I have seen all sorts of people in the gym and in hilariously ridiculous youtube videos of half rep-pers. They load way too much weight on the bar, move it through a quarter of the range of motion, rack the weight and pound their chest. While these people are in a cult all of their own, this is not the half rep-per I am talking about.
The half rep-per I am talking about is most likely you. Now, don’t get offended, you have yet to hear what I have to say yet! But this is the single most common mistake I see in the gym day in and day out. And it is what I refer to as half rep-ping, in its most literal sense.
What I am alluding to is a very important missing aspect of any resistance training program. What is that, you ask!? It is the eccentric aspect of any lift out there.
An eccentric contraction is a movement that causes a muscle to elongate, or is defined as the muscles insertion moving further away from the origin. For example, when doing a bicep curl, the eccentric part of the exercise is bringing your arm back down to your side. As the forearm is moving away from the joint, the biceps muscle is getting longer.
So I know you’re wondering, well there is no way I don’t lower my arm to my side, because if I didn’t I couldn’t do my next rep. And you’re also wondering how not doing an eccentric movement is only half the rep. Well my friend, sit down and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, because it’s going to be a wild ride.
What I mean by not doing the eccentric part of the exercise, is we never control that down phase. When doing the bench press, people drop the bar until it bounces off their chest, and then they press the weight up. In the squat, people fall into the hole and then try to grind back up to the top. This is not necessarily wrong, but you are not getting the most out of your exercise. This causes you to be weaker, and have less muscle. We do this because the body likes to do things the easiest way possible. And controlling the eccentric part of any lift takes much more energy than it does to drop the bar onto your chest, bounce it, and press it back up.
Next time you do any exercise: a lunge, squat, bench press, overhead press, pull-up, you name it – focus on controlling the weight down by squeezing the antagonistic muscles, then do the concentric phase. For example, if doing an overhead press, press the weight overhead and as you bring the weight back down to your shoulders, squeeze your lats and pull the bar down as if you were doing a pull-up. Once the weight comes down to the shoulders,reverse the movement and bring it back over head.
You will be amazed at how much more muscle you activate doing this. And as you progress, you will be stronger than ever. You will start to build more muscle, have healthier joints and leave less weight on the ground.
P.S ladies, this still applies to you. It will help you be stronger and more toned. You will get a lot more out of your workouts and your body will thank me later.