Have you ever heard someone mention “training the negative”? It sounds, somehow, wrong doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we focus on the positive things in life? Absolutely!!! HOWEVER, in this case we aren’t referring to the happy or sad things in life, but rather the way our muscles function when placed under a load (e.g. gravity, body weight, or free weights).
When you are doing a weight training exercise, think about your 2 movements-up and then down, or in and then out. One of these directions is harder and one is easier, correct?
The harder motion is referred to as concentric (or the positive contraction) while the easier motion is referred to as eccentric (or, you guessed it, the NEGATIVE contraction). Because concentric is harder, we sometimes tend to focus on it more, and once we are done that harder movement, think “whew, glad that’s over” and then just let the weights drop. Two things have happened here. The first, you have likely just made a very loud crash in the weight room and second, you have just missed a huge training opportunity!!!
How? Our muscles are stronger eccentrically since we are fighting gravity’s resistance all day long. But that doesn’t mean that we should let our muscles “get away with” not working eccentrically (i.e. drop the weights) instead, SLOW IT DOWN!!! Move through that eccentric (negative) phase for perhaps a count of 2, 4, 8 or if you are really daring (and have been doing it for a little while) even 16 seconds! The result? A huge increase in training adaptations (i.e. better results!!) Who doesn’t love that??? And, our gym floors will thank you!!
A safety note-eccentric training is a very high intensity activity. Start slowly! Move through that motion for 2 seconds and then a week or so later, 4 seconds etc.
Train the negative (progressing slowly!) and see great results!