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Understanding Muscle Contractions

Understanding MUSCLE contractions To maximize training results, it is important to not just have access to effective workouts, but it’s another to understand the reasoning behind the madness! Here at Muscle Beach Nutrition we want to provide you with useful information that will give you a greater understanding in adjusting workouts and exercises to best suit you and understand why you’re doing what you’re doing to bring you the results you want! So, let us talk about what we use most while training, our muscles! We are going to go over the three different types of muscle contractions you will use in your training: Eccentric, Concentric and Isometric! Concentric: Let us start with the most popular and most focused on muscle contraction, the concentric portion of the movement! A concentric muscle contraction refers to any motion whereby the muscle belly shortens during its contraction. E.g. The biceps during the lifting phase of a bicep curl or the quadriceps during the extension phase of a leg extension exercise. Strength trainers/power lifters are more likely to focus primarily on this phase as their objective is to move maximum weight through a single movement, the lowering portion is not considered and therefor time is best spent focusing more on concentric contractions and movements. Eccentric: Second up is the one that usually does not get as much love is the eccentric contraction! This is the opposing contraction of the concentric phase and is when the muscle belly is extended during contraction (when lowering the weight). E.g. Lowering the dumbbell during a bicep curl or bringing your legs back under you during a leg extension. It is common among bodybuilders to focus a little harder on this contraction, why? Because studies have shown that there can actually be more muscle growth/adaptation through exercises where focus is placed on the eccentric phase. Something to keep in mind next time you are dropping those weights! Isometric: Last but not lease we have the much less common, Isometric contraction! Isometric contractions refer to any contraction where there is no change in muscle belly length during the movement. An example of this would be a plank, or a wall sit. Contraction is required to support the weight, although there is no movement occurring. Studies have shown this still to be an effective method of developing your muscles, alongside other contractions. If you are stuck in a plateau or looking to try something new, do not overlook these types of contractions as it can be applied to even basic exercises. E.g. Holding a Bicep curl at a 45-degree angle for 30 seconds. That is an isometric workout and will burn out those muscles just as other contractions would! We hope this provides you with a little more insight as to different ways you can target and effectively workout the same muscles to produce maximum results, push through plateaus and keep those workouts interesting and engaging! See you next time!