By Luke Teuma | UK Personal Trainer
Many of us are all guilty of sticking to the same training routine without changing it up. This can be great if what you’re doing is working, however at some point your body will begin to get used to what your doing and start to plateau.
Negative training is a great way to add a new spin on current workouts to make your body think twice about what it’s doing.
What Is Negative Training?
Negative or eccentric training is a training system which aims to focus on the lowering or eccentric phase of a movement.
✓ This forces your body to have control of the weight you’re using without cheating as its a lot slower than how you would usually do the exercise.
✓ This loads the target muscle groups more and there is more time under tension, this can be great to build or muscle and will always give you a great workout.
Different Types Of Lifting Phases
The eccentric phase is the part of the movement where the weight or resistance is being lowered, this is great to concentrate on as is improves control of the weight you’re using, it also helps keep the main moving muscle highly engaged as you’re spending a longer period of time lowering resistance onto it.
The isometric phase is the holding phase of a movement, for example if you were to perform a squat with a 2 second hold, it would mean squatting down with the weight and then hold it at your desired end ROM for however long you wanted to hold it.
The isometric section helps with muscle fibre engagement as you work harder to contract after holding. It’s also great for muscle growth as it keeps tension on the muscle at vulnerable positions making them really engage.
The concentric phase is the push or squeeze to complete the movement. This is when you are going to really engage all your muscle fibres to contract them and feel a really nice burn in the muscles.
Time under tension
Time under tension, otherwise known as TUT is a system which focuses on the tempo of an exercise. It is usually written in numbers to let the person who’s doing the movement know how long they’re spending on each part of the movement.
Bench Press – tempo – 3:2:1
This would indicate you’re lowering the weight for 3-seconds (eccentric), holding it at the lowest point for 2 seconds (isometric) then pushing back up for 1 more second (concentric).
This is always a great way to either write down or remember which tempo you’re following as its very structured and easy to follow and understand. This has been proved in many studies that it is extremely beneficial for muscle growth as it aids with loading the muscles for a longer period of time which increases the amount of micro tears which occur in the muscles.
Benefits Of Negative Reps |
(Time Under Tension)
As you are loading the muscles with much more tension, they will have to work harder to control the weight, hold it at the lowest part of the movement and finally to actually contract to complete the movement!
✓ This aids with muscle growth as the muscle is being worked so carefully each rep instead of using other muscle groups to compensate as you’re fatigued.
✓ With eccentric reps there’s no way around using the main moving muscle to perform the movement.
✓ Negative training also helps with having lots of control over your weights, many people rush their sets and reps, after doing slower tempos for a period of time, when you eventually go back to normal tempos you will feel very controlled and very strong which will improve the quality of those sets and reps.
Disadvantages Of Negative Reps
Negative training isn’t easy! As mentioned it takes very good technique and control, the weights you use may need to lower the weight which you would usually use to begin with. Apart from that the pros definitely outweigh the cons!
Different types of negative training
Negative training can be whatever you want it to be, there is a magical tempo which is perfect for muscle growth, which is why you should experiment with different tempos and speeds to see what YOUR body reacts to best, this will be your best bet to find the best tempo for you.
Although tempo can be anything you like, always have an idea of WHY you’re doing it, was it because you didn’t really feel a 2 second negative? Or 4 seconds was too difficult? Don’t just pluck numbers out of thin air as you then have no real objective or strategy!
Take home message
Negative training is great to shock your body with something new, whilst building up control, strength and power! Practice with lighter weights to begin with if you haven’t tried it before and really focus on using the muscle groups you’re trying to target!
This will give you a new perspective on your training and will definitely benefit you in the long run!