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The effects of concentric/eccentric training versus concentric only training on peak power and functional muscle performance



This study was designed to investigate whether concentric-only resistance training would bring about greater changes in functional muscle performance than regular eccentric/concentric (stretch-shortening) training can. We hypothesised that concentric-only training would confer greater benefits to measures of concentric strength and power only, and would not result in improvements in stretch-shortening exercises, i.e. the adaptations would be specific to the trained muscular action.
Hayden Pritchard 1, Philip Fink2, Stephen Stannard2
1Department of Exercise & Sport Science, UCOL, Palmerston North, New Zealand
2 School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
2015 ASCA Conference, Gold Coast, Australia
Design: Counterbalanced, with participants performing concentric (CON) and
regular, stretch shortening cycle (SSC), training with different legs.
Participants: 10 healthy active males (20.72.0 yrs, 182.35.2 cm and 77.75 7.85
kg), with no history of lower body strength training.
Testing: All tests were performed on each leg individually. The first testing
session (PRE) took place 48-96 hrs, before the first training session.
The second testing session (POST) took place 48-96 hrs,
following the final training session. Tests performed were:
Estimated Leg Press 1RM11
Concentric Only Peak Power (at 40% then 60%of 1RM)
Stretch Shortening Cycle Peak Power (at 40% then 60%of 1RM)
Vertical Jump Height
Three-hop Test for Distance
Peak power was determined in the concentric phase using an
accelerometer (WiTilt V3, SparkFun Electronics Inc., USA) with data
transformed using a Runge-Kutta procedure in MATLAB (The
MathWorks Inc., USA)2. Jump height was estimated based on flight time
using a contact timing mat (Swift Performance Equipment, Australia) 4.
Training: Two sessions were performed per week for six weeks, on a customised
pneumatic leg press which allowed both regular movements and
concentric only movements involving (sets x reps):
8x6 at 60%of that individual legs 1RM CON training leg
4x6 at 60%of that individual legs 1RM SSC training leg
Each legs 1RM was retested after three weeks and training weights
adjusted to the new 1RM.
Analysis: To compare the effects of the two different training interventions, group
(CON vs SSC) × training interactions were examined by employing a
two-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) for all
dependant variables.
Other: One participant did not complete training due to an unrelated injury, so
the strength and functional performance measures n = 9. Power
measures n = 6, due to accelerometer data that was lost. Training
compliance was 99.1%.
Training to enhance power is of utmost importance to performance in many sporting
disciplines. Numerous studies have shown that targeted resistance training can increase
the maximal power of a specific movement pattern5-7.
Free weights, requiring an eccentric then concentric movement (stretch-shortening), are
commonly used by athletes as their mode of resistance training. For many athletes the
combined concentric and eccentric movement closely mimics muscle action in their
sports. Others perform little eccentric work in their chosen sport, such as cycling and a
number of water sports. Yet, prescribed resistance training for these sports is often
based on free weights and involves an eccentric component. Despite this common
practice, the utility of stretch-shortening (free weight) resistance exercise for improving
concentric-only power is not well studied. Some published research using isokinetics
shows individually-trained eccentric or concentric muscle to be effective at increasing
action specific strength. Notably though, eccentric contractions tend to produce greater
hypertrophy8-9, which in some concentric only sports (i.e. cycling) may not be desirable.
Interestingly, there have been no studies comparing the effects of multi-joint concentric
only resistance training as a method of increasing concentric only power and strength
even though for several sports this is the primary muscle action involved. Therefore, this
study was designed to investigate whether concentric-only resistance training would
bring about greater changes in functional muscle performance than regular
eccentric/concentric (stretch-shortening) training can.We hypothesised that concentric-
only training would confer greater benefits to measures of concentric strength and
power only, and would not result in improvements in stretch-shortening exercises, i.e.
the adaptations would be specific to the trained muscular action.
All measures of functional muscular performance and strength increased from pre to post
measures following both types of training, but there was no significant difference for
training type for any variable measured. There did however appear to be a trend in power
measures, both functional and on the leg press, to produce slightly larger gains following
concentric only training even though many of these actions require a stretch-shortening
type movement. Although statistical analyses indicate that this change was not significant.
