Stuart McGill says, proximal stiffness unleashes distal athleticism. Well that’s a bit of mumbo-jumbo if you don’t study human anatomy and physiology. So let me just throw another confusing term at you that relates to this beautiful quote by McGill, quasi-isometric contraction (QIC).
QIC is a fancy term to describe using stored elastic energy to move instead of concentric and eccentric contractions. Through this mechanism, QIC helps to minimize the amount of energy needed to move. Concentric and eccentric contractions require a lot of energy. If we solely rely on these muscular movements, we will quickly run low on energy.
Kettlebells are a fantastic way to train quasi-isometric strength and coordination. Let’s take the kettlebell swing for example. The majority of strength, speed and explosiveness you have during this movement is achieved from the tensile strength of given by the muscles and fascia that facilitate the primary joints that are moving. In addition to this, as we hike the kettlebell between our legs our muscles absorb elastic energy through quasi-isometric contractions and then expel that energy as we powerfully snap through to the top of the swing.
There is not some magical moment where we switch from concentric to eccentric contractions. We stay in the quasi-isometric stare to absorb the elastic energy. It’s not just movement of the hips and shoulders that produces a beautiful kettlebell swing. Every muscle from your toes through the tips of your finger are involved in this movement. Training with kettlebells should be smooth and appear almost effortless.
When you look at a top athlete, you get the same feeling… effortlessness. The reason for this effortless appearance is because the athlete is so well trained that she uses the quasi-isometric contractions to move fluidly. She doesn’t just use concentric and eccentric contractions because they are choppy and too expensive. Learn to train with kettlebells to bring your athleticism to the next level.
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