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Maximising your strength training.

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

The ‘sexy’ part of every lift or movement is what we call the 'concentric phase'.

We need to quickly build into the movement in the eccentric (on the way down), absorb the force in the ‘bottom’ or the turning point (isometric phase of each movement) and then find the ability to quickly produce force to complete that lift or pull up or the like; this is your concentric phase. We essentially store energy up in the first two phases to then be exerted into a strong concentric phase. We need to be able to be smooth and fast in the first two phases for the concentric to be as strong as possible. This does not just apply with lifting or barbell cycling though, the same principle applies with agile changes in direction in sport etc.

In order to excel in this phase we need to programme intelligently to recruit the most motor units in the muscles that we can, to improve the speed at which our muscle fibres can create tension and then pop these two things together for maximum effectiveness.

You may think that the concentric phase of any movement is just brute strength or force, but it can be trained just in the same way that we can train the eccentric and isometric phases. We can work to maintain a strong position moving quickly through the eccentric portion of movement to maximise the energy built here, remaining tight in the isometric to give something for that stretch reflex of the muscles to work off to give you a strong and quick re-acceleration in the concentric.

If we are well trained in the concentric we will continue to accelerate all the way through that phase of a movement without losing energy and slowing down – this is when it all starts to look like a bit of a struggle at that ‘sticking point’. A well-trained individual will look to lower much faster through that eccentric portion of a movement to build up more energy and power so an efficient eccentric may just help towards a quality and speedy concentric.

So how can we apply this to our performance in the gym every day? We can work on moving quickly!! This will, in time, build the number of motor units in our muscles that we recruit in any given movement to enable us to maximise our force and in turn, our strength. Focus on driving quickly and smoothly out of the bottom of every single lift or movement this applies to – be reactive, move fast – think speed!!

As always, any programming assistance required or any questions just shout! Always love growing my team of hard-working, lovely legends.

Peace and love, A x

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