The reformer is a set up for eccentric muscle contraction

How Beneficial Are Eccentric Muscle Contractions?

If you have an interest in fitness, you may already be familiar with the concepts of concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. However, it is important to understand the meaning of these terms and their impact on your training and performance. Additionally. Knowing how to effectively incorporate these contractions into your workouts is key. This article will provide an explanation of concentric and eccentric muscle contractions, highlighting their differences and the advantages they offer. We will offer some helpful tips on integrating eccentric muscle contractions into your exercise routines. Prepare yourself to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits and effective utilization of eccentric muscle contractions!

What Are Concentric and Eccentric Muscle Contractions?

There are two types of muscle actions that occur when you move your body or lift weights: concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. Concentric muscle contractions involve the shortening of your muscle fibers, while eccentric contractions involve the lengthening of your muscle fibers. During a concentric contraction, your muscles shorten and generate force to overcome resistance. This occurs when you lift a weight or push against something. For example, When you perform a bicep curl. Your biceps contract concentrically to bring the weight up to your shoulder. On the other hand, During an eccentric contraction. Your muscles lengthen and generate force to resist a load or slow a movement. This happens when you lower your weight or control your descent. In the case of a bicep curl. Your biceps contract eccentrically to lower the weight back to the starting position. Both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions play important roles in maintaining health and fitness. They enable various movements and activities, such as walking, running, jumping, climbing, lifting, and throwing. Additionally, they contribute to building strength, power, endurance, coordination, balance, and mobility. It's worth noting that concentric and eccentric contractions have distinct characteristics and effects on your muscles. They also offer different benefits and challenges that are important for you to understand.

How Do Concentric and Eccentric Muscle Contractions Differ?

Concentric and eccentric muscle contractions have distinct differences in various aspects, including force production, energy expenditure, muscle damage, and muscle adaptation. When it comes to forced production, Eccentric muscle contractions have the ability to generate more force compared to concentric muscle contractions. This is primarily due to the involvement of fewer motor units during eccentric contractions. As a result,  each motor unit can exert a greater amount of force during an eccentric contraction than during a concentric contraction. In fact. Studies have shown that individuals can handle up to 20% to 30% more weight during eccentric contractions. In terms of energy expenditure, eccentric muscle contractions consume less energy compared to concentric muscle contractions. This is because eccentric contractions involve less cross-bridge cycling between myosin heads and actin filaments. As a result, less ATP is utilized as the main energy source for muscles during an eccentric contraction as opposed to a concentric contraction. Moving on to muscle damage It has been observed that eccentric muscle contractions cause more damage to the muscles than concentric contractions.

This is mainly attributed to the increased mechanical stress and microtears that occur within the muscle fibers during eccentric movements. Consequently, this leads to inflammation, swelling, soreness, stiffness, and reduced function in the affected muscles. Experts refer to this phenomenon as exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) or delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which typically manifests 24–72 hours after performing unaccustomed or intense eccentric exercises. Lastly, When it comes to promoting muscular adaptation, It has been found that eccentric muscle contractions stimulate greater cellular and molecular responses in comparison to concentric contractions. These responses include increased protein synthesis activity within the muscles' cells and activation of satellite cells (which are responsible for promoting repair and growth).

Additionally, growth factors are released, supporting processes such as capillary formation and collagen synthesis. Ultimately, these responses contribute to various adaptations in the muscles, such as increased size (hypertrophy), strength (hyperplasia), endurance (angiogenesis), and stiffness (fibrosis).

In summary, The differences between concentric and eccentric muscle contractions extend beyond force production, energy expenditure, muscle damage, and muscle adaptation. Understanding these distinctions can inform exercise selection and training techniques to optimize desired outcomes for individuals. While mapping out your training program, it becomes imperative to weigh the merits and demerits linked to both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. It is evident that concentric muscular action outshines its eccentric counterpart in terms of efficiency while posing less harm. However, it is worth noting that its efficacy and level of difficulty might pale in comparison to those offered by an eccentric contraction.

What Are the Benefits of Eccentric Muscle Contractions?

Flexible sportsman stretching on sports ground

Eccentric muscle contractions offer numerous benefits for both your physical well-being and overall fitness levels. Taking part in these types of movements enables you to go beyond what you believe are your limits regarding strength capacity as well as endurance levels. What sets them apart from concentric contractions is the fact that eccentric contractions allow you to handle heavier weights.

This results in overloading your muscles and subsequently encouraging growth and adaptation. Additionally. The utilization of eccentric muscle contractions can promote greater hypertrophy compared to concentric muscle contractions. This is due to the fact that eccentric contractions result in more muscle damage, which then triggers enhanced repair processes and regeneration within the muscles themselves. Ultimately, this leads to an improvement in muscle size, density, quality, and overall function. Another key advantage associated with eccentric muscle contractions lies in their potential for enhancing strength and power. They generate greater force output in comparison to concentric muscle contractions. Thus, improving neuromuscular efficiency and coordination. Thanks to this heightened force output rate, individuals who engage in eccentric muscle contractions experience reduced fatigue levels as well as a lower risk of injury. Additionally. Incorporating eccentric muscle contractions into your fitness routine can lead to a metabolic response that significantly boosts your metabolism's efficiency while increasing calorie burn. The increased muscle damage caused by these types of movements necessitates additional energy resources for recovery and adaptation compared to concentric movements. As a result, post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), resting metabolic rate (RMR), and fat oxidation rates all rise while insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake improve.

All in all, integrating eccentric muscle contractions into your exercise regimen offers countless benefits across various areas of physical health and fitness. Pushing beyond your limits aids muscular growth and adaptation while enhancing strength capacity as well as endurance levels. Engaging in these movements not only improves overall fitness levels but also enhances metabolism efficiency while driving calorie burn rates higher.


In conclusion, eccentric muscle contractions are an important type of muscle action in which the muscles lengthen and resist a load or slow down a movement. They offer distinct characteristics and effects compared to concentric muscle contractions. The benefits of eccentric muscle contractions for your health and fitness are numerous. They can assist you in overcoming failure, promoting greater hypertrophy, enhancing strength gains, and stimulating the metabolic response. To incorporate eccentric muscle contractions into your workouts effectively, it is essential to select the appropriate exercises, intensity, duration, and frequency that align with your goals and preferences.

James Freeman


Liam Marshall, the friendly fitness coach, has spent 14 years sharing his love for sports and fitness. With degrees in sports science, he crafts workouts that fit like your favorite jeans. Beyond the gym, he organizes sports clinics and tech-savvy fitness apps that motivate people worldwide. He's all about making fitness doable for everyone, and it's not just about bodies – it's boosting confidence. In 2019, he scored the "Virginia Fitness Coach of the Year" award. Outside the fitness world, he loves family time and hikes in Shenandoah National Park. Liam's journey from a small-town fitness fan to a big-time coach is all about passion, inspiring people to see fitness as a body-and-mind thing. Catch him on Instagram to stay in the loop!