Isometric vs. Concentric vs. Eccentric Exercises
Concentric, eccentric, and isometric training are three completely different types of exercises that greatly benefit your strength training routine. Whether you are an avid gym-goer or just beginning your fitness journey, these three types of exercises are something everyone should learn.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between isometric training, concentric training, and eccentric training. We will also dive into the many benefits these exercises bring to your training routine and go over examples of each type of exercise.
What Is Isometric Training?
During isometric training, the muscles you are targeting through an exercise do not move. Isometric exercises focus on the tension or muscle contractions of a specific muscle or group of muscles. Throughout these exercises, the muscle and the joint angle remain the same.
What Are the Benefits of Isometric Training?
The benefits of isometric exercises are essential to your overall health. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete, isometric exercises can be completed by everyone regardless of their fitness ability. Below are some of the major benefits isometric training has to offer:
- Increase static strength: Isometric contractions increase your static strength and require you to engage your core muscles.
- Increase balance and body control: Isometric exercises can increase balance and body control. They also allow you to explore and feel the proper form of the exercise you are trying to perform. This makes them ideal practice when trying out new, complex movements or techniques.
- Help manage blood pressure: Studies have shown that isometric exercises may also help lower your blood pressure.
- Help with recovery: Isometric exercises are great for individuals recovering from an injury or those doing rehabilitation after surgery. These exercises allow people to strengthen specific muscles without causing too much stress to the injured area.
- Help push past strength plateau: Isometric training can help you break through a strength plateau by building strength at the end of your range of motion.
Isometric Training Exercises To Consider
In isometric exercises, you essentially hold completely still at a particular angle, so there is no lengthening or shortening of the muscle. Therefore, you can add isometric movements to almost every exercise by adding a pause mid-movement.
For example, think about bicep curls. Instead of just doing the basic bicep curl, try adding a 90-degree angle pause, for a brief period of time, before finishing the rest of the movement.
For a lower body exercise example, think of back squats. By adding a 10-second pause at the bottom of your squat, you incorporate an isometric hold to the exercise.
Other exercises to consider for isometric training:
- Side planks
- Wall sits
- Hollow holds
- Hanging from a pull-up bar
- Handstand hold
- Front rack kettlebell hold
- Lunge holds
What Is Concentric Training?
Concentric training occurs when the tension in the muscle increases and the muscle fibers contract. It is basically a type of muscle activation that creates muscle tension as your muscles shorten.
Concentric movements lead to increased power and speed, but they are not as good at building strength. This is because the concentric aspect of a movement does not damage the muscles like the eccentric aspect. Muscle damage activates a muscle repair response within the body. Through this process, the body creates greater muscle strength.
What Are the Benefits of Concentric Training?
Even though concentric training doesn’t build as much muscle strength, it still adds major benefits to your exercise program. While concentric exercise means fewer strength gains per rep, it does mean less muscle soreness, a faster recovery time, and less added muscle mass (this is ideal for those not looking to bulk up.)
Concentric Training Exercises To Consider
Many concentric exercises involve only completing half the muscle movement because the other half of the lift adds eccentric movements to the exercise.
If you want to focus on the concentric parts of a movement, one of the best exercises to dry is a deadlift. For the concentric aspect of this exercise, only pick the weight up off the ground and then drop it from the top to skip the eccentric portion.
What Is Eccentric Training?
Eccentric movements are also known as “the negative” part of a movement. This portion of the movement involves the lengthening of the muscle fibers by returning the weight to the original starting position of the movement.
What Are the Benefits of Eccentric Training?
There are so many benefits to the eccentric aspect of a movement. Remember above when we mention eccentric movements cause more damage to the muscle? Well, this is a positive thing.
When the muscle is damaged, and microtears are caused, your body is forced to repair the damage. This process makes the muscle stronger and helps build muscle.
In addition to strengthening your muscles, eccentric training helps strengthen tendons and ligaments. By doing this, your chances of injuries are decreased. Eccentric contractions also make your muscle fibers grow, which physically makes your muscles bigger to increase your muscle mass.
Eccentric Training Exercises To Consider
You can do eccentric training for both your lower body and upper body. If you want to focus primarily on the eccentric portion of a movement, then consider doing these exercises:
- Deadlifts: Slowly lower the barbell towards the ground for increased eccentric muscle training.
- Calf raises: For the eccentric aspect of calf raises, lower your body weight back slowly to the starting portion of the movement.
- Bicep curls: For this exercise, slowly lower the barbell or dumbbells back toward your hips to focus on the eccentric movement.
- Pull-ups: For the eccentric aspect of pull-ups, focus more on lowering yourself slowly from the bar instead of letting your body drop quickly back down.
- Push-ups: In this exercise, you’ll see the most eccentric training benefits by focusing on slowly lowering your chest to the ground. Slow and steady is the way to build greater muscle mass in this exercise.
As you have discovered the differences between these three types of exercises, you should also note that it is essential to incorporate all three into your weightlifting or exercise routine to reach maximum results.
Just think, you can use concentric movements to build strength through the entire range of motion; eccentric movements to build muscle and have stronger, more resilient muscle tissue; and isometric movements to increase your strength and build up muscle mass.
By combining these three forms of exercises into your workout routine and mixing up the emphasis you are placing on your muscles, you will start to see more dramatic muscle growth and fitness results.