To begin, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best in the coming year. I'd also like to thank all of you for taking the time to read my stuff and for all the positive comments I have received. It's nice to know that there are everyday gym rats and professional bodybuilders out there reading my articles. I'd also like to thank RxMuscle.com, Dave Palumbo and Jeff Pearce for providing me with a conduit to express myself. Dave has given me a forum in which to write and supported me immensely over the past year; I appreciate it. Jeff has gone over each of my articles, tirelessly and painstakingly working his magic; it wouldn't be what it is without him. Everyone has been so positive in response to me on Rx Muscle; it truly sets our community apart from other bodybuilding websites out there. We're a community, not just a forum. In 2012, as long as the world doesn't end, I have a lot of things in development that should be great. I have a well-stocked stable of bodybuilders getting ready for a litany of shows, I am training hard and getting progressively heavier as my shoulder rehab finishes up and I will be launching my website shortly.
Dealing with a bum left shoulder, I have had to utilize a variety of different training techniques to be able to train effectively. Gone are the days of ridiculous poundages and stupid lifts; the present and future is all about technique and form. This week, it is my intention to get down on some negatives. I was first reintroduced to negatives when I began rehabbing my shoulder. In my humble opinion, the negative portion of the rep is the most important part to really control. In the negative portion of the rep, you're building up power as you use the stabilizers to get ready to explode out of the hole. I feel strongly that in all exercises, the negative portion of the rep should take twice as long as the positive. I like building up the tension in the negative and then exploding on the positive for every rep. If you aren't focusing on the negative portion of reps, you are really missing out; you probably won't get as good of a contraction as you could be getting. There is certainly an increased mind to muscle connection when you focus on negatives and as a result, much more control.
There are a few ways that negatives can be used to increase intensity or carry a set beyond failure. It seems as though your contractile strength will always reach failure before your negative strength in a particular muscle. One way to use negatives to carry your training to new levels of intensity is continue a set with negatives (with the help of a training partner/spotter) once you have reached failure on a regular set. For instance, imagine yourself executing incline smith machine presses. Once you have reached failure, your spotter will take over the positive portion of the lift to allow you to force out a few more negative portions of the rep. While you are doing the negative portion of the rep, it should be controlled, deliberate and slow. Depending on the individual, you could do any number of these kinds of reps; just go until you have reached failure for the negative portion of the rep. A personal recommendation to you is that you should always keep safety in mind for this kind of technique; utilize a smith machine. There are literally hundreds of other exercises this technique is good for, here is a couple:
* Barbell/Preacher/Machine Curls
* Military Press or Smith Shoulder Press
* Lat Pulldown (any variation or grip)
* Triceps Pushdown (Single arm, rope, bar, whatever)
* Leg Press/Hack Squat
* Leg Extension/Ham Curl
Another great technique is forced negatives. A good way to demonstrate this is on leg extensions with a training partner. First, you do your normal straight set and finish with a few forced reps. Then, your training partner helps you into the fully extended position where you hold the contraction. At this point, you try to resist as your partner pushes down. After that, you repeat until you can no longer resist the negative from him pushing down. If you're having trouble with your quads or if you just want to spice things up a little, this is a great way to set those bad boys on fire. A note of caution, forced negative with the wrong training partner or with the wrong exercise can be not only problematic, but flat out dangerous. Imagine you are doing bench press and you have a guy who's just a little too enthusiastic. He's pushing down on the negative and you're resisting and doing a good job, next thing you know, this guy is using all of his weight and you're decapitated. Not a good day. Just keep safety in mind, as you should always, and only do these in safe situations with people you can trust.
Tomorrow, when you are in the gym, make an effort to incorporate negatives into your workout. Focus on the negative portion of all your reps and really try to bring out a deeper mind to muscle connection. As Lee Haney said, "Stimulate; don't annihilate". This is one circumstance in life where being negative will actually be a good thing.
All articles by Greg Kovacs have been edited and arranged by Jeff Pearce since April 2011. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions e-mail him at [email protected]