Eccentric training will make you stronger. But what is this?

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concentric training movements they involve positive resistance to forces, for example when pulling up during a pull-up, or when pushing up during a push-up. Either way, primary muscles always shorten (contract). Eccentric muscle contractions involve resistance to negative forces, such as lowering during a pull-up or push-up. During these movements, muscle fibers lengthen as they contract to maintain control.

Climbing is mostly about concentric movements, but we are also forced to go down from time to time; as when descending to rest, or testing prey while trying to solve a puzzling crux. It would be easy to predict that we should focus primarily on training concentric movements, as these are the main requirement in climbing, especially when almost all concentric exercises (like a pull-up) also include an eccentric movement as part of the deal. All research concludes that strength gains are the result of exercises that combine both types of movement. However, there are also strong additional advantages to focusing on eccentric movements from time to time as part of an overall strength training campaign.

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eccentric training can be used to build climbing strength in three main ways:

The first is “forced reps”, where you keep doing the negative part of the movement after you can no longer perform the positive part. An example would be doing pull-ups to the point of failure, then using a step or fulcrum to allow you to do more “negatives”, where you go down and continue again to failure. This allows you to extend the array further into the fault zone. Most research concludes that forced rep sets are good for strength training, and that fewer sets with forced reps are better than more sets without. A guideline for weighted pull-ups for a lower-intermediate climber might be (after warming up) to do 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps plus 2-3 forced reps, rather than 5-6 sets with no forced reps. Those who rise to a higher level must follow the pyramid structure (sets of 10, 6, 4, 6, 10). Again, each set should end with 2-3 forced reps.

the second way One thing that eccentric training can be used for is to do “pure negatives,” where you only do the eccentric part of a movement. The advantage here is that you can train with much higher weights than would be possible with exercises that combine concentric and eccentric movements. If used strategically, negative sets have an excellent shock effect on the system and can help you jumpstart your strength training. One way that pure negatives can work for climbers is as a component of a progressive plan for doing one-arm pull-ups. Even if you can’t do a one-arm pull-up, you may still be able to go down with one arm with slow control, and if so, then you’re good to go!

Train three times a week, using the pyramid structure given above, and start your program doing only eccentric movements. To increase resistance, you’ll need a weight belt and should train until you can handle 5 pounds for sets of 10 reps, 10 pounds for sets of 6 reps, and 15 pounds for sets of 4 reps. After achieving these gains, you can add static locks to these sets (for example, hold still for two to three seconds at full lock, at 90 degrees, and at 180 degrees). Then, once you can hold the lockouts within the negative sets for four to five seconds (with the weight belt), switch to assisted concentrics where you use your other arm for support. Start with a knotted rope, holding it very low, and then switch to putting your free hand on your bicep. Finally, you can do your first one-arm pull-up, all thanks to those negatives!

a third way Eccentric movements fit into a training program in the form of plyometric exercises. These movements involve resistance to high-velocity negative forces, for example, when dropping during a “tapping” drill on a campus board. (The touch drill is performed by hanging with both arms from a low rung, pulling up quickly, hooking a high rung, lowering, and then repeating, alternating from arm to arm.) Sports such as sprinting and gymnastics have been found to be a key method of increasing explosive power.

While there is clearly a concentric component to a plyometric exercise, it is understood that the eccentric movement does most of the valuable work. The forces involved in “descent” are clearly huge, as you try to absorb the weight of your falling body under gravity. Remember that you can increase the intensity of plyometric exercises like touches in two ways. One is to go up and down a higher rung and the other is to try to do the sets faster. If we are entitled to translate research from other sports, then there is more benefit to trying to do faster plyometric sets compared to doing higher stair sets.

The real goal of a plyometric exercise is to reduce the time it takes to convert negative force to positive force (known as the “payback phase”). A good bunt training guideline for newcomers to campus is to do 3 sets of 10. More advanced climbers can use the pyramid structure given above, for example, go to the higher rungs for the lower rep sets, but take out the stopwatch and try to go. faster (instead of higher) in each session.

Clearly, there are other ways to use eccentric training for climbing, but hopefully this gives you some ideas to take to the gym.

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This article appeared on rock and ice number 189 (October 2010).


Neil Gresham He has been training and training for two decades. In 2001 he made the second ascent to the Balance (E10 7a/5.14X) in Peak District sandstone, and was established last year freak show (8c/5.14b) at Kilnsey, also in the UK. On October 13, 2016, he made the first ascent of Sabotage—an 8c+ extension (5.14c) for Predator (8b/5.13d) at Malham Cave, North Yorkshire, England. Sabotage it is Gresham’s first grade advancement.

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