|It goes without saying that you need someone to help you to do eccentric leg presses... well, unless you use one leg to help with the concentric part of the exercise, obviously.|
Apropos work, the amount of work the subjects in a recent study from the JES Tech, Ilc., Wyle Science and the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston had to perform was not even overtly demanding.
The study, which was conducted by Kirk L. English, James A. Loehr, Stuart M. C. Lee,
Scott M. Smith and published in the European Journal of Physiology, required the 40 male subjects (34.9 ± 7 years, 80.9 ± 9.8 kg, 178.2 ± 7.1 cm; mean ± SD), who were free from any orthopedic or other medical conditions, but had not participated in a strength training program for at least 6 months prior to entering the study (only five subjects had any history of strength training), performed a supine leg press and calf press training program 3 days per week for a total study duration of 8 weeks.
The idea was to analyze the adaptive responses to a uniquely broad range of eccentric to concentric loading "to inform the development of appropriate exercise prescriptions for a range of populations and to guide resistance exercise hardware requirements for exploration spaceflight." (Smith. 2014)... needless to say that you don't have to be an astronaut to benefit from Smith's findings.
Compared to the 100 % group, on the other hand, using supramaximal weights did not yield a statistically significant advantage (13 ± 6 %; P = 0.15). Still, while all groups, except the 0 % group, increased their 1-RMs (P < 0.05) on the calf press, only the supramaximal training elicited statistically significant leg lean mass gains! So, even if there was only a non-significant strength advantage we are still dealing with an intriguing "mass advantage" of supramaximal eccentrics - an observation that could refuel the debate about the role of muscle damage as a trigger of skeletal muscle hypertrophy.
- Smith et al. "Early‑phase musculoskeletal adaptations to different levels of eccentric resistance after 8 weeks of lower body training." European Journal of Physiology (2014). Accepted Manuscript.