Negative or negative reps (sets) are an effective method of increasing training intensity, muscle mass and strength. Negative reps are also effective for stagnant workouts.
This method consists in the fact that when performing the exercise, the trainee practically excludes the positive phase of the repetition (lifting weights) and leaves only the negative phase (lowering the weights). For example, in the popular basic exercise of the bench press using the negative method, you yourself perform only a slow lowering of the bar to your chest, and with the help of your partner, you lift it.
The use of the negative method in training allows you to significantly increase the working weights, since in the negative phase the muscles are able to develop significantly more effort. The main condition for using the negative repetition technique is the help of a partner who helps you lift the weight, and you, in turn, spend less energy on the positive and give all the best in the negative phase.
In some exercises, the negative can be done without the help of a partner, on your own. These are all exercises that are performed with one arm or leg. For example, lifting a dumbbell for biceps. The positive phase of the exercise (lifting the dumbbell to the highest point) is performed with two hands, and the negative (lowering) phase – with one.
Unassisted negatives can also be used in leg curls and extensions and leg presses.
In pull-ups, you can stand on a high stand so that your chin is above the crossbar, then, with your legs tucked in, slowly lower yourself to the hang, then stand back on the stand and repeat all the steps to perform the next negative repetition. In the dips, the same technique is used to perform the exercise.
The benefits of negatives
Positive exercises are exercises that cause muscle contraction, while negative exercises involve stretching of the muscles.
Lifting a lot of weight causes your muscles to contract and shorten. As you slowly lower the weight, your muscles again tense very strongly under the influence of gravity, but at the same time their stretch increases (they lengthen). The musculature receives tremendous stress from such an unnatural position, muscle fibers are torn. As a result, the mechanism of healing of damaged muscles is activated, which leads to increased muscle growth. It turns out that by focusing on the negative phase of the exercise, you spur the muscles to growth.
Negative repetitions are very effective at influencing your muscles, giving them maximum stress. And after doing negative reps, it will take much longer for your muscles to recover.
Despite the benefits that you get from using negative reps, it is not recommended to use them as the basis of your training, as they do not involve the positive phase of training, which you also need. It is necessary to use negative repetitions when you have not made progress for a long time and you feel that the muscles are not receiving an “explosive” load. Negatives will certainly wake them up and remind them of what a real load is!
Exercises should be started with a weight that is your maximum, since negative repetitions with your working weight will not bring any effect when the negative phase is prolonged for a few seconds. The maximum is calculated from the position of the maximum weight that you can perform one repetition (once) without support. To this maximum, you need to add another 5% of the weight, that is, for example, if you bench press a maximum of 100 kg, then start with a weight of 105 kg.
Try to do the first negative repetition in 8 seconds. If you do it in 3 seconds, then the weight is excessive. The negative phase should take 4–8 seconds.
To perform negative reps, athletes must have sufficient experience, have a solid base, since negatives pose a lot of stress on the elbows and shoulders.
If you have just started working with negatives, then it is better to do them once every few weeks. With more frequent use of negative repetitions, a decrease in efficiency will occur and the muscles will become accustomed to such a load.
When doing negatives, you push the weight out in a traditional manner and lower it in slow motion. Of course, this technique requires a maximum working weight that you lift with your training partner. Lowering the weight is performed only independently, as slowly as possible.
Perform negatives in the amount of 2-3 sets in the first exercise. Tighten the negative phase up to 4–8 seconds. Try to do as many reps as you have strength since the number is not important here.
Attention: negatives should be performed only in simulators!
Examples of negative repetitions
For negatives, exercises such as the upper pull to the chest, bench press, bench press, bending and straightening the legs in the machine, and biceps curls are perfect.