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Why the Eccentric Phase Is More Important Than You Think

Are you a starter or a finisher? Doing anything requires starting it in the first place, so both starters and finishers initiate action. But there’s a big difference between the two, and here’s a hint: finishers are rarer than starters. It’s only finishers who are committed to the follow-through, and the follow-through is the basis of what I call the “eccentric principle." 

You can think about it in the same way as performing a barbell curl. One rep is one complete cycle of movement, and each rep requires both a concentric and eccentric contraction of the muscle you’re targeting. In simple terms, the concentric phase of a curl is the lift. That’s when you’re squeezing the muscle to overcome the weight of the barbell and lift it against the force of gravity. 

You’ve probably seen someone in the gym before curling at a hundred miles per hour, and that happens because they’re fixated on the concentric, or starting phase, of each rep. The eccentric phase is a mere afterthought if they’re thinking about it all. But they should be, because it’s about practicing proper follow-through. 

During the eccentric phase, the muscle stretches out, resulting in a lowering of the barbell back to its starting position. That entire contraction is the follow-through of the rep. The eccentric phase is important because, by slowing it down, you stabilize the weight as you lower the barbell, sharpen your focus, and maintain good form, which is important for preventing injuries. 

Furthermore, you can control more weight during the eccentric phase than during the concentric phase. More weight is akin to more responsibility, which requires more care. Treating the weight with the proper attention and care during the eccentric phase sets you up to perform another rep effectively. 

At Bounce Pep, the eccentric principle states that there can be no sustained success unless you follow through on the endeavor you start. Following through requires commitment and focus after the initial action has been taken, and you must care about the quality of the outcome. Once you’re aware of this principle, you can practice it in the real world. 

For example, if you run a business, you will recognize that making the sale is the "lift"; it’s only the concentric phase. The thank-you to the customer, the delivery, and the after-service are the follow-throughs that, if done well, can lead to another sale to the same customer in the future. All of that is part of the eccentric phase, and it’s your opportunity to distinguish yourself from all the fly-by-night operators. 

Or, if you’re in a relationship, consider everything you do before the wedding to be the concentric phase. The flowers, courtship, and wining and dining are the “lift” that so many couples fixate on, but the marriage, when the real test begins, is the eccentric phase. That’s when you must follow through with patience, attention, and care to make the relationship work long-term. 

Remember that the concentric is just the start of things. If you really want to level up, if you really want to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, or if you really want to build something great, be very intentional about the eccentric. You'll be the rarer breed. 

Sayonara until next time.

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