When it comes to building muscle there are many things that you need to do in your training.
One of the simplest and most important is to focus on the negatives.
The negative is the lowering of the rep, also known as the eccentric. It also happens to be the part of the rep that makes you sore :).
By slowing down your negative in your reps you will target the muscle more and this will in turn help you build more muscle and strength.
How to apply this to your training for best results?
There are a few ways to improve eccentrics in your training.
1. Slow Down Your Eccentric Portion Of The Rep
I write my tempo programming like this sample tempo which will have 4 parts to a rep.
4 – 1-X- 1
4 = The Lowering (eccentric) phase, think of the lowering of a squat or bench press
1- The paused phase (think bottom of a squat or bench press)
X = The Upward (Concentric Phase) Think about the pushing up on a bench press (X means as fast as possible)
1 = The Paused/Contraction at the Top.
Read this blog post on Tempo Training.
2. Use Eccentric Reps To Overload
Using eccentric reps is a bit advanced and not for the beginning lifter, but you can over load the weight you use for 1-3 eccentrics.
This is somewhat risky as anytime you use very heavy weight you have a higher chance of injury. The focus of the sets and reps would be mainly on the eccentric.
For example let’s say you are benching 275 lbs. You would do 1-3 reps with a 5 second negative, strip off some weight and then hit some speed reps.
So it would look like this.
275 for 10 seconds lowering.
Strip off 50 lbs (25 per side) and hit another 3-5 reps.
This will over load the negative and also “trick” your nervous system with the heavier load negatives. Once you drop the weight things seem lighter and more explosive.
This is not for your beginner lifter.
Read my log post on Eccentric Hooks for more info.
3. Negatives At The End Of Your Set
This works very well but there is a fine line between pushing too hard and doing it just right.
With eccentrics at the end of your set you have no concentric strength left, but you still have a fair bit of eccentric strength left.
Lets look at the bench press.
We will say you are benching 225 for 5 reps. At the 5th rep you have no more reps left(and it’s always good to not push to a rep that you will miss).
Once you can’t get any more regular reps you would finish with negatives only.
You would then use the 225 for 1-3 negative only reps to finish off your set.
Word Of Caution : Eccentric training is a great way to build strength & muscle. Be sure to not do too many forced reps and negatives, always train hard but more importantly train SMART.