Eccentric Accentuated Pullups For A Massive Back
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Eccentric overload has consistently been shown to be one of the most effective training protocols for improving functional strength, hypertrophy, and injury prevention. Unfortunately it can be a bit tricky to incorporate without the aid of a competent spotter. The Bilateral Assisted Negative Accentuated (BANA) method, also known as the 2:1 Eccentric Accentuated Method, is an incredibly effective yet simple way to implement eccentric overload with a variety of exercises. Here’s one of my awesome clients Leslie Petch showing how it’s done with assisted pullups.
There are several benefits to this bilateral assisted negative accentuated technique particularly when applied to assisted pullups.
1. Essentially you’re pulling yourself up with 2 arms and lowering yourself with one. The goal is to use a load/band assistance that allows moderate loading/tension for the concentric phase (approximately 60-75% 1RM) while also representing a heavy supramaximal eccentric load for the unilateral portion (approximately 120% 1RM for single arm). This provides a unique contrast for stimulating strength and hypertrophy. Essentially the concentric phase is relatively light allowing the lifter to focus on smooth mechanics and text book form with a strong contraction and muscle mind connection in the upper back and lats. However, the unilateral eccentric phase improves maximal strength and recruitment of the highest threshold fast twitch fibers ultimately inducing significant muscle damage and mechanical tension. The result of this concentric-eccentric contrast not only maximizes body mechanics but truly improves size throughout the entire upper back, lats, biceps, and forearms.
2. The bilateral assisted negative accentuated technique also promotes symmetry throughout the upper torso. Most upper body vertical pulling motions involve a bilateral element (pulling with both arms simultaneously) such as pullups and chin-up variations. Inevitably most individuals have one side of their body they tend to pull more from as it’s difficult to detect asymmetrical pulling mechanics on pullup variations. Over time this imbalance tends to become worse as the dominant side becomes stronger and the weaker side can become weaker. Periodically using the BANA protocol not only eliminates hypertrophy imbalances from side to side of the body but it also helps to ensure vertical pulling movements such as pullups and chin-ups stay dialed in with symmetrical activation and motor unit recruitment. In fact, the first time you implement this technique you’ll most likely notice a huge variance between sides with one side being significantly stronger. Several workouts using this eccentric accentuate pullup will do wonders for balancing out these issues.
3. The degree of core activation is unusually high for a vertical pulling movement as each time you release one arm there will be significant anti-rotation and anti-lateral flexion elements attempting to pull your body out of alignment. In fact the movement should feel like a combination single arm pullup, Pallof press, and suitcase carry. To resist these forces the lifter will be forced to dial in their form as well as the core by firing nearly every muscle in their body and focus on staying ridiculously tight. This also helps increase spinal rigidity, which can be incredibly beneficial for increasing strength on a number of exercises including pullups.
4. The bilateral assisted negative accentuated protocol is quite versatile and can be applied to a variety of movements including lat pulldowns and seated cable rows (using a v-bar attachment) as well as machine rows, machine lat pulldowns, leg extensions, leg curls, bicep curl machines, chest press machines, overhead press machines, and really any variable resistance machine that’s designed to work in a bilateral fashion. This allows the lifter to perform the concentric phase with 2 limbs while completing the eccentric phase with 1 arm/leg.