Every effective training program should include a focus on eccentric loading. The eccentric portion of a movement is the lowering or lengthening phase, and there are enormous benefits of improving strength and control through training it specifically.
Concentric movements are your gas pedal. Eccentrics are your brakes. Skilled race car drivers are not defined by their ability to step on the gas; anyone can do that. Winning a race (and avoiding disaster) relies on their ability to control and resist their speed effectively. This same concept applies to exercise. Physical mastery not only depends on our ability to create motion, but on our abilities to control and slow our movements as well.
Proper eccentric loading can also bring great strength benefits, and help develop flexibility. Muscle fibers have a much higher eccentric loading potential than contractile force, so introducing eccentrics properly can be a critical factor in breaking through strength plateaus and rehabbing injuries.
Most people who exercise are doing so to create longevity. They want the ability to stay active as they get older, play with their children and grandchildren, as well as avoid injury. Eccentrics offer a two-pronged approach to aging gracefully. They allow for muscular growth and strength for a population rapidly losing both. Eccentric control also develops coordination and balance, the two most functional attributes to maintain and strengthen your physicality while aging.
Key Point: Just because you can stomp down on the gas pedal, doesn’t always mean you should. If you are unable to control your body, as well as the weight, through all ranges of motion, you will end up being a poorly skilled racecar driver and continue to crash into walls.