THE SCIENCE BEHIND HIGH SPEED ECCENTRIC WORKOUTS
Workout crazes come and go. Most have little or no scientific justification, but many bring results. The question is, do the results reflect your efforts? Muscles are highly adaptable (plastic), so almost any program stressing the muscles will cause some improvements in muscle strength and size. Often, hard work in the gym doesn’t produce enough results to justify the training method. High-speed eccentrics bring rapid results and we have the science to prove it.
Negatives or eccentric muscle contractions create more muscle tension than any other form of exercise. As stated, fast eccentrics create more tension than slow eccentrics. During conventional weight training exercises, such as curls, bench presses, or squats, you have the capacity to lower more weight than you can push during the lift. You create more muscle tension contracting the muscles eccentrically (lowering the weight) than contracting them concentrically (pushing the weight). The results of concentric and eccentric training are highly specific— concentric exercise produces the greatest changes in concentric strength and eccentric exercise produces the greatest changes in eccentric strength. Incorporating exercises that use concentric, eccentric and static muscle contractions into your weight-training program causes varied adaptations. Ideally, your program should include all three types of exercises for the greatest training adaptation.
Researchers from McMasters University in Canada— led by Dr. Tim Shepstone— published a remarkable study in January, 2005 showing that high-speed eccentric exercise stimulated muscle hypertrophy and built strength better than slow eccentric training (the movement resembled traditional negatives). They did muscle biopsies showing that high-speed training was best for increasing the size of fast-twitch muscle fibers and it created the most damage to Z-bands— muscle fiber structures particularly susceptible to injury during weight training. Scientists believe Z-band damage and repair is the major process involved in making muscles larger and stronger. They concluded the greater hypertrophy seen from fast eccentric training was due to a greater amount of protein remodeling as a result of greater Z-band damage.
Damaged muscle cells create satellite cells during the repair process, which are muscle cells consisting of just a nucleus. Muscle growth factors can cause the satellite cells to combine with muscle cells stressed or damaged during training and assist in cell repair and adaptation. Satellite cell formation is important because it maintains a balance between the number of cell nuclei and cell mass, which is critical for protein synthesis and muscle cell repair.
Following injury caused by weight training, muscle cells go into overdrive to make new proteins to repair the damage and strengthen the muscle to withstand future stresses. Measurable changes in muscle size take weeks. Why does it take so long? Muscle size reflects the balance between making new protein and breaking down old protein. Muscle breakdown accelerates after a heavy workout— often exceeding the rate of protein synthesis. Catabolic (breakdown) hormones, such as corticosteroids, and anti-growth factors, such as myostatin, speed the rate of muscle breakdown after exercise. Your goal is to speed the rate of muscle hypertrophy and slow the rate of muscle breakdown.
Fast speed eccentrics push the hypertrophy process because of the high muscle tension it produces during the workout, but you must give the muscles rest and nutrition if they’re to grow optimally. Consume a protein shake or energy bar containing 30 grams of protein immediately after training. Give the target muscles (biceps and triceps) enough rest to recovery before repeating high-speed eccentrics.
Scientists have an amazing tool called electromyography (EMG), which shows how much muscles work during specific exercises, such as bench presses, squats, curls, sit-ups and curl-ups. EMG measures the electrical activity of muscles. Scientists place electrodes over a muscle belly. The harder the muscle works, the more electricity is measured on the EMG. By placing the EMG electrodes (pads that pick up the electrical signal in the muscles) on key muscle groups, scientists can tell which exercises are best for building size and definition. We used the results of EMG studies to choose the best exercises for the Fast Eccentric Arm-Blaster Workout.