Training

Grow Any Body Part Using Negative Reps

Grow Any Body Part Using Negative Reps

There are two parts to a weightlifting movement – the positive and the negative. 90% of gym-goers focuses on the push/pull or the positive portion of the movement when you’re actually lifting the weight, rather than the negative portion of the lift when you’re lowering the weight back to the starting position.

Incorporating and focusing on the negative portion of the lift will not only relate to better form but will also equate to greater muscle mass by placing more tension on the muscle by using less weight. This will ensure you’re getting the form down correctly and avoiding injury as well as prolonging your lifting career by taking stress off joints from heavy lifts.


Back: Wide Grip Pulldowns

To develop a thick, wide back the pull-up is one of the greatest exercises to do so. Since we’ll be focusing on the negative portion of the movement though, it is much harder to perform pull-ups with this type of rep tempo so we will substitute the wide grip pulldowns in here. Lighten the weight if need be to hit the desired number of reps while maintaining impeccable form and concentrating on moving the weight with your back muscles rather than your arms.

negative reps

  • Place hands just about as wide as possible on lat pulldown machine bar
  • Retract shoulder blades and keep torso tall, pulling the bar down just under your throat
  • Squeeze at the bottom of the movement and slowly lower the weight back up to the top of the movement

Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15

Tempo: 1 second positive/1 second squeeze/4 second negative

Top Tip: Using straps will save you on this lift and keep you going strong when back muscles may not necessarily be completely exhausted but grip strength is starting to go.


Chest: Incline Flyes

With chest being a weak point on so many people, especially the upper chest, the incline fly will have your chest pumped to the max! Concentrate more on the motion of slowly lowering the weight, keeping your elbow angle the same throughout the movement and the squeeze and contraction of the upper chest. Follow these guidelines rather than worrying about the numbers on the side of the dumbbells and you’ll be growing faster than you thought possible.

negative reps

  • Set up incline bench at a 45 degree angle and rather than sitting on seat, stand up more and have back resting on pad with upper back/shoulders off the bench
  • Start with weight straight up in the air directly over your face and slowly lower the weight out to the side slowly
  • Squeeze the weight back up to the top keeping your shoulders back and pressing through with your chest only and finish like you’re hugging a barrel

Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15

Tempo: 1 second positive/1 second squeeze/4 second negative


Shoulders: DB Shoulder Press

negative repsFor those of you struggling to make a mind-muscle connection with the deltoids, lightening the weight and slowing down the movement will make all the difference in the world and should solve your problem. Keep the traps out of the pressing movement and force yourself to only use the front and medial delts to move the weight up. Get a full stretch and a full contraction on each rep to ensure your range of motion is as big as possible.

  • Set up bench to have pad inclined at 90 degrees and start with weight up at your shoulders
  • Keeping your shoulder blades pinned back and down, press the weight up to the top but stopping just short of locking out
  • Slowly lower the weight back down to about your chin then repeat

Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15

Tempo: 1 second positive/1 second squeeze/4 second negative

Top Tip: Breathing is essential when lifting, especially when focusing on such a long negative. Take a deep breath in when pressing the weight up to the top then try to breathe out during the entire 4 second negative. This will help with overall blood flow throughout all your lifts to your brain and to your muscles being worked.


Legs: Leg Press Machine

Legs seem to be something everyone seems to hate working out in the gym, so I’m not going to sugar coat it- leg presses with a load that’s heavy enough to get you to failure with 4 second negatives will be horrendous. They will burn like a burn you’ve never felt before but push through it and reap the rewards of supercharging your quads and hamstrings into major growth.

negative reps

  • Set up leg press where beginning position has knees slightly below 90 degrees to ensure proper range of motion
  • Press the weight through your heels and squeeze your quads just short of locking out
  • Slowly lower the weight back down to starting position and repeat for required reps

Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15

Tempo: 1 second positive/1 second squeeze/4 second negative


Biceps: Incline DB Bicep Curl

negative repsGet the shirt-busting biceps you’ve always dreamed by lightening the weight and controlling the movement like never before. Keep your back flat up against the bench to take all of the swing and momentum out of the movement as well as the front deltoids and traps that tend to come in to play with heavier weight.

  • Set up bench at a 45 degree angle and keep your arms straight down to your side with dumbbells in each hand
  • Keeping your shoulders back and top part of your arms in locked position, curl the weight up to the top and flare your pinkies at the top to ensure to work the peak of bicep
  • Lower the weight back down to starting position but maintain constant tension even while at the very bottom

Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15

Tempo: 1 second positive/1 second squeeze/4 second negative


Triceps: Triceps Pushdown

negative repsA great overall muscle builder for back of the arms is the triceps pushdown but lifting too much weight on this can cause one to incorporate other muscle groups like the traps and especially the front delts. Keep your mid/lower traps working hard by keeping your shoulders back and focus on moving the weight with just your triceps during the positive, the squeeze and the negative.

  • Set up high cable machine with short bar and hand about 6 inches apart
  • Press the weight down and squeeze the triceps just before your elbows are locked out
  • Slowly lower the weight back up to the top and get as full of a stretch as possible

Sets and Reps: 4 x 12-15

Tempo: 1 second positive/1 second squeeze/4 second negative

Top Tip: Change up your hand placement (closer or wider) to hit a little bit different areas of the triceps. Also try to use and underhand grip to work more of the long head of the triceps.


Take-Home Message

Although the motion of pushing or pulling the weight through the primary part of the movement is very important, amplifying the amount of stress you put on the muscle by concentrating will also lead to larger muscle gains. Forget about the weight you’re lifting and only be concerned about hitting the rep range you’re required to fail at and squeezing the muscle as hard as possible. Slow things down and grow with best of them.



Tyler Stark

Tyler Stark

Writer and expert


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