- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson uses eccentric exercises to build muscle, says his strength trainer.
- It involves lengthening the muscles under tension, like when you lower a weight (called a negative rep).
- Eccentric exercises can build strength and more muscle in less time, research shows.
Don’t just focus on lifting weights — lowering them can help you build as much muscle in half the time, according to a small new study.
Researchers at Edith Cowen University in Australia tested different types of dumbbell exercises on a group of 53 university students for 10 workouts over five weeks.
They found that the most effective way to build strength and muscle was to focus on the lower part of the exercise, known as the “eccentric contraction”, or to put tension on the muscles as you go. they lie down.
Their findings will come as no surprise to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who is one of many elite athletes who swear by eccentric exercise. This specific move was a crucial part of The Rock’s Black Adam workouts to take his fitness to the next level, his strength and conditioning coach Dave Rienzi told Insider.
According to the study, published September 2022 in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, participants who did eccentric exercises had the same strength gains and more muscle growth, but did half the number of reps, compared to their peers who did more typical exercises (lifting and lowering weights).
“This latest study shows that we can be much more efficient during the time we spend exercising while still achieving significant results by focusing on eccentric muscle contractions,” said co-author Ken Nosaka. study and Professor of Exercise and Sport Science at Edith Cowen University. , said in a press release.
How to do a “negative” rep
Most traditional exercises also include a concentric contraction, which involves shortening the muscle, often by lifting a weight.
Concentric exercise has benefits for improving strength and endurance, so doing both types of exercise (concentric and eccentric) can help you be a well-rounded athlete, Chris Travis, owner and trainer of Seattle Strength and Performance, previously told Insider.
You can also do eccentric versions of exercises with dumbbells, a barbell, kettlebells, or bodyweight. An eccentric exercise involves controlling a weight while decreasing it, sometimes called negative repetition.
Here are some examples of eccentric bodyweight exercises:
- Create a tempo by counting to five when descending into a squat or lunge
- Slowly descend from the top of a pull-up
- Lowering you to the bottom position of a push-up
If you’re using weights, Nosaka recommended using both arms to lift a weight, then using just one arm to lower it for exercises like a shoulder press, bicep curls, or overhead extension. of the head. Gym machines like knee extensions and leg curls can help you use a similar technique for lower-body gains, he said in the press release.
Eccentric exercise can build muscle in fitness beginners or professional athletes
According to Travis, one of the benefits of eccentric exercise is that it can be safe for beginners and helps build fitness and prevent injury.
“We do a lot of eccentric work because it builds muscle very well and we do it in a way that people who are starting strength training don’t move too quickly and understand range of motion,” he said. -he declares.
But they’re just as good for seasoned athletes, The Rock’s strength coach Rienzi previously told Insider.
“I love the negatives. The mindset with the negatives is you’re thinking about controlling your weight or fighting the weight on the way down. You’re trying harder,” he said. “It’s one of the most effective techniques in my opinion.”
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