The strange benefits of “eccentric exercise”, one of the fastest ways to improve your strength

I did something today that I normally don’t do. When I go jogging, I usually run up a hill, but today I walked up it. However, I ran downstairs. And that’s because, as illogical as it sounds, running downhill is probably better for me than running uphill.

What I did is known as eccentric exercise and, despite the name, there is nothing strange about it.

What’s fascinating is that even though it feels easier to go down than up, eccentric exercise is actually important for all sorts of health benefits, including muscle repair and growth, flexibility, and bone density.

Although it may surprise you (it certainly surprised me), the easy part, the one where you’re going down, is actually one of the fastest ways to get stronger.

And it’s not just downhill running, it’s any exercise where you’re lengthening muscle under resistance, like lowering weights after lifting them: when you lift a weight, you’re contracting your arm muscles (that’s concentric exercise); when lowering them, the muscles lengthen.

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Extend your muscles in many ways is the most effective part of the exercise.

Done right, eccentric exercises can confer some truly remarkable benefits, from keeping you fit to helping your body continue to burn more calories when you’re done than a seemingly harder workout.

If you’re curious, you can try the “sit and stand challenge.”

All you have to do is sit in a chair, just very slowly: take 3-5 seconds. Then stand up on both legs.

If you’re feeling particularly energetic, and have good balance, you can try the sitting up on one leg part.

Repeat at least 10 times a day.

Eccentric exercises are the flip side of many movements you’re already doing, and they’ve been hidden in your exercise regimen all along, like a secret.

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