Keys to create quality muscle fiber.
Throughout life we saw that the routines of muscle building consisted of lifting certain weights over and over again causing the muscles to tense on contracting. We believed that, in the constant repetition of that movement, the muscle fiber involved would end up developing fibrous and muscular body. Evidently the results are what they are, and we can not deny that this type of training routines achieve the objective pursued …. more or less!! Could it be done better? That is, could we achieve better results in less time, and morover, with less risk of injury?
Let’s think of a moment of the muscle working a typical exercise, the development of the biceps with hand weights. The exercise routine could be divided into three phases:
1) Concentric movement.
It would be the moment when the muscles contract and the arm gets closer to the body, supporting the weight of the element held in the hand. Effectively there is an effort by the muscle fiber to overcome the resistance that the weight exerts down, and there is no doubt that in this part of the exercise the muscle fiber is working.
2) Isometric phase,
we could denominate those moments as the “nothing happens”. This phase is not always carried out, but it consists of the moments in which the arm is still holding the weight at the end of the movement. Although there is no movement, there is resistance from the muscle that has to support the weight before starting the next phase of return, so there is also work for fiber. Many toning exercises consist in this, in adopting a certain posture of muscular tension and hold in it as long as possible.
3) Eccentric phase,
that would be the opposite of the first; that is, one in which the arm (thinking in the case of the development of the biceps) returns downward in favor of gravity to return the weight to its initial position before repeating the entire exercise. In general and with few exceptions, in the return phase muscle work is minimal because the tendency is to let the muscle return to the position of origin without offering resistance, generating brakings of enormous suddenness in the braking that are the cause of much of injuries in athletes.
We said at the beginning that we were taught to exercise on the belief that the concentric phase was really important, and besides, we believed it !!! To perceive the strong work of the muscle when tensed made us think that the muscular development we achieved with the constant repetition of these routines.
The most current sports literature shows us that we were in a terrible error: the phase of the exercise that generates the best fiber with the least risk of injury is precisely the opposite, the eccentric phase, the return phase, especially when in these movements you try to put resistance so that the extension of the arm (to continue with the example of the biceps) does not respond to a mere movement in favor of gravity, but rather the muscle is resisting the “free fall”. But not only this part is interesting for fast and persistent muscle development, but also, by avoiding the sudden braking at the end of the route, the risk of injuries is minimized.
If all the above should be taken into consideration by those who want to keep their body in shape, it is even more important if it is possible for those who need to rehabilitate themselves from an injury and have their muscles, therefore, physically compromised.
The most effective rehabilitation exercises should be based on progressive routines that make fiber work at all times and without abruptness, and that is why a balance of time between all phases (concentric, isometric and eccentric) is the key to a correct and quick recovery.
Question for reflection:
What muscular exercise devices do you know that base their potential for results in the eccentric phase?