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JONES: Resolution solution: The No. 1 fitness secret

I have decided that 2023 is going to be the year for transforming my body and my life. To make a long question short — what’s the secret??

— Mahalo!

Happy New Year, Kaua‘i!! I am so excited to greet you in health and with hope for 2023 by sharing the No. 1 secret in the world of working out. Without question, this one principle will completely revolutionize your fitness paradigm.

Muscle-building exercise, followed by adequate rest, has been proven to rapidly and dramatically change the body with an all-out smorgasbord of incredible benefits, such as:

• Fighting osteoporosis by increasing bone density or by slowing its decline.

• Reversing or reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

• Improving blood lipid profiles, blood pressure, and blood sugars.

• Increasing muscle tone, strength, metabolism, and balance.

• Combating depression and slowing the aging process.

• Enhancing performance, rehabilitation, and injury prevention.

• Looking great and, more importantly, feeling great.

Muscles move during movement. If a movement lifts a weight upward, against gravity, such as lifting a dumbbell, the muscle fibers shorten. This is called, in lab rat language, a “concentric contraction.” Don’t worry about it. Just remember that, when weight goes up, muscles contract and shorten.

As this weight is then lowered in a controlled manner, the muscle fibers, though still tense, are no longer contracting. They are acting, but not contracting. Instead, they are lengthening.

So as a weight is lifted, a muscle shortens toward its center as a result of a phenomenon scientifically termed a “concentric muscle contraction.”

As a weight is lowered, a muscle lengthens away from its center as a result of a phenomenon scientifically termed an “eccentric muscle action.”

Eureka! This is it! You have just read what is arguably the No. 1 secret of exercise! The secret is in lowering a weight, not lifting it. As a weight is slowly lowered, the muscle’s ends move in an “away from, off-center” direction. The muscle is no longer contracting; it is now “acting eccentrically.”

My system of “Eccentrics” is based on factual, scientifically-utilized terminology. Since Eccentrics literally translates as “off-center” exercise, physiologists use the expression to represent muscle “lengthening.” When lowering a weight, the two ends of the working muscle are moving “away from center” as the muscle actively lengthens.

Muscle fibers are still trying to contract and shorten but, instead, they are being forced to extend and elongate. The fibers are actually being pulled in the opposite direction of the force being generated. Force in. Fibers out.

Eccentrics is analogous to gently pulling apart two connected pieces of Velcro. By design, the internal friction within Velcro creates greater strength when being pulled apart than when being pushed together. It’s a natural action for the Velcro to resist being pulled apart. It’s easy for it. Ditto for muscle.

Resisting a weight, as it lowers, is always easier than lifting that same weight. Just as Velcro friction helps Velcro stay together, muscle friction helps fibers stay together as they lengthen.

It is this reaction, the action of Eccentrics, which provides the best stimulus for a better body in every instance. While Velcro is marvelous, Eccentrics is miraculous.

The myriad benefits, obvious and obscure, derived from lowering weight, make eccentric muscle actions the most remarkable phenomena in the discipline of exercise physiology.

Eccentrics deserves to be the foundation of any fitness regimen, including yours. Regardless of whether you are beginning anew or another, your program must embrace this secret of exercise — slowly lowering weight.

It doesn’t matter where you work out or which exercises you perform; the only reason you lift weights is to lower them.

You can exercise anywhere. At a health club, fitness center, YMCA, school, home, garage, beach, park, playground, or even a friend’s house. As long as you are intently focused on lowering weight super slowly, you’re going to achieve incredible results. Seven seconds down is my secret speed to super strength. Try it!

Dr. Robert Butler, the first Director of the National Institute on Aging, once said, “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the world.” As he leads, please follow my direction down.

Lengthening muscle by slowly lowering weight to the tune of seven seconds down is literally exercise packed in pill form — the panacea — the greatest medicinal fitness prescription available.

Let’s open it up and begin taking a biweekly dose of Eccentrics. I’ll see you in two weeks! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023!

In health & with hope,

— Doug


Doug Jones earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and has served professionals and personalities as a concierge fitness trainer for decades. As a resident of Kaua‘i and Connecticut, he has helped millions of people learn the secrets of fitness and fat loss, both online and in person. To submit your questions, or for more information, please visit:
Source: The Garden Island

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