Negatives Info Part2

by Lyle McDonald

Hi. This is the second part of a two (or three) part essay on negatives
and their implications for the exercise enthusiast and competitive
athlete. Last time I talked about some of why negatives seem to be
very imprtant for muscular growth. This time I will start with some
real world application of this and (hopefully) segueway into a discussion
of power training.

Although the mnechanisms of muscle growth have not been totally elucidated,
recent research, as we saw last time, seems to point the finger at the
negative, or eccentric, portion of the movement as the primary catalyst for
muscle growth due to the amount of muscular damage caused by negatives.
Well, that's all well and good in the lab, but, as we know, what the
researchers think and what happens in the real world are frequently not
the same.

Well, for a good example of negative+positive versus postive only athletes,
we can examine Olympic style lifters and compare them to bodybuilders.
Olympic lifters perform almost exclusively positive only movements.
This sport requires extremely explosive strength requiring the athlete to
move a very heavy weight quickly from the floor to either the chest or above
the head. The weight is then dropped with no negative being performed. This
occurs both in training as well as in competition.

Bodybuilders, on the other hand, tend to stick with "traditional" weight
training performing both positive and negative movements. Well, if you
compare similar weight bodybuilders to Olympic lifters, you will notice that
the bodybuilders have a much larger amount of muscular mass then the Olympic
lifters . Presumably, this is due to the lack of negatives in the Olympic
training. There are other differences in training as well which I will address

So, as a real world example, we can see that, as far as maximum growth
is concerned, the negatives play a huge role in the development of muscular

But, how do you incorporate negatie movements into your workout regimen??
Well, for the beginner and intermediate exerciser, it is probably sufficient
to make sure and do the negative at the end of the repitition. Rather than
the weight flow down, control the lengthening of the muscle to somewhat
emphasize the negative. Generally, a 2 second postive is recommended followed
by a four second negative. This is a good general guideline to follow in the
beginning. More advanced bodybuilders may opt to include negatives at the
end of a set of normal repititions. Recall that positive strength is always
less than negative and your muscle will be able to perform negative only
movements even after positive strength is exhausted. Normally, a spotter (or
momentum) is used to raise the weight again so that more negatives can
be performed. In a biceps curl, after you had reached postive failure, you
would either have your spotter raise the bar/weight up so that you could
lower it down slowly. Alternately, you could cheat curl the weight to your
chest if you are working out alone. Also recall that negatives are responsible
for the majority of post workout soreness and that the should be moderated

Finally, let me say a word about some of the home exercisers out there. From
time to time, you may see a machine offering soreness-free exercise. Well, this
is due to the lack of a negative movement. But, although you may not get sore,
you will also probably not reach your full muscular development if that is what
you desire.

As this is getting long, I will continue into a third part and address the other
differences between the training of Olympic lifters and bodybuilders and
the applications for exercisers. For a catalog of old articles, send requests
to lyle… along with comments and questions.


source: newsgroup, 19 Jan 94.

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