Most of us get turned off when we’re around negative people (unless you enjoy that misery loves company sort of thing!). The negatives that I’ll be referring to is in regards to exercise, specifically resistance training. Another term that has been used in place of negatives is ECCENTRICS. Now if you were a physical therapist or exercise physiologist you’d be familiar with ECCENTRICS but to make it easy for you, it just means the lowering portion after when you lift a weight. Think of a pull up but after you pull your chin over the bar you have to come back down an lower yourself–that’s the negative. I don’t have to remind you what’s the hard part about doing pull ups but I will. It’s when you have to pull your chin up and over the bar, lowering yourself is the easy part. Test this out yourself, try lowering yourself from when your chin is over the bar until your arms straighten out in 10 seconds. Now try and pull yourself back up to get your chin over the bar in 10 seconds. Which direction was more difficult? BTW, we can lower about 40% more weight than we can lift.
A recent book that was published last year by Hans Hoppeler titled, “Eccentric Exercise – Physiology and application in sport and rehabilitation documents the many benefits of eccentric exercise in regards to building strength. Eccentric muscle contraction, during which a muscle lengthens while under tension, is a fundamental process of human movement but a surprisingly under-researched area of exercise science. Evidence suggests that training programmes which incorporate both eccentric and concentric contractions can result in greater strength gains than concentric contractions alone, and this clearly has important implications for training and rehabilitation in sport and health.
Eccentric, negative-only training is completely safe as long as the right dose is applied and you get adequate rest in between your workouts. If you have the luxury of working with a negative-only specialist, they will make sure that your exercise form is correct, give you the right dose and make sure that you don’t over train!