All sorts of reasons to learn to slow down, know how to go slow, to lower down, slower down. One great reason is that learning to lower under control is fabulous for preventing injury. This lowering phase of any lift is called the eccentric (pronounced in a gym setting not like strange characters — “eck-scent-rick” — but slick and slippery-smooth as an eel, “eeee-scent-rick”), and this type of movement often gets lost in the hullabaloo regarding lifting a weight up, the celebration of that: apex!
Lowering, and lowering with control, though: so much magic.
All the SHELC variations (and SHELC, with its hard c sound, is snazzier to say than “supine hips-elevated leg curl”) are well worth your time, whether you’re focusing on the curl-in-curl-up motion or magnifying the sensation of the straightening, as we are here. So many ways to play.
I like this one because yes, learning to lower is lovely, and also this focus on the eccentric is informative about spots that might want to cramp and cry, and why. Explore.
Strengthening through this range of motion happens, and happens slowly, then quickly. Soon enough and someday you may lift the other heel and straighten without that foot’s support, or you may decide to straighten both legs at the same time, or add a curl-back-up to the movement, keeping your hips high throughout or hovering them low, barely off the ground. Different ranges and angles lead to different results and stimuli: what is good and right for you right now?
FYI: Eccentrics tear up more muscle fibers (a good thing), which you then get to grow back from even stronger (don’t forget to feed your muscles, they r hungry). Heads up, tho: they can make you sore as the dickens, depending on how many/much/difficult you make them for yourself.
Another neat thing about this movement is that while you have one leg at a time working on eccentrics, the other is practicing isometrics, which is the holding of strength in one position.
Holding as still as possible, which is never actually perfectly still, for us: even during isometrics, there are tiny little bodily vibrations, and so while you are holding the shape as best you can, you are really firing firing firing and recommitting to staying there, over and over. Holding steady against the storm of gravity. This builds strength in yet another way (and yet another way that often gets overlooked). Go team!
Valslide Single-Leg Assisted Eccentric SHELC
- Lie down on your back with your feet on the slides and your knees bent to approximately 90 degrees.
- Squeeze your buttcheeks together and drive your heels into the ground to raise your hips and create a straight line from shoulders to knees.
- Push one foot away from you verrrry slowly and under control until that leg is fully extended (or as extended as is possible and comfortable for you). Consider your other, still-bent leg as a helper-outer, who can take some or a lot of the work away from your straightening leg as needed.
- Reverse the movement and pull that foot back in toward you until both feet are again even, then repeat on the same leg or switch to the other side, if you’d like to alternate legs.
- If you’d like to take the heat down a notch, you can also rest your body on the ground between reps and pull your moving-leg foot back toward you from that rested position rather than remaining bridged throughout the movement.