Negative Reps – Pump Up Your Muscle Growth
Bodybuilders are always on the lookout for new, effective techniques to add muscle to their physiques. Several new training techniques have been developed in recent years but notwithstanding, one of the most effective tools available to increase both muscle mass and power are negative reps.
They allow loading up to 140% of the weight used in normal training. This is possible because a muscle has greater strength resisting the downward movement of a weight than it does lifting it. A muscle uses friction between the fibers as a “brake,” causing micro-tears in a muscle.
Related: How to Build Muscle Mass Fast
The body compensates for these micro-tears by adding extra muscle tissue. This is called hypertrophy, or the increase in muscle size. Research has show negative training causes a greater amount of micro-tears than the concentric,or positive, lifting portion of an exercise.
Thus it’s logical to conclude there is a greater muscle gain as a result of negative training. Powerlifters have used negative training to add power to their three competition lifts for years with much success. Bodybuilders have caught on, and after modifying the rep count to emphasize muscle hypertrophy, experienced great gains in size and strength as well.
Different Types of Negative Training
Negative Focus – This training is very similar to standard training but slows down the negative portion of a rep to emphasize it. For example, instead of using a rep cadence of 2/2, slow down the negative to a four count. This results in a rep cadence of 2/4.
Negative-Accentuated – This is done by lifting the weight with both limbs to a count of two and lowering to a count of eight with the left limb. Alternate between limbs on each rep. This is a great technique to use if training alone.
Negative-Only – Load the bar with a weight you can lower to a count of eight. Have your partners lift the bar or machine’s arms to the top and transfer the weight to you.
Forced Negatives – Use a weight slightly heavier than you use for typical sets. Lift the weight; as you begin to lower it have your assistant apply additional pressure to give you added resistance.
Frequency of Negative Training
How often should you use negatives in your training? If you overdo it you will most certainly overtrain and lose size and strength.
I recommend using negative training once every two to three weeks for each muscle group. You will give your body adequate recovery time and give a “shock” to your muscles the next time you use this technique.
Negative Workout Routines To Get You Growing
Chest Negative Focus
These are standard sets with the focus being on the negative,or lowering phase. These are great because they use both the concentric,or lifting phase and eccentric,or negative phase.
- Cable crossovers – 1×12. Do a normal set but focus extra attention to the negative portion by slowing the rep cadence down during the negative phase. Use a rep cadence of 2/8.
- Rest 30 seconds.
- Decline dumbbell bench press – 1×10. Same as above.
Chest Negative Accentuated
- Machine bench press – 1×8. Do these by pressing the machine’s arms out to pre-lockout position. Resist the downward motion exclusively with your left arm to a count of 8. Press both arms out and resist the descent of the weight with your right arm. Continue alternating arms until the set is completed to failure.
- Seated machine dips – 1×8. Complete this exercise in the same fashion.
Chest Negative Routine
- Machine bench press – 1×8. Max weight with eight slow reps (eight-seconds). Partner lifts weight and transfers to you at top.
- Rest 30 seconds
- Pec dec flyes – 1×8. Same as above.
Chest Forced Negative Routine
- Incline dumbbell bench press – 1×8. Max weight with eight slow reps (eight-seconds). Partner lifts weight then transfers to you. Applies additional downward pressure to add resistance.
- Rest 30 seconds.
- Standing bar dips – 1×8. Same as above. Partner applies extra downward pressure by pushing down on your body.
I used chest training as an example for each of the different negative training variations but they are just as effective to use when training other muscle groups.