What Are Concentric Muscle Contractions?

Learn what concentric muscle contractions are, how they work and how they may help you develop muscle mass.

By HourlyTraining
Edited by Tom Amitay

Published September 30, 2020.

When a muscle is activated and generating force whilst required to lift a load which is less than the maximum tetanic tension that the muscle can generate, the muscle will begin to shorten. This shortening of the muscle fibers is known as a concentric muscle contraction.

A concentric contraction is a type of muscle contraction in which the muscles shorten while generating force, thereby overcoming resistance. Concentric muscle contractions alter the angle of the joints to which the muscle are attached, thereby creating motion in the joints.

Concentric muscle contractions are effective in producing muscle mass, especially when a heavy load is applied to the muscle. However, concentric contractions may also cause wear and tear to the joints through repeated use and strain, increasing your risk of injury, soreness and overuse.

Examples of Concentric Muscle Contractions

An example of a concentric contraction is a bicep curl. When weight is lifted, a concentric contraction of the biceps causes the arm to bend at the elbow, lifting the weight towards the shoulder. During this motion, you may notice your bicep muscle swell and bulge as the muscle shortens.

Other common movements and exercises which involve concentric contractions are:

  • Lifting objects upwards.
  • Extending from the bottom of a push-up.
  • Standing up from the bottom of a squat.
  • The inward pull of a hamstring curl.
  • The bending of the torso during a sit-up.