Eccentric-only biceps contractions led to similar increases in biceps size as doing full muscle contractions. Eccentric-only training group performed half the volume, yet similar increases in muscle growth as the full contraction. Concentric-only contractions resulted in small increases in muscle growth. Eccentric contractions are the most important for maximizing muscle growth.
SUMMARY OF ECCENTRIC CONTRACTIONS FOR BIG BICEPS
- Using eccentric contractions is a great way to get bigger biceps.
- Eccentric-only biceps contractions led to similar increases in biceps size as doing full muscle contractions.
- Eccentric-only training group performed half the volume, yet similar increases in muscle growth as the full contraction.
- Concentric-only contractions resulted in small increases in muscle growth.
- Eccentric contractions are the most important for maximizing muscle growth.
ECCENTRIC VS CONCENTRIC EXERCISES
The biceps program I am going to lay out may not be able to get you biceps like Arnold, but the average increase in bicep size was 9.7%. The new research suggests that not all muscle contractions are the same. As written previously on Evidence-Based Muscle, the eccentric phase has distinctly different effects on muscle fiber growth.
So, what does eccentric mean? Eccentric is lowering the weight or training the muscle at long muscle lengths. For example, an eccentric biceps curl includes grabbing a dumbbell and lowering the dumbbell off a preacher curl bench, so your arm is fully extended. At the end of the article, you will see that eccentric training can be used for
BIG BICEPS: Eccentric Biceps curl
Concentric muscle contractions involve muscle shortening. This mean lifting the weight. Concentric exercise examples would include starting with the same dumbbell preacher curl, starting at the bottom, and lifting the weight to the top. Concentric contractions are when the muscle is shortened.
Most strength training exercises involve lifting and lowering the weight, but for muscle growth, the eccentric or lowering of the weight is where all the muscle growth occurs. Muscle growth is no longer just about lifting weights; it’s about emphasizing eccentric contractions.
DOES ECCENTRIC BUILD MUSCLE MORE THAN CONCENTRIC?
Eccentric contractions are clearly superior if you compare muscle growth for lifting and lowering weight. Here are a few examples of studies:
- A 2021 study compared eccentric-only (i.e., lowering only) and concentric-only (i.e., lifting only) training of the biceps performed twice a week for 5 weeks. Biceps muscle thickness increased after the eccentric-only training (7.1%), but the concentric-only training arm did not have any muscle growth. (Sato, Yoshida, Kiyono, Yahata, Yasaka, Nosaka, et al., 2021)
- A similar study found that biceps muscle size increased more (2.9%) with eccentric-only training than with concentric and eccentric contractions (.6%). The subjects trained times per week, and the volume was similar between the groups.(Valdes et al., 2021)
A NEW STUDY FINDS BIGGER BICEPS GROWTH IN 5 WEEKS WITH LESS TIME IN THE GYM
Most guys want bigger biceps in 2 weeks, but this study trained for 5 weeks, so this will get on the right path for bigger biceps. Researchers divided subjects into 3 groups:
a.) Eccentric only (ECC) biceps contractions (i.e., lowering only)
b.) Concentric only (CON) biceps contractions (i.e., lifting only)
c.) Combination of concentric and eccentric (CON/ECC) contractions (i.e., lifting and lowering the weight)
The subjects gradually increased their weight from when they started the program to the end of week 5. You can use this for any muscle group you want to train. Use the 1-RM calculator and just plug in the weights. Here is a breakdown of the weight progression:
1st session: 30% of a 1-RM
2nd and 3rd sessions: 50%
4th and 5th session:70%
6th and 7th sessions: 80%
8th and 9th sessions: 90%
10th session: 100%
Each workout consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions. So the ECC-only arm performed 30 reps per session, the CON-only arm performed 30 reps per session, and the CON and ECC combination performed 60 reps (30 reps for CON and 30 reps for ECC).
The CON/ECC group performed double the amount of exercise. The weight was performed with a 2-second contraction time. For example, the weight was started at the top position and lowered in 2 seconds. Rest time was 3 minutes between sets.
The volume was much higher for the CON/ECC group (5745 kg) because they had to perform double the contractions compared to CON-only (2930 kg) and ECC-only (3035 kg) contractions.
The ECC-only training volume was half of the CON/ECC-only group. Here is the exciting part, biceps muscle size was similar in the ECC-only training arm to the CON/ECC training despite doing fewer contractions!
Muscle thickness or biceps growth was 10.6% for the CON/ECC group and 9.7% for the ECC-only group. CON-only arm training resulted in a pathetic 2.5% increase. (Sato et al., 2022) Check out the graph below.