Training Tips - How does a muscle work?

The first step when becoming a better athlete is to get educated. If you don’t know what you are doing an exercise, then you might as well be fumbling in the dark. This is why we have coaches, but your coaches can’t oversee everything you do. If you really want to become great then you’ll need to learn and maximize the efficiency of your training. This is why I created “Training Tips,” a guide to training triathlon, said in the simplest way possible.


Actin and Myosin - Proteins that are in muscle cells that cause the contraction of muscles.

ATP - A molecule that gives the proteins actin and myosin energy to glide in between each other.
CP - Spare storage that can produce 5-10 seconds more of ATP.
Fat and Carbohydrates - What the body uses to create more ATP (more on this later).

Concentric - When a muscle is contracting and moving towards the middle.
Static - When a muscle is locked in the same position, but straining.
Eccentric - When a muscle is straining, but moving outwards from the middle.

To understand the big picture it is necessary to understand the basics first. This is why we are starting off with how muscles work.
Muscles, as many know, contract. They contract because the two proteins actin and myosin in the muscle cells attach and glide in between each other. To move an entire body a massive amount of coordination is needed, and this contraction coordination happens in the brain.

For this contraction to happen the body needs energy from the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that floats inside the muscle cells. The amount in the muscles cells is only enough for 1-2 seconds of movement, so the body needs a way to make more. First the body stores creatine phosphate (CP), which can be made into additional 5-10 seconds worth of ATP. But if the body needs more fuel than that it has to make ATP from either fat or carbohydrates. A third option, turning protein into ATP, happens if the body drastically loses weight.

When a muscle contract, we say that it works concentrically, towards the middle. If a muscles is straining, but stay in the same position, we say that it works statically (the plank is a great example of static movement). And if the muscles are straining and moving outwards they work eccentrically. These three muscle activities are very important in different aspects of body movement.

Eccentric movement is made when the muscles are turning my downwards movement into upward momentum when squatting.