Focus On The Negative: Eccentric Training May Be The Missing Piece In Your Quest For Mass

A positive attitude is good for your health, business and relationships. Positive people live longer, have lower rates of disease and are generally pleasant to be around. But sometimes it pays to get negative. Negative, or eccentric, training is a very intense form of training that increases strength, power and muscle mass in a short period.

During the eccentric part of a movement, you’re 20%-40% stronger than during the concentric phase, so you can use substantially more weight during the negative. This extra weight and the tension it places on the muscle fibers activate the satellite cells that allow your muscles to grow and become stronger. Here are some general guidelines to training eccentrically:

Choose a counterbalanced machine.

Most research suggests that eccentric training is effective primarily when combined with concentric training, but because you need more resistance during the eccentric than the concentric phase, start off by using machines that allow you to lift the weight with both limbs but lower it with just one. Don’t confuse this with a unilateral machine, in which each arm or leg is independent from the other.

Appropriate equipment includes most leg-press machines and any bilateral, counterbalanced machine, most notably a Smith machine.


Load the machine with about 70% of your one-rep max. Lift the weight with both arms or legs in a controlled manner, and lower it using a four-count with only one limb, alternating sides on each eccentric. (At the top of each rep, remove the opposite hand or foot from the bar or platform completely, returning it at the bottom of the rep.) Perform 8-10 concentric reps, which will give you 4-5 negatives for each limb. Because of the intensity of the eccentrics, you’ll need to perform only 1-2 exercises for a total of 6-8 sets per bodypart.

Take long rest periods between sets (3-5 minutes) to ensure that you can handle the heavy weight for a four-count on every negative rep.

Gradually increase training frequency

Start with one session per week for the first 1-2 weeks. Then increase to 2-3 sessions per week for the remainder of the month plus another four weeks. After that, go back to regular sets to allow your body to fully recover and adapt to the intense work you’ve just completed.

Cycle bodyparts throughout the year

Focus on one bodypart in each eight-week block, alternating upper- and lower-body muscles each cycle. This allows you to focus on your eccentric training while still training other bodyparts effectively.

Excelling with eccentrics

Author: Ed McNeely
COPYRIGHT 2005 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group