Negative Reps : The Most Positive ‘Negative’ Thing Out There!
Are negative reps one of those buzz words floating around the gym, or is it a term that actually has some substance? Well, provided it’s used in the correct context and with a bit of understanding, negative reps could prove to be a highly beneficial method of shocking your body into growth.
What are negative reps?
The term ‘negative rep’ refers to an exercise movement resulting in an eccentric muscle contraction whereby the muscle contracts whilst lengthening. An example of a negative rep is the return movement to your chest during a bench press.
The muscle is worked during all phases of a lift/press etc, meaning you perform a concentric, eccentric and in some instances an isometric contraction. So if the muscle is stressed during both the press and return movement of a bench press, then why not emphasise both. We give it our all when we press up, but often just do enough when we lower the bar to the chest, or return the bar to the start point during the lat pull down (for example).
The term ‘training to failure’ is also used a lot, but do we really do it if we don’t perform negative reps? When you’re next performing an exercise such as the bench press, recruit a spotter and have them support you until absolute failure i.e. the point that you can’t physically get the weight up any more. At this point of the set, have them physically pull the bar to the top of the movement (with you supporting of course), they then allow you to take the strain, and the spotter supports you as you lower the weight back down to your chest, once at the bottom of the movement have them repeat the movement for another 1-2 times.
Your muscle is at its strongest during the concentric contraction phase of a movement, this is because the muscle is compact and shortening meaning you can actually go on for longer during a set, despite not being able to perform the positive (press) movement of the bench press (for example).