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adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br. J. Sports Med. 43(8):556-68. 2009.
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The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that concentric-only training would
confer greater benefits to measures of concentric strength and power only, and would not
result in improvements in stretch-shortening exercises. It was seen however that all
measures of functional muscular performance increased from pre to post-tests following
training, and that the increase was not significantly different between the two training
types. There appeared to be a trend in power measures of both contraction types, both
functional and on the leg press, to produce slightly larger gains following CON training
even though many of these actions required a stretch-shortening type movement.
However, this change was not statistically significant. One potential reason for this trend
could be that the additional sets (although controlled for external work) may have
required more muscular effort to be completed, thus inducing greater adaptations.
Interestingly our training protocol at only a moderate resistance of 60%of 1RM was able
to bring about significant increases in the specific strength and power (leg press) as well
as functional performance increases. Although no specific training type caused a greater
increase, this shows that when moderate loads are moved as quickly as possible it can
cause increases in strength, power and functional performance of recreationally active
males. This result agrees with earlier research1which also showed light loads (45-50%
1RM) are able to increase the maximal dynamic strength in untrained participants.
Perhaps this is a result of learning the exercise and developing more skilled coordination
and motor patterns10.
Limitations in this data include a small sample size, the potential for the crossover effect2-
3and a training regime of only six weeks which may limit adaptations to neural changes
Note that in all results: *Denotes significant change from pre to post testing
Figure 1. Concentric only peak power at 40% 1RM. Figure 2. Eccentric/concentric peak powers at 40% 1RM.
Figure 3. Concentric only peak power at 60% 1RM. Figure 4. Eccentric/concentric peak powers at 60% 1RM.
Changes in Strength and Functional Performance Measures
1RM (kg)*
157.1 ± 36.8
196.0 ± 29.1
151.0 ± 36.2
191.8 ± 30.6
Three Hop Test
6.22 ± 0.73
6.53 ± 0.72
6.42 ± 0.71
6.71 ± 0.78
Vertical Jump
22.6 ± 3.4
24.8 ± 4.3
22.8 ± 3.2
24.2 ± 3.7
Table 1. Changes in Strength and Functional Performance Measures.
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The aim of this systematic review was to determine if eccentric exercise is superior to concentric exercise in stimulating gains in muscle strength and mass. Meta-analyses were performed for comparisons between eccentric and concentric training as means to improve muscle strength and mass. In order to determine the importance of different parameters of training, subgroup analyses of intensity of exercise, velocity of movement and mode of contraction were also performed. Twenty randomised controlled trials studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses showed that when eccentric exercise was performed at higher intensities compared with concentric training, total strength and eccentric strength increased more significantly. However, compared with concentric training, strength gains after eccentric training appeared more specific in terms of velocity and mode of contraction. Eccentric training performed at high intensities was shown to be more effective in promoting increases in muscle mass measured as muscle girth. In addition, eccentric training also showed a trend towards increased muscle cross-sectional area measured with magnetic resonance imaging or computerised tomography. Subgroup analyses suggest that the superiority of eccentric training to increase muscle strength and mass appears to be related to the higher loads developed during eccentric contractions. The specialised neural pattern of eccentric actions possibly explains the high specificity of strength gains after eccentric training. Further research is required to investigate the underlying mechanisms of this specificity and its functional significance in terms of transferability of strength gains to more complex human movements.
