Concentric contraction can provide a fair amount of benefit if its risks are addressed. Therefore, we tell you everything you need to know about this muscular approach.
Concentric or myometrial contractions are understood as the physiological effect produced by the approach of two points or ends of the muscle. This causes the external zone’s resistance to being overcome, leading to a considerable increase in volume.
In other words, with concentric contraction, there is a shortening of the muscle fibers, which in turn leads to a change in the length of the muscle being worked.
Benefits of concentric contraction
The benefits of this kind of isotonic contraction in the muscles are varied. However, we gather those that we consider most important and useful for athletes:
- Increase resistance: the achievement of concentric contraction allows a gradual increase in the resistance of the muscle to the load.
- Expands muscle fibers: hypertrophy is one of the consequences, leading to increased size without muscle dissociation.
- It favors toning: it is also possible to mark the exercised area if training is carried out regularly for a period of approximately three months.
- Regulates metabolism: there is a direct impact on metabolism that will present a better response during aging.
- Perfect intermuscular coordination: improves the execution of movements; that is, they occur with greater precision due to the work of several muscles in perfect synchrony.
Risks of concentric contraction
The movements that generate concentric contraction have another side of the coin in the form of risks. When an excessive force is exerted when performing these exercises, the intensity is exceeded, or an imbalance occurs, the complications could be the following:
- Rise in blood pressure: when doing excessive loads at high speed, we demand blood pumping.
- Joint injuries: this occurs when concentric movements are not balanced with eccentric ones, leading to joint injuries that can be dislocations or sprains.
- Loss of performance: if an effective routine and sets are not applied within the range supported by the individual, the loss of performance may be imminent.
- Rhabdomyolysis: Another risk associated with disproportionate concentric contractions is rhabdomyolysis, a disease that consists of the breakdown of muscle tissue and subsequent involvement of the kidneys by a protein (myoglobin) that is released.
Concentric contraction movements
Now that we know both the benefits and the risks of concentric contraction, we are ready to accommodate certain exercises that will allow for the desired muscle shortening.
With the bicep curl, it is possible to exercise the aforementioned muscle by flexing the elbow together with the work of the wrist. Many variants of this movement lead to concentric contractions, such as the case with the barbell, the preacher, hammer-style dumbbells, and Zottman. The basic version is as follows:
- Stand with your feet parallel, holding a tensioner, and keep your torso upright.
- Grab the tensioner with both hands and begin bending your elbows.
- Bring your hands to shoulder height, thus promoting shortening of the muscles.
- Preserve the tension position for 3 to 4 seconds.
- Release the tension and repeat the movement six times.
- 3 to 4 sets of this exercise are recommended for it to take effect.
One of the classic exercises for all athletes is the abdominals because results can be achieved without any external agent’s need. To do so, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back and bend your knees.
- Touch each side of the head with your hands, but without helping to perform the subsequent step.
- Raise your torso towards your knees, avoiding that the effort produces the lifting of the feet.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the exercise.
- The ideal is to do between 15 and 20 repetitions. Regarding the number of series, it will depend on the resistance and the objectives of each person.
The pushups affect many muscles, like the biceps, triceps, pectorals, deltoids, and abdominals. Therefore, the concentric contraction in the arms can be achieved and influence the toning of the rest of the areas. To implement them, it is necessary to put into practice this step by step:
- Lie face down with both hands spread apart and flat on the floor. In turn, with straight legs, place the tips of your feet on the floor.
- Lower your torso so that your chest is practically flat on the floor.
- Reverse the movement, moving from the bent arms to the straight version.
- Do 10-20 reps. However, your resistance will be in charge of marking the maximum.
- Series vary widely, but a recommended average is between 4 and 8.
Among the movements of concentric contractions are squats, which have different alternatives. However, we will focus on basic bodyweight exercise. To apply them, do the following:
- Position your feet to parallel according to the width of your shoulders.
- Join your hands and keep your elbows bent at about a 90-degree angle.
- Crouch down, looking for the buttocks to point to the rear. The key point is that the knees maintain the line of the balls of the feet, which will mark the last place of descent.
- Get up and repeat the procedure 20 times.
- Evaluate three sets to start. Also, it establishes the evolution in relation to the response of your body.
Other types of muscle contraction
Being clear about the benefits, risks, and movements most used in concentric contraction, we consider it appropriate for you to know the other types of muscle contractions that exist. These are eccentric and isometric.
An eccentric contraction is a stretching, lengthening, or lengthening movement of the muscle after shortening. It is the inverse of the concentric since it occurs when the contracted muscle returns to its original state. Some movements considered eccentric are the following:
- To go down the stairs.
- Return a dumbbell to its starting position.
- Triceps stretch.
Unlike concentric and eccentric isotonic movements, isometrics are contractions that do not mobilize the joints but rather keep them static. In other words, neither approaching nor lengthening of the muscles occurs, but activation does occur. Examples are as follows:
- Pushing a wall.
- Table on the forearms.
- Glute bridge.
- Squat on the wall.
- Static abs.
Stretch before concentric contraction
In order for concentric contraction to be beneficial and to minimize the risks, it is convenient to perform a generic stretching before and after exercise. This in order to reduce accumulated stresses.
On the other hand, it is not advisable to exceed the number of repetitions and series without first measuring performance. Finally, if you experience any type of acute discomfort with any exercise, be it concentric, eccentric, or isometric contraction, it is best to suspend its performance and go to a physiotherapist.