Looking for quick results from your workout routine? As it turns out, there may be a very simple thing you can do which will revolutionize your workout, and no, you don’t have to buy a thing.
The truth is, some workouts can grow stale after a while. Your muscles can get used to the activities you are doing, and you can hit one of those dreaded plateaus. There are lots of different theories about how to break through a plateau, and most of them involve completely changing up your workout, which is not always feasible.
This trick lets you stick with your normal workout. Really!
What’s the Secret?
Each strength training repetition has two phases: positive, and negative. Picture doing a basic bicep dumbbell curl. The part of the repetition that brings the weight up is the positive, and the lowering portion is the negative.
Now, if you are like most people, all of the emphasis is on the positive half of your repetitions. Whether they be sit-ups, push-ups, curls, squats, or pull-ups, the positive is seen as the “point” of the exercise, while the negative is simply a means of resetting to a neutral position.
But it seems we may have been thinking about this all wrong.
Many trainers are now recommending that you put the emphasis on the negative aspect of your repetitions to supercharge your workout and begin seeing great results very quickly.
Let’s go back to that bicep curl. Begin by completing the positive motion and curling the weight up toward your shoulder as you normally would. However, instead of simply straightening your arm out again, count to 20 as you slowly lower the weight back down to your starting position.
Feel that burn? That’s what we’re going for.
Why Does This Work?
There are a few reasons this works so well. First off, by focusing on the negative as much as you focus on the positive, you are essentially doing twice the workout in the same number of moves. Perhaps a better way to look at it is that we have all been doing half a workout this whole time, and are now beginning to complete a full version.
Another reason this works is because the negative side of the repetition tends to require a lot of stabilizing and rebalancing. In order to do this, your body engages smaller auxiliary muscles all around the large muscle groups to make sure this move is performed properly.
So, while the positive side of the rep works the targeted muscle group, the negative side works the auxiliary muscles all around that muscle group. When muscles that have not been worked before suddenly join in on the fun, the results you see can be dramatic.
Which Exercises Can I Do “Negatively”?
Pretty much anything that involves bodyweight, free weights, or weight machines (where appropriate.) If you are just beginning to focus on the negative side of your repetitions, begin with a lower weight than you are used to.
This will give you a chance to feel out the exercise, as well as concentrate on your form without causing injury. You may be able to squat 200 pounds, but when your squat is lasting four times as long as it normally does, 200 pounds may get to be too heavy. So go slow.
Another thing to remember is that negative repetitions do not need to be done as many times as positive repetitions. If you want to structure a workout around negative repetitions, you can do three push-ups instead of 20, because each push-up will last about 40 seconds, and your muscles will be engaged the whole time.
As with any new workout routine, approach this one in a smart way. Less weight, fewer reps, and more focus on your form to start with. You can begin adding weight and intensity later. However, adding in some negative repetitions to your current workout routine can break through any plateau, and enable you to achieve the kind of gains you’ve been chasing.