The most neglected phase of strength training that is holding you back from reaching your fitness goals

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      One of the worse things for me I see in a gym is people with bad form and technique. You see the guy doing the barbell chest press by arching his back during the movement. Or the woman who is doing a squat but looks like she is bowing to someone. Makes me want to “scream”. We have all seen it but I bet some of you thought they were doing the exercises correctly.You can tell these people had not got any proper training. All everyone is doing is focusing on lifting and pulling the most weight possible without any regard to their form and technique. This is a sure way to injure yourself and prolong you from reaching your fitness goals. I’m going to briefly talk to you about the area where I see neglected in the weight room…”The Eccentric Phase”.

      When I first train a client, I focus on the eccentric phase of the lift.  Now what is the eccentric phase? It is the lowering phase of an exercise. Fitness people call this the “negative” where you are going against gravity. Take for example the barbell chest press where you are laying on your back. When you lower the bar to your chest you are in the eccentric phase. Most people I see neglect performing this phase the proper way. People perform this phase too fast which often results in injuries and muscles not being worked. I like to use a 3-4 second tempo in this phase which makes sure I’m working my muscles and not letting momentum do the work. This is very important for beginner clients which cuts their risk of injury, and helps their mind and body connect with the exercise movement. This phase should be used the first 6-8 weeks with beginner trainees and with light weight and in the repetition range between 15-20.

       This phase a training can also be used for more experienced and seasoned clients and people who have worked out for a long time who want to build strength and power.  There are 2 methods that I like to use. Let’s use the chest press as an example. To build strength I would load the barbell 120% of my maximum. I would lower the bar to my chest in a 4-6 second tempo/count. I would then have a spotter lift the bar off my chest. It is very important to have a good spotter when doing this type of training. I would do 4 sets of 5 repetitions of this type of training. This kind of training will definitely help you get stronger by helping you to handle heavy loads of weight which means more muscle. And more muscle is a good thing. This type of training is very taxing on the body and should be use no more than 4 times a month per body part. I guarantee you are going to be sore.  

        The second method in the eccentric phase of training I like to use for strength and power is where you lower the bar as fast as you can and push it up as fast as you can. This is called speed/power training. The focus during this type of training is on the lifting motion or “concentric phase”. The weight is light during this phase and repetitions should between 3-10. This phase is great for athletes looking to build power, speed, and strength. It is also great for the at home mom, but this phase should only be used for people who are intermediate – advanced. So make sure you have been training for at least a good year before attempting to train in this method. Overall you will be stronger, more athletic, faster, and you will put on muscle which will make you an overall healthy and fit person. 

         It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or an athlete: Everyone can benefit from lifting weights when used correctly and with proper form and technique. Always remember the eccentric phase when lifting to maximize your workouts which will make you a stronger, more powerful, healthy, and fit person.

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