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The Power Of Negative Reps

What are negative reps?

There are two phases to any reps: the concentric phase and the eccentric phase. The concentric phase is when your muscles are shortening, For example, during a bicep curl, the concentric phase is when you bring the weight up. During the bench press, it's when your bring the bar from your chest up to the finishing position. For the squat it's when your go back up from the bottom squat position.

The eccentric phase is when the muscle lengthens. For the curl it's when you lower the bar. Same for the bench press and the squat. This phase is also called the negative phase.

Doing negative reps is when your only work the negative part of the rep.

I only recommend negative reps to advanced trainees who have a lifting partner as they require a very high amount of strength, technique and require a spotter to ensure maximum safety.

How to do them

You are 20%-30% stronger during the eccentric phase compared to the concentric phase. For this reason, you need to use a weight that is very close or even slightly higher than your 1 rep max.

An easy trick I tell people is to have your partner "assist" the negative rep by applying pressure onto the bar during the negative portion of your lift and letting you do the concentric part by yourself. This way you don't have to worry about adding and removing weights and you work with a load you are comfortable with.

You do not need to perform negative reps slower than usual.

Let's go back to our bicep curls. You would start in the regular position, curl the weight up, and on the way down (the negative part) your partner would press gently down on the bar, creating a heavier load that you would have to control down. Then you would curl the weight up by yourself and repeat.

There are a few different protocols on how many reps to do, the simplest one being 1-2 negative reps followed immediately by 3-5 regular reps.

Negatives are quite stressful on the muscles and nervous system so take at least 2 minutes rest between sets.

Only do negatives a couple times a week for no more than a month in your program.