When we train, our muscles are put into several unique positions. Some of these positions stress our muscles more than other positions and knowing when and how to properly train our muscles is essential for muscular strength and hypertrophy gains. Our muscles also have a force velocity relationship, understanding this relationship is vital for training properly and hitting all of your fitness goals.
Eccentric, concentric and isometric muscle movement
Eccentric movement can be defined as any time our muscles are being lengthened examples of this include the upward movement during a squat, the upward phase of the bench press, the downward phase of a bicep curl and the downward phase of a chin up. Any time are muscles are lengthening we are going through eccentric movement. Concentric movement on the other hand is the opposite of eccentric movement, when our muscles are going through concentric movement they are shortening; for example the downward phase of the bench press, the downward phase of the squat, the upward phase of the bicep curl. Isometric muscle movement consists of no movement! The isometric portion of a lift is when our muscle is being held in a static position neither shortening or lengthening such as when we are at the top of a chin up, top of a bicep curl or bottom of a bench press.
Force Velocity Relationship
The force velocity relationship is simply the relationship between the force our muscles are able to create and the velocity at which we can create this force. As we increase force we decrease velocity and as we increase velocity we decrease force. Here is a practical example of this relationship; if your max dead-lift is 525 pounds, you will create a ton of force when you lift this but very little velocity ( you will lift this slowly) on the other hand if you drop the weight to 225 pounds you can now move this load much quicker; decreasing the force but increasing the velocity. Depending on if our muscles are in a concentric, eccentric or isometric position will determine whether they create a lot of force or a lot of velocity; for example during the concentric phase of a lift as your muscle shortens; you are creating a lot of force, whereas during the eccentric phase you are creating much more velocity. In order to grow and build the physique you are looking for you must manipulate the eccentric, concentric and isometric parts of each and every lift. You must also train for both force and velocity. A practical way to do this is to train with tempo when you lift; take 3 seconds during the concentric phase of a lift; once you are the end of the lift hold for 1 second squeezing as hard as you can then on the eccentric phase of the lift slowly lower the weight in 4 seconds. You can also change up this tempo from time to time to ensure you continue to adapt to training. Also manipulating the force velocity relationship is essential; sometimes you should lift extremely heavy generating a lot of force; other times you should lift much lighter but focus on moving the weight quickly thus generating a lot of velocity. All of the variables discussed in this blog are essential parts of a well designed training program and will help you build the body you want if you apply these principles to your training.