Strength is a relative term. We previously talked about the SAID principle, a concept where our bodies adapt to the demands placed upon them. This is important to understand when building strength. The more weight we can handle the stronger we will become. This is really a no brainer except we lift weights backwards or I guess we should lift them backwards, this will make more since once you are done with this article.
The first thing you need to know is that there are three (3) types of muscle contraction: Concentric, Isometric and Eccentric.
An isometric muscle contraction is when muscles is firing, but the limb is not moving. An example of this is when you hold your arm by your side with your elbow at 90 degrees and hold the weight in your hand. If you hold this position your biceps is firing but your arm isn’t moving.
A concentric muscle contraction is when the muscle being exercised gets shorter as it performs work. A simple example is a biceps curl. Your bicep muscle gets shorter as you bend your elbow to lift the weight. This is the weakest of the three contractions
An eccentric muscle contraction is when the muscle is firing, but gets longer. This sounds weird, but it is possible. Imagine holding a really heavy weight in your hand (one you couldn’t normally curl). Start by having the weight by your shoulder with your elbow completely flexed. Now allow the weight to pull your arm into extension (straightening of the elbow). No matter how hard you try you can’t curl the weight up, so even though your muscle is firing it is getting longer in the process. This is the strongest contraction we can make.
The key is to incorporate eccentric exercises into your routine. No one has been able to calculate how strong an eccentric contraction is, but it is at least 2 times stronger than you 1 rep max concentric contraction. For example if you could bench 200 pounds you could easily eccentrically lower 400 pounds. – In the bench press position start with the weight at the top and then lower it to your chest – [Disclaimer: All eccentric exercises should be done with a spotter or with someone who is trained to assist in proper technique as this exercise can cause injury if not properly coached]
So if you can lift a minimum of twice as much then it makes since that you could get much stronger quicker if you are lifting heavier weights. So now start lifting backwards, eccentrically, and you can crank out much more weight! If you would like some other exercises that focus on eccentric activities let me know.