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We compared the effects of concentric (Con) and eccentric (Ecc) isokinetic training on quadriceps muscle strength, cross-sectional area, and neural activation. Women (age 20.0 +/- 0.5 yr) randomly assigned to Con training (CTG; n = 16), Ecc training (ETG; n = 19), and control (CG; n = 19) groups were tested before and after 10 wk of unilateral Con or Ecc knee-extension training. Average torque measured during Con and Ecc maximal voluntary knee extensions increased 18.4 and 12.8% for CTG, 6.8 and 36.2% for ETG, and 4.7 and -1.7% for CG, respectively. Increases by CTG and ETG were greater than for CG (P < 0.05). For CTG, the increase was greater when measured with Con than with Ecc testing. For ETG, the increase was greater when measured with Ecc than with Con testing. The increase by ETG with Ecc testing was greater than the increase by CTG with Con testing. Corresponding changes in the integrated voltage from an electromyogram measured during strength testing were 21.7 and 20.0% for CTG, 7.1 and 16.7% for ETG, and -8.0 and -9.1% for CG. Quadriceps cross-sectional area measured by magnetic resonance imaging (sum of 7 slices) increased more in ETG (6.6%) than in CTG (5.0%) (P < 0.05). We conclude that Ecc is more effective than Con isokinetic training for developing strength in Ecc isokinetic muscle actions and that Con is more effective than Ecc isokinetic training for developing strength in Con isokinetic muscle actions. Gains in strength consequent to Con and Ecc training are highly dependent on the muscle action used for training and testing. Muscle hypertrophy and neural adaptations contribute to strength increases consequent to both Con and Ecc training.
The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether there is a central adaptation to resistance overload. The right adductor pollicis muscle of each subject was trained with either voluntary (n = 9) or electrically stimulated contractions (n = 7), the contralateral muscle acted as an internal control, and seven other subjects acted as a control group. Training was the same in both groups: 15 contractions at 80% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), 3 days/wk for 5 wk. Trained muscles in both groups increased MVC by approximately 15% (voluntary, P less than 0.01; stimulated, P less than 0.05). There was a small (9.5%) but significant (P less than 0.05) increase in MVC of the untrained muscles in the voluntary group. MVC did not change in the control group. Maximal electromyogram (EMG) was highly reproducible pre-to posttraining in the control group (r = 0.92, slope = 0.995) and did not change pre- to posttraining in the trained groups. Sensory adaptation to training caused a reduction in force sensation in the stimulated group (P less than 0.05) but not in the voluntary group. Because there was a small increase in MVC of the untrained muscle of the voluntary group (9.5%, P less than 0.05) but not in the stimulated group, it is possible that there is a central motor adaptation, but it is not manifested in increased neural drive (EMG). Moreover, this central adaptation may be responsible for the decrease in force sensation that follows training.
The central changes associated with a period of strength training have been investigated in a group of 32 young healthy volunteers. Subjects participated in one of three 12 week training programmes, which required different degrees of skill and coordination. Study 1 consisted of unilateral isometric training of the quadriceps with the contralateral leg acting as a control, the apparatus providing firm back support and a lap strap. In Study 2 training consisted of unilateral concentric leg-extension with back support and hand-grips. In Study 3 subjects performed bilateral leg-extension with no back support. Measurements of maximum voluntary isometric strength were made at 2-3 week intervals and a continual record was kept of the weights lifted in Studies 2 and 3. The largest increase in isometric force was seen for the trained leg in Study 1 (approximately 40%). There was no significant change in strength in the contralateral untrained leg. In Studies 2 and 3 there was a large increase in training weights (about 200%) associated with smaller increase in isometric force (15-20%). It is concluded that a large part of the improvement in the ability to lift weights was due to an increased ability to coordinate other muscle groups involved in the movement such as those used to stabilise the body. The importance of these findings for athletic training and rehabilitation is discussed.
We interpret the currently available scientific evidence to indicate that strength training should be as specific as possible. The coach or athlete, in designing a strength training programme, should attempt to have the training exercises similate the sport movement as closely as possible, in relation to movement pattern, velocity of movement, muscular contraction type, and contraction force. In the case of sport movements that are performed at high velocity, supplementary training at low velocity may be necessary to induce maximal adaptation within the muscles. Supplementary training with maximal or near maximal eccentric contractions may be beneficial in training for many sports because the large forces generated during this kind of training will stimulate maximal adaptation within the muscles. However, consideration should be given to the greater risk of injury that is associated with eccentric training. Failure to be specific in strength training may result in more than a poor return on the training investment; it may even be counter-productive. For example, the development of increased mass in irrelevant muscle groups may be detrimental in sports which demand a high strength to body mass ratio.
