Focusing on Negative Reps

Focusing on Negative Reps – Build the Most Muscle Every Rep

It’s all about feeling the muscle work. Just showing up to the gym and going through the motions isn’t going to produce results. You have to tear down the muscle and exhaust the muscle. One weightlifting method commonly used to ignite muscle growth as well as strength gains is negatives. In fact, some may consider negatives an old school training method, but there’s a certainty you will gain size and strength if you implement negative reps in your training.

What Are Negative Reps?

Often times I walk into the gym and see people going through their reps lightening fast. It’s as if they want to get their set done yesterday. Unless you’re training for power or a specific sport, fast reps aren’t going to be the most beneficial method for building muscle. The part of the repetion that builds the most muscle is the negative portion. This part of the rep recruits more muscle fibers and exhausts your muscles by forcing an extreme workload on them. In short, you can put on slabs of muscle using this technique. In this case, negative reps will equal positive gains.

Controlling the Weight, Not Just Lifting the Weight

I’m sure you’ve heard people say ‘hey dude, let’s hit some negatives on the last set.’ What this normally translates into, as described above, is taking several seconds lowering the weight back towards the starting position. Many do negatives with bench press, or really most any chest exercise, and these are usually performed on the last rep or two of the final set. This is indeed a great method for gaining mass and strength and you should definitely implement this in your workouts. However, I want to talk more about controlling the weight in general. In essence, this means doing a negative on every rep but not necessarily taking several seconds on each rep. This is more about feeling your muscles work rather than merely lifting weights. Anyone can go in the gym and throw around some weights but if you want to get the most out of your workouts you need to control every rep meaning focusing on the negative portion of the rep.

Now this may mean you have to drop the amount of weight a little at first but that’s ok. Again, you want to build your muscles and make them bigger, not just show up to the gym and to see how much weight you can lift. And chances are, if you’re just going through the motions you’re form is more than likely sloppy so there’s two elements going against the reason you’re in there in the first place; to build muscle. To make your muscles grow you have to work them and just lifting weights alone isn’t going to cut it. You have to feel the muscle working and completely exhaust the muscle. This is in line with the muscle overload principle. You have to overload your muscles, feed them, then rest so they can repair and grow bigger.

It’s important to note that you should train with a trusted spotter when doing any type of negative repetitions. First of all, for safety. You don’t want 315 lbs stuck on your chest with no one around to help you. But also because you want to get the most out of your workout. It’s difficult to do that without a spotter. You need someone to help you get those last couple of reps. Not to mention, having a spotter will boost your confidence and you may be able to push out more reps with more reps just knowing someone’s back there.


Remember the Reason You Go to the Gym; Remember Your Muscle Building Goals

This is a no-brainer but you have to always be conscience of why you’re hitting the weights. You want to get bigger and stronger, and build lean muscle mass. You’re not just showing up to push some weight around. As much time and effort as you put into your weight training routine, you want to get the most out of every workout, every set, and every rep. Negative training, or rather controlling the weight, is an excellent means to building muscle.

Train with Passion,

Jason Stallworth

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