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 Negative training

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Join date : 2009-07-26
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PostSubject: Negative training   Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:31 am

I wrote an email to a guy who asked about negatives - I thought it might be interesting to share....so here it is:


In the past negatives have been done extensively. Guys like Arthur Jones experimented with them quite a bit, even further back Bob Hoffman tried them with his O-lifters back in the day.
The major drawback is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) & also time. Even with a few spotters it takes longer to do the same amount of work using negative alone (bear in mind you do no concentric work, so you'd need more reps to move the same total poundage). Also if you are training alone or have to help with the reloading of the bar this means big breaks between reps. Along with a slower work pace you have a slower recovery, so expect long breaks between sessions as the muscles will be in some pain for a few days (obviously everyone is different & you might not get DOMS, but chances are using this protocol you will). Also bear in mind DOMS do not signal a better workout, this is a myth, many of the biggest strongest guys never get DOMS, it doesn't mean anything in terms of the success of a workout & how that compares to another system that doesn't cause DOMS.
I've found some exercises suit themselves to negatives. Chins, for weaker ladies & guys (or people wanting to up their rep count). I've found it easier to use negatives than either pulldowns or assisted chins. As long as a person can lower themselves with some sort of control then using negative chins will get a person to a full chin faster than any other method I've found, for the guy wanting to add more reps finishing a set with negative adds enough extra stimulus to allow more reps as part of an overall pulling routine, also guys wanting to lift a max one rep on the chin for something (like the RKC
"Beast Challenge" for example) might find hitting heavy negatives useful for a short cycle. Dips also suit this sort of training as you can use your legs to assist the concentric phase. Other exercises are leg curls (lift with 2 legs, lower with one, swap legs each rep), leg extension (lift with 2 legs, lower with one, swap legs each rep). Some exercises don't work in my view deadlifts are the obvious one that springs to mind, squats are 'possible' with a few spotters, but I wouldn't recommend it, I'd tend towards partials, or even isometrics over a negative although I have done them in the past it's so easy to slip out of good form & end up with an injury. There are also compromise exercises that aren't quite true negatives, but near enough, the obvious being a push-press or jerk, then a strict lowering of a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell. You can use use negatives as either a stand alone training protocol, that is you pick a weight of approx 110% your max for that move & do a set or you can add them to the end of a normal set using less weight than a pure negative set. The vital factor for either is GOOD FORM, you push on using bad form & you might as well book into your doctors right now as an injury will happen!
Final note is I wouldn't do a flat bench, most people I know who've had pec tears have torn it on the negative phase of the move (or just at turn around), if you must bench using negative at least take the bench off the flat as this seems to lessen the risk somewhat (remember you can't lift as much on an incline so don't calculate you're negative based on a flat bench).
My rules for using negatives are:
1/ Do not do it for everything - you won't recover
2/ Be 100% focussed on tight form using that much weight increases the chances of injury
3/ Keep an eye out for compensation that my precede an injury, ANY body signals telling you to stop then listen as a muscle tear or other injury is going to stop you lifting (possibly forever!)
4/ For 90% of negatives you need at least 2 spotters so they can take the weight the moment form fails, no spotters, no negatives!
5/ Use negatives for relatively short cycles 4-6 weeks would be my max (you can swap body parts, like do a negative chin for 4 weeks, then maybe a negative leg curl for 4 weeks, back to back without issue).
6/ I never use more than one exercise at a time for negatives, so a client can fully recover & not be driven into overtraining.
7/ Expect a workout to be longer
8/ Expect severe soreness (it may not be bad, but it normally is)

Well that's my thoughts about negatives off the top of my head. I'm sure I've missed out a few points, but I think that about covers my basic ideas.

I found this with a quick search - in my view the first one is crazy, it's an injury waiting to happen. The second one I'd choose an incline & it would be easier if you could find 2 boxes & deadlift it up in my view - although I don't agree with doing negatives alone for the bench if the form starts to fail you are less likely to drop a bar, even with safety bars - think about it a huge weight above your chest & you just dropping it? You'll be more likely to try & finish, whereas say a negative shoulder press with a barbell (using bumper plates), you'll be fine about dumping in front of you, or a dip or chin just put your feet down. Third one seems fine. Pick truly safe options if you choose to do negatives alone, if you can't self spot on a move (like the bench) then don't do it alone, for a bench you need 2 spotters as it's the bodies natural instinct not to drop a weight onto yourself (even with bars to protect you).
I'd use negatives for a specific goal only really, If someone wants a chin, then there you go, negatives will help. If you want to do the 'beast challenge' then ok, using negatives on the chins will help, as will negative in the pistol (another move you can self spot if you do them in a rack, or even a doorway at home - dumping the weight, then grabbing the supports is easy enough), even the press can be practised by jerking, push-pressing or even snatching the kettlebell up there & slow lowering the weight. So, yea I'd save these for goals, they're a good technique to add when you have something to aim at & the drive to really hammer them.
Final thing. Negatives are hard, you'll need to think about nutrition & recovery. Don't do them if you are in a stressful situation (work, home etc). I'd also think carefully about food, not just total calories, but increasing stuff like green leafy vegetables (full of stuff you need for muscle growth & totally underrated!) & get more rest (so no partying & no excessive drinking). I might even cut down/cut out on stimulants outside of training (some people need something for a workout that is up to you) as your CNS will need extra recovery & stimulants 'rob' the nerves of energy they need to recover.
Right that's it, hopefully that's been of some use to you?

What are your thoughts/experiences with negative training?
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