Today I want to walk through the basics of eccentric, isometric, and concentric training. Each of these components plays a role in many different exercises, but can often be overlooked or misunderstood.
An isometric exercise is when your muscle length and the angle of your joint don't change. A great example of this would be a plank, you are holding yourself in that position with virtually no movement. A great benefit of using isometrics is that it forces you to engage your core and work on balance and body control. It also helps break through plateaus, if you are struggling at the bottom of your squat, you can do isometric squats and hold yourself at the bottom portion of the move where you are the weakest and you can improve in that area. Iso's can also be helpful when trying to recover from an injury, you don't need special equipment and it can help with increased activation.
The next type of moves to cover are the eccentric exercises. An eccentric contraction is when your muscle lengthens, or the "lowering" portion of most moves. Bicep curls are a simple example in this scenario, the eccentric part is when you are lowering the weight down in a slow and controlled manner. To make this more of a challenge you can increase the time it takes you to get to the bottom of the move. If you usually go up and down in one second, focus on lowering the weight for three seconds on the way down. This is a great way to strengthen and grow your muscle fibers. This does place a large stress on the body and will also help strengthen your tendons and ligaments, you will need longer to recover when these methods are used to train.
The final category to discuss is the concentric portions of the moves. Basically, we are thinking of the opposite of eccentric, the muscle is shortening, so this time if we are looking at a bicep curl, we are focused on the way up when you squeeze your bicep the bring the weight up. Focusing on this part of your lift can help stimulate strength and power. The next time you squat, put an emphasis on the concentric phase of your squat by exploding out of the bottom of your squat. By exploding up and not raising slowly, you will develop power that will help move the weight faster.
If you're looking for different ways to get a variety of these types of exercise into your workouts, talk to a Western personal trainer today!