So overspeed eccentrics is a pretty new field in the world of weightlifting. In fact, you won’t really see it if at all being utilized in gyms. To really see it in action you would probably need to go to one of those very special type underground gyms that specialize in raw strength development.
At the moment however, overspeed eccentrics are really only something that the pros make use of. If you ask me, this is really a shame because the whole concept of overspeed eccentrics to get stronger makes complete sense. Ok, it sounds complicated and something that doesn’t seem necessary for everyday weightlifters, but trust me, if you want to shield yourself from plateaus and setbacks, this is a great method to make us of. If you ask me, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Sounds complicated, but really it’s quite simple to implement into your training.
Why The Eccentric Part Of A Movement
As you know, in any exercise your muscle goes through a series of actions: concentric (muscle shortening), eccentric (muscle lengthening) and isometric (no change in length). The constant transition between these different actions is what allows your muscle to produce the necessary force needed to successfully complete a movement. But that’s the boring part. The interesting part is what happens between the eccentric and concentric phases of muscle action. Really, there is a bit of magic you can make use of to increase your strength. Why is this important? If you can get stronger, then you can overload more over time and thus keep making those awesome size and strength gains that you want. The magic I am talking about is kinetic energy. In all of this, kinetic energy is going to become your new best friend.
“There is a bit of magic you can make use of to increase your strength”.
Here is a bit of simple physics for you. What happens when you stretch a coiled spring and let it go? It immediately shrinks back into its shortened state. That’s pretty simple, right? This all happens because kinetic energy is stored when you stretch the spring. This build up of energy is then used to snap the spring back into its shortened state. This process is exactly the same when it comes to muscle actions. When a muscle stretches (eccentric), a build up of kinetic energy will occur. This kinetic energy will transform into reflex and elastic energy, which can be used to increase force production (your strength), power output and speed in the concentric portion of an exercise. Since the amount of kinetic energy is largely influenced by the speed of an object, the faster you perform the eccentric portion of an exercise, the more kinetic energy you will be able to build up. The good thing for you is that you can use this extra kinetic energy to improve your force production (strength), power and speed output on the concentric. Behold! You become stronger at the exercise and you will realize more size and strength gains.
- “A” represents a typical eccentric muscle action: the muscle goes from a shortened (concentric) to an elongated (eccentric state)
- “B” represents the kinetic energy stored as the muscle undergoes elongation (eccentric phase of exercise)
- “C” represents the fact that the faster the eccentric phase of an exercise, the more kinetic energy that can be stored in the muscle and subsequently used to increase force, power and speed output during the concentric (muscle shortening) phase. More size and strength gains over the long-term!
The Bench Press
How do you improve your strength on the bench press? Simple! You can use overspeed eccentrics. Given that many weightlifters plateau frequently on the bench press, overspeed eccentrics might just be what they have been looking for. You might have seen people performing two different bench press techniques: paused and touch-and-go. With the paused bench press, you simply lower the weight (eccentric) to your chest, hold and then push it back up (concentric). In touch-and-go, there is no hold. It is simply bar down and then immediately up. Most of the time, it’s a lot easier performing a touch-and-go over a paused bench press. Why? If you pause at the chest you break up the eccentric and concentric parts of the exercise. This reduces the influence of stored kinetic energy on your power, force and speed output in the concentric part of the movement. With touch-and-go, the quick transitions between the eccentric and concentric means the kinetic energy stored can be efficiently utilized to enhance power, speed and force output in the concentric part.
“How do you improve your strength on the bench press? Simple! You can use overspeed eccentrics”.
A nice method of improving your bench press strength is to use those multicolored power bands. By attaching bands to the bench rack and the bar, the tension in the bands will increase at lockout (arms fully extended with bar in the air). These stretched bands will then act to pull the bar down to your chest. As the bands allow you to do this faster than gravity itself, it allows an incredible amount of kinetic energy to be built up during the eccentric part of the bench. This kinetic energy will then be converted into reflex and elastic energy that will serve to increase your force output, speed and power during the upward bar movement. Great right! The added advantages of using bands over simply touch-and-go, means that any strength imbalances during the movement are evened out. What I mean by this is, is that during the bench press the top portion of the movement is usually easier than at the chest. With bands, the increased tension will make it just as hard at the top (lockout) as at the bottom. Also, the fact that you have to accelerate more through this part of the movement means you develop increased force production capabilities (strength). Ultimately, a nice mix of bands and overspeed eccentrics will boost your strength capabilities to a new level.
Don’t Perform Exercises Intentionally Slow
Regardless of what you have read in muscle magazines and on forums, slowing your weightlifting down will just make your journey harder and sub-optimal. For real, consistent progress, you need enhanced force, speed and power capabilities. Sorry to say, but that won’t come from deliberately slow reps. It just won’t. The only skill you will gain from performing slow reps is: becoming slow. It really has been proven that learning to lift with greater speed will make you stronger, more powerful and faster. That is everything you need to make consistent gains in size and strength over time.
If you have any questions about the article or would like to discuss further some of the topics mentioned, then please feel free to leave comments down below!