Build More Mass and Strength With Negatives
If you're looking to switch up your routine a little, increasing the intensity and variety of your exercises will help build muscle.
Negatives are often overlooked when it comes to building strength and muscle... but why?
There Are Three Phases of an Exercise:
- Concentric - Your muscles are squeezing — curling the weight up.
- Static - Not moving, braced against yourself with the weight.
- Eccentric - Extending the muscle, or lowering the weight.
Every exercise has these three phases, but in this article, we are going to focus on the eccentric, or negative phase.
Our Strength Varies Over the Three Phases
The amount of resistance — or weight — your muscles can take vary over the three phases. If your one rep max on bench was 225, that means your concentric phase can press 225 pounds. On average, guys are about 20% stronger in the static phase.
On negatives, however, the amount of weight we can perform on the negative phase is even higher — between 40% to 50% more weight.
This means you can perform a negative with about 40-50% more weight.
But Why Are We Stronger in the Negative Phase?
We are much stronger in the negative and the static phase of our lift. The reason for this is our bodies have a basic defense mechanism that won't let us pick up anything we can't handle.
If it were the other way around, we would be able to push heavy weights above us, but we couldn't lower it without dropping it.
Here's How Training Negatives Work
Training negatives are a single tool you can use when approaching your muscle building goal. Just like any other technique, the negatives work by overloading our muscles and tricking the body into thinking we are moving heavier weight on the eccentric phase.
When you are training negatives, you are able to push past your body's safety limit — handling more weight than you could normally handle. This can help when we are hitting a plateau and having troubles progressing in our workouts.
So there are three basic styles when it comes to training negatives. They are all effective and can be used in conjunction with your current training routine.
1.) Pure Negatives
Just like the name suggests, you are exclusively training the negative of a lift only.
2.) Negative Supersets
Just like a normal superset, except you train the negative for the lifts.
3.) Using Negatives as a Finishing Set
Finish off your muscles with negatives at the end of a set — generally, the last two to three reps.
Key Aspects to Doing Negatives Properly
In order to get the most out of training the concentric portion of your lift, you need to go slow... very slow. Ideally, you should take at least five seconds to lower the weight.
Ensure you use the longest range of motion possible.
Negatives are more effective for a low rep scheme. This means you don't need to complete more than 8 reps.
Training negatives lose their effectiveness if you perform them every workout — use this tool sparingly.
Training negatives is just one part out of a multi-faceted approach to building muscle.
Best Exercises for Training Negatives
You could train negatives using almost any exercise, but there are a few exercises that negatives really shine:
- Smith machine shoulder presses
- Close and wide grip bench
- Bicep curls and preacher curls
- Wide grip pull ups - jump up and slowly lower yourself down
- Bench press
Negatives Can Be Dangerous
Overloading our muscles is what it takes to grow, but it is dangerous and should be treated with respect.
There is a bit of mental preparation you need when you are doing negatives, so start with lighter weights and work your way up to something that you are comfortable with.
Train with two spotters!
When you are training negatives on bench, you have to have two spotters. Remember how you are up to 50% stronger on the concentric phase versus the eccentric phase?
This means you can train 50% above your 1 rep max, so you will need multiple people to help lift the weight back up.
Safety first — you can't grow muscle if you are injured.
Wrapping It Up
Now that you have another tool in your muscle building arsenal, you can start integrating them into your current routine. You don't want to replace your workouts with negatives.
The trick is to add intensity and to mix up your training a bit.
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