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The Power of Eccentric and Concentric Training: Understanding Muscle Growth

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

In the world of fitness and strength training, discussions often revolve around two crucial phases of exercise: concentric and eccentric. Person A and Helder had an enlightening conversation on these topics, shedding light on the unique benefits of each. In this blog, we'll delve into the intricacies of eccentric training and its relationship with concentric training, highlighting their impact on muscle growth. Let's explore why both phases are equally important in your fitness routine.

Understanding Eccentric Training:

Helder kicks off the conversation by introducing the concept of eccentric training, which focuses on the phase where muscles lengthen. During eccentric contractions, muscles generate force due to the active and passive elements within them.

Active vs. Passive Elements:

In a previous discussion, active elements were explained, illustrating how the muscle actively contracts during concentric exercises. Helder now shifts the spotlight to passive elements. These are elastic structures within the muscle that exert force by resisting deformation. Passive elements come into play when we lower a weight, allowing for higher forces compared to lifting.

Strength in Lowering Weights:

Person A wonders if they are stronger during the lowering phase of an exercise. Helder confirms, indicating that you can be around 20-30% stronger while lowering a weight in the same exercise. This intriguing phenomenon is tied to the passive elements at work.

The Science Behind It:

Helder elucidates that this strength difference occurs because, during eccentric movements, muscles are tested through electrical stimulation rather than voluntary movement. The central nervous system limits force production as a safety mechanism during voluntary contractions, making it more challenging to lift a weight.

Muscle Fiber Changes:

As the conversation progresses, Person A inquires about the changes in muscle fiber appearance. Helder explains that during eccentric contractions, muscle fibers elongate without significantly changing in volume. Unlike the bulging effect seen during concentric phases, eccentric movements lead to more longitudinal deformations, promoting muscle growth.

The Takeaway:

The conversation concludes with some valuable insights. Both eccentric (lowering) and concentric (lifting) phases of an exercise are essential for muscle growth, but they have distinct effects. Concentric movements lead to increased fiber diameter and growth in the middle range of the muscle, while eccentric movements promote greater fiber length and growth in the distal region.

The Importance of Both:

In your training routine, it's crucial to recognise the significance of both eccentric and concentric training. They complement each other and contribute to overall muscle development. By understanding these concepts, you can tailor your workouts to maximize your gains and achieve a balanced physique.

Incorporate both phases into your exercises, and you'll be well on your way to a more effective and efficient training journey. Remember, it's the harmonious blend of concentric and eccentric training that can help you reach your fitness goals and achieve a well-rounded physique.

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