I’ve been reading the book, Triphasic Training, by Cal Dietz… he trains each dynamic action separately starting with the eccentric phase of the movement. He uses submaximal and supramaximal slow eccentrics (5-6 seconds down). What do you think about the supramaximal eccentric training? How do you prefer to train the eccentric phase aiming for structural adaptations?


First, let’s talk about submaximal slow eccentrics. You know in strength programming we have intensity and volume, right? People typically think of those being connected to load and rep number. But lifting tempo can also be used to modify intensity and volume. Going down slowly prevents the weight from gaining momentum. This reduces the effort and muscular force produced during eccentric braking (lower intensity). But going down slowly also increases time under tension (increases volume).

This makes sense to do when an athlete is not prepared for extremely high muscular forces, such as at the beginning of a training program or in a rehab situation. However we do eventually want to get athletes to a point where they can be exposed to high muscular force and respond well to it. This is where natural speed or faster eccentrics are useful, because they evoke really high muscle tension. I talk about that in this post.

Biomechanics question. Which of these exercises, deadlift with 170kg or fast hip hinges with 70kg, causes greater muscle damage and soreness in the hamstrings? And why? Answer below. – – – – In spite of the light load, the answer is fast hip hinges for 3 and maybe 4 reasons. 1. You have to stop the weight. During this stop the hamstrings are performing a high effort eccentric contraction. The deadlift has an eccentric component as well, but it’s not high effort. Voluntarily lowering a weight slowly does not involve especially high muscle tension. You only get max tension when you’re trying hard to stop the weight, but it’s still forcing the muscle to lengthen. 2. The fast descent gives the weight more momentum, which makes it harder to stop and evokes greater tension. It’s analogous to throwing a ball harder at a wall causing the wall to apply more force to the ball. 3. The knees bend less in the hip hinge, which means the hamstrings lengthen further. In a more stretched position, muscles generate greater tension. 4. Depending on the exact position of the mass above the hip, the center of mass may be further from the hip joint (longer moment arm). If so, more torque from the hip extensors is required. – Use these principles to understand the demands on any muscle in any exercise.

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Faster eccentrics take muscles to a higher structural strength level because of the high intensity. Since they don’t require heavy loads, they can also easily be done for higher volumes. But this isn’t something anyone should just jump into with any exercise. Obviously lifting mechanics have to be in order. But also slower eccentrics can be used to build toward this high intensity level.

Supramaximal eccentrics are another way to achieve the high intensity, but they are impractical and far more taxing on the nervous system than light, fast eccentrics. They certainly can be used for structural strength if enough reps are done, but doing reps is a chore. For that reason, if I used supramaximal eccentrics, it would probably be just a few reps to try to stimulate a higher effort level rather than doing volume for structural purposes.


You told me that you can perform fast eccentrics with a light load and more volume. My question now is what is the percentage estimated and rep range for that? And with the supramaximal eccentrics… doing just a few reps to try to stimulate a higher effort level is for neurological purposes, right?


Correct on the supramaximal.

For structural purposes on the fast eccentrics, 20-40 total reps is a reasonable range. Whether it’s 5×5 or 3×10 or whatever doesn’t really matter. The load can be a wide range. Even 25% can be enough to cause major soreness. At the same time it can go up to maybe 75% if the lifter can maintain mechanics with that. Advanced lifters can use fast eccentrics even on max outs, but obviously low rep stuff isn’t for structural purposes.