What are Negative Reps and How a Forced Super Slow Workout Can Help Your Training


You might have asked yourself, “What are negative reps?” Or perhaps you have never even heard of them. Either way you have been missing out on a very valuable technique to have in your workout arsenal.

What are Negative Reps and Super Slow Workouts ?

A negative repetition by definition is when you perform the eccentric portion of motion at a slower speed. For example when you do a bicep curl, the actual lifting or curling of the weight is the concentric portion of work; but when you lower the weight that is the eccentric motion. It is a very strict and controlled movement. The technique itself is considered to be ‘high-intensity’ because of the muscle strain created.

Why Use Them?

Your body will naturally adapt to stress placed on it. This is one of the greatest things about ourselves. If you find new ways to push yourself then your body will respond by becoming stronger. Negative reps fall under that category. But, since they are so traumatic to muscles it is a technique that you might want to be using sparingly such as once or twice a week.

Super Slow Training and Negative Repetitions: What Makes Them Effective?

Typically your muscles can handle a heavier amount of weight during the eccentric portion of a lift. Because of this, many strength athletes and bodybuilders have used them for years. Research has pointed that much of the muscle growth occurs as a result of the negative portion of a rep. Even though your body uses fewer muscle fibers, those fibers are strained harder due to the controlled pace. In the example of bicep curls, you can’t drop the weight after a rep. It must be lowered in a controlled fashion.

Why Aren’t They More Common?

The main reason more people don’t use them is because you always need a training partner or two. Generally you are using a heavier weight than you can normally lift so you need someone to handle moving the weight with you through the concentric range of motion. Then you always want that person to spot you on the slower eccentric motion. As many people don’t have training partners this makes doing them almost impossible by yourself as well as dangerous.

How to Do a Negative Rep and a Super Slow Workout

Simple put you can take most any exercise and add an extra 10-20% weight that you would normally use for 6 to 8 repetitions. For curls, your spotter helps you lift the weight to the top of the curl and then you slowly lower the weight going from top to bottom in 3 to 6 seconds. The spotter is on hand to help with the weight when your muscles give out.

Common Negative Rep Exercises

  • Bench Press (all varieties)
  • Bicep Barbell Curls
  • Tricep Barbell Extensions
  • Dips (with or without weight)
  • Pull-ups (with or without weight)
  • Negative Reps Without a Partner

    Can you get a negative workout by yourself? The simple answer is yes. While you won’t be able to safely handle more weight you can still stress the negative portion of a range of motion rather simply. The idea is to double the time it takes to lower a weight rather than raise it. This way the eccentric portion of motion gets twice the work. While the weight is not heavier, after doing a few reps this way it sure will feel like it is!

    Honestly, negative reps aren’t for everyone. They can cause a lot of muscle fiber tearing (which equals growth) and some people shy away from that ‘really sore’ feeling. But they are a valuable tool to have in your arsenal when working out. They best way to keep your training exciting and productive is to mix it up once in a while and throw a curve ball that your body has to adapt too. Negative reps will definitely do that.

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