What They Are and The Best Ones for Cyclists

Your legs work hard in the saddle when you’re climbing or sprinting, or just going the distance. Meanwhile, your core works to keep you stable and cycling efficiently, while your upper body helps you maintain a strong posture and better bike handling. To keep everything performing during challenging rides, you need strength-training workouts on your schedule.

One strength-building technique that helps you handle the demands of every mile: eccentric exercises. This type of exercise, sometimes referred to as negative reps, involves focusing on the downward phase of an exercise, like when you lower into a squat.

Here’s what you need to know about eccentric exercise, including how to add it to your workouts and how it can benefit your rides.

What are eccentric exercises?

Eccentric exercises are essentially movements that build strength in the lengthening phase or the downward motion of an exercise. (Concentric exercises, on the other hand, focus on working the muscle in the shortening or upward phase.)

Take, for example, a bench press: Concentric contraction occurs during the upward press motion, and eccentric action occurs when you’re lowering the weight down toward your chest. (There’s a third type of exercise, isometric, which involves holding the exercise in one position.) Similarly, in a deadlift, lowering yourself down into the hinge is the eccentric phase, and standing back up is the concentric phase.

Why do cyclists need eccentric exercises?

“By slowing down the eccentric part of some exercises, you increase your range of motion and lengthen the muscle, as well as increase the ability of your muscles and tendons to withstand higher loads,” explains trainer Jen Kates, certified personal health and performance coach for cyclists, and founder of Shift Human Performance “This means you get stronger than you normally would by doing only regular tempo exercises.”

Increasing your range of motion is essential for cyclists because it enhances your strength, flexibility, and stability—all things you need to prevent injury and maintain a smooth and powerful pedal stroke. By doing eccentric exercises, you’re making your joints more resilient to extreme loads, and thus reducing your risk of injuries, Kates adds.

Research also shows promising benefits for those who incorporate eccentric exercises into their routine. For example, a review published in Frontiers in Physiology in 2016 suggests that moderate load eccentric exercise is a valuable tool in injury prevention. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2014 also says eccentric exercise shows promising results for accelerating and optimizing improvements in muscular strength and power, as well as coordination, This research also suggests performing eccentric exercises has the potential to enhance performance and prevent injuries in athletes.

How do you add eccentric exercises to your workout?

To see the strength benefits of eccentric exercises, Kates suggests incorporating them into your workouts at least twice a week. While you can perform them on cycling days, Kates recommends leaving at least six hours in between your strength workout and your cycling workout to give your muscles time to recover.

Also, don’t focus every single exercise in your strength workout on eccentric exercises or you risk increased soreness and stressing the muscle with too much too soon, Kates adds. She recommends no more than two eccentric exercises in one workout in order to limit the volume and time under tension.

Kates also suggests mixing eccentric exercises that work different muscle groups into your workout. For example, doing an eccentric squat with an eccentric bent-over row.

What eccentric exercises are best for cyclists?

As for which specific exercises to perform eccentrically, Kates recommends cyclists focus on four basic movement patterns: squat, hinge, push, and pull.

Squats, she says, work the main muscles used in cycling: the quadriceps. Deadlifts and hip thrusts (both hinge movements) focus on the muscles of the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back), which are crucial for enhancing power in the pedal stroke as you pull up. Pushing movements, like a bench press and push-ups, are great at increasing your ability to maintain solid form on the bike. And pulling movements, like rows, are a smart choice for enhancing lat strength, which helps you engage your posterior chain muscles more efficiently, adding more power to the pedals while improving your posture.


4 Eccentric Exercises to Add to Your Workouts

In order to make any move eccentric: slow down the movement on the lowering part. Kates says to be mindful of increased risk of muscle soreness from eccentric exercises, which happens primarily because you’re likely not yet used to the increased load or stress on the muscle.

If you’re ready to try out eccentric training, Kates says these four exercises will increase your strength in the saddle. Do each exercise for 5-10 reps and 3-5 sets, resting for 60 seconds between sets. You will need a set of heavy dumbbells (or go for bodyweight only). An exercise mat is optional.


1. Eccentric Bodyweight Squat

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed slightly out. Engage core and send hips down and back to slowly lower into a squat. Lower on a count of 3 to 5. (This is the eccentric part.) Aim for thighs parallel to the ground, but go as low as you can while maintaining an upright posture and planted feet. Drive through feet to stand back up. Repeat. Repeat. Turn up the challenge by grabbing a set of dumbbells, placed at the shoulders, or one dumbbell held at the chest.


2. Eccentric Single-Leg Hip Thrust

Sit on the floor, knees bent and right foot planted, left leg lifted a few inches off the floor, with mid back against a stable surface like a bench or couch. Bring right foot close to butt. Brace core by bringing the bottom ribs towards hips slightly. Take a deep breath before driving right foot into floor and lifting hips toward the ceiling, forming a straight line from head to knees. Squeeze glutes as you lift and don’t overextend lower back at the top. Slowly lower hips back to floor, on a count of 3 to 5. (This is the eccentric part.) Repeat for reps, then switch sides. To progress add a dumbbell or barbell to the hips.


3. Eccentric Bench Press

Lie on a bench with knees bent, feet flat on floor driving through feet for stability. Hold a barbell or set of dumbbells in hands, shoulder-width apart, and over chest. Slowly lower the weight to chest on a count of 3 to 5. (This is the eccentric part.) Make sure elbows are at a 45-degree angle from body. Once the weight touches chest, pause, then press the weight back up to start. Repeat.


    4. Eccentric Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

    Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Hinge at the hips (like in a deadlift), with soft knees, and hold at a point that’s comfortable for you, but aim to get torso as close to parallel to the ground. This is your starting position. Engage core and pull both dumbbells towards hips, keeping elbows close to body. Pause at the top. Then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position on a count of 3 to 5. (This is the eccentric part.) Repeat.

    This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.