Ideally, when working out we want to make the most of each repetition, each exercise and each overall workout. But when working out there are only a handful of ways one can move external loads such as free weights.

The most commonly known phases

To impart force on free weights, there are three that are most commonly known as: the concentric phase, the isometric phase, and the eccentric phase.


Each phase of an exercise movement is subtly different, and therefore stimulates the muscle or joint differently.

The eccentric phase

This phase forces the muscle to work two ways under tension, which can make this phase, compared to the others, more effective. The differences between the three phases of movement will definitely impact your workout for the best.

This article is going to discuss why the seldom used eccentric phase may be the best way to get more out of each workout.

The concentric phase

When the muscles contract and force the joints to open, usually against gravity, or the up-phase of the exercise.

For example: in the bench press, the locking out of the weight in the upward motion from chest to full extension of the elbow and shoulder joint is the concentric phase.

The isometric phase

Happens when the muscle is completely contracted and all forces on the joint are maintained throughout movement.

For example: when a bicep curl is held exactly at 90 degrees at the elbow without lowering the hand or raising the hand past the 90 degree angle the bicep is in the isometric phase.

During the eccentric phase

While the muscle is under tension and being contracted, the movement is happening against gravity or the downward phase of the exercise. This means that the muscle is being stretched while increasing the angle of the joint all while being contracted.

An example of this phase would occur when you lower the weight in a bench press:

You are not only resisting the weight on the way toward your chest, but you are also resisting the forces of gravity, all while trying to contract the muscles of your triceps and shoulders in order to not have the weight come crashing down on your chest.

If you have ever done a negative bench press before you know all too well how hard this exercise can be.

Eccentric training_2Eccentric training has many positive impacts on any workout routine

– Not only does it promote two times as much force production (power), it requires the use of less total energy, as well as increases range of motion (flexibility) and joint stability.

– During eccentric phase training, because the muscle is contracted and stretching, the force production of that muscle is being increased due to the amount of time under tension.

– Since you are no longer concerned with the upward phase of the movement, less energy is required. Gravity is no longer utilized as part of the resistance that would activate the stretch shortening cycle of each muscle belly.

– Additionally, eccentric phase training stimulates muscle growth, and therefore promotes the connectivity of ligaments and tendons.

– The growth of the muscle forces the body to better support the joints by increasing the tendon and ligament connections. This increase in muscle fibers keeps the joint healthy and promotes increased flexibility, or range of motion.

– Eccentric phase muscle training dictates that the muscle must be contracted and stretched while resisting an external load, and the force of gravity that is imparted on that load.

It is this principle that makes eccentric training so potent

Normally, under tension the muscles and joints are only asked to contract and generate force in order to complete a movement.

Eccentric training forces the muscle to work twice as hard, using less total energy while increasing the body’s ability to gain flexibility and strength.

Therefore, if you aren’t using eccentric movements during your training you are definitely not taking full advantage of your workout.

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