In lifting or performance enhancement, we typically think of eccentrics as the “slow movements” on the lowering portion of a lift. If the word eccentric is foreign to you, try to think of it as the lowering portions of the lift (lowering th dumbells to your chest, descending down in a squat) or the decelerating portion of movements such as landing or making a cut to change direction. What people often fail to recognize is that most injuries happen when trying to slow down (being able to decelerate effectively). For the purpose of this post, I wanted to show very simple ways to think of eccentric stress besides doing “negatives” or slow lifting for exercises and how you can minimize the eccentric stress at first. Minimizing eccentric stress can be significantly important at first because most may not be strong enough to effectively decelerate their body. By the way, if you have ever tried any tempo training methods such as performing a lift with a constant tempo (think: DB chest press with a 2-0-2 tempo: press up in 2 seconds, lower in 2 seconds without any pauses) I encourage you to try them. They are difficult, force you to focus on form, help the fibers become more fatigue resistant, can improve strength, and improve size. Dan Gableman shows a eccentric emphasis for bench here…
More along the lines of what I am thinking is how to minimize eccentric stress with athletes at first and then progress to more and more eccentric stress as they improve.
#1 Box Jumps: landing on a box help minimize this stress and far too often people jump immediately into typical plyo exercises (no pun intended!). The problem with this is that the volume is often way to high and the quality is typically low which increases the chances of injury.
(ginormous white cotton socks not included)
#2 Vertical Jumps (land in exact same place)/ Broad Jumps: we typically use box and vertical jumps with our younger athletes and then progress to broad jumps. Here is a progression to those first two– hybrid broad +vertical jump. Kevin came up with this idea.
**Always focus on the landing, it usually goes overlooked anytime you see people performing some form of jump (think soft with butt back/ knees out)
Always try to remember that explosive training has a significant eccentric demand especially the bigger the athlete is. Consequently, do not be afraid to start with box jumps (at least for most athletes). The bigger than athlete is, the more pounding his body takes when they run, cut, or jump so minimizing that stress in the weight room can be really helpful and box jumps is an awesome way to start. From there you can progress from jumps to hops (1-leg landings). Start with shorter distances or heights and progress to longer or taller distances/heights. Here is an example for starting hops in a program (advanced acl prevention, hip stability–eccentric control)
1-Leg Hurdle Hops with Stick