The lexicon of muscle-building, and training - Part 12

Single-joint exercises are sometimes essential for direct, specific, and controlled exercise for a particular muscle or muscle group when highly controlled, safe work is needed, such as in rehabilitation. It's impractical, however, to train the entire body using single-joint exercises only, because of the number of exercises that would be required.

Generally, the multi-joint exercises are more demanding than the single-joint ones, because the former usually involve greater muscle mass and exact a heavier toll on the whole body. This combination is positive, because hard work on multi-joint exercises produces a lot of growth stimulation, both for the muscles directly involved in the exercises and, to a degree, in muscles that are involved indirectly. Most single-joint exercises don't have much indirect effect. Done in excess, however, single-joint exercises will still rob the recuperative system (the recovery “machinery”) of a lot of its reserves, thus restraining if not preventing progress in all exercises. An excess of multi-joint exercises would have the same negative effect. The key point is to avoid an excess of exercise in total.

Regardless of the category a given exercise belongs to, perform it properly — correct technique, control, and discipline, and, once beyond your first few months of training, with effort.

Compound training

Performance of two or more exercises, one after the other with minimal rest in between — usually exercises for different bodyparts rather than the same bodypart.

Concentric contraction

The shortening of a muscle. For instance, when you raise your hand through bending your elbow, your biceps muscle contracts in a concentric way. The term is usually abbreviated to a concentric. Concentric contractions are also called positives.

A rep has two phases: the positive or concentric (pushing or pulling) part when the muscle performing the action shortens, and the negative or eccentric (lowering) part when the same muscle lengthens. Standing up from a sitting position is the positive or concentric phase, while the descent to a sitting position is the negative or eccentric phase.

Connective tissue

The type of tissue used to connect and support organs, fibrous tissue, cartilage, and bone.

Continuous tension

The performance of reps in a continuous manner without any pauses, to maintain constant tension of the involved musculature.


When applied to muscle, contraction means the development of tension, and expenditure of energy, whether the muscle is elongating, shortening, or maintaining constant length.

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