Negative but Optimistic for Gains

What I think I like the most about training are all the personalities I have the opportunity to work with. With each person having a different perspective and thought process, it makes every training hour unique and my time more fun! Working with the same demographic over time, you can see common trends in these personalities. The ladies always want ‘toned’ arms and ‘tight and flat’ abs. Every guy wants to fill out his tank with traps that look like the Rocky Mountains and veins like the Amazon exploding out of their arms. Then there’s me- the trainer whose daunting task it is to make these goals happen! Well, for the ladies, stay tuned…I’ll get to that another time. For my fellas, read on, you don’t want to miss this one!

Eccentric Training…Look and lift like a boss.

Before we dive in, we need to understand how our muscles work. Every muscle has two main contractions… a concentric or “positive phase,” where the muscle fibers shorten, and an eccentric or  “negative phase” muscle fibers lengthen. Typically when you lift to ‘failure’ you really went to concentric failure. Your muscle now lacks the power to fully contract. At this point, the muscle still has some left in the tank, and can still perform eccentric-only movements.


Don’t buy it? Try it for yourself…Find yourself a step and a chin up bar. With your palms facing you, place your hands shoulder width apart. Start repping out chin ups to concentric failure (Don’t cheat either make sure you go all the way down!). Once you are unable to pull yourself to the bar, use your step and jump up to the bar, hang with your chin above the bar for 1 second then slowly lower yourself down to full extension. You will find that you can do anywhere from 3-6 of these repetitions. Boom! Just like that you’ve increased your time under tension, and total training volume (which last I looked, helped increase muscle mass)…not to mention your abs just got pissed from keeping your body from swinging and you can barely open your hands from the death grip you gave the bar.

Now that you believe the power of eccentrics…as we were… (P.S. you’re welcome.)


Note: make sure you have a trust worthy spotter present and available and do your boy a favor and let him know what you’re doing. You don’t want a deer in the headlights trying to rip a heavy bar off your neck.


The Negative Workout: here are two different ways to include negative reps in your lifts.


Eccentric as designated set:4 sets of 6 (working sets only- that warm up with 135lbs doesn’t count)

Rest: 2 minutes between sets


60% 1 Rep Max x 6

65% 1 RM x 6

75% 1 RM x 6

80% 1 RM x 6

95% 1 RM – 3 Eccentric only reps

Eccentrics for forced reps post failure:4 sets of 6 +2

Rest: 2-3 minutes between sets


70% 1 Rep Max x 6+2 Eccentric

75% 1 RM x 6+2 Eccentric

80% 1 RM x 6+2 Eccentric

85% 1 RM x 6+2 Eccentric

The beauty of negatives is that you can do this scheme with any move. Yes bros, even negative bicep curls can get the job done (not to mention, give you one hell of a pump). You may find that with some grip intensive movements,such as lat-pull downs, rows, etc. you may want to invest in a good pair of lifting straps…don’t let your grip be the reason the gain train derails!


Dos and Don’ts of Negative Training:


Do:Big moves first- presses and pulls.Isolation moves last- curls and extensions.

Pair this type of workout with the  “Sex on The Beach” stack!

Squats! These suck and should be done as a finisher- make sure you have excellent coordination with your spotter!

Progress through time, start with 3 seconds and increase to 5 to up the anty.

Give plenty of rest between sets- notice the difference in rest in the two workouts above.

Try this with ab work too!

Don’t:Deadlifts- no negatives here- it has disaster written all over it.Do negatives during warm-up sets- wastes time and valuable energy.

Do negatives longer than 5 seconds- too much of a good thing…

Do more than 3 negative reps. If you can do more, up the time to 5 seconds. Still want more? Now increase the weight and lower the negative back to 3 seconds.

Underestimate the power of negatives! You will be insanely sore!



Here’s the Spark Notes:

We want to exploit the eccentric or ‘negative’ muscle contraction.

Incorporate negatives as forced reps at the end of your sets OR as their own set within the workout.

Give yourself 2-3 minutes between sets- you should need it!

Increase intensity by making the negative longer (no more than 5 seconds).

Avoid doing more than 3 negative reps at a time. You can have too much awesome!

Do not do negative deadlifts! Think about it…it won’t end well.


– Casey

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