By Jenny Gusella
Certified Personal Trainer, @jennykgoose
If you’re looking for a way to switch up your fitness routine, you may not need any new equipment, or even any new moves — the key to unlocking new strength gains could be in the speed in which you perform the very same exercises. Slowing down your movement during the eccentric portion of the move can dramatically increase the intensity, leading to a tougher sweat session.
First, let’s talk about eccentric vs. concentric movement. The eccentric portion of any movement can be thought of as the “lowering” motion, i.e. lowering down into your squat or lunge, lowering the weights downward in a bicep curl, or lowering the weights toward the ground in a bent over row. The concentric portion of the movement is the “upward” motion. So, any time you slow down the eccentric portion of the movement, you are essentially slowing the weight (or yourself) on the descent to the ground. And, as it turns out, fighting gravity is hard work!
How do you get started putting eccentric work into your fitness routine? Try changing the tempo of just 1 of your exercises for the day. Doing eccentric work may leave you feeling extra sore the next day, so it’s important to start with a small volume of work, and then you could always expand from there.
Eccentric work is helpful not only to gain strength, but it’s also a great way to train if you are short on equipment. A 45 pound kettlebell may not seem very challenging for ten goblet squats, but if you slow the eccentric part of those squats down to three seconds per rep, that kettlebell is suddenly going to feel a lot heavier!
In short: slowing things down is a quick way to make easy moves harder.