Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson uses eccentric exercise to build muscle, says his strength coach.
It is about lengthening the muscles under tension, such as when you lower a weight (called negative repetition).
Eccentric exercises can build strength and more muscle in less time, research suggests.
Don’t just focus on lifting weights: Lowering them can help you build the most muscle in half the time, a small new study suggests.
Researchers from Edith Cowen University in Australia tested different types of dumbbell exercises on a group of 53 university students during 10 training sessions over five weeks.
They found that the most efficient way to build strength and muscle was to focus on the downward part of the exercise, known as the “eccentric contraction,” or putting tension on the muscles as they lengthen.
Their findings won’t come as a surprise to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is one of many elite athletes who embraces the eccentric exercise. This specific move was a crucial part of The Rock’s black adam workouts to take his fitness to the next level, his strength and conditioning coach Dave Rienzi told Insider.
According to the study, published in September 2022 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, The participants who did the eccentric exercise had the same strength gains and more muscle growth, but did half as many repetitions, compared to their partners who did the more typical exercise (raising and lowering weights).
“This latest study shows that we can be much more efficient in the time we spend exercising and still see significant results if we focus on eccentric muscle contractions,” Ken Nosaka, study co-author and professor of sport and exercise science at Edith Cowen University. he said in a press release.
How to do a ‘negative’ rep
Most traditional exercises also include a concentric contraction, which involves shortening the muscle, often while lifting a weight.
Concentric exercise has benefits for improving strength and endurance, so doing both types of exercise (concentric and eccentric) can help you be a well-rounded athlete, Chris Travis, owner and trainer of Seattle Strength and Performance, previously told Insider.
You can also do eccentric versions of exercises with dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebell, or body weight. An eccentric exercise involves holding a weight while lowering it, sometimes called a negative repetition.
Examples of eccentric bodyweight exercises include:
Create a tempo counting to five as you lower into a squat or lunge
Descending slowly from the top of a pull-up
Lower yourself to the bottom position of a push-up
If you’re using weights, Nosaka recommends using both arms to lift a weight, and then using just one arm to lower it for exercises like the shoulder press, bicep curl, or overhead extension. gym machines how knee extensions and leg curls can help you use a similar technique for lower-body gains, he said in the press release.
Eccentric exercise can build muscle in novice or professional athletes
A advantage of eccentric exercise is that it can be safe for beginners and helps develop good form and prevent injury, according to Travis.
“We do a lot of eccentric work because it builds muscle so well and we do it in a way that people who are starting strength training don’t move too fast and understand range of motion,” he said.
But they’re just as good for experienced athletes, The Rock’s strength coach Rienzi previously told Insider.
“I love negatives. The mental thing with the negatives is that you are thinking about controlling the weight or fighting the weight on the way down. You are exerting more effort,” she said. “It is one of the most effective techniques in my opinion.”
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