Did you know that the ‘negative’ part of an exercise is more powerful than the positive movement but it is actually easier to perform?
Muscles work by shortening or lengthening to move your body to where you want it to go. Muscles can actually manage more weight on the lengthening movement, than they can on the shortening movement. In fact they can move a whopping 30% more which is quite a big amount and could mean the difference between being able to complete an exercise or not.
Negative training, also known as eccentric training, involves loading a weight movement in only the ‘down’ or muscle-lengthening phase.
Say you want to do press-ups, but you can’t manage it. Negative training is a way to help build your strength so you can benefit from press-ups.
If you are attempting a press-up, the raising-up movement is the shortening movement (where your triceps at the back of your arms shorten to straighten your arms), and lowering yourself is the lengthening movement, where your triceps lengthen to bend your arms.
So to perform a ‘negative’ press-up you would start with your arms extended and your weight in the top position. Lower yourself in a controlled movement to the bottom position of the exercise. This should be easier than trying to raise yourself up. If you want to do another one, you will need to get yourself back into the start position to begin the lowering phase again.
This principle works for any of the muscle training exercises we do in the Monday boot-camp class. Another example is squats. The lowering part is the negative phase, and is therefore easier than the standing back up part. If you find that you can lower but not raise yourself back up, try holding on to something or someone to help you with the raising part, and practice the lowering part to strengthen your quadriceps (thigh muscles).
By practising these negative movements, you will strengthen the muscles and you will then be able to manage both the negative and the positive movements to perform the complete exercise. It’s worth persevering for the sculpted-body results that you want.