Ep.29 – How To Exercise Eccentrically


Jonathan: Hey everyone, Jonathan Bailor and Carrie Brown coming at you with another Smarter Science of Slim podcast and this week Carrie, last week we talked about eccentric training. We talked about how we have to exercise less in order to clear our hormonal clog because to clear our hormonal clog, we have to work on muscle fibers.

We have to work on more metabolically beneficial muscle fibers and to do so, we use more energy quickly, which means we have to exercise less and we have to exercise less frequently but it’s not something too good to be true gimmick because eccentric training is quite challenging and it leaves us quite sore. That’s part of the reason we can’t do a lot of it and we can’t do it frequently and I promise that this week we are going to talk a bit more specifically about how to actually do it.

Carrie: Alright.

Jonathan: So we are talking about how to exercise eccentrically. Folks, I just want to give a quick disclaimer, trying to describe how to do exercises truely using the spoken word is a bit challenging but we are going to do the best that we can here and there are some videos from the smarterscienceofslim.com that make this a bit easier but the good news is that these aren’t new exercises, it’s just a way to take existing exercises and do them different, to do them smarter, a general rule of thumb, general steps, remember eccentric means extending.

We are talking about slowly lowering weight and the general way we do this and there are ways to do this at home, there are ways to do it at the gym. We are going to talk about the at home stuff today as I also like to maybe have some time to talk about how we can do cardiovascular exercise smarter as well but that might have to wait until next week. We will see how this goes. How do we exercise eccentrically generally? So first thing we want to do is we want to get warmed up and then we want to pick a resistance and again we want to talk about how to do this specific exercise but these are like the five rules, so get warmed up.

Step two is to pick a resistance that we can’t lift with the one arm or one leg but we can easily lift with both arms or both legs, so for example let’s say 20 pounds, so we can’t lift 20 pounds with one arm but we can lift it with both arms. Okay, that’s sort of the weight we pick to begin with. Then we lift the resistance with both arms or both legs and when we do this, each arm and each leg will be lifting half of the resistance, makes sense so ten pounds each. Then, we’re going to slowly lower all of the resistance with one arm or one leg for ten seconds, so now each arm or each leg lowers all the weight or 20 pounds. You might again be asking yourself well, if I couldn’t lift 20 pounds with one arm, how am I going to lower 20 pounds with one arm? But remember we’re stronger eccentrically than we are concentrically so we can always lower more weight than we can lift so our strategy is to find a weight that we can’t lift with one arm we can lift with two arms but then we can lower with one arm or one leg.

Carrie: To all the ladies out there just to give you an idea of where I started was with the 20 pound weight. I found that was just too much for me to lift with one arm, so I lift it with two but I can lower that over ten seconds with one arm. When you’re thinking about going to get a dumbbell or whatever that I would say that’s probably a good kind of place to start.

Jonathan: Absolutely and the good news is when we get to a specific like the core most important exercise we are going to talk about is body weight squats and you’re going to use your body as your weight and you can dynamically adjust your own body weight by how much you use your other leg or arm but we’ll talk about them in a second. Once you do that, you slowly lower the weight for ten seconds. You’re going to want to repeat that for six times, so basically your muscle is going to be slowly extending for a total of 60 seconds, so you’re going to do six ten second repetition and if you have the correct amount of weight, which you’re going to want to try this a few times just to get the hang of it.

Once you do have the correct amount of resistance like at that sixth repetition on second ten, you should be like no more like that muscle is just totally spent but two things to keep in mind before we jump into the actual exercises because these will help to influence the exercises we pick. Two rules, one, we should only exercise eccentrically in a way that enables us to lift a shared source of resistance or in other words we can work both of our arms together. Let me give you an example of what this means.

If we were to pick like a gallon jug of milk in our left hand and pickup another one in our right hand and lift them both above our head and then lower one of them, like that’s not… A gallon of milk weighs about eight pounds. If we have one in each hand, each arm is independently working eight pounds, however, if we were to take one dumbbell and hold it in both hands and using both hands like we’re sort of praying out in front of you and then lift it above your head with both hands and then lower it with one, well you’re lowering more resistance than your raise so you have to lift with both arms a shared source of resistance, then lower with one arm or one leg to full resistance.

