I think any person new to training and even new to a particular gym (i.e., you just joined) should hire a personal trainer to show them the lay of the land. Learn the particulars of their machines, the gym and the local gym etiquette. Let them train you once; even if you think you know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, most don’t know what they’re doing and although that’s good for me because I get to fix them and get paid for it; I’d much rather they learn properly and not have to come to my office in agony. Learn to train correctly from the start and save yourself the aggravation and expense of injury.
Now, (one of my many gym pet peeves) today is about doing less than half the workout you think you’re doing; and most are clueless about it. They're missing out on the benefits of “the downside”.
So what is the downside? What are the negatives I refer to in the title? I’m talking about eccentrics; also known as negative repetitions. So, I’m in the gym and there is some guy pulling up 40-lb dumbbells with each arm. He’s struggling to get them up and manages to get 10 repetitions out of it. The problem is when he gets the weight all the way up, he simply drops it back down as fast as gravity will take it. There was another guy who did the same thing with bench pressing. He would drop the weight to his chest and push ever so slowly back up to the top. A 3rd person, attempting triceps extensions was simply swinging the weight like a pendulum. So what’s the problem with that?
The problem is, you get the majority of your power from the eccentric strength of your muscle. Unfortunately, I can’t find any specific reference for you that described the specific contribution of eccentric to concentric (aka negative to positive) to the overall power of a muscle, but it is widely accepted in the sports medicine community that (approx) 60% of the strength of a muscle comes from the eccentric. So, the next time you are in the gym, don’t forget about the “down side” of your repetitions. Otherwise, you’re losing out on a majority of your efforts and robbing your body of true, complete functional strength.
The last word….Put It Down Slowly. And yes, this is especially important for rehab as well.
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Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.