mastering a repetition: the 3 parts of a movement and the 3 types of strengths

When we train our muscles under resistance by performing repetitions of individual movements patterns consecutively, there is more than one type of strength we are striving to develop. There is concentric strength, isometric strength, and eccentric strength. To master the repetition, we need to be able to understand the different parts of the repetition and to be able to perform each part of the repetition individually. To understand the different parts of the repetition, we need to be able to understand what’s going on with the muscles involved in producing the desired movement. These muscles are called the prime movers. During a repetition, the prime movers are doing one of three things – shortening, lengthening or staying still while still contracting. The “staying still” parts of a repetition happen at the top and the bottom of the movement. These are usually referred to as the top static and bottom static positions, though some people choose to call them the isometric phases due to the type of strength required to maintaining them. Maintaining an isometric contraction requires more strength than performing a concentric contraction while an eccentric contraction requires more strength than performing an isometric contraction. The following table will help you to gain a better conceptual understanding of what I just discussed, however true learning comes from experience – performing repetitions perfectly and seeing and feeling your muscles work under tension.  Stay tuned for an article on body awareness and engagement.

Part of the repetition:

What are the prime movers/muscles doing?

Amount of strength involved:

In what part of the movement are the muscles working the most? The least?

Type of strength being developed

shortening

least

concentric

static

isometric

lengthening

most

eccentric

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About Annika Voelpel

* former director of health & fitness programs at the sutton place hotel * former head therapist of duquette strength clinic * entering 10th year as a professional trainer * registered kinesiologist and active-rehabilitation specialist * level 1 track & field, gymnastics, dance, and aquatics coach * certified in the postural reprogramming system (PRS) * certified pilates instructor and acupressure massage practitioner * sports nutrition and healthy-cooking expert * seminar speaker and former presenter at the global youth assembly * former national level gymnast and competitive dancer * former varsity track and field competitor * experienced fitness model
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