Carrie: Got it.

Jonathan: The other thing is we only want to do this with exercises that require little, if any balance. Here’s what not to do, pickup a giant flat screen TV with two hands and then let go with one hand like do not do that, right? This isn’t about getting on one of these suspension machines or balancing on a ball, those are all fantastic ways to develop balance but that’s not our goal. Our goal is to clear our hormonal clog, work our muscle fibers.

The way we do that is to minimize having to worry about balance because if we’re thinking about balancing ourselves, we’re not going to be able to work as hard as we need to, makes sense. Let’s jump straight into how to do this at home Carrie but as a general just a really quick illustration because people might be saying like how I actually do this. Imagine a pushup, so again like I said no new exercises just the new way to do exercise, so when we traditionally think of a pushup right. You kind of lay on the floor and you push yourself up with two arms.

Now, that’s too challenging for a lot of us but what we’ll find is that if we actually start at the top portion of a pushup position, maybe we rest our knees on the ground, we will be able to slowly lower ourselves to the ground for ten seconds. We may not be able to push ourselves up but we can slowly lower ourselves down. In essence, we can do an eccentric pushup, whereas we couldn’t do a full concentric and eccentric pushup and that’s what we want to do, just the eccentric portion.

Carrie: Although I have to say that when you’re starting out, especially if you’re a girl you may not be able to lower yourself completely down.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Carrie: Because I can’t, I still can’t. I kind of collapse halfway but you get there right. You get better as you do it more.

Jonathan: The thing that’s cool though is, even though the eccentric is certainly going to be a challenge at least we can start to get stronger whereas like a full on pushup, that’s just no dice like none.

Carrie: Jonathan roared, when he saw me try to do a pushup.

Jonathan: Okay. In my defense this is like man bashing here. In my defense, if you saw Carrie I mean she has been doing the Smarter Science of Slim very, very well. The woman is in great shape. She looks fantastic and I had just assumed that given her appearance that Carrie’s an Olympic style athlete basically so the laughter was not some. I was in shock. I was in shock, so in my defense there you go, is that have I sufficiently placated you.

Carrie: But the point is, I no longer care that I can’t do a pushup because pushups are stupid anyway.

Jonathan: There you go. There you go. Okay well, speaking of stupid things, so we’re actually going to have Carrie describe to you how to do, so we are going to do four basic movements in our eccentric exercise routine and again folks I apologize. It’s very difficult to describe how to do exercises without showing them to you so if it all possible, we are going to talk about four exercises, how to do them at home. The first is the squat. The second is a pull-up. We are not actually going to a pull-up.

We’re going to do kind of just the lowering portion while helping ourselves so we don’t have to use our full body weight then we’re going to do a pushup or a pushup derivative and we’re going to do a shoulder press. Now, I named those exercises. Okay, squat, pull-up, pushup, shoulder press because if you go on the internet and you type those into a search engine, you’re going to get all kinds of videos and photos and instructional things so please if this doesn’t make complete sense, our intentions are good and just use the internet as a resource and really focus not so much here on learning how to do the movement, rely on videos and how to information.

We’ve got videos up on our site that you can check out. Here, focus on how to do them eccentrically and then use other resources on how to do the movement in general if you’re not familiar with it. The first exercise is a squat and the good news is this is basically just sitting down like if you ever sat down which we all have, you basically know how to do this movement, so Carrie, why don’t you just describe to us how you do an eccentric squat. No, just describe how you do it personally.

Carrie: How I do it?

Jonathan: How you do it.

Carrie: Okay.

Jonathan: Just take us through it.

Carrie: You need to find a solid, immovable object like a railing or sometimes I’ve used the counter in my bathroom or a doorknob with the door shut so that it can’t move, something solid.

Jonathan: That you’re going to hold on to…

Carrie: That you’re going to hold on to so you want whatever the piece you’re going to hold to be at about elbow height from the ground.

