Guest post by James Duscio, a BJJ black belt under Walter cascao vital and runs cascao bjj hard knocks out of Las Vegas nv.
Anybody who has ever been in a conversation about working out has been asked the big question, how much can you bench? It is one of the benchmarks of strength. The problem however is that strength alone does not translate to power that can be transferable to our sport of BJJ or MMA. There is a key workout component that many people miss that is crucial for power development, the eccentric (negative) part of the lift.
Everyone focuses on the main part of the lift, the concentric, because that gives you strength and muscle growth. The concept to remember though is that strength alone is not power, power is how fast you can move that weight, be it a bar or your own body weight. You need strength as a foundation, but without the speed and explosion component, it really doesn’t help that much in sports. The eccentric movement does gives you a bit of muscle growth, but it’s real benefit is to preload the energy into the muscles so that the energy can then be used to explode through the concentric movement.
Every explosive movement begins with the eccentric load up. A good example of this is when your about to jump, your legs slightly dip right before the explosion up. That eccentric dip is your body using the stretch reflex to load up that energy. The greater the velocity of that stretch, the greater the storage is of that elastic energy, which in turn translates to greater force potential. Sorry if it got kind of nerdy, but it was necessary.
There are a few ways to train for this, but some general guidelines are to use basic compound movements like the bench press, squat, and shoulder press and load the bar with no more then 85% of your 1 rep max. On the way down do a slow count of 5 seconds and then explode up. Do about 3 -5 reps and 3 -5 sets. Your not going to feel the same exhaustion as you would with a traditional workout, but it taxes the nervous system pretty hard and the goal is to help your power, not to feel the burn.
Your workouts have to be geared towards your goals. Otherwise what happens is a lot of potential time and energy is wasted. If you are an athlete, you want and need power that translates into your sport. We all focus on strength, but now we know that without the eccentric work, that strength will never translate well. Make sure you add some into your routine. The Grapplers Strength Manual by Mark Philippi is a great tool for coaches and athletes on programming for strength and power and can be viewed below. A small investment into training knowledge often pays big dividends down the road.
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