Eccentric Strength Development

What are good exercises for eccentric strength development, espec hamstrings? How do you develop the hamstring to cope with the forces when it is at full stretch just after the support phase? My hamstring tends to tear/strain at speed just above the knee on the outside as I pull my foot through.

Also, should plyometrics be done before or after speed work.


Plyos are done after speed work as speed work is top priority.

I know the priority work should always come first in a session but are there any other reasons why plyos in particular should not come before sprinting?

1 - Ground contact times: this varies according to whether you’re doing bounds or low drop jumps, for example, and in all cases is likely to be longer than the GCT for sprinting. If a long GCT session precedes a sprint session will the quality of the sprint be compromised?

2 - Fatigue: obviously some fatigue associated with plyos but will this be a problem with adequate (in my case won’t be more than 30 mins due to time constraints) rest between sessions?

3 - CSN/Muscular stimulation: can a short plyos session improve the quality of a sprint session due to the high intensity and corresponding CNS/muscular stimulation or will the plyos session be higher quality if preceded by sprinting?

4 - If I have no choice but to put the plyos first, are there specific types of exercise that should be included/avoided?

Also, following on from my first post, is EMS any use for eccentric strength development?

y would you have no choice? the weightroom is understandable as when it is open etc… but order of a sprint workout? sprinting first, if you cant do sprint first, plyo second then you could drop them. light bounds etc could be included in warm up…

Glute Ham Raises

maybe some reactive Glute ham raises or OI GHRs ala DBhammer :slight_smile:

on a proper machine though

What are these?

What are the benefits of eccentric strength?

  1. Eccentric strength training results in greater hypertrophy than concentric.
  2. Eccentric strength training results in greater gains to the eccentric portion of an exercise. It improves your capacity to yield better than concentric strength training.
  3. It’s beneficial for connective tissue and to prevent injuries. See:
  4. The loads used for eccentric strength training can be much greater than concentric. Therefore when you’re squatting 225 for reps the bar will feel like nothing since you’ve done an eccentric squat of 350.

I have found it can be an advantage to work the hamstring while your leg is at full extension but it is difficult to do this with most common exercises. My favorite is the reverse hyper done with the strap low on the foot with completely straight legs and performed explosively with a quick eccentric.

You can see a video of a reverse hyperextension here:

Also as mentioned glute-ham raises can be effective.

Here is a video of a glute-ham raise:

If you have one or find a way to rig up your own you can do a variation where you just concentrate on the point wher you are parallel and come 1/3 of the way up with your legs straight and toes pointed against the platform. From this narrow range just do very quick reactive reps.

Maybe the correct question to ask you was, what exactly IS eccentric and concentric strength training?

An eccentric contraction occurs when a muscle lengthens under tension. Eccentric training therefore emphasises the yielding part of a lift. THis is sometimes called ‘negative’ training.

David I am being very pedantic but don’t biomechanists prefer actions rather than contractions?

So then, if I am understanding this correctly, squats, bench press, etc. can be considered an eccentric contraction correct?

The portion of the lifts where the bar is lowered is the eccentric phase of the lift. The concentric phase is when the bar is raised.

Ok, well then what lifts/exercises are considered eccentric and what are considered concentric?

Most exercises are a combination of both. You unrack the bar from the bench and lower it to your chest. That is the eccentric phase of the bench press. You then press it from your chest to lockout. That is the concentric phase. The best way to improve your eccentric strength is to due the yielding (eccentric) phase with more weight than the concentric or a slower tempo. CT’s 2nd book really explains this well.

Ok, all that makes sense. I have one more question though. Why would you only want to improve eccentric or concentric strength and not both simultaneously?

Eccentric strength training seems to work wonders for tendonitis. Eccentric strength training with supra-maximal loads does things that concentric training can never do because of the signifigantly larger load that can be used. You hit the nail on the head though. Of course you want to improve both at the same time. I know of zero ways to do multiple concentric reps without an eccentric and vice versa. But sometimes you want to emphasize certain portions of the lift for your needs. In fact there is crossover between the two. Improving your maximal concentric strength improves your maximal eccentric strength and vice versa.

Olympic lifts are (almost) concentric only. :wink:

Use loads >100% sparingly and at low volumes - they cause considerable CNS fatigue. I have found eccentric training quite effective for resetting the Golgi tendon organ (i.e. to decrease neural inhibition).