There are thought to be millions of methods when it comes to stimulating muscle growth – (and there is). We have circuit training, resistance training, HIIT, super sets, giant sets, rest pauses, plate stripping, partials, forced reps, you name it we have it. But, have we ever looked inside of these various training styles to see what’s actually happening?
It all comes down to one simple thing ‘CONTRACTION’. The more variations you use to contract a muscle, the more muscle fiber you will bring into play. The more muscle fiber you bring into play the more you will stimulate that muscle. In turn, this will have a greater effect on over-all musculature development.
So, even though there are a million different training methods, simply put, there are only 3 effective ways to activate and stimulate a muscle.
It all starts with the power of “C” = Contraction
A muscle contraction can be classified into 2 categories, length change or force level. In spite of the fact that a muscle only shortens during the concentric part of a movement, all activations are typically referred to as “contractions”.
There are 3 main ways to activate a muscle. Using each of these variations can have a very profound effect on over-all muscle growth, density and hardness.
1) Concentric contraction
A concentric movement is where the force generated by a muscle is sufficient to overcome the weights resistance, and the muscle shortens as it contracts. This is what most people think of as a basic “normal repetition” or muscle contraction.
2) Eccentric contraction
An eccentric movement is when the force generated by a muscle is insufficient to overcome the weight put upon it thus the muscle lengthens as a result. An eccentric contraction is used as a means to decelerate a movement, or lowering a weight slowly rather than letting it drop. This is known as the negative part of a repetition.
3) Isometric contraction
An isometric movement is where the muscle remains the same length. An example would be holding a weight in a certain position without moving it; the muscle force is precisely matched with the weights load, and no movement results. This is known as a flex and hold movement.
There you have it, the 3 contraction techniques behind the millions of various training methods.
During training, a muscle is usually under a constant force, velocity, or speed, for a short duration of time. Using all 3 of these techniques will greatly improve your over-all growth without you having to spend more time in the gym. Remember, it’s not how long you spend in the gym; it’s how efficient you use that time to stimulate all your muscle fiber. It’s called “TIME UNDER TENSION”