For the newbies to the exercise world using the term ‘negatives’ typically is associated with things like muscle soreness and 6:00 am workouts. The term negative however refers to the lowering phase or eccentric part of the weight training.
Setting up programs I take into consideration a person’s goals, preferences, history, limitations and time availability. Some clients I train love exercise variations. They need constant change to stay mentally and physically engaged. They get excited seeing new movements added. Others feel very content and their preference is to stay with similar routines. I get it. There is a sense of safety and security with the familiar.
This is where I find myself juggling a clients goals and progression. Most people will have their personal favorites when it comes to choice of exercise. Changing the routine may be what they need but changing it can push them away from exercise if they are not ready. Sometimes it can be a fine line.
For those clients who feel the need to stay with the same program for extended periods I make subtle changes that involve the same exercise but with a twist – of sorts.
Two and One’s
Two and One’s are a great way to introduce negative weight training into the program. Maybe not new to some of you but if you haven’t tried them then it’s time to start.
One of the reasons they are effective is that you are able to challenge your body with overload without the normal risks that are associated with lifting heavier.
Let me explain a little.
If you break down the lifting of weights you can put it into at least two phases. The lifting phase and the lowering phase. Also known as the concentric and eccentric phase. The concentric is the lifting or the contracting part and the lowering is the eccentric (negative) part where the muscles are lengthening.
The body is stronger on the eccentric phase. The research has shown about 1.75 times stronger when compared to the concentric phase.
It seems a very smart design for the body to work that way because if an object is too heavy to lift (concentric) then the body can’t pick it up.. However, if it happens an object is placed or lands in a person’s hands then lowering to the ground or floor is done with less risk of injury because of the additional strength in that phase.
How do you incorporate this into your program?
Obviously if you are lifting and lowering or pushing and pulling you are getting a negative phase in your training. I’m not going to go into detail on tempo here but as long as the resistance is moved at a moderate tempo then you will get benefits of eccentric training.
This leads us to the exercise variation of the 2 and 1’s I mentioned. These are a great way to overload the body with heavier resistance without the risks of heavy lifting.
2 and 1 Pullups (Negatives)
With the movement below you can see the female ( Hella) starting at the bottom position then pulling herself up with both arms. From there she then gives slack to one arm and lowers herself with the other arm. She then repeats and alternates to the other side on the next rep. The main objective is to lower with one side only. Try to maintain the same tempo you would with two arms and you can even slow down the eccentric (lowering) phase a smidge. Start with 6-8 reps per side and go from there. Make sure you read my article on breathing and pulling exercise.
2 and 1 LandMine Press (Negatives)
With the Landmine press below you should take a weight that is a little too heavy to press with one arm. You start by pressing up with 2 arms and then lower with one arm. Make sure to control the descent of the bar with the single arm. Again alternate arms initailly.
2 and 1 pulldowns (Negatives)
With the 2 and 1 pulldown I would recommend the V bar shown in pics. This exercise you would use the same weight you would use with two arms but the negative phase is now overloaded because of single arm. Start set at bottom position then release one hand and slowly reach with other arm. You may not get to full extension but try your best to go far as you can while keeping in mind you will need to grab it with the other hand.
These exercise variations are manageable even for the beginner exerciser.
1. Move the weight in a controlled speed
2. The last rep needs to look like the first rep
3. Alternating sides would be first variation
If you are unsure of your form then record it and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll assess free of charge.