Differences in Skeletal Muscle Growth by Concentric, Eccentric, and Isometric Contractions
Simmons, Steven J.
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How muscles grow and why they grow differently in people is a very common question within the field of exercise science. The general population and even specialized athletes try to get the most out of their training by maximizing muscle growth. In order to maximize muscle growth, a person must put a load on the muscles that is greater than the average load the body puts on the muscles in everyday life. This does three things to the muscles and the body. It creates muscle tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress which are needed for the muscle to grow. The process by which this load is put on occurs in one or a combination of three different types of muscle activity. These muscle activities are concentric muscle contraction, eccentric muscle contraction, and isometric muscle contraction. These contractions that put the loads on the muscles are dictated by which types of exercises the participant is doing. Concentric contraction is defined as the shortening of a muscle. An example of this is when a participant brings his or her arms upward in a bicep curl. Eccentric contraction is defined as the lengthening of the muscle. An example of an eccentric muscle contraction is when the participant brings his or her arms down and extends them. Lastly, the isometric muscle contraction is defined as a contraction that puts force on the muscle without lengthening or shortening the muscle. An example of an isometric muscle contraction would be holding a weight in between the top and bottom position of a bicep curl. This contracts the muscle but, it doesn’t lengthen or shorten the muscle. These three types of contractions all play an important role in muscle growth but, which one or combination of them produces the most effective blueprint to growing larger muscles.