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Concentric squats can be performed as an exercise on their own or as part of the traditional squat. During a traditional squat, begin in the standing position with your legs slightly apart, then flex your knees and hips to lower into a squat until your thighs reach horizontal. You then contract several muscles with a concentric contraction to shorten the fibers and ascend to a standing position. To perform a solely concentric squat, simply begin the exercise in the squat or sitting position.
The quadriceps femoris, or "quads," are one of the primary muscle groups used for concentric squats. The quads are made up of a group of four muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius. These muscles arise from four separate points along the pelvis and femur coming together to attach in one common insertion point via the patellar ligament into the tibia. These four muscles work together during the concentric squat to extend the knee joints and return you to the upright standing position.
The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three gluteal muscles. This muscle spans from the posterior part of the pelvis to the outer side of the femur. The gluteus maximus is a powerful muscle and a major player in hip extension. During a concentric squat, the muscle fibers of the glutes shorten to extend your hips and press them forward until you reach the standing position.
The hamstrings are the large muscle group found on the back of your thigh. The group consists of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. All three muscles cross the hip and knee joints and work to extend the thigh when the knee is flexed, which is exactly how they are used for concentric squats -- the hamstrings assist the glutes to extend the hips.
While the muscles of the hips and thighs are the primary movers during a concentric squat, a few other muscles are necessary to keep your body in the proper position. The erector spinae and abdominal muscles are used to keep your torso in the upright position and prevent your back from rounding. These muscles are particularly important when squatting a heavy load. The muscles of the calf are used to stabilize the knees as well as to plantar flex your foot, a necessary movement when extending your knees and hips during a concentric squat.