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Different Types of Muscle Contractions Apr 12, 2012

Different Types of Muscle Contractions

When it comes to muscle contractions, we generally think of muscle shortening as force is generated (concentric). There are actually 4 different types of muscle contractions that our skeletal muscles perform. Here is a breakdown of the different types.

Concentric Muscle Contractions – this occurs when a muscle is activated and required to lift a load and the muscle shortened.  A good example of this type of contraction is a bicep curl.

Bicep Curl

Eccentric Contractions – is the opposite of a concentric contraction and happens when the active muscle lengthens. An example would be setting an object down, the arms flexors are required to lengthen in order to control the movement.

Eccentric Contraction

Isometric Contraction – this is when the muscle is activated but held at a constant length, such as holding a heavy object out in front of you. Your muscles are activated in order to work against gravity but are not increasing or decreasing in length.


Passive Stretch – this is a muscle “contraction” in which the muscle is being lengthened while in a passive state. Think about the stretch you feel in your hamstrings when you do a standing forward bend.


Understanding muscle contractions and mixing these actions up when it comes to creating your workouts can definitely benefit you as well as help you understand just how your muscles work, even when it comes to the most simple of actions.

Jill Purvis  –

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