Jonathan: Okay, so railing, counter top, doorknobs are good examples.

Carrie: Doorknob that kind of height then so you’re going to stand holding onto this object with both hands and about not a full arm lengths away from it and you’re going to lean back until your arms are fully extended and then…

Jonathan: You put a chair behind you or something like that?

Carrie: Oh well, that’s right. I actually don’t need the chair but when you start, have the chair because if you do go backwards then the chair’s going to save you. You’re leaning back hanging on to your object. You’ll then go into transfer all your weight on to one heel of one leg.

Jonathan: Can I interject here real quick, Carrie? Carrie, the all of your weight. Carrie has been doing this for a while. She’s in great shape. Step one exactly what Carrie said, just sit down at that point just to understand what we’re going to do here so just sit down normally then stand up and then when you sit down a second time, sit down like over the course of 30 seconds or 20 seconds, just literary sit down incredibly slowly.

The third time you do it, I want you to sit down and then right before your rear end touches the chair, just hold that, just hold it or kind of as long as you can. Once you feel comfortable with that, then we’re going to actually jump into the eccentrics which Carrie, go ahead. Sorry.

Carrie: Okay. So you’re hanging on this thing. You’re arms leaning back from your solid object. You’ve transferred all of your weight onto one heel. Your other leg is off the ground and then over the course of ten seconds, you’re going to slowly lower yourself down as far as you can go when you get better at this. When you get stronger, you go past the chair but for right now, it should take you ten seconds to go from standing to just above the chair.

Jonathan: Yeah, so basically your quad or the upper portion of your legs should be parallel with the ground and again like I said Carrie is actually quite advanced at this now so she is able to lift her other leg completely off the ground so again getting back to the eccentric principles we talked about last podcast and even in this podcast too. Carrie is now lowering all of her body weight using one leg and then she stands back up using two legs. She couldn’t stand up using one leg but she is sitting down using one leg.

Now, as we get as strong as Carrie currently is, we might need to use our other leg a little bit and that’s okay so just like Carrie said right, you’re holding on to something maybe just shift like shift the 70 percent of your weight on to your right leg and start to squat down and if you feel like that’s too easy then shift a little bit more weight on. If you feel that’s too hard, shift some more weight back on to your left leg.

The beautiful thing about the techniques we’re going to cover here is you essentially can dynamically adjust the resistance as you are doing it. That is why we say ten seconds because for example if you try to do this and you just plop right down, you’re not helping yourself enough. Similarly, if you’re squatting down and it has been 30 seconds and you’re like this is easy well then you need to use your other leg less. You’re sort of your spotting yourself. Does that make sense?

Carrie: Yes.

Jonathan: Cool. That’s how to do an eccentric squat, so like Carrie said you squat down basically with one leg, you stand up with two, you squat down with one, you repeat that six times.

Carrie: Six times.

Jonathan: So the next one is the pull-up, which is actually not a pull-up at all. It’s kind of a letdown.

Carrie: Let down.

Jonathan: How do you generally do those, Carrie?

Carrie: I have what is called the pull-up bar, which is something you attach to your door frame and…

Jonathan: You can buy these on Amazon for 20-30 bucks.

Carrie: Yeah, 20-30 bucks. I got mine at a sports store. You attach it to your door frame and then you stand on a chair or something so that your chin is kind of level with the bar.

Jonathan: You’re basically at the top like you’ve done the pull-up without any of yet.

Carrie: You haven’t done the pull-up but that’s the position that you can imagine that you’ve just done a pull-up and that’s the starting position but you’re still standing on the chair so then you need to bend your legs so your feet are off the chair and then over ten seconds, you need to gradually lower yourself over ten seconds and then you can put your feet back on the chair.

