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

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, Gold Coast, Australia, 2015 ASCA International Conference on Applied Strength and Conditioning, Australian Strength and Conditioning Association
Cite this publication
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 Pritchard1, 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.
1. Anderson, T. & Kearney, J.T. Effects of three resistance training programs on muscular strength and absolute and relative endurance. Res.
Q. Exerc. Sport. 53(1):1-7. 1982.
2. Cannon, R. & Cafarelli, E. Neuromuscular adaptations to training. J. Appl. Physiol. 63(6):2396-402. 1987.
3. Carroll, T.J., Herbert, R.D., Munn, J., Lee, M. & Gandevia, S.C. Contralateral effects of unilateral strength training: evidence and possible
mechanisms. J. Appl. Physiol. 101(5):1514-22. 2006.
4. Church, J.B., Wiggins, M.S., Moode, F.M. & Crist, R. Effect of warm-up and flexibility treatments on vertical jump performance. J.
Strength Cond. Res. 15(3):332. 2001.
5. Cronin, J., McNair, P.J. & Marshall, R.N. Developing explosive power: a comparison of technique and training. J. Sci. Med. Sport. 4(1):59-
70. 2001.
6. Cronin, J. & Sleivert, G. Challenges in understanding the influence of maximal power training on improving athletic performance. Sports
Med. 35(3):213-34. 2005.
7. Delecluse, C., Van Coppenolle, H., Willems, E., Van Leemputte, M., Diels, R. & Goris, M. Influence of high-resistance and high-velocity
training on sprint performance. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 27(8):1203-9. 1995.
8. Higbie, E.J., Cureton, K.J., Warren III, G.L. & Prior, B.M. Effects of concentric and eccentric training on muscle strength, cross-sectional
area, and neural activation. J. Appl. Physiol. 81(5):2173-81. 1996.
9. Roig, M., O’Brien, K., Kirk, G. et al. The effects of eccentric versus concentric resistance training on muscle strength and mass in healthy
adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br. J. Sports Med. 43(8):556-68. 2009.
10. Rutherford, O. & Jones, D. The role of learning and coordination in strength training. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 55(1):100-5. 1986.
11. Sale, D. & MacDougall, D. Specificity in strength training: a review for the coach and athlete. Can. J. Appl. Sport Sci. 6(2):87. 1981.
12. Wilmore, J. & Costill, D. Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 3rd ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics; 2004.
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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