We typically put a lot of emphasis on the lifting portion of our exercises. Most of the time we’re worried about the concentric phase of the exercise, or the part where you’re doing the muscle’s primary function (think pushing the bar up on a bench press). And that’s great — after all, if you can’t do the actual pushing movement on the bench, you’d get pinned, and that’s a problem — but muscle gain doesn’t stop with just the concentric part of the lift.
You also have to focus on the eccentric part of the movement, or the lowering of the weight, in most cases. So say you’ve just pressed that weight up off the bench — now, as you lower it, that is the eccentric, or NEGATIVE, part of the exercise. And it’s very important. Because while your muscle fibers are lengthening as they go back away from their contracted state, they’re doing so under resistance tension, meaning they will break down faster, and that’s what we’re after in the first place.
This week’s Workout of the Week isn’t so much a full-length program as much as it is a way to add some intensity and effectiveness to your lifting sessions. But with a greater focus on the negative portion of your lifts, you’ll be able to see big results from a relatively small change.
Particularly good if you haven’t gotten quite the intensity you wanted from a session, this is a good method for making sure you leave the gym having gotten your money’s worth.
Negative Burnouts are a mini-set added on to the end of the last exercise you’ve done for a given muscle group. Say, for example, you’re doing biceps, and you’ve just finished off your third different exercise. A great way to get even more out of your workout is to tack on Negative Burnouts — you’re done with the concentric part of the lift. But you can still get some amazing burn out of some negatives. Here’s how:
Immediately after your last set, have a spotter “reset” the weight at the TOP of the lift (or, if you don’t have a spotter, use single dumbbell curls, and use your free hand to assist the dumbbell up). Then, simply focus on SLOWLY lowering the weight. Try to hit three different checkpoints on the way down, holding the weight there for three full seconds before lowering it to the next one.
Each complete eccentric movement is one rep; do three sets of 5-7, and you will be sure to be leaving the gym with your muscles on fire!