Jonathan: You stand back up, so again as Carrie illustrated here remember these principles are consistent so many of us may not be able to do a pull-up and that’s fine but we are stronger eccentrically so we can do a letdown and in fact, again Carrie has been doing this for a while so she is quite strong so she is able to lift her legs off the chair and let her full body weight down but as we’re getting stronger, the beauty of the chair is…

You stand on the chair and then you hold your arms in the top position and your arms are just sitting there like they’re not using any resistance but what you can start to do is you can kind of lift your legs off the chair so your arms are now holding ten percent of your body weight and then 20 percent and you’ll know I love with the pull-ups or let downs what you can just try to do is really just trying not to go down. What you’ll find is that when you lift your legs far enough off the chair, the resistance will be heavy enough that, despite the fact that you are trying not to lower down gravity will take care of that for you.

That applies to any of these exercises like with the squats, you really shouldn’t need to think about lowering yourself. You should actually try to not lower yourself , your goal should be like “Dang it. I’m not going to go down” but you should be using so much resistance that despite your best effort not to move, you still lower down. That’s actually a key most people progress to a sort of three phases of eccentric training. The first phase is they’re like consciously, I am going to lower myself for ten seconds. Okay, cool then they add some resistance and they’re like, “Wow, I can still lower myself for ten seconds, interesting. I’m stronger than I thought I was” and then they get to stage three which is the last stage which is they have enough resistance where they try not to lower themselves like “I’m not going to lower myself” but gravity forces him all the way down. Is that fair?

Carrie: Yeah.

Jonathan: Alright, so and we did the eccentric squats that’s going to work our legs, our quadriceps, our hamstring, our butts and that’s really important. If you do only one exercise do that one because the vast majority of muscle in your body is in your legs. It’s the most important muscle group to work. We’ll talk about why in more podcasts or in the future podcast that pull-up or let down is going to work our back muscles as well as our arm muscles just again huge muscle group. Carrie is going to cover how to do an eccentric pushup, which is going to work our arms as well as our chest so also very important.

Carrie: This is the one that cause me the most grief but what made me excited to do it was the first time I saw Jonathan do it. He was actually at our presentation and did it on a table so that people could see him and the best bit about it was that he lowered himself down and then he didn’t push himself back up. He hopped off the table, got back up, and I’m like “Okay, I can do that” so this is essentially a reverse pushup so you actually start in a push-up position with your arms extended so you’re at the top. It’s as if you just push yourself up.

Now, because I’m a girl because I have arms like wet spaghetti, I am using my knees. I am not on my toes. Jonathan does where he’s on his toes and he lowers down, oh goodness. I can’t do that yet so I am using my knees. My knees are on the floor, my back is straight, my arms are fully extended as if I’ve just done a push-up and then over ten seconds, I lower myself towards the ground and I say towards the ground because I cannot get all the way to the ground without my arms absolutely giving out.

My arms are not that strong yet. Jonathan does it. He lowers himself until his nose is a centimeter above the table and then he holds it there. I am not at that point where I can do that yet, so I lower myself as far as I can towards the ground and then I hold it for ten seconds and then I collapsed.

Jonathan: And then you sort of get back in that top position however it doesn’t matter.

Carrie: However then I can roll over back up on my knee, start at the top position again and lower myself and then hold it until my arms collapse.

Jonathan: It’s excellent that Carrie brought that up because there’s a couple ways to, as we get stronger, there are ways that we can make these exercises more challenging. An example that Carrie gave here is so for me for any exercise there is a portion of the movement that is the most difficult and it’s usually when the muscles contracted the most so like when we squat down, it’s sort of that bottom portion of the movement so like right when our legs are at parallel or at quadriceps or at parallel with the ground that’s much harder to hold than for example if we just bend our knees two inches.

You can just try this right now. Stand up, bend your knees a little bit and hold it. It’s easy. Bend your knees a lot and hold it, it’s much harder. Same thing with the pull-up so like when you’re at the very top of a pull-up, that’s much harder than when you’re closer to the bottom and with the pushup right before you’re at the bottom of the push-up is the hardest part.

If you are a little bit more advanced, what you can do is instead of lowering for ten seconds, what you can do is just at a controlled speed, get to that most difficult point and hold that point for ten seconds. With the push-up, what I do is I’ve got my feet on the ground, not my knees. I lower myself down to the very bottom but while I’m still bearing all of my body weight, again my nose is basically touching and then I hold that bottom position for ten seconds.

