Adaptations to Resistance Training. Key Points. Eccentric muscle action adds to the total work of a resistance exercise repetition. Key Point.
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An example of an isometric muscle action is attempting to lift from the floor a barbell that is too heavy to move (i.e., the maximal force produced by the muscles is less than the downward force of gravity on the barbell).
The maximal force a muscle can develop concentrically at a given length varies inversely with the velocity of the movement (i.e., the faster the velocity of movement, the lesser the maximal force that can be produced).
Third, maximal force production for concentric actions is greatest just below the isometric point on the curve (i.e., zero velocity); thus, a concentric 1 RM exertion for many exercise movements is a low speed exertion.
Potential mechanisms include: an enhancement of neural adaptations with eccentric muscle actions caused by increased activation of the CNS, improved synchronization of motor units, and/or decreased input from neural inhibitory reflexes that limit strength in untrained subjects.
To minimize excessive muscle damage, there should be a slow progression in resistance as well as careful monitoring of the athlete’s perceived soreness when prescribing eccentric training against great resistance (I.e., 105-120% concentric 1 RM).
The mechanisms responsible for these adaptations remain speculative but may include better neural control of muscle actions, enhanced strength of muscle and connective tissue, and/or improved structural organization of the contractile elements within the muscle.
Eccentric muscle actions appear to be crucial for optimal adaptations in muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance training programs employing multiple set, 6-10 RM regimens in which both concentric and eccentric phases of resistance exercises are performed.