Eccentric?! Negative?! What?! Yes, you heard me right. Next time you’re working at strength gains, try eccentric/negative reps.
What is an eccentric/negative rep? First, it helps to know the three phases of movement. positive, static, and negative. Positive movement would be curling a dumbbell up to your chest (contracting the muscle), static would be holding the weight to your chest, and negative movement is when you lower the dumbbell to the starting position.
So, to do negative reps versus the positive reps we're all used to, you load more weight than you can lift (with the help of spotters of course) and then resist the downward motion of the weight and lower it as slow as you can. So for a bench press, you would have the spotters help you raise the too-heavy weight into position and then you would use all your strength to try and keep the weight from lowering to your chest (don’t lock your elbows!). Or, with pullups, you would get into position with your chin above the bar using a chair or step, then hang in that position for as long as you can, slowly lowering yourself to a straight arm hang.
This is a great technique to gain the strength to finally be able to do a pull-up. Each week, practice your negative pull-up reps and in no time you’ll be doing full on pull-ups!
Photo by Dan Phiffer