If you’ve been paying close attention during the last block(s), you might notice something beside the shortest written workouts tend to be the toughest.
No, there’s a little programming detail in the WODs at the start of the recent blocks that you might be curious about. Those awesome, slow tempo eccentric/concentric lifts.
Simply put, in weightlifting, an eccentric contraction is the downstroke of the movement. The eccentric is commonly held to be where the muscles in play are at their strongest.
We use eccentric movements to build strength (eccentrics are also associated with intense muscle soreness). The eccentric in the squat is the sitting down motion. The eccentric in the deadlift is when you lower the bar back to the ground. It should be no surprise then that I’ve been insisting onnot dropping the bar from the top of the deadlifts in a strength WOD.
The concentric portion of a lift is the upstroke. This is when you’re launching yourself out of the bottom of the squat, or ripping the bar up off of the ground. The concentric phase of the lift is where we’re displaying our power. This is where we “sound our barbaric yawp.” Strength coaches almost always have power athletes treat this phase of the lift as an intention to move as fast as possible. When this is an “x” in the tempo scheme, we mean as fast as you can.
But what are we doing when we throw a tempo like “4040” at you? If you followed our recent “Squatty Potty” block, or parts of our competition programming, you already know that it gets quite challenging. Especially with a metronome and a coach droning through the count. It’s not just to drive you bonkers. It’s to teach you control.
Slow concentrics are used in physical rehab setting to help people regain the use of a movement pattern. Slow concentrics are also used by bodybuilders/physique competitors to build muscle mass.
We are somewhere in the middle. I’m throwing the slow concentrics into the front end of the block to help improve your control over the full range of the movements in question, as well as teaching you how to do this under load.
If you can move a joint in slow motion, you pretty much own that movement pattern. We’re adding weight not only for the potential muscle building stimulus, but also (and primarily) to provide some added external resistance against the joint. The added resistance can potentially help you figure out where your joints are in space (proprioception). Think of the slow tempo work as weightlifting Taiji.
Don’t worry, the slow tempo stuff is only going to be at the front end of the block. Think of each movement pattern being trained as a technical skill. As you gain technical competency, we are going to add in speed, resistance, and volume.
P.S. If you’ve read this far, here’s a video of some pretty amazing movement control / body awareness. I’d recommend turning down the volume, unless you’re a fan of EDM, and just watch.