What Is Eccentric Exercise—And Why Should You Incorporate It Into Your Training Program?

a person posing for a picture: Bonus: You don't need any extra equipment to reap the benefits.

Going through the motions is never a good idea when it comes to fitness. Ask any trainer, and they’ll tell you it’s about quality, not quantity—and that phoning it in is more likely to hurt than help you.

Take a push-up, for example. You know lowering your body down then pushing it back up is considered one rep, but both of those steps—known as eccentric and concentric movements—are equally important. And when you understand and focus on those specific movements during exercise, it can help you vary your routine and up your gains.

Here’s what you need to know about eccentric exercise specifically—and how to safely incorporate it into your exercise program to reach your goals.

What is an eccentric contraction?

Whenever you put your muscles under tension, there are three types of contractions muscle fibers can perform: concentric, eccentric, and isometric, Teresa Guglielmo, CPT, a personal trainer based in San Diego and founder of FNL Health, tells Health. A concentric contraction occurs when the muscle fibers shorten, an eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle fibers lengthen, and an isometric contraction occurs when the muscle fibers stay the same length.

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