Eccentric Muscle Contraction: The Basics of How Your Muscles Best Work (2021)

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Eccentric Muscle Contraction

Eccnatric Muscle Contraction When you think about muscle contractions, most people will assume this to mean a concentric contraction, such as a biceps curl, in which the muscle simultaneously contracts and shortens.

There is another type of contraction in which the muscle lengthens as it contracts.1 This is called an eccentric muscle contraction. Eccentric contractions occur when a muscle opposes a stronger force and reverse its initial trajectory. Eccentric contractions are sometimes referred to as braking contractions, negative work, or simply “negatives.”

Eccentric Muscle Contraction: The Basics of How Your Muscles Work

When you think about muscle contractions, most people will assume this to mean a concentric contraction, such as a biceps curl, in which the muscle simultaneously contracts and shortens. There is another type of contraction in which the muscle lengthens as it contracts.1 This is called an eccentric muscle contraction. Eccentric contractions occur when a muscle opposes a stronger force and reverse its initial trajectory. Eccentric contractions are sometimes referred to as braking contractions, negative work, or simply “negatives

What is an Eccentric Muscle Contraction?

  • It’s important to remember that while eccentric muscle contractions are very short-lived, they are still as effective in stimulating an increase in muscle force and force-carrying ability as the concentric contraction is.
  • When someone performs an eccentric muscle contraction, the muscle goes in the complete opposite direction from which it came.
  • The angle of the muscle’s position relative to the joint in which it is attached to increases, and it is now performing a drag action, or a resistance to rotation.
  • Instead of pulling in the direction of the extension, it is pulling in the direction of the concentric movement. This is why an eccentric muscle contraction can also be known as a “braking” contraction.

The Benefits of Eccentric Muscle Contractions

Eccentric muscle contraction has some serious benefits. Eccentric contraction uses almost a whole muscle to complete one movement.

For example, on a biceps curl, one bicep will work as a lever while another is stretched out and then contracts to perform the lift. An eccentric contraction can be employed in a variety of different ways to complete a movement.

In power lifts like the bench press, eccentric contraction can be used in place of eccentric muscle contraction, which means one bicep will work as a lever while the other is stretched out. In this situation, both bicep are contracting at the same time.

Why Is An Eccstant Muscle Contraction Important?

Eccentric contractions are important because they provide temporary relief from muscle contractions and are often used during exercises to help the body recover. They also play a key role in helping the body to build muscle by providing an upward force in the muscle contraction.

Eccentric contractions are important because they provide temporary relief from muscle contractions and are often used during exercises to help the body recover. They also play a key role in helping the body to build muscle by providing an upward force in the muscle contraction. The body’s muscles use this upward force to help the muscle return to a relaxed state after the contraction ends.

How Do You Perform An Eccentric Muscle Contraction?

For many years, eccentric muscle contraction was considered to be a once-per-day special exercise done to warm up the muscle. As you can imagine, this is not the case.

Eccentric muscle contractions are important for our daily activities. We use eccentric contractions in many tasks, such as: carrying loads (i.e. bags of groceries, cars) lifting heavy objects (lifting bags, trays, cans) reaching high heights (climbing trees, pedestrian stairs) walking long distances (waiting for buses, walking uphill) etc.

So the next time you lift or carry something heavy, remember that your muscles are using your own “car brakes” to slow down, using your own physiology to save energy.

Negative Work

Eccentric muscle contraction produces negative work. Negative work is the force used to reverse a muscle from its initial trajectory. Since concentric contractions are the primary means of muscle growth (and, hence, are referred to as positive work), eccentric contractions are those that return the muscle to its starting point (negative work).

When a load exceeds the force of a muscle at its full length, the exercise is referred to as negative because the muscle is absorbing rather than utilizing energy.

In physics, this is referred to as strain energy. This occurs when the stretched muscle absorbs the mechanical energy and converts it into what is known as elastic recoil.

Elastic recoil is energy that can be used for the next movement. For example, if you are doing Squats

the lifting (concentric) phase utilizes energy, while the squatting (eccentric) phase absorbs energy and potentiates the next concentric movement. It is not dissimilar to the action of springs in which absorbed energy is converted into kinetic energy.

Running is another example. When running, mechanical energy is absorbed every time your foot strikes the ground and will continue as your body overtakes your foot. At that movement, elastic recoil energy is at its maximum and is readily transferred to the next stride, propelling you forward.

Depending on your pace, this can create the illusion that you are using less energy despite applying more force.

Exercise Examples

Eccentric contractions are essentially the yin to concentric contractions’ yang. The two work in tandem to build muscle mass and strength. Although concentric contractions are effective in triggering muscle growth, the controlled use of both concentric and eccentric contractions can ensure greater, all-around strength by stabilizing the muscles in and around a joint.

Eccentric contractions generally involve a lowering or releasing movement, while concentric contractions generally infer lifting or rising. For example, when you lift a barbell, you are using concentric contractions; as you lower it, eccentric contractions are at play.

Conclusion

The goal of all exercise is to create muscle gains. In addition to strength, muscle gains can be achieved through eccentric contraction and concentric contraction.

Isometric Exercises

 


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