Use Negative Training To Build More Mass and Strength

May 17, 2022

Have you been looking for a new way to switch your workout routine, increasing the intensity and variety of your exercises will help build muscle? Negatives are often overlooked in building strength and muscle… but when they offer great benefits, why do so many people pass on them?

Knowing what negative training is can help you understand how to use it within your workouts. Negatives using the Eccentric phase of the lift and traditionally overload the weight. 

There Are Three Phases of an exercise movement:

Concentric – When you squeeze your muscles. Think of when you curl up a dumbbell.

Static – Holding the weight but not moving and bracing against yourself with the weight. You’ll see people holding a dumbbell at 90 degrees with one arm and curling with the other. The arm holding the dumbbell is a static hold.

Eccentric – When the muscles lengthen under the load, extend. This would be when you are lowering the dumbbell during a curl.

Almost every exercise has these three phases, but we will focus on the eccentric or negative phase in this article.

Your Strength Varies Over Each Of The Three Phases

The amount of weight that you can list or handle varies during each phase of the exercises. You put 135 pounds on the barbell for the bench press; how many reps could you do? 10, 20, more? Now, once you no longer can press the weight off your chest, could you hold it halfway up for a short time? Lastly, could you lower the weight slowly? You probably could do all of the thoughts, showing how each type of muscle contraction is different. 

We started off pressing the barbell up; this is a concentric contraction and is a type of muscle activation that causes tension on your muscle as it shortens. This tension creates enough force to move an object. Next, we hold the barbell halfway up. This is a static hold, a motionless exercise, and involves muscles exerting movement without the joints and ligaments moving far. Last, when the barbell goes down slowly, an eccentric or lengthening muscle contraction occurs to apply force to the muscle that exceeds the force that the muscle can produce itself. This results in the forced lengthening of the muscle-tendon system while contracting.

You are up to 1.75 times as strong during the eccentric phase of any lift as you are during the concentric phase. And you can hold a weight in a static hold longer than you could do concentric reputations with.

How Does Training Negatives Work?

Remember, using negatives within your training is just one of many tools when approaching your muscle-building goals. Like any other exercise technique, the negatives work by overloading our muscles and letting the body think it moves heavier weight on the eccentric phase.

When training negatives, you can push past your body’s safety limit and handle more weight than is typically possible. This can help when you hit a plateau and find it difficult to progress in your workouts.

There are three different styles of negative training, each of which is effective and can be used in conjunction with your current routine:

Pure Negatives

A heavy, pure-negative is just like the name suggests, only the eccentric phase of the lift. 

Negative Supersets

Just like a normal superset, but rather than changing exercises, you would simply perform negatives with the same exercises (of a different one)

Using Negatives as a Finishing Set

After a great set, you finish off your muscles with negatives at the end a set. Usually, the last two to three reps.

Negatives Done Properly Is Important

With any training, proper form is essential to get the best results. To get the most out of the negatives, you need to go slow when doing negatives. This is not your typical power production exercise. Negatives will help you get stronger and build muscle, but you need to take at least five seconds to lower the weight.

You will also want to make sure that you are training negatives in a full range of motion and the longest motion, if possible. What does this mean? If you are someone who has a huge arch on the bench, it might be best to not use your composition bench arch and let the negatives travel the full range of a bench press without the huge arch. 

Remember, Negatives are used for building muscle and are hard! they are more effective for a low rep scheme, around no more than eight reps. They are not easy and are not for every workout. Use them sparingly for the best results with them. 

Examples Exercises for Training Negatives

Negatives can be used with almost any exercise, but that does not mean they should be. A great example is squatting; you could do negative with them. However, for most lifters, this would not be the best option. 

few exercises that negatives shine well with:

  • Smith machine shoulder presses
  • Bench press
  • Bicep curls and preacher curls
  • Wide grip pull-ups – jump up and slowly lower yourself down

Why Not Only Train Negative? 

Have you heard of functional training? This does not mean the ability to jump. run, and do excellent exercises. Functional fitness training is strength training that readies your body for daily activities. 

During the day, do you ever perform an eccentric movement during everyday life? Probably not. 

Eccentric exercise is also known for causing extreme forms of muscle damage, transient muscle soreness, joint stiffness, and reduced joint range of motion (Tibor, 2003). Adding negative training into your program can be great, but only doing negative training can cause long-term problems. Too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Wrapping It Up

You can start incorporating negatives into your current routine to help build muscle. You don’t want to replace your workouts with negatives for every exercise, but these are great ways to add intensity and mix up your training.


Tibor Hortobágyi, The Positives of Negatives: Clinical Implications of Eccentric Resistance Exercise in Old Adults, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 58, Issue 5, May 2003, Pages M417–M418,

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