What is an Isokinetic Muscle Contraction?

Learn About How Your Muscles Move and Why

An isokinetic dynamometer used to diagnose an injury.
An isokinetic dynamometer used to diagnose an injury. Science Photo Library/Getty Images

An isokinetic muscle contraction is one in which the muscle contracts and shortens at a constant and consistent rate of speed. In isokinetic muscle contractions, the muscle itself contracts to its maximum level throughout the entire exercise. The main characteristic of isokinetic muscle contractions is that they have a constant speed.

Isokinetic Equipment

Unlike the other types of muscle contractions, which can be produced just about anywhere, such as in a gym or just by pushing against a wall, special, expensive training equipment that increases the load as it senses that the muscle contraction is speeding up is typically required for this isokinetic muscle contraction to occur.

This, it is not an extremely common type of muscle contraction.

Namely, a special, specific piece of health equipment called an Isokinetic Dynamometer is necessary to induce isokinetic contractions. This piece of equipment is utilized to measure the speed of isokinetic muscle contractions, and to make sure that the speed of such contractions is constant throughout the full range of movement.

An Isokinetic Dynamometer is as expensive as it sounds, and therefore it is not very common in public gyms, schools, universities, or other rec centers. Such equipment can often be found in rehabilitation centers and specialized sport training facilities. Professional sports franchises also often purchase such equipment for their players. This type of training is one of the fastest ways off increasing muscle strength and overall muscle endurance.

Benefits of Isokinetic Muscle Contractions

Isokinetic exercises are utilized often by professional athletes and other individuals who have access to the necessary tools and equipment.

The benefit of isokinetic resistance training is that the targeted muscles gain strength evenly and consistently all through the entire range of movement and exercise. Such training it is one of the fastest ways to increase muscle strength.

More Common Muscle Contractions

An isokinetic muscle contraction is a specific type of muscle contraction.

Muscle contractions are also known as muscle fiber activations. They occur when a muscle fiber or group of fibers is signaled by the brain via nerves to activate and increase the tension within the muscle. As they require specific equipment, isokinetic contractions are not the most common type of muscle contraction when it comes to weight training.

The other common types of muscle contractions include:

  • Concentric Muscle Contraction: Tension is increased in the muscle during concentric contractions and muscle strength is built during this type of contraction. Basically, this is the actual lifting phase of an exercise. For example, during a bicep curl, this would be when the arm holding the weight is lifted and brought toward the shoulder area.
  • Eccentric Muscle Contraction: In weight training, this is the phase in which the muscle returns to the starting position of the exercise. For example, during a bicep curl, this would be when the arm holding a weight is returned to waist area.
  • Isometric Muscle Contraction: Isometric exercises are those that do not cause movement at the joints. An example of an isometric muscle contraction is simply pushing up against a wall.

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