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How to Perform Negative Training

International Personal Training 2016 - IPT

Now a days, a fair few "Gym-goers" consider only the movement, without taking into account the speed, the eccentric portion, or the TUT (Time under Tension)

By the end of this blog, you will learn the ins and outs of turning Negatives, into Positives!

First off, I am going to discuss eccentric muscle actions and the importance to a muscle/strength building routine.


This type of contraction occurs when the muscle contracts (shortens) such as when you pres

s the bar upwards on a barbell bench press or raise the bar on a bicep curl.


Isometric muscle action is when a muscle is activated and generates a force, but no real movement at the joint occurs. Imagine pressing against a solid wall, instantly your body is generating force to push this wall over, but there is not joint action whatsoever because it is impossible for your body.


This is also known as “Negative resistance training” – this type of action occurs when your muscle lengthens in a controlled manner (I.e. The downward phase of a chest press)

Muscles are only capable of either lengthening or shortening in a controlled movement.

This is basically gravity trying to pull the weight back down; your muscles lengthen in a way to control the weight to avoid it falling abruptly on top of you.

Out of each of the above phases, the muscle can generate the most force during the eccentric phase, followed by the isometric, and last but not least the concentric phase.

If someone was to neglect the eccentric (Negative) phase of lifting, this would be extremely detrimental to their training.

How it works:

Micro-trauma occurs during the lengthening of the muscle whilst it’s contracting against a force. This cellular damage will stimulate the release of local growth factors and will result in the body, building muscle quicker. A muscle is approximately 40% stronger during the eccentric phase of an exercise movement compared to the concentric phase.

Implementing Negatives into a routine:

See below an example:

With training partner:

Barbell Incline Chest Press 4x10 (No concentric movement whatsoever & 5-6 seconds on the eccentric phase)

Your training partner will lift the entire load on the concentric movement.

Without training partner:

Barbell Incline Chest Press 4x5 (Instead of having a training partner, you will perform 5 repetitions, but with an eccentric phase of 6 seconds each rep)

You can also use elastic resistance bands to assist you on the concentric phase.

Now of course, you can even focus on your “Positives” AKA concentric movement – but that’s another story all together!

Let’s go over a few benefits that Eccentric training will provide:

1. Increase in overall strength

Recent studies have shown that the average human body can tolerate up to 1.75 times more weight eccentrically that it can concentrically. As discussed earlier, eccentric movements are the downward motion of the exercise.

Now if you happen to emphasise the eccentric portion of certain lifts, then you’re certain to increase muscle growth. And if you don’t know already, muscle growth results in more strength which in turn means greater potential for hypertrophy and greater potential to develop power.

Now I’m not suggesting you train solely eccentrically. But what I am suggesting is that you take advantage of your body’s potential to handle more weight while still completing the full movement.

As discussed earlier, you can handle 1.75 times more weight when training eccentrically! The great thing about this is that it allows you work out at a higher intensity. Higher intensity means greater stress, which means greater adaption.

Now here comes the magic – The anabolic response from the heavy load forces greater recruitment of muscle fibres, which will allow you to move more weight on the concentric (Upward) motion of the lift = Basically resulting in a

noticeable increase in strength.

2. Greater Muscle Damage:

As harrowing as it sounds, this is what we’re aiming for when we’re working out. Tearing our muscles apart, so they can in turn, grow back bigger and stronger.

The difference here is that we are going to use heavy weight and we’re not going to focus on the concentric motion of the lift. In fact, more so often than not the concentric motion of the lift will be easier than the heavy eccentric.

There are two options to train in this style:

  1. The most popular is to have a training partner/spotter to pull you through the concentric part of the lift.

  2. If you have no training partner, you can use lifting aids such as elastic bands and chains.

Emphasising the eccentric portion of your lift whilst still performing the full lift on your own, will lead to even greater muscle development and in turn strength, power and connective tissue.

3. STRONGER Tendons and Connective Tissues

Sometimes we don’t stop to think about training more than just our muscles when we’re in the gym. Eccentric (Negative) training is a great way to strengthen your Tendons & Connective Tissues. By strengthening more than just your muscles, you’ll notice much more of an increase in your overall strength.

4. Increase in overall Flexibility:

A select few relate us lifters as un-flexible people, when in actuality, if the “lifting” is performed correctly then flexibility is damn sure to follow!

We already know that when you’re performing the negative portion of your lift, you’re lengthening your muscles – This in turn is increasing the sarcomeres within the muscle and promoting extra flexibility!

If that doesn’t sound believable, then follow our Negatively Positive training plan.


Negative styles of training should be a part of every bodies training routine, the benefits it provides are a good enough reason, and I personally have experienced nothing but results since incorporating this style of training in to my work outs.

Now I don’t suggest this type of training whilst on a caloric deficit – but I definitely suggest it, if your focus is to build solid mass, power, and strength. Remember to keep in mind that although you save energy during eccentric training, you are still doing huge amounts of damage to your muscle fibers, which basically means longer recovery times.

All in all, if you're not currently implementing negative training into your routines, go and do so!


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