Barbell Shrugged

Boost Your Strength with Eccentric Training

Doug Larson

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  • I’m a newbie working with free weights in my home. I’m currently doing Wendler 5/3/1. Any advice on the safest way to implement this into my routine? Would every rep be best or just the set that goes to failure? My goal is just to get stronger.


  • Hey, Ken –

    Depends on how “newbie” you really are. If you’ve got less than a solid year or so under your belt, it’s best just to focus on dialing in the individual lifts with steady and controlled reps and basic run of old school linear programming. That will be plenty of stimulus alone to get you rolling and up to speed. Milk the results from that first before delving into the “300-level courses”. And, too, this will give you time for your body to build the wherewithal to handling eccentric-emphasis work without pushing you over a cliff. Eccentrics are potent medicine that needs to be titrated-in in a conservative manner.

  • Dating back to Ironman magazine and the work at Nautilus/Arthur Jones, negative training has been an excellent option for everything from working exercises where injuries prevent the standard positive/negative approach along with addressing sticking points etc. Many of Nautilus’ machines provided excellent options for negative training; with free weights, a little creativity goes a long way. Negative dips, negative chins and rows, etc.

    When I trained at Nautilus gyms, all you needed was one set of properly performed to get the job done. They made sure of that… 🙂

  • Parker –

    We have an old school/nuke-proof, plate-loaded Nautilus pullover at one of our Austin Efficient Exercise studios. It’s a prized possession. Follow-on negative on that sum-bitch are murderous 😉

    • Keith – Back in the day, that machine was given the nickname “Big Blue” and rightfully so. BTW, one of Arthur’s early pullover machines was allegedly in Tulsa, OK, at the downtown YMCA for years. I went there to check it out when I was in town and for all I know, it could have been…the machine was a monster and took up quite a bit of floor space.

      Gold’s also had one in the 80s–saw Mike & Ray and a third training partner on it. (No Nautilus at Vince’s Gym however–besides he and Jones having their disagreements, Vince seemed to be fond of exercises that weren’t the best for your joints–chest presses to the neck & upright rows, for example, which were shoulder wreckers. Only trained there five or six times.)

    • I don’t agree. They are cool, but in practice, I didn’t find them essential. I think Louie agrees with me. He uses eccentrics, and has played with WR’s, but he didn’t keep them in the rotation at Westside. I think, in practice, they aren’t as cool as the idea is on paper. Also keep in mind, I did my Masters Thesis on Weight releasers and eccentrics. You can use them, and I hope they work for you. But others have chosen to move on.

      • Hi Chris,

        I’ve been to Westside while in the area visiting family and/or business and most of the trainees there don’t represent objective training, IMHO. Lots & lots & lots of wraps, lifting shirts, and set ups for assisted lifting along with individuals possibly (legal disclaimer) on PEDs.

        Negatives have been in use, successfully, for decades in the strength game…powerlifters advocated them back in the old Hoffman and Rader mags as plateau busters and bodybuilders such as Mike and Ray Mentzer included them as part of their training programs. (And all things being equal in bodybuilding–they’re all on steroids, HGH, etc., clearly negatives did work as Mike was the only bodybuilder to win the Universe title with a perfect score.)

        Best –

        • They are pretty open about drug use. I’m certainly well aware. That said, you underestimate the validity of louie’s stuff. Gear aside, he’s produced strong athletes, most of which were from his local area. Also, he’s actually made great contributions to fight training, etc.

          I’m not doubting the utility in some settings of the releasers. They can be considered like bands, as far as I’m concerned. I believe people who say they don’t need them, and others that say they’re great. Adding eccentric load is valid. But still, I don’t find the releasers ESSENTIAL to the discussion (even though I studied them for my thesis). If they were, you’d naturally see them utilized far more frequently. Only my opinion.


  • Is this all by feel? I’ve never seen any percentage based weights- reps -sets program for eccentric phases that I could find useful.

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