Bells Broadcast: Eccentric vs Concentric Exercise… What is it and how can you use it?

When thinking about the different phases and components of different exercises, we can break them down into multiple sections. This includes pushing, pulling, raising, and lowering. If we separate these components and ensure each are performed adequately, we will see an overall improvement in the exercise.

Today, Annabel and the teams at Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymbleBalmainNeutral Bay, Coburg – Melbourne, and Barrie, Ontario – Canada will have a discussion about eccentric and concentric movements and how they can impact your exercise program.

 

Let’s delve into what these terms mean and how they can be incorporated into your exercise program. All resistance based exercises such as push ups, squats, curls, and everything in between have both a concentric and eccentric component. Concentric movement is when the muscle shortens while producing force (contracting the muscle). For example, this happens when you are lifting the weight during a biceps curl. Comparably, eccentric movement is when the muscle lengthens while producing force. For example, when you’re lowering the weight down during a biceps curl. One can say that you’re often stronger in the eccentric phase of the lift since you’re holding back the weight (Bortenschlager, 2020).

 

“Concentric movement is when the muscle shortens while producing force whereas eccentric movement is when the muscle lengthens while producing force.”

 

Due to the architecture of our working muscles, we are capable of handling roughly 30% more force when our muscles are contracting eccentrically compared to when contracting concentrically. If we apply this to our squatting movements, we can see this phenomenon play out in our daily lives.

Which movement is better to be gaining increases in strength?

Studies have identified that both movements lead to increased hypertrophy or muscle mass. Some evidence suggests that eccentric training promotes muscle mass more than concentric. This may be due to a more rapid response of muscle building (anabolic) signalling and induced muscle adaptation. Most studies favour the eccentric movement to produce a higher increase in muscle hypertrophy compared with concentric training, however, the difference in effect is very small – on average 3.2% more muscle growth from eccentric movements (Roig et al., 2008).

Another analysis found that eccentric exercise was performed at higher intensities and when compared with concentric training, total strength and eccentric strength increased more significantly. However, compared with concentric training, strength gains after eccentric training appeared more specific in terms of velocity and mode of contraction. Eccentric training performed at high intensities was shown to be more effective in promoting increases in muscle mass.

“Both movements, eccentric and concentric, lead to increased hypertrophy or muscle mass.”

In contrast to the previous findings, loading differences between the two movements can contribute to the small advantage of eccentric lifting. During eccentric lifting one often tends to use a heavier weight. It may also be because you’re nearing your maximum and therefore lifting more weight. Growth-related effects of eccentric training appear to be related to the higher loads developed during eccentric contractions (Schoenfeld et al., 2017).

To conclude, both concentric and eccentric movements seem to be equally important for muscle growth during resistance training. So, it is important to start with general strength training. Using both concentric and eccentric movements in your training program can lead to substantial increases in strength over the long term.

 

If you want to have a better understanding about eccentric and concentric movements or how you can implement them into your exercise regime give Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne, EdgecliffMarrickvilleBella VistaRandwickPymbleBalmainNeutral Bay, Coburg – Melbourne, and Barrie, Ontario – Canada a call on 1300 964 002.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Annabel Bergman

References:

Bortenschlager, M., 2020. Concentric vs. eccentric exercises: How they affect your muscles. 4legsfitness.com. Available at: https://4legsfitness.com/blogs/articles/concentric-vs-eccentric [Accessed August 24, 2022].

Roig, M. et al., 2008. The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy adults: A systematic review with meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(8), pp.556–568.

Schoenfeld, B.J. et al., 2017. Hypertrophic effects of concentric vs. eccentric muscle actions: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(9), pp.2599–2608.

 

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