The Distinct Phases of an Exercise Movement

Did you know there are three phases of an exercise movement?  All three are not just important in helping you exercise, but understanding how to use each one in your workouts is vital to experience the best results and reap the physical benefits. 

Using either one phase alone (isometric) most of the time during your workouts, or using a blend of all three of them gives you variety and changes up the tempo.  Do you ever feel like you experience a few consistent weeks where you just aren't sore like you were in the past?  It could be because the tempo of the workouts needs to change and the use of the exercise phases need to be incorporated.

If you are using the same tempo on the concentric portion of the movement that you are using on the eccentric portion of the movement, then a variety of count could be altered.  There are many varieties of tempo and repetition range.  A constant one second count (concentric) and one second count (eccentric) could be altered with a one second count (concentric) and three second count (eccentric).  

The Three Phases:
- Concentric (Contracting)
- Eccentric (Extracting)
- Isometric (No Movement)

     Resting/Isometric (1)      Concentric/Isometric (2)     Complete Repetition (3)

     Resting/Isometric (1)      Concentric/Isometric (2)     Complete Repetition (3)

Using the bicep in the following example, I will describe the three parts to visually help you understand the correct path of each phase:

Concentric :
- Bringing the wrists from by your side to a horizontal plane, or bent at 90º, contracts the bicep muscle (Concentric).  Continuing to raise the wrists to your shoulders will complete a repetition, this leading you to a full concentric movement.  Concentric training is expressed through the use of performing repetitions.

Eccentric (The Movement of Negatives):
- When lowering the wrists back down to your side, you are performing a eccentric movement.  The muscle is returning back to its starting point.  

Isometric (Flexing - Not Moving):
- The isometric movement in a bicep curl is best represented by holding the arm at a 90º angle.  Because the bicep has contracted as the arm bent to obtain this angle of 90º there is a greater resistance and a better result of fatigue than there is when the arm is at your side (and flexing). 

Try using a variety of these phases or exercise tempos in your next workout.  At Surreal Body Solutions, we are always incorporating a variety of these tempos.  To make it unique and special to our client's specific needs, we choose which tempos to use for the different exercises within not only one muscle group, but also the hundreds of muscles in the body.  The body can respond to different tempos, different timing, and different exercise methodologies.  Hopefully with this overview, you can now see the importance of the phases and have begun to imagine how they could apply to your own workouts.