Negative Training: EGYM Training Method
Negative training is a very common method used in weight training and bodybuilding in order to provide additional stimulus to muscles. It is an efficient way to tone and to grow muscle. Physiotherapists use it in rehabilitation. A very low intensity is used here to encourage the first energetic movements to be made again after injuries. If you are not using EGYM Smart Strength equipment for working out, a partner or therapist is usually required for this method.
About 5 Min.
How Exactly Does Negative Training Work?
It is important to take a look at anatomy and human physiology in order to explain negative training in an understandable manner.
Every movement consists of a concentric (positive) phase and an eccentric (negative) phase. In the former phase, you are trying to overcome (move) a force and in the latter you a trying to absorb a force (maintain a position).
To put this in everyday terms, the eccentric phase can always be generalized as braking work, as is the case when you are going down a hill, landing after a jump, or descending stairs, for example. Muscles are anatomically shortened in the concentric phase, whereas they are elongated in the eccentric phase. To illustrate this, let’s take the example of the bench press: The concentric phase involves pushing away a weight (concentric contraction); the eccentric phase is the controlled release of the weight (eccentric contraction).
In anatomical terms, muscles can exert much more force in the stretching phase (eccentric phase) than in the shortening phase. According to a study, “young healthy men were able to generate 5 to 7 times more force when straining their muscles during eccentric cycling (i.e. during pedal resistance reduction) than with concentric cycling (i.e. overcoming resistance).” (Meyer et al. 2004, p. 73)
Negative Training on EGYM Machines
EGYM has put this knowledge into practice and developed a methodology for our machines that makes the best use of negative training. Our strength machines are capable of changing the weight applied at a movement’s turning point and of automatically increasing it after the concentric phase of the movement completes. The weight is then decreased back to the initial value after the eccentric movement, which allows higher muscle fatigue to be achieved and thus a higher workout effect.
Example: Chest press
- Maximum strength: 101 kg
- Concentric load: 51 kg
- Eccentric load: 85 kg
You don’t need a workout partner to overcome the concentric phase. With the chest press, for example, you can usually effortlessly transfer the weight into the eccentric phase because the weight used in the concentric phase requires only about 50% of your maximum strength. In the eccentric phase, you then try to resist the high weight by slowing it down and guiding the weight to the starting position in a controlled manner.
Compared to conventional strength training, where the main focus is to overcome a weight, negative training is all about slowing things down.
Negative Training Is Perfect for Periodization
To make quick progress, it is best to use periodization, meaning to cycle through both methods, or in other words, to alternate “regular” and “negative” training. The different exercise specifications provide different stimuli.
Negative Training Is More Effective for Building Muscle and Increasing Maximum Strength
Significant gains in the muscle profile can be seen with the negative training method as compared with regular training. There is also major improvement in maximum strength in contrast to regular training.
Negative Training Prevents Muscle Injuries
The elastic structures of strained muscles have also been shown to absorb energy in the eccentric phase, thereby becoming more resilient in the long run. This means that negative training is particularly effective at preventing muscle injuries. Most sports-related muscle injuries occur when very high forces are briefly generated, for instance, when landing or suddenly stopping. These forces are stronger than the muscles themselves and need to be absorbed by the passive/elastic structures. Injuries occur when these muscles are not strong enough.
Negative training also improves intramuscular coordination, or in other terms, the interaction of the individual muscle fibers within the muscle. If everything is running smoothly and in a coordinated manner, then the muscle is also better prepared to withstand high forces (Meyer et al., 2004).
Do You Know Other Training Methods of EGYM?
In addition to negative training, our Smart Strength machines feature many other options to help you tackle your fitness goal.Learn More
Literature & Sources
Meyer et al. (2004). Muskelaufbau im Zentrum des kardiovaskulären Trainings. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Sportmedizin, 55 (3), 70–74.