Walking through gyms all across the CrossFit industry, you will see trainees of all persuasions and types undergoing different types of training. Amongst them are those, who use terrible exercise form such as doing barbell swings with arched backs, bouncing bars off their chests in bench presses, and many other mistakes. While everything may seem right, such extreme force tasks your tendons and joints and this may lead to ripped ligaments, muscular tears, and career-ending injuries. Enhanced muscular contraction can help you maximize your CrossFit training as you activate more muscle fibers. To help you understand muscular contraction, below are the different types of contractions. Isotonic Contractions This type of contraction occurs through the use of free weights. When you lift a free weight, you exert a force against gravity. What isotonic means is simple, equal tension throughout your CrossFit movement. However, specialists term this movement as inaccurate because the muscle tension changes relative to the angle of flexion. As the angle changes, the movement also ought to change and as such cannot be equal throughout. There are two main types of dynamic contractions one being eccentric contraction and the other one is a concentric contraction. Concentric Muscle Contraction This occurs whenever a muscle shortens. When overcoming a force or resistance such as gravity, individual muscle fibers usually contract. One of the examples of a concentric muscular contraction is when raising a dumbbell. The bicep branch contracts concentrically as it works against gravity. When the muscle shortens, it pulls the forearm bones thus decreasing the angle at the elbow. Eccentric Muscle Contractions This occurs when muscle fibers lengthen and still under tension. It happens against gravity such as when lowering a bicep curl. During the lowering phase, the bicep contracts eccentrically thus controlling the downward phase of the curl. Eccentric muscle contractions have a greater force production, and this allows you to lower heavyweights in a controlled manner. The greater force production during the eccentric contraction is due to the higher recruitment of the first twitch muscle fibers alternatively referred to as Type II. Because of the greater force production, it is mostly used as a cross fitness training technique, to place a more considerable stress on your muscle fibers. Eccentric contractions induce more significant levels of muscle damage and delay the onset of muscle soreness. When muscle fiber damage occurs, it leads to increased protein synthesis because the muscle overcompensates for the loss which results in muscle hypertrophy. Isokinetic Muscle Contractions This happens when a muscle contracts and shortens at a constant angular speed. To perform this type of muscle contraction, you need specialist equipment referred to an isokinetic dynamometer. This increases the load whenever it senses the muscle is speeding up. This ensures the speed of the movement is always held constant. Among the benefits of isokinetic muscle contraction in the CrossFit exercise include gains in muscle strength throughout the entire range of movement, reducing the risk of injury due to the controlled speed of action, and improved muscle strength, cardiac fitness, and endurance.
The human body has approximately 650 muscles which together work in harmony to create some small machine. Each of these muscle groups has an exact opposite group of muscle which keeps it in check. When the muscles move the body in a given direction, the muscles are responsible for generating the movement, known as agonists while those opposing are referred to as the antagonists. For instance, when doing the back extension CrossFit workout movement, the agonist's muscles are responsible for extending the back while the muscles producing the back flexion which is the opposite movement are the antagonists. The importance of having these two muscle groups at play is that they keep the spine stabilized. Additionally, they have to balance on their own so that your spine can be healthy. The Back Extension Muscles These are slightly complicated muscles compared to a bicep curl. The reason is, they are more in number and are found in many areas of the body. When doing a back extension, muscles such as the erector spinae and multifidus which collectively form the extensor muscles of the back, contract. These muscles run up along your spine from the skull all the way to the base. Their work is to extend the spine and comfortably bend it backward. When doing a back extension, these muscles play the role of agonist. Antagonist Muscles These muscles are found on the opposite side of the body, commonly referred to as the ab muscles. The most popular abdominal muscle is the rectus abdominis. This is the muscle people see in a CrossFitter with a six-pack. The rectus abdominis moves all the way from the front of the pelvis up to the bottom of the ribs. It works to flex the spine in a movement opposite to that of back extensor muscles. In doing this, the rectus abdominis works hand in hand with the transversus abdominis and external abdominal obliques. The transversus abdominis are found deep into the ab muscle. Regarding coverage, they span from the pelvis all the way up to the bottom of the sternum including the sides of your hips. Since the transversus abdominis, external oblique, and rectus abdominis flex your back, they are antagonists to your back extensor muscles. Only the above three abdominal muscles make up the antagonist group for your back extension. The only muscle that is left out is the internal abdominal oblique. In terms of positioning, this essential muscle in CrossFit exercises is sandwiched between the transversus abdominis and the external abdominal oblique. Its role is in rotation of the spine. Reciprocal Inhibition Do you sit to imagine what may happen if the antagonist and agonist muscles contract all at the same time? Thankfully, your nervous system stands in the gap for you. If this happens, you would freeze and be unable to move. Thanks to reciprocal inhibition, your body can move smoothly by relaxing the antagonist when the agonist contracts. When in the CrossFit gym doing back extension, your nervous system is usually alert to relay signals to the abdominals to relax when your spine starts extending. The result of this is your back extension muscles smoothly lifting the spine.
You’ve been spending tons of time in the gym trying to get John Cena arms, but you don’t seem to be building any muscle. What gives? 1. You’re mostly doing cardio Cardio is essential for keeping your body fat down and keeping your heart healthy. But when it comes to building muscle, hitting the treadmill won't help you much. Cardio tends to burn calories and puts your body in a deficit, which is good for leaning out, but not building muscles. 2. You’re not using heavy enough weights Those 5-pound dumbbells were a great place to start as a beginner, but if you've been lifting weights for a while, it's time to scale up the weight. If you aren’t lifting heavy weights, it doesn’t matter if you are primarily using free machines or weights. In order to build muscle, you have to break down muscle tissue using a weight that is challenging enough to cause micro-tears, which when reconstructed, form stronger and denser fibers. 3. You’re not having enough sleep The micro-tears that are responsible for muscle-growth need rest to reconstruct themselves and grow stronger. That happens when you are asleep! You have to rest and feed your muscles between exercises or workouts, or you’ll tear them down, and they will become weaker. Over time, you run the risk of over-training, which may result in injury, and probably even more sleep troubles. 4.You’re inconsistent with your routine If you are serious about adding on some muscle, then the best way to do this is with three intense resistance exercise sessions and two lighter intensity workouts weekly. You need to have consistency in your workout program, hitting at least each muscle group twice a week to build muscle. If you’re looking to switch up exercises, I suggest swaps such as sumo squats instead of traditional squats; step-ups on a bench instead of lunges. These types of variation are very useful in building muscles, but the weights you’re using must still be relatively heavy.