Strength Training

10 Best Eccentric Strength Training Exercise Benefits

eccentric strength training

If you’re looking to increase muscle strength, then you’ll want to focus on eccentric exercises.  

Any exercise that requires movement of a joint will comprise of different contractions.

These are known as:

  • Concentric contraction
  • Isometric contraction
  • Eccentric contraction

Concentric training will help you to increase muscle size.  

So, if your goal is to add muscle mass, concentric movements are the way to go.  

During the concentric phase of an exercise your muscle produces greater force than the weight load placed on it which allow the weight to move.  

pull up

During an isometric contraction, resistance is applied to a specific muscle without any movement from the joint.

This makes isometric exercises ideal for rehabbing injured muscle fibers or joints where there could be a limited range of motion.  

During the eccentric phase of an exercise, there will be less force placed on the muscle when compared to the weight load on it.  

In this article, we’re going to look at how the eccentric movement during exercise can help you to increase your muscle strength.  

What is Eccentric Strength Training?

Eccentric strength training is to focus on the part of the exercise where you lower the weight and lengthen the muscle. 

An eccentric muscle contraction, when performed slowly and with control, is sometimes referred to as negative training or eccentric loading.  

The goal during an eccentric exercise is to deliberately overload the muscle which be done with free weights or a person’s bodyweight. 

However, that’s not to say that each time your muscle lengthens this is an eccentric contraction.  

leg raise

If you were to stretch a specific muscle, as there is no resistance, the muscle is not producing any force even though it’s still lengthening.    

To simplify it, let’s take the pull up exercise as an example.  

  • When pulling yourself up, this is the concentric phase and causes your bicep to shorten. Resistance comes in the way of your bodyweight.
  • If you then pause at the top, this would be an isometric hold with resistance placed on your bicep but no joint activation.
  • When you lower yourself back down slowly, your muscle lengthens and this is the eccentric component.

Eccentric Strength Training Benefits

Let’s look at how eccentric muscle actions can benefit you and why they can play an important role in your training session for strength gains and muscle mass.  

Increased Muscle Strength

Your muscles can typically handle heavier weights during eccentric actions.  

For this reason, it’s easier to overload the working muscles leading to better strength gains when compared to concentric muscle contractions.  

Improved Athletic Performance

By improving eccentric strength, you can increase the amount of force your muscles produce.  

This is important for advanced athletes during certain sports such as powerlifting, sprinting and football, all of which require explosiveness during movement.  

Increased Muscle Hypertrophy

Evidence has shown that eccentric strength training can also increase muscle size as well as strength.  

As the muscles contract mechanical or muscle tension is generated.  This tension causes microscopic tears to muscle fibers.  

This is known as exercise-induced muscle damage. 

The recovery time leads to an increase in muscle growth.  

It’s important to consider that intense eccentric exercises can result in delayed onset muscle soreness also known as ‘DOMS’.  Sufficient recovery time is therefore essential to build muscle.  

Increased Stability and Muscle Control

When your muscles have to resist eccentric forces, this can help to improve the stability of your joints and strength of your tendons thus putting you at less risk of injury.  

This is one of the reasons a physical therapist may use eccentric exercises as part of a rehab program as they can help to restore muscle function post injury.  

Better Range of Motion and Mobility

When your muscles become stronger this helps to better support the joints making them less susceptible to the effects of wear and tear.  

Furthermore, range of motion is improved along with flexibility and mobility of the joints.  

This can help to keep common aches and pains at bay whilst making everyday activities that much easier to undertake. 

Improved Metabolic Response

Eccentric training is considered high intensity with greater muscle fiber recruitment when compared to concentric training.  

Consequently, this can create a higher EPOC effect.  

EPOC, sometimes called the afterburn effect, stands for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.  

It happens post exercise when the body’s oxygen and metabolism both increase in order to bring the body back to its normal resting state.  

Reduces Training Duration

If you don’t have a huge amount of time to commit to strength training programs, then eccentric training can offer a more time-efficient way to workout. 

As the eccentric phase typically involves handling heavy weight, you can expect to achieve similar training effects whilst performing less repetitions compared to traditional concentric training.  

This could potentially reduce your overall training time.

Better Mind-Muscle Connection

Eccentric training methods involve performing each repetition consciously and deliberately.  

By focussing on the particular muscle group that’s being worked, you can improve your muscle to mind connection.

This helps to recruit more muscle fibers which further boosts strength.  

Improved Cognitive Function

Eccentric-focused exercises help to improve blood flow and nutrients to the brain.  This has a positive effect on neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.  

These help your brain to reorganize and form new neural connections which in turn leads to better learning and cognition whilst speeding up the function of the brain.    

Alleviate Stress & Anxiety

As training in a gym can often be a social activity for many this helps to reduce the symptoms of stress.  

What’s more, resistance-based workouts have been shown to lower anxiety levels in both healthy adults and those suffering from either a physical or mental illness.   

Examples of Eccentric Strength Exercises

It’s worth remembering that virtually any exercise can be performed where your attention is placed on the eccentric portion of the lift and as the muscle length increases.  

Below are some examples of resistance exercises that focus on the eccentric contraction.  

As long as you concentrate on proper form, you can aim to lift heavier as when the muscles lengthen, they can typically resist higher weight loads.  

An eccentric rep should always be performed slower than the concentric rep.

It can sometimes be useful to count anywhere from 3 to 5 seconds during an eccentric contraction.  Essentially, the slower you lower the weight the better the muscle activation.   

Eccentric Squat

You would concentrate on a slow and controlled descent.  The descent should be performed slower than the ascent.  

barbell squat

Eccentric Barbell Deadlift

As your lower the bar back to the ground, this should be done as slow as possible for maximum muscle engagement. 

conventional deadlift

Eccentric Forward Lunge

As you step forward and begin to lower your back knee to the ground, this is the part that should be performed slowly. 

forward lunge

Eccentric Bench Press

Very slowly lower the barbell towards your chest then power back up to the starting position.  

wide grip bench press

Eccentric Push Up

Lowering the body towards the ground would be completed as slowly as you can manage.  

eccentric push up

Is Eccentric Strength Training Better?

Research does seem to show that a person’s muscles are at their strongest during an eccentric contraction.  This is because it’s resisting more gravitational forces meaning it has to work that much harder.  

Consequently, this does mean that you can expect to see significant strength gains and muscle growth when regularly performing an eccentric workout.  

That being said, if you only perform eccentric exercises, this can result in over-trained muscles and a plateau where your strength gains will then stall.  

Even though you’ll likely be performing less reps, you’ll be lifting more weight which causes fatigue to set in faster.  

In summary, this does mean that the concentric portion of the lift is just as important as the eccentric part.  


It’s important to remember that eccentric training can place significant stress on muscles and connective tissues. Therefore, it’s crucial to gradually introduce and progress with eccentric exercises.  

It’s also a good idea to seek guidance from a personal trainer or other qualified fitness professional to ensure proper technique and minimize the risk of injury.

Overall, it’s generally recommended to combine a variety of training methods into your weekly workouts.  This would include both eccentric and concentric training for muscle and strength gains.  

But don’t forget about cardiovascular workouts.  

All of this, combined with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle, can lead to a healthy body and mind. 

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