Tip: Go Slow, Hold, and Explode

Eccentric-isometric training blends together three different training stimuli to bludgeon your muscles. Here's how it's done.


Eccentric isometrics (EIs) are a movement where the eccentric or negative portion of the lift is lowered in a controlled manner, and then held in that position for a pre-determined time before completing the actual lifting phase of the exercise.

Given that EI's use tempos that aren't "normal," it's best to perform movements in the 1-6 rep range. The eccentric portion should last between 3-6 seconds, with the isometric being held for anywhere between 2-7 seconds. Any less and you'll negate the benefits from pausing in the lengthened position. Any longer will add to fatigue, again negating the intended outcomes.

When it comes to intensity, start conservative and adjust as needed until you're moving the weight at the pre-determined tempo for the pre-determined number of reps. Generally speaking, finish the set with another two reps in the tank.

This is how it would look if you were doing a typical set of EI's using elevated push-ups with, say, a 55X1 tempo:

  • 5: The duration (in seconds) of the lowering portion of the lift.
  • 5: The duration of the isometric hold.
  • X: This means to do the lifting part of the rep as explosively fast as good form allows.
  • 1: The duration of rest at the "top" or "rest" portion of the lift.
  • Post activation potentiation: EI's prime the CNS for strength training, thus allowing a greater training effect.
  • Increased proprioception: EI's tidy up body mechanics and body positioning while improving motor control and neural firing patterns, all of which allow for a greater training effect.
  • Fixes left-right imbalances: Doing EI's in a unilateral manner does wonders for shoring up strength in a deficient limb.
  • Facilitates immense force absorption capabilities: If you're a fighter, EI's teach your body to move efficiently while using the most biomechanically accurate positions. This will allow your body to absorb high-impact force as efficiently as possible.

To obtain the most bang-for-the-buck, do exercises that involve a significant stretch and muscle lengthening. For instance, any squat variation (like a Bulgarian split squat) works well, as do hinge variations (such as an RDL), pull variations (such as a single-arm lat pulldown), and press variations (dumbbell overhead press, etc).

Bulgarian Split Squat – Eccentric Isometric Protocol

Feel free to allow creativity to flow. Experiment and see what's effective.

Bilateral and unilaterally based movements are equally effective, but unilateral movements (like single-leg Romanian deadlifts) tend to work well for those who have poor biomechanics when doing bilateral movements.

Landmine Squat – Eccentric Isometric Protocol

  • EI's improve your power, strength, stability, and movement efficiency.
  • Performing controlled eccentrics and pausing at your biomechanical end-range yields fantastic benefits ranging from performance to longevity.
  • EI's correct your movement patterns and mobility issues.
  • EI's teach proper force absorption and efficiency for combat sports.
  • EI's can be used year-round for a host of bilateral and unilateral exercises.
  • Ideally, the eccentric portion of the movement should last between 3-6 seconds and the isometric part of the movement should last between 2-7 seconds.
  • Whether you're a wrestler, MMA fighter, a blue belt or just someone that likes to work out, adding EI's into your plan will turn you into a battle-ready beast.
Jacob James is a strength coach and founder of Crusader Strength. Jacob has worked with athletes from over 20 different sports, including mixed-martial artists from the UFC, Bellator, Cage Warriors, and One Championship.

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