When it comes to muscle training, get ready for a bombardment of crazy jargon -- from isotonic to isokinetic to eccentric, you're in for some serious education. Thankfully, concentric simply refers to exercise that causes your muscles to tense and temporarily shorten. You'll encounter concentric contraction during moves such as biceps curls or even jumping jacks. No one type of muscle training is perfect, but concentric exercise undeniably comes with its fair share of benefits.
Above all, concentric exercise has the ability to increase the strength of your muscles. Montana State University Recreational Sports and Fitness blog cites a 1998 study from the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research”; according to the article, eight weeks of concentric-only training increased cross-sectional muscle size by 3.3 percent and muscle strength by 39.7 percent.
Lots of concentric exercise, such as sled machine workouts and numerous types of presses, encourage pushing or pulling against resistance, whether that resistance comes in the form of barbells, bands or bodyweight. These type of movements come in handy outside of the gym, bolstering your ability to do everything from dragging the trash can up a steep hill to helping push your friend's car out of a muddy rut.
In comparison to eccentric exercise -- the creation of muscle tension by lengthening -- concentric exercise offers an increased heart rate, which boosts the cardiovascular impact of your workout. This type of exercise also helps lessen the pain of muscle soreness or fatigue caused by delayed-onset muscle soreness, as pointed out by a 2006 study in, “Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.” Because of its focus on stimulating slow-twitch muscle fibers, concentric exercise offers a lower-impact workout than its eccentric cousin.
A 2002 study reported in the “Journal of Sports Sciences” found that eccentric contraction actually recruits more fast-twitch muscle fibers than concentric exercise, making it generally more effective for athletic training, especially if the sport in question requires powerful, explosive movement. In addition to greater force production, eccentric exercise also helps prevent injuries more effectively than concentric contraction.
- Brian Mac, Sports Coach: Muscle Training
- Montana State University Recreational Sports and Fitness: Concentric Over Eccentric Exercises?
- NCBI PubMed.gov: Light Concentric Exercise Has a Temporary Analgesic Effect of Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, but No Effect on Recovery from Eccentric Exercise
- EricCressey.com: Thinking Concentric with Your Strength Training Programs
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.