Difference between Concentric and Eccentric Contractions

Researchers define 2 types of muscle contractions – isometric and isotonic contractions. In isotonic contraction, wherein the tension remains constant while the length of the muscle changes. There are 2 kinds of isotonic contractions – concentric and eccentric.

The muscle tension in concentric contractions rises to meet the resistance, then stays stable as the muscle tends to shorten. At the time of eccentric contractions, the muscle tends to lengthen due to the increased resistance compared to the force produced by the muscle.

Concentric Contractions

  • When muscle fibres tend to shorten, muscle movements occur. The concentric part of the movement occurs against the force of gravity, and are referred to as a positive movement
  • Some examples of concentric movements are – standing up in a back squat, sitting up in a situp, pushing up in a bench press, etc
  • Increased speed and power are the benefits of concentric exercises

Eccentric Contractions

  • This involves an increase in the length of the muscle. At the time of this phase, the work is with the force of gravity; they are referred to as negative movements
  • Their main benefit is muscle hypertrophy or the growth of skeletal muscle cells
  • Some examples of eccentric exercises are – lowering into the bottom of a pushup, lowering torso back to the ground in a situp, in a squat – lowering into a parallel squat stance

Key Difference between Concentric and Eccentric Contractions

The table below depicts the difference between Concentric and Eccentric Contractions.

Concentric Contractions

Eccentric Contractions

What is it?

A type of muscle contraction enabling shortening of muscles

A type of muscle contraction causing lengthening of muscles

What happens to the length of the muscles?

Shortening of muscles

Lengthening of muscles

How does it work with the force of gravity?

It works against the force of gravity

It works with the force of gravity

What happens to the sarcomere?

It shortens

It lengthens

Some examples

Standing up in a back squat, sitting up in a situp, pushing up in a bench press etc

Lowering into the bottom of a pushup, lowering torso back to the ground in a situp, in a squat – lowering into a parallel squat stance

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and Eccentric Contractions

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