Eccentric Exercise For Older Adults
Studies have established eccentric exercise as superior to concentric exercise in stimulating muscle strength and mass gains. Furthermore, flywheel resistance training has been found to call for greater eccentric muscle activation than traditional weight training.
However, most studies primarily focus on the benefits of eccentric exercise and flywheel resistance training on young and healthy adults. The reality is that eccentric exercises via flywheel resistance training can be more beneficial and accessible, and easier to use than traditional resistance training with weights.
What makes eccentric exercises unique are their potential for high force production at a uniquely low energy cost, being a countermeasure to muscle atrophy, weakness, and deficits in physical function. Following a dual phase implementation, eccentric exercises induce rehabilitation benefits without muscle damage, making it safe and feasible in rehabilitation for older adults.
Traditional resistance training is popular for maintaining or improving muscle strength and power. Yet, it is limited by the load lifted during the concentric phase of a contraction. On the other hand, flywheel resistance training (FRT) can create an eccentric overload by overcoming this limitation by applying constant resistance through the entire range of motion in exercises and also has many other benefits for an aging population.
The energy put into the concentric phase is stored in the flywheel. It is equal to the energy returned during the eccentric phase, meaning the pace of the workout is solely determined by the user's efforts. In an article in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, Jaap Wonders listed flywheel technology's application to injury prevention.
Flywheel resistance training is beneficial for older adults because it has benefits in musculoskeletal rehabilitation, stemming from the overload provided directly related to the force production capability of the individual's limbs.
Exerfly’s flywheel equipment is versatile and can be used for an entire full-body training session without any training partners. It is much safer than overloading a barbell. Exerfly uses inertial loading, where the eccentric loading matches the user's concentric output, meaning they're always in control.
This overloads the eccentric by delaying when the user slows the flywheel down, concentrating most eccentric force production in a short time window. Hence overloading at an eccentric rate of force development typically occurs at longer muscle lengths. Here's how to do it:
- Clip the rope to the Exerfly belt so your knees are soft at the top of the squat with the rope taught.
- Spin the flywheel to start and build momentum for the initial one or two reps.
- Push maximally to the top and lightly ride the eccentric phase until near the bottom.
- Rapidly apply force to stop the eccentric movement and reverse to a concentric squat.
Using a waist harness allows athletes with poor lumbar strength and older adults who are disadvantaged in maximal strength to do well. It allows for stimulating workouts that overload the body.
- Set the Exerfly Rack Mount near the top of the rack as you would for traditional triceps extensions.
- Instead of performing a strict triceps extension, use your entire body like you would use a ski erg.
- Do 2 reps like this to accelerate the flywheel, then perform a strict, eccentric action where only the elbows move to isolate the triceps.
For this method, overloading the concentric portion involves using the entire body to pull the handle down and only allowing the elbows to move during the eccentric.
There are two options when performing eccentric bicep curls with flywheels:
- Concentric overload
- The concentric overload involves performing the concentric action (elbow flexion) at faster speeds.
- Perform a cheat curl incorporating the entire body on the way up, using only the biceps during the eccentric.
Both of these options are accentuated eccentric training versus tempo training and lead to far greater eccentric specific adaptations.
Perform 2 warm-up reps of the flywheel bench press to get the maximum speed
- On the third rep, ride it down without resistance halfway instead of resisting the entire eccentric phase, then rapidly try to reverse the action in the bottom half of the movement.
- This concentrates the eccentric force to the exercise's bottom half, overloading the eccentric.
- Ride the top half of the eccentric without much resistance before rapidly turning the bottom half eccentric phase into a concentric action.
The eccentric bench press emphasizes the lowering phase to stimulate eccentric adaptations in the chest, shoulders, and triceps, leading to heightened hypertrophic and strengthening effects.
- Wear the shoulder harness with the rope attached.
- Have the Exerfly Platform directly under the pull-up bar.
- Perform the pull-up with the Exerfly attached so it drags you down during the eccentric phase, which you will have to resist.
Eccentric exercises are particularly beneficial in treating age-related hindrances such as tendonitis or sarcopenia, reducing pain, decreased tendon stiffness, increased neovascularization, enhanced neuroplasticity, and increased shielding of muscles.
Older adults also benefit from flywheel resistance training because it is a safer and easy-to-use form of exercise. Users do not require background skills for FRT. They will simply need a couple of familiarization sessions with the equipment before starting their training routine.
If you want to improve your fitness or seek more information on what eccentric exercises can do for you, book a free consultation with our team. We can discuss how Exerfly can help you progress in your fitness journey.