TECHNIQUE FREAK!

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Fitness On Toast Faya Workout Exercise Ideas Beach Training Form Concentric Eccentric Form Technique-6

Poor training is a sad sight to behold 😪. I wanted to revisit a key component of ‘sound technique’, as I wrote about it many years ago but it remains no less topical as ever-more fitness converts venture to the gym to kickstart their lifestyle changes. It’s also pretty perfect for this time of year when no doubt people are more likely to head outside for their sessions. So, if like me, you love the outdoors & perhaps don’t have access to / don’t always feel like going to the gym – but you still want a workout which is challenging and effective – well then, this post is for YOU! First consider the following 3 different training techniques, and some of the exercises I suggest doing to put those techniques to use! Also, it requires no weights; just a nice summer’s day, like the ones scheduled for the coming week…

Fitness On Toast Faya Workout Exercise Ideas Beach Training Form Concentric Eccentric Form Technique-7

As the old, focussed ‘bodybuilder’ expression goes, ‘you lift weight in the gym’ – well yes, I hear you Arnie, but we often forget about the subsequent lowering of the weight. Unfortunately, this is often done in a noisy and dangerous manner, with pumped-up gym goers letting out gutteral grunts whilst throwing down the weights. BUGBEAR ALERT (is anyone else with me?!); This is not only inconsiderate of others who may not wish to listen to ogre impressions, but the ogre themself is missing out on a vital part of the exercise – the eccentric phase. Rather than just letting gravity do all the work for you (i.e. where you just drop the weight as if ‘meh’), actually controlling the weight’s passage on the way down delivers significant benefit from a workout perspective. So, have a look at the brief explanation to what the different phases are below, and then have a think about your own workout technique, and how you might apply it to the likes of press-ups, pull ups etc to squeeze that extra 25% out of your sessions!

Fitness On Toast Faya Workout Exercise Ideas Beach Training Form Concentric Eccentric Form Technique-3

STEP A – THE TECHNIQUE:

1) CONCENTRIC CONTRACTIONS: A concentric contraction takes place when a muscle contracts, develops tension and shortens. When you stand up, the quadriceps shorten and contract – this is concentric activity.

2) ECCENTRIC CONTRACTIONS: Now sit back down; that’s an eccentric contraction (the opposite), when a muscle contracts, develops tension and lengthens. This eccentric phase is often forgotten in training, because people put a lot of effort into lifting a weight, but just let gravity do the work when lowering the weight. By embracing eccentric activity, you can transform your set, and get so much more out of it.

3) STATIC CONTRACTIONS: Static contractions (also called isometric contractions) are when a muscle contracts, develops tension but the muscle length doesn’t change. For example; perform a sit-up, and if you stop half way point and stay in that position, then only static contractions will take place in the abs – you’ll feel fatigue setting in, but there will be no lengthening/shortening.

Combining all three of the above is the park-workout holy grail! Keep reading below for my suggested routine…

Fitness On Toast Faya Workout Exercise Ideas Beach Training Form Concentric Eccentric Form Technique-8

But before the routine, let’s digest that a bit more… I always find that the best way to envision this concentric/eccentric/static situation is via the commonly used analogy of a ‘rubber band’ playing the part of the muscle.  If you lengthen a rubber band too far it may begin to fray, and could eventually snap. Applying this to training, when performing an exercise eccentrically the muscle is stretched and micro tears on muscle fibers appear (the fraying of the band). When shortening the muscle (concentric) fiber, you create less tension. However, if you’re the type of person who lifts a weight and then lets gravity take it back to the starting point, tensions never get very high. By powering out slow eccentric reps on the way down, you optimise that ‘time under tension’ and will really start to make progress.

So, to summarise it’s important to lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner, and is just as important (if not more so) when you lift a weight.

Fitness On Toast Faya Workout Exercise Ideas Beach Training Form Concentric Eccentric Form Technique-5

STEP B – THE COMBINED ROUTINE:

1) PRESS-UPS:

– Do a half press-up/full press-up/ or raise your legs off the ground using a park bench.

– a) Eccentric phase: As slowly as you can lower yourself onto the ground for at least 3 seconds, keeping good form.

– b) Concentric Phase: Then slowly lift yourself of the ground, again as slowly as you possibly can – aim for at least 3 seconds.

– c) Static hold: Then come back down, stop mid-way and aim to hold the position for at least 3 seconds.

– Then after all three stages add 10 quick press ups.

– That’s 1 set. Have a quick break and then go for another 2 sets immediately. If this is too hard, do step 2 & 3 (below) in between…

Fitness On Toast Faya Workout Exercise Ideas Beach Training Form Concentric Eccentric Form Technique-4

2) SIT-UPS:

– a) Eccentric phase: As slowly as you can lower yourself onto the ground at least 3 seconds, keeping good form.

– b) Concentric Phase: Then slowly lift yourself of the ground, again as slowly as you possibly can – aim for at least 3 seconds.

– c) Static hold: Then come back down, stop mid-way and aim to hold the position for at least 3 seconds.

– Then after all three stages add 20 quick situps.

– That’s 1 set. Have a quick break and then go for another 2 sets. If this is too hard, jump to the next exercise in between…

3) SQUATS:

– a) Eccentric phase: As slowly as you can lower yourself onto the ground at least 3 seconds, keeping good form.

– b) Concentric Phase: Then slowly lift yourself of the ground, again as slowly as you possibly can – aim for at least 3 seconds.

– c) Static hold: Then come back down, stop mid way and aim to hold the position for at least 3 seconds.

– Then after all three stages add 15 quick squats.

– That’s 1 set. Have a quick break and then go for another 2 sets. If this is too hard, jump back to press-ups / sit-ups in between.

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I chose legs chest and abs for this routine, but the concept works for all muscle groups. I hope you find this useful next time you’re in the park and want to increase the intensity of your workout. Oh and don’t forget to rest up for recovery!

Faya  xx

Saturday Chill





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