Understanding the Different Types of Muscle Contraction


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.

muscle 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.

types of muscles contraction

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.

muscle contraction types

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.


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