The effects of three resistance training programs on muscular strength and on absolute and relative muscular endurance were investigated. Forty-three male college students were randomly assigned to the training protocols. The high resistance-low repetition group (n = 15) performed three sets of 6–8 RM (repetition maximum) per session. The medium resistance-medium repetition subjects (n = 16) trained by doing two sets of 30–40 RM per session, while the low resistance-high repetition group (n = 12) used a single set of 100–150 RM. All subjects trained with the bench press exercise three times per week for nine weeks. Tests of strength (1-RM), absolute and relative endurance were administered before and after training. Statistical analyses revealed that the 20% improvement in maximum strength by the high resistance-low repetition group was greater than the 8 and 5% gains reported for the medium resistance-medium repetition and low resistance-high repetition groups, respectively. Relative to absolute endurance, however, the 41 percent and 39 percent improvements registered by the low resistance-high repetition and medium resistance-medium repetition groups, respectively, were not significantly greater than the 28% gain reported for the high resistance-low repetition group. Results for the relative endurance test revealed that the high resistance-low repetition group's performance actually decreased by 7% after training, and was significantly poorer than the 22% and 28% improvements made by the other two groups. It was concluded that human skeletal muscle makes both general and specific adaptations to a training stimulus, and that the balance of these adaptations is to some extent dependent upon the intensity and duration of the training protocol used.
The purpose of this study is to analyze the effect of high-resistance (HR) and high-velocity (HV) training on the different phases of 100-m sprint performance. Two training groups (HR and HV) were compared with two control groups (RUN and PAS). The HR (N = 22) and HV group (N = 21) trained 3 d.wk-1 for 9 wk: two strength training sessions (HR or HV) and one running session. There was a run control group (RUN, N = 12) that also participated in the running sessions (1 d.wk-1) and a passive control group (PAS, N = 11). Running speed over a 100-m sprint was recorded every 2 m. By means of a principal component analysis on all speed variables, three phases were distinguished: initial acceleration (0-10 m), building-up running speed to a maximum (10-36 m), and maintaining maximum speed in the second part of the run (36-100 m). HV training resulted in improved initial acceleration (P < 0.05 compared with RUN, PAS, and HR), a higher maximum speed (P < 0.05 compared with PAS), and a decreased speed endurance (P < 0.05 compared to RUN and PAS). The HV group improved significantly in total 100 m time (P < 0.05 compared with the RUN and PAS groups). The HR program resulted in an improved initial acceleration phase (P < 0.05 compared with PAS).
The influence of contraction type and movement type on power output of the upper body musculature was investigated across loads of 30-80% 1RM. Twenty seven males (21.9+/-3.1 years, 89.0+/-12.5 kg, 86.32+/-13.66 kg 1RM) of an athletic background but with no weight training experience in the previous six months volunteered for the study. The results were compared using multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures (p< or =0.05). It was found that the combinations of load, movement and contraction type affected mean and peak power in different capacities. Mean power output for rebound motion was 11.7% greater than concentric only motion. The effect of the rebound was to produce greater peak accelerations (38.5%--mean across loads), greater initial force and peak forces (14.1%--mean across loads) and early termination of the concentric phase. Peak power output was most influenced by the ability to release the bar, the greater mean velocities across all loads (4.4% average velocity and 6.7% peak velocity) attained using such a technique appeared the dominating influence. Loads of 50-70% 1RM were found to maximize mean and peak power. Loading the neuromuscular system to maximize mean or peak power output necessitates an understanding of the force-velocity characteristics of the training movement and the requirements of the individual related to the athletic performance and their training status.
Although different warm-up and flexibility routines are often prescribed before physical activity, little research has been conducted to determine what effects these routines have on athletic performance in activities. The purpose of this investigation was to determine to what degree different warm-up routines affect performance in the vertical jump test. The 40 female participants were asked to perform a general warm-up only, a general warm-up and static stretching, and a general warm-up and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) on 3 nonconsecutive days. Each of the treatments was followed by a vertical jump test. A 1-way repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed a significant difference in vertical jump performance. A post hoc analysis revealed decreased vertical jump performances for the PNF treatment group. Based on the results of this study, performing PNF before a vertical jump test would be detrimental to performance.