I’ve signed up to an email newsletter from Jonathan Bailor (the Author of the book Smarter Science of Slim) along with his podcasts. And I have to say, they make very interesting reading / listening. See here for more on the Smarter Science of Slim & here: A change will do you good.
He recently emailed about ‘Why Eccentric Exercise Works So Well’… you can see more detail here on a guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple. Here’s what I’ve taken from it (along with what I already know about being a woman who strength trains):
WHAT IS ECCENTRIC, CONCENTRIC & HYPERTROHPY?
- Eccentric is the lowering of a weight.
- Concentric is the lifting of a weight.
- Hypertrophy is an increase in the size of a muscle from the formation of new muscle cells.
I’ve always been a believer that we (women) should lift heavy weights , and I’d like to take this a bit further and change it to we (women should LIFT heavy weights and LOWER even heavier weights).
See below for my reasoning for this (taken from Smarter Science of Slim guest post of Mark’s Daily Apple!) :
IS THERE RISK OF ME ‘BULKING UP’ AND LOOKING LIKE A MAN IF I STRENGTH TRAIN?
- When women strength train, it’s hard for us (and some men) to ‘bulk up’ from strength training.
- This is due to hormones, biology and genes.
- Few people can become ‘bulky’ from weight / strength training.
- It doesn’t matter how much resistance we use, we generally don’t have the genes or biology to build bulky muscles.
- No matter how much most people resistance train, they will never develop more muscle than their genes allow.
- Just like a genetically gifted sprinter, if you are genetically gifted to ‘bulk up’ you will, otherwise, you most probably won’t.
CARDIO VS HIGH INTENSITY STRENGTH TRAINING
- Conventional wisdom tells us to exercise (steady state cardio) for an hour a day.
- Steady State Cardio Exercise (CE) only activates one of the four types of muscle fibres we have.
- The different types of fibres are: Slow Twitch: Type 1, Type 2a, Type 2x & Fast Twitch: Type 2b.
- Like we have different muscles to do different things, we have different muscle fibres to do different things.
- For example, Type 1 muscle fibres allow us to do low force work for a long time (running steady state cardio)
- In contrast, Type 2b muscle fibres allow us to do high force work for a short time (lifting heavy things)
- When we do high force and short duration exercise, we work our Type 2b fibres as well as the other 3 types.
- Type 1 fibres attempt it, they aren’t powerful enough, so Type 2a are recruited, then Type 2x and finally Type 2b fibres.
- Working all four muscle fibre types, and especially Type 2b muscle fibres is more metabolically beneficial than working one or two (more fat burn, development and afterburn).
- The more muscle fibres we work, the better.
LOWERING HEAVY THINGS TO MAXIMISE MUSCULAR FORCE
- Remember: Concentric = lifting or contraction. Eccentric = lowering or extension.
- Lifting weights gets the most attention, but LOWERING weights is more beneficial.
- Lowering weights enables us to generate more force, develop more muscle and burn more fat.
- Greater force can be developed during the lowering (eccentric phase) of weights, than the lifting (concentric phase).
- If you want to see how much stronger you are on the lowering phase, go on a seated row or chest press machine, and select a weight that you can’t lift with one arm, but you can lift easily with two. Lift it with two arms and cautiously relax one arm. Observe as you are able to lower the heavy resistance with one arm. You couldn’t lift the weight with one arm, but you can lower it with one arm because your muscles are literally stronger on the way down.
- Your muscles can generate more force lowering heavy things than lifting them!
HOW TO LOWER HEAVY THINGS
- Warm up by walking briskly, jogging, skipping or riding a bike for a few minutes.
- Pick a resistance you cannot lift with one arm or leg—depending on the exercise—but can easily lift with both arms or legs. Let’s say 50 pounds.
- Lift the resistance with both arms or legs. Each arm or leg is lifting about half the weight—25 pounds in this example.
- Lower the resistance with only one arm or leg for ten seconds. Each arm or leg slowly—count to 10—lowers all the weight—50 pounds in our example.
- Repeat until it is impossible to lower the resistance with only one arm or leg for ten seconds. If this takes more than six repetitions, gradually add resistance until it only takes six repetitions.
- Smile because previously you would have stopped doing this exercise when you could no longer lift 25 pounds per limb, and now you are stopping when you can no longer lower 50 pounds per limb.
- With this technique you can lower heavy things – think Leg Press: Push your body back away from the Leg Press plate with two legs, then lower with one leg.
- Use machines in the gym which work both legs or both arms at the same time, so that you can lower the weight with one limb.
- Lift resistance with both arms or legs – lower resistance with one arm or leg.
- Choose a shared source of resistance.
- Exercise eccentrically (lowering weight) only when little if any balance is required.
So now in the gym, I’m going to try and lift my weights with both limbs for 5-6 reps, and lower the resistance reps 5-6 reps, then repeat with the other limb….
Put simply LOWER for 5 (or 10) – hold it – then LIFT for 1.
We do it in Bodypump, and other more controlled workouts, so why not do it when we’re in the gym on our own! I’ll maybe give it a try tomorrow.
Fingers crossed it works out for me. 🙂
Have you tried it? Or are you going to try it? Let me know what you think. 🙂
MORE POSTS FROM ME ABOUT WEIGHTS & STRENGTH TRAINING & SMARTER SCIENCE OF SLIM