Skeletal muscles are surrounded by other muscles, connective tissue and bones, which may transfer transversal forces to the muscle belly. Simple Hill-type muscle models do not consider transversal forces. Thus, the aim of this study was to examine and model the influence of transversal muscle loading on contraction dynamics, e.g. on the rate of force development and on the maximum isometric muscle force (Fim). Isometric experiments with and without transversal muscle loading were conducted on rat muscles. The muscles were loaded (1.3 N cm⁻²) by a custom-made plunger which was able to move in transversal direction. Then the muscle was fully stimulated, the isometric force was measured at the distal tendon and the movement of the plunger was captured with a high-speed camera. The interaction between the muscle and the transversal load was modelled based on energy balance between the (1) work done by the contractile component (CC) and (2) the work done to lift the load, to stretch the series elastic structures and to deform the muscle. Compared with the unloaded contraction, the force rate was reduced by about 25% and Fim was reduced by 5% both in the experiment and in the simulation. The reduction in Fim resulted from using part of the work done by the CC to lift the load and deform the muscle. The response of the muscle to transversal loading opens a window into the interdependence of contractile and deformation work, which can be used to specify and validate 3D muscle models.