When you’re looking to build more muscle, you’ll find a slew of different ways that can help to amp up your progress. From protein powders to different lifting techniques, there’s always a new and different method to introduce to your workout routine in the hopes that it will help you build muscle faster. Negative reps, also known as eccentric training, are one of these muscle-building techniques.
In this article, we’ll explore what negative reps are and how they can help you efficiently build muscle mass. We’ll also go over steps to how you can perform negative reps during your next strength training session.
What Are Negative Reps?
When you break negative reps down to their core, they are essentially the action of only doing the eccentric lifting portion. When you’re lifting, you’re performing eccentric or negative reps when you stretch your muscles. Alternatively, when you contract your muscles, you’re performing a concentric movement.
While both the eccentric and concentric portions of lifting are important to your overall success, many lifters focus mainly on the concentric action. Think about it this way; when you’re strength training with a barbell, are you paying as much attention to the downward lowering of the barbell (eccentric), or was your attention mainly on the upwards lifting of the barbell (concentric)? If you primarily focused on the concentric portion of your lift, you’re not alone. Many lifters find themselves forgetting to retain control and focus on the downward negative rep as they did with the upward one.
The Benefits of Negative Reps
The fact of the matter is, negative reps are just as important as their counterparts. Former professional bodybuilder Dorian Yates famously said of eccentric reps, “The single biggest mistake that most beginners make is putting 100% of their effort into the positive (concentric) part of the rep, while paying no attention to the negative (eccentric) segment.” We couldn’t agree more with what he said; check out these five reasons why:
- Enhanced Performance – If you play sports, eccentric reps can actually help by increasing your strength and agility. According to one study on eccentric exercise, eccentric exercise is essential to build the necessary power for enhanced sports performance.
- Better Flexibility – When eccentric exercise is performed correctly, it can increase flexibility and range of motion (ROM) over time.
- RMR Increases – If you’re looking to increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR), negative reps can help. RMR is a term referring to how many calories your body continues to burn while still at rest. According to one study, RMR was shown to increase for up to 72 hours following an eccentric exercise session.
- Reduced Injury – Because you’re actively strengthening your muscles and connective tissues simultaneously while performing negative reps, there is a potential for a significant reduction in your chances of injury during or after working out.
- Quicker Gains – The main reason many strength trainers incorporate negative reps into their workouts is the potential for encouraging speedier muscle gains. According to one study published in the journal of applied physiology, muscle and strength increases are shown to build faster with eccentric training than with concentric training.
- Damage Increase – When you perform negative reps, they actually have been shown to increase the amount of muscle damage incurred more than through other rep types. This increase can be a good thing because muscles will increase the energy spent to rebuild damaged tissue, which can then help increase muscle size.
How to Incorporate Negative Reps Into Your Next Workout
If negative reps sound like exactly what your workouts have been missing, you’ll need to consider the right way to incorporate them into your workouts. While eccentric training is excellent for building muscle at a faster rate, it also creates a much more substantial amount of strain on your muscles during workouts than usual; you want to be careful not to overdo it. For instance, if you’re on a three- to four-day training split, it should be okay to incorporate negative reps into a portion of each workout. For anything more, you should probably consider incorporating eccentric training every other day instead to avoid undue strain.
There are quite a few ways you can perform eccentric reps during your sessions. Below are a few ideas to get you started:
- Negative Dumbbell Squats – Using an underhanded grip, hold the dumbbell at shoulder level. Lower the dumbbell slowly as you get into a parallel squat position and hold for one second. Return to a standing position and repeat for your predetermined amount of reps.
- Negative Pull-Ups – This version begins at the top of the pull-up position. Keeping your chin above the bar and hands with an overhand grip and shoulder-width apart, begin to slowly lower yourself down. Be sure to keep your legs bent and crossed while doing this. Repeat for a predetermined amount of reps.
- Negative Upright Cable Rows – Using a cable machine, pull the cables towards your shoulders and then lower them down slowly again. Pause once in the lowered position and then repeat.
- Barbell Bench Press – You’ll need two spotters for this method of eccentric rep exercise. First, you’ll increase the weights on the barbell by about 40 percent of your normal weights. Once lying flat in position on the bench, your partners can then hand the barbell to you. Lower the barbell down to your chest slowly, and then have your partners take the barbell back up. You can repeat this for two to three sets of four reps.
- Negative Elevated Push-Ups – Place your feet on the designated chair or bench and keep your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. To begin, lower yourself down towards the floor slowly and then quickly back up to the starting position. Repeat this for your predetermined amount of reps.