Carrie: I’ve got to tell you listeners that when I first saw Jonathan do this, it was amazing because you can imagine you’ve seen pictures of him and you can kind of imagine what it looks like. He has been doing this for a long time and before that he was a trainer so he’s a strong dude and when I first saw him do the first one not the sixth one, the first one, he broke out in a sweat.

That’s how hard it is to do this, so especially girls don’t feel pathetic if you can only lower yourself three inches and then you feel like your arms are going to snap. It will get better but that’s the kind of intensity that you need to be putting your muscles through and even after you done six repetitions, it’s a couple of minutes not even that, so it’s a massive amounts of pain in very short time but it’s very, very arduous.

Jonathan: Absolutely and Carrie mentioned the word pain there which is good to bring up because it is going to hurt but one thing we need to be very conscious of is the two different kinds of hurt like hopefully we’ve all been muscular soreness and desirable pain versus if you feel like a sharp, stabbing sensation like that’s not good. That probably means you’re doing the exercising incorrectly like your arm is in the wrong position, your leg is in the wrong position. You may want to have a trainer show you how to do the exercise and then you perform it eccentrically yourself but it is, you think of it like an immunization where it’s painful but for a very short period of time and very safe so that we have a much better experience in the future.

The other thing I wanted to mention was again we have videos online and also please feel free to use the Smarter Science of Slim Support Group up on the website because again trying to explain this I just feel bad because I wish I could just come and show you how to do this but it’s not feasible for me to do that, so reach out. Let us know how we can help you with. The last exercise is the shoulder press.

Carrie: This is my favorite one because it only involves a 20 pound weight and not the entire weight of my body.

Jonathan: There is a way I will wait until Carrie is done to talk about how you can do this with your entire body weight but that’s much more advance.

Carrie: The other reason I love this is because once I added this one, it made my waist smaller, which is weird but true. I also made my back fat disappear, which was just the best thing ever.

Jonathan: Part of it too and this is probably not what happened but what you’ll find is when we actually build up our muscles. Again, we’re not going to get bulky muscles but we are going to get definition but for example back in the day I don’t know if they still do this but they used to be shoulder pads in clothing. When you start doing smarter resistance training, you won’t need those anymore because your back muscles and your arm muscles and your shoulder muscles and your leg muscles.

They’re going to fill out and your waist will look smaller because relative to everything else it is and in fact you can see these oftentimes most obviously on men. They’ve got the broad shoulders and the slim waist whereas their waist may not actually be that slim but relatively to their shoulders it is. So, anyway continue. I’m sorry.

Carrie: You will need and I tried with various devices but really the dumbbell was the way to go because 20 pounds is not light so to find something in your home that weighs 20 pounds that you could also hold and easy to do was just I gave up with that in the end and I finally went to the sports store and got it. So I started with the 20 pound dumbbell so you’re just standing, legs shoulder with apart and you’re going to hold the dumbbell with one of the bells at the top. You’re not holding it sideways, you’re holding it lengthwise with both hands and you’re going to lift it with both hands until it’s directly above your head.

Jonathan: Think of this kind of as a press. Don’t have your arms extended out and like arch them up. Think of it as you’re pressing above your head.

Carrie: Right, so it’s quite close to your body. Now, you’re standing there with your both hands holding this dumbbell above your head then you’re going to let go with one hand and with the other hand you’re going to slowly over ten seconds, you’re going to lower it down to your side, keeping everything perpendicular. You’re coming down side ways so your elbow is moving towards your hip but you’re keeping your elbow bent.

Jonathan: Really, look this one up online because this is one that’s very important that you have your arm like at the correct angles because we really don’t want you to mess up your rotator cuff so the key thing Carrie said there that was spot on right. The thing we’re talking about is to lift with two arms, you’ll lower with one very, very slowly and you can even spot yourself with the other arm but as Carrie kind of illustrated, you’re arms going to be at the correct angles otherwise, you might strip your rotator cuff and shoulder injuries are no fun so please do take note of that.

