Everyone has heard of pull ups. The exercise is among the most popular in the world, praised for the many benefits it offers.
You’ve also probably heard of the standard pull up variations: chin ups, close-grip pull ups, wide-grip pull ups, and such.
But have you heard of eccentric pull ups? The variation is less popular than other movements, but it offers numerous benefits.
Today, we’ll go over the movement, why you should do it, and how to get started. Let’s dive in.
What Are Eccentric Pull Ups
Eccentric pull ups are a fantastic bodyweight exercise that builds upper-body strength, balance, and muscle mass.
Unlike traditional pull ups, the goal with eccentrics is to lower yourself as slowly as you can. In doing so, you can build more strength, work your way up to your first unassisted pull-up, and possibly build more muscle mass.
These benefits are possible because our muscles are stronger in the eccentric phase than concentrically. Meaning, you can lower yourself for at least a few seconds even if you don’t have the strength to pull yourself up. Because of that, you can leverage your eccentric strength to learn the pull-up exercise and build concentric strength. (1)
Different Ways to Perform Eccentric Pull Ups
There are numerous ways to perform eccentrics effectively, and you shouldn’t get stuck with a single variation. One option is to do multiple eccentric repetitions if you don’t have the strength to lower yourself for 10, 20, or 30 seconds. For example, you can lower yourself for five seconds and perform three repetitions per set.
As you get stronger, you can start doing a single long repetition. For instance, get to the top position and lower yourself for 20, 30, or even 40 seconds.
Another (and better) option is to lower yourself in stages. Doing so is beneficial for strengthening your muscles at all stages of the exercise. Plus, forcing yourself to pause at specific points makes the movement more challenging and beneficial. (2)
Here is how you can do it:
- Lower yourself ¼ and hold for 5 seconds
- Lower yourself ½ and hold for 5 seconds
- Lower yourself ¾ and hold for 5 seconds
Once you finish this, jump to the next:
- Lower yourself ¼ and hold for 3 seconds
- Lower yourself ½ and hold for 3 seconds
- Lower yourself ¾ and hold for 3 seconds
The third rep could look like this:
- Lower yourself ¼ and hold for 1-2 seconds
- Lower yourself ½ and hold for 1-2 seconds
- Lower yourself ¾ and hold for 1-2 seconds
What Makes Eccentric Pull Ups Important And Beneficial?
Eccentric pull ups are beneficial because they can teach you to perform regular pull ups. Most adults struggle to perform even a single standard pull up. But almost everyone can do eccentric pull ups, even if for a few seconds.
Both exercises train the same muscles, and eccentrics help you build the concentring strength you need to start pulling yourself up. (3)
Aside from that, eccentric pull ups make for a great upper body workout and cause significant muscle damage and mechanical tension that stimulate growth. Specifically, eccentrics strengthen the following:
- Back (and lats, in particular)
- Core (erector spinae, transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, obliques, glutes, etc.)
Click here to see more types of pull ups.
- Quinn, E. (2020, September 21). Using concentric contractions effectively to build muscles. Verywell Fit. https://www.verywellfit.com/concentric-muscle-contraction-3120342
- Iliades, C., Jesner, L., Migala, J., Robinson, K., Rapaport, L., Bedosky, L., Byrne, C., & Millard, E. (n.d.). The benefits of strength and weight training. EverydayHealth.com.
- McKay, B. & K. (2021, August 25). Your concentration training program: 11 exercises that will strengthen your attention. The Art of Manliness.