Get Stronger While Stretching


The eccentric contraction of skeletal muscle is characterized by the lengthening of the tissue due to increased tension placed on the muscle.This typically occurs when a muscle opposes a stronger force, causing the muscle to lengthen as it contracts. This provides the recipe for athletes to not only increase range of motion and flexibility but also increase contractile strength. Accentuated eccentric movements (AEM) stretch your muscles under load, stimulate hypertrophy,and transfer better to athletic activity.

With the crossfit community being highly susceptible to tight hamstrings, pectorals, and lats the AEM method can help with these shortened muscles and relieve stress on important joints. RDL’s, Lat pulldowns, and incline dumbbell bench presses with extended negatives are great movements that target these muscles and allow them to go through a full range of motion under tension. By lowering very slowly and accentuating the stretch in each exercise the targeted muscle(s) are forced to get stronger in an elongated position which can relieve overly tight local contractile tissues, enhance joint positioning and torque recruitment, and improve movement patterns in the process.

Target the hamstrings, pecs, and lats. Why? Many of the larger, more superficial muscles shorten over time, placing stress on joints and structures. That means rounded shoulders, hunched upper back, forward head position, and tight hamstrings. Posture is everything, without optimal posture you can not be as strong as you are capable. Most people focus too much on how much they can concentrically push/pull which only exacerbates preexisting postural issues, especially if they already have trouble obtaining an optimum body position in performed exercises. Like previously stated, AEM can drastically improve movement positioning and lengthen tight muscles.

Try this:

-3 sets of 10 reps,
-Light load
-5-8 seconds on the way down
-Increase length of time weekly

AEM- Incline Dumbbell press:
-3×10/ Light load
-6-10 seconds on the way down
-Increase length of time weekly

AEM- Lat pulldown (can use bands):
-10 seconds on the way down
-Increase time weekly

In each exercise you can increase intensity by either increasing the time under tension, or increasing the amount of reps performed in each set. The load should remain light. Perform these for a cool down stretch routine instead of static stretching to expedite strength, flexibility, and muscle growth. Enjoy, Happy Training!