Just as eccentric repetitions are the lowering portion of a lift, concentric simply means the elevating portion of the lift. Although I don’t often issue workouts that purely consist of concentric repetitions, I see great value in putting a few in here and there.
Concentric lifts without the eccentric portion of an exercise is highly beneficial. This is especially true if the exercise that is being practiced is relevant to a sporting movement. For example, a Hex Bar Deadlift is a great exercise for sprinters as they aid in force development beneath the athlete’s centre of mass.
Speed may sometimes be hindered by muscle mass. This is not because muscle mass is bad but one’s ability to maximize their top end speed is completely dependent on the ability to lift a substantial mass that ranges more than double their body weight. Eccentric muscle contractions may lead to substantial muscle mass that is undesirable for those wishing to be faster. Concentric practice without lowering a resistance is a great way to improve strength without elevating body weight.
Removing the eccentric portion of a lift may reduce injury risk. After all, eccentric work is highly exhausting on the skeletal muscles. Furthermore, by taking away the eccentric portion of a lift, you may have additional energy and benefit from adding additional exercises to your routine.
Without further ado, I present my very favourite exercises for pure concentric work…
- The Hex Bar Deadlift: A standard Barbell Deadlift is great but it’s much more difficult to drop the weight. This is especially true if you consider the bars potential for bouncing off the ground and back to your shins! So, the Hex Bar is great and allows you to lift with the load within your centre of mass, much like you would whilst absorbing the ground reaction force of sprinting.
- The Prone Pull: This is very popular in the Rowing community. Many superstar athletes such as Steve Redgrave have been witnessed blasting out a concentric Prone Pull to work their stroke power. This is particularly beneficial for posture when coupled with reverse flies.
- Chest Pass: Much like in Basketball, we can perform a Chest Pass with medicine balls. The intensity at which the exercise is may be determined by the height that the ball is thrown or by the actual weight of the medicine ball.
- Power Shrug: In the name of conditioning your body for jumping actions, the Power Shrug is a fine choice. This not only develops your legs for jumping power but it eliminates the often-neglected shoulder elevation that is associated with a more powerful jump.
- Barbell Roll Out: The abdominals develop best with high repetitions. This is an issue for many people who can only practice a few Roll Outs before fully exhausting their mid-section. It’s still worth practicing the full action of the Roll Out but by only working the concentric portion on specific workouts will result in the benefits of the Roll Out but with the mega high repetitions that can properly torch our abs.
As a closing note, remember that eccentric work is very valuable but also experiment with your favourite exercises in pure concentric form. If nothing else, it will be a fantastic way to ease the intensity off your workouts when you need to recover.