When it comes to weightlifting and resistance training, understanding the concepts of eccentric and concentric contractions is essential. These two phases of a lift play a crucial role in muscle building, but they have distinct effects on muscle fiber development. In this blog, we will delve into the significance of eccentric and concentric training, their impact on muscle volume, fiber diameter, and length, as well as the optimal tempo for maximizing results.
Eccentric and Concentric Training:
Explained Eccentric training refers to the lowering phase of a movement, where the muscle lengthens as it resists the weight. On the other hand, concentric training involves the lifting phase, where the muscle shortens as it overcomes the resistance. Both types of contractions contribute to muscle development but in different ways.
Effects on Muscle Volume and Fiber Characteristics While eccentric and concentric training have similar effects on muscle volume, they elicit distinct changes in muscle fiber diameter and length. Eccentric training primarily increases fascicle length, which refers to the bundles of muscle fibers within a muscle. Concentric training, however, mainly leads to an increase in muscle cross-sectional area, which enhances muscle size and strength.
Active Shortening and Passive Stretching During active shortening, when a muscle actively contracts, it appears to bulge outward. Conversely, during passive stretching, the muscle fibers elongate without the same outward bulging. This distinction is important to understand the biomechanics and physiological responses of eccentric and concentric contractions.
Strength Differences and Muscle Building It is commonly observed that we are approximately 30% stronger during eccentric contractions (lowering phase) compared to concentric contractions (lifting phase). However, it is crucial to note that greater strength during eccentric movements does not necessarily equate to more muscle growth in that portion of the lift. Both eccentric and concentric contractions play vital roles in muscle building when performed with control and proper tempo.
The Role of Tempo in Maximizing Results To optimize muscle development, it is recommended to follow a specific tempo during most exercises. A general guideline is to execute a 2-second concentric phase (lifting), followed by a 1-second pause, a 4-second eccentric phase (lowering), and another 1-second pause before repeating the cycle. This tempo helps maintain control, allows for muscle engagement throughout the range of motion, and enhances overall muscle recruitment.
Eccentric and concentric training are fundamental aspects of weightlifting and resistance training. While both phases contribute to muscle growth, they have distinct effects on muscle fiber characteristics. Understanding the importance of these contractions, along with implementing the recommended tempo, can help individuals maximize their muscle-building potential and achieve their fitness goals effectively.
Remember, a well-rounded training program should incorporate both eccentric and concentric exercises, focusing on proper form, control, and tempo.