Carrie: I actually do this standing sideways over my bed, so if I ever get to that point where my arm collapses and I have to drop the thing it’s just dropping on my bed, do that’s how I do it.

Jonathan: I really, really like that and for don’t do this, this is an incredibly advance movement. This is what I do when I do exercise at a gym because I need a bit more resistance and that’s what you’ll find is as you get more advanced, there are ways to add resistance at home. Some examples are resistance bands and these are super economical. I have a brand. I don’t sell products but there is a brand that I use that I link to on my website on Amazon. You can get them on Amazon. These resistance bands are like 25 pounds, 35 pounds, 45 pounds, and there’s a lot of resistance and that’s a brilliant way to add resistance.

You can also buy a weight vest and again these things are all like 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 bucks. We’re not talking about like $100 pieces of equipment. You shot the weight vest on that’s helpful for the squats. It’s helpful for the pull-ups. It’s helpful for the push-ups or you can just buy like a dumbbell like Carrie said. Back to shoulder exercise, for individuals who are extremely advanced if you’ve ever watched the movie Dragon with Bruce Lee in it. He does hand stand push-ups which is basically like push-up is hard. Imagine doing a hand stand and then pushing yourself up and down.

Carrie: Is that even possible?

Jonathan: It is. It is. I was going to do one right now but…

Carrie: No, no don’t do that.

Jonathan: It’s actually very difficult to push yourself up but again you can lower yourself down. It’s also very dangerous because if you screwed up, you’d break your neck, so don’t do that but it just again illustrates the point here, again squat, not a new movement. We are not here inventing that. Pull-up, not new movement, push-up, definitely not a new movement; shoulder press. These are all established exercises. All we’re doing is we’re talking about ways we can make it so that we can lower more weight than we lift.

Carrie: I think I mean we’re just reversing them all.

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly.

Carrie: We’re putting the emphasis is on the lowering not the raising.

Jonathan: I think the thing that is I guess helpful or creative is the ability to do that by yourself because most people when they think of eccentric training, they think they have to have a spotter, right? It’s like imagine you’re doing a bench press and you lower the weight down. Well, how the heck will you pick it back up? What we’re illustrating here is there are ways to do that by using your other limb to spot yourself. The reason I call this out is again these are not new movements.

Any qualified personal trainer can teach you how to do any exercise but what you’ll want to do then and it’ll save you some money is you don’t, if you like your trainer and you want to work with them that’s fine but you can go and see him once. In fact almost any gym will give you one free personal trainer consultation so what you can do, a little trick; leverage that personal trainer consultation, have them show you how to do these exercises then, just focus on lowering the weight like we’ve done here, so have the trainers show you the basic exercises and then apply these principles on top of them and then you can do those exercises even smarter.

Carrie: Awesome.

Jonathan: I love it. I love it. Next week folks, so again there is videos online. There are all kinds of stuff that complement this. Starting next week, we are going to talk about how we can, so this is, we just talk about how to do resistance training smarter, work more muscle fibers, get more results in less time. We are going to talk about how to take “cardiovascular exercise” because we see it’s really not that different from resistance training and how to make that smarter. These are things like on an elliptical machine or on a stationary bike, so…

Carrie: Those are a dozy I can tell you.

Jonathan: Have a great week, remember to eat more and exercise less but do it smarter.

This week:
– How much resistance to use while doing eccentric exercise
– How quickly/slowly to exercise eccentrically
– How to exercise eccentrically at home
– How to customize body weight exercises to have the perfect level of resistance
– The four eccentric exercises to do
– How to only use “shared sources” of resistance while training eccentrically
– How to only do eccentric exercises when little if any balance is needed
– How eccentric exercise allows us to build our way up to otherwise “impossible” exercises such as pushups and pullups
– The three phases of eccentric training
– How to make eccentric exercises more challenging
– The difference between “good” and “bad” hurts while exercising
– How to get free in person instruction on how to exercise eccentrically