As we age we age, we progressively lose muscle mass each
year, and specifically we lose fast-twitch muscle fiber.
Fast-twitch Muscle fibers are key for strength and function.
Once this process (known as sarcopenia) progresses beyond a certain point
people are no longer able to perform common activities of daily living like
getting up and down from chairs, walking up and down stairs, etc.
We can use eccentric-dominant strength training to target
fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Studies on Eccentric Training
A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise compared the effects of an eccentric-dominant resistance
training protocol with a traditional training program in older individuals who
had an average age of 68. Resistance Training was done twice a week for 16 weeks.
The traditional training group did sets of 10 reps at 75
percent of the 1RM (1 Repetition Maximum – meaning 75% of the weight they could lift
The eccentric dominant training group did sets of 10
repetitions using a weight that was 50 percent of the 1RM. They performed the concentric/lifting portion
of the lift with both arms/legs. Then
they did the lowering/eccentric phase slowly with one arm or leg. This allowed
them to lower double the weight they lifted up. The lowering phase is the eccentric phase of an exercise.
Strength and Fall Prevention Benefits of Eccentric Training
The eccentric-dominant group had greater increases in strength at higher
movement speeds, indicating greater fast-twitch muscle development. The
traditional training group gained strength as well but only at slower movement
speeds. This is important for avoiding
falls because you must be able to produce force quickly to prevent falls
such as when you are recovering from a stumble or trip.
Additionally, eccentric training is proven to increase hypertrophy (muscle growth), making it an ideal antidote for age-related muscle loss.
Eccentric dominant training is also proven to be better for improving performance on “functional” tests that may be applicable to everyday life such as the speed at which one can walk six meters. The eccentric-enhanced group improved significantly more than the traditional group in this area!
Research has proven that strength training is critical for older people because without it, there will be a rapid and pronounced functional loss of muscle size, strength, and functional movement ability.
Of interest - the eccentric training group's rating of their perceived exertion
during the eccentric exercise was lower than those doing traditional resistance
training - meaning it felt easier to them! This is good news for older
individuals, anyone who is new to exercise, or anyone bored with their workout.
The reACT Trainer is the ideal tool for doing eccentric training safely. It is an eccentric dominant exercise and simultaneously improves balance, timing, coordination and increases fast-twitch muscle fibers!