From eccentric to isometric, these are the fundamental building blocks of any holistic, full-body exercise program. Knowing the types of exercises available, and the benefits of each form, can help ensure you build the strength, endurance and body that you want.
The Three Categories of Exercise
When you work out, your muscles contract, and the way that they contract can be separated into three forms.
- Isometric Exercises
An isometric exercise is any strength-training workout where your muscle length and the angle of your joints doesn't change. Examples include the plank and the side bridge, both of which involve you simply holding a key position with little to no movement.
One of the greatest advantages of isometric contractions is that they’re easy to incorporate into any workout, and you can even make them a part of other exercises. For example, when doing a bicep curl, add in an isometric twist by holding the bicep curl and squeezing your biceps for 5-10 seconds.
What this does is place more of a focused emphasis on the muscle, helping to boost muscle growth.
- Eccentric Exercises
An eccentric contraction is also known as a lengthening contraction. This kicks in when your muscles are elongated.
A common example can be seen during a bicep curl. The eccentric part of the movement is while you’re lowering the dumbbell downward slowly and with control. To really emphasize this part of the workout, you can prolong this part of the movement and keep the downward flow smooth and drawn out.
Eccentric contractions strengthen your muscle fibers, making it one of the most effective parts of the exercise to specifically stimulate growth in size. An eccentric contraction also stimulates some of the highest levels of growth hormones.
- Concentric Exercises
Think of a concentric exercise simply as the opposite of an eccentric movement. In a bicep curl, it’s the portion of the workout where you’re raising the dumbbell up towards you.
Whereas eccentric exercises stimulate size, concentric exercises stimulate strength. This makes them especially key for endurance, fighting fatigue, and improving performance in movements like running or swimming.
To focus on the concentric exercise, you may spend more time in the part of the workout where you’re raising or shortening your muscle, and less time on the eccentric portion of the movement.
By combining all three styles, and mixing up the emphasis that you place on your muscles, you can see the fastest, most dramatic results out of your everyday workout.