with Arthur Jones and may they rest silently forever!
Kinda hope I’m wrong! Would love to get a discussion going about this!
Great article by the way! Jerry
You’ve read my mind as I have a post planned in dealing with how equalization is a necessary evil of the scientific method, but may impact how the results of studies are extrapolated to our real world scenarios. This issue is particularly important when considering the training frequency debate and hopefully I should have a post out soon on this if I can get my act together.
“””””DAN OGBORN : you’ve had the opportunity to share it on my site, now call it a day. We require no further comment from you as you have given us all the info we need regarding your stance, even if you feel you must.”””””
This is the first time I am visiting this site and I have to say:
Wow, If you can’t tolerate the opposite views or criticism , why not disabling the comment section?
Or at the top of the comment section you can ask your visitors/readers: ( don’t disagree with me).
I think you’ve missed the obvious point, the fact that these comments are on the site is a testament to the fact that I DO consider and encourage other viewpoints. You’ve judged me on the final comment, and not any of the responses above. Perhaps that wording was harsh, but it was not in reference to the fact that the commenter didn’t agree with the article, it was that they kept repeating the same arguments, had not read and/or understood my original article, weren’t acknowledging my points or answering my questions and were not adding any new information to the discussion.
I don’t have a problem with arguments, I do have a problem with circular and repetitious arguments. We all have the same amount of limited hours each day and we have to be selective with how we spend them. That discussion wasn’t the best use of my time. I countered the arguments (and published them on my site), and we do agree on some points, so I don’t see how you arrived at the conclusion that I don’t support other viewpoints.
At the very least, I’m glad it didn’t dissuade you from coming on here and disagreeing with me. And no, I won’t be disabling comments any time soon, and your “disclaimer” is erroneous and unnecessary.
I do however, appreciate that you’ve called me on the response, but in future feel free to add some constructive input on how you think I could have handled it better. That would be greatly appreciated.
All the best.
Thanks for the response
First of all I have to say: actually I enjoyed reading your debate/discussion with FREDRICK HAHN, it was very informative , and I believe both of you have shared valuable viewpoints.
but please reread your last comment:
“””you’ve had the opportunity to share it on my site, now call it a day. We require no further comment from you as you have given us all the info we need regarding your stance, even if you feel you must.”””
You are asking FREDRICK to stop commenting on this topic because you feel it’s a cirular arguement and have a problem with circular and repetitious arguments.
you could have declared :
I beileve/feel it’s a circular argument and I am not going to reply anymore or I feel no need to reply anymore, instead you ask him to stop commenting.
Why not “you” stop replyng to his comments and allow him post as much as he wants.?!
You are asking him stop commenting on the subject but giving the last comment by yourself with your viewpoints on it. You are giving yourself the chance to defend your viewpoints as the last comment again and asking him not to comment anymore, do you think it’s fair?!
It’s not fair and indeed not professional.
All the best
The only thing I would have changed was “we require no further comment from you unless it is adding new information“. And as your response mentions I was “asking” him to move on, not ordering or blocking him from doing so, as I could have easily done as well. The argument was circular (I mentioned this numerous times) and if someone comments on MY website, I will respond. If he came back with new info, and stopped mentioning that I don’t know how an isokinetic dynamometer works (when I obviously do), then the discussion would have continued amicably. If you may have noticed, I acknowledged differential resistance between conditions and the limited applicability of isokinetic to isotonic conditions in both the original article and right from the start of the discussion, yet this was ignored in every response.
The point of my last comment was to clarify misunderstandings and misrepresentations that occurred over the argument specific to those studies and the normalization of experimental groups in isokinetic dynamometry, as this is important to readers. Much of it wasn’t opinion but clarification of the use of isokinetic dynamometry in research studies and the direct results of Gillies et al 2006. The accuracy of the content on my site is important to me so this necessitated my response.
If you want to call that getting the last word in, then it is what it is. I guess that’s the advantage of having your own website ;)!
Fred, as many know, is one of the disciples of the “Super Slow Cult”.
Anything that goes against any tenement of the “Super Slow Cult” amount to proclaiming their god is dead.
Anything/anyone that invalidates “Fred Religion” is viewed as personal attack on Fred, his god, his religion, etc.
Thus, Fred manipulate information to validate his “Super Slow Religion”.
Basically, Fred refutes research data with this thought…
“Don’t confuse me with the facts.”
Also, as one of the “Super Slow Disciples”, a large part of Fred’s life is the salvation of lost souls, such as yourself Dan. My soul is lost. 🙁
With that said, Super Slow Protocol has a place in the “Training Tool Box”. I applied it and experimented with around 1995.
However, Super Slow is not the “Holy Grail”!!!
It would be interesting to see if and how slow tempos both concentric and eccentric relate to technical mastery. Slow ecentrics and to a lesser degree concentric seem to be popular with Olympic and Powerlifters during squats and pulls. I have also trained coachesd and graininess along side short track speed skaters that did a multitude of slow resisted exercise movements trying to replicate actions from the ice. Based on this data some coaches falsely claim better strength and hypertrophy. But others make the claim that they are improving their ability to hold positions better. If this hypothesis is valid it may be due to improvements in isometric strength in supporting muscle groups such as the back and torso and or possibly just slowing the movement down could create improved better motor learning. I would be interested in your thoughts
When considering task specific performance (as opposed to general adaptations like hypertrophy and strnegth), if the task is slow or static, I would expect training conditions that emulate that to transfer to a higher degree.
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