Heavy Negatives Are Positively A Good Idea


This article will assume that you are trying to increase your strength. If you go to the gym to stay in shape, maintain your strength, or even worse, to avoid getting fat, than don’t waste your time reading this. However, if you set your goals for yourself, have an open mind and want to get bigger and stronger than read on.Negatives can be applied to any exercise to help shock your muscles. They are specifically included in the Critical Bench Program to help you increase your bench press.First lets review what exactly a negative is making sure everybody is on the same page. Using the bench press as an example let’s review a negative set. You will load the bar with a weight that is about 40 lbs heavier than your one rep max.

Maximum Lift Reference Table

The following is a chart that can be used to determine your projected maximum without performing a 1 repetition max. Some athletes “get psyched” for a maximum lift, while others get psyched out by the number 300,350, or 400. But as a rule, the chart gives a good indication of what an athlete is capable of for a single lift.

Example: The first column all the way to the left is the weight that you are using. So let’s say you use 135 lbs. If you can bench 135 lbs for 8 reps than your estimated one rep max is 167 lbs.So just slide your finger across the page and line it up with the number of times you can lift the weight. Yes you can use this chart for other lifts such as the squat as well.

  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
135 143 147 151 156 159 163 167 171 176
145 154 158 162 167 171 175 180 184 189
155 164 169 174 183 188 192 197 202 207
165 175 180 185 190 195 200 205 210 215
175 186 191 196 201 207 212 217 222 228
185 196 202 207 213 218 224 229 235 241
195 207 213 218 224 230 236 242 248 254
205 217 223 230 236 242 248 254 260 267
215 228 234 241 247 254 260 267 273 280
225 239 245 252 259 266 272 279 286 293
235 249 256 263 270 277 284 291 298 306
245 260 267 274 282 289 296 304 311 319
255 270 278 286 293 301 308 316 324 332
265 281 289 297 305 313 321 329 337 345
275 292 300 308 316 325 333 341 349 358
285 302 311 319 328 336 345 353 362 371
295 313 322 330 339 348 357 366 374 384
305 323 332 342 351 360 369 378 387 397
315 334 343 353 362 372 381 391 400 410
325 345 354 364 373 384 393 403 413 423
335 355 365 375 385 395 405 415 425 436
345 366 376 386 397 407 417 428 438 449
355 376 387 398 408 419 430 440 451 462
365 387 398 409 420 431 442 453 464 478
375 398 409 420 431 443 454 465 476 488
385 408 420 431 443 454 466 477 489 501
395 419 431 442 454 466 478 490 502 514
405 429 441 454 466 478 490 502 514 527
415 440 452 465 477 490 502 514 527 539
425 450 463 476 489 501 514 527 540 552
435 461 474 487 500 513 526 539 552 565
445 471 485 498 511 525 538 551 565 578
455 482 496 510 523 537 550 564 577 591
460 476 497 513 529 543 561 577 593 610
465 481 502 518 535 549 567 584 600 616
470 486 508 524 541 555 573 590 606 623
475 492 513 530 546 561 580 596 613 629
480 497 518 535 552 566 586 602 619 636
485 502 524 541 558 572 592 609 626 643
490 507 529 546 564 578 598 615 632 649
495 512 535 552 569 584 604 621 639 656
500 518 540 558 575 590 610 628 645 663
505 523 545 563 581 596 616 634 651 669
510 528 551 569 587 602 622 640 658 676
515 533 556 574 592 608 628 646 664 682
520 538 562 580 598 614 634 653 671 689
525 543 567 585 604 620 641 659 677 696
530 549 572 591 610 625 647 665 684 702
535 554 578 597 615 631 653 671 690 709
540 559 583 602 621 637 659 678 697 716
545 564 589 608 627 643 665 684 703 722
550 569 594 613 633 649 671 690 710 729
555 574 599 619 638 655 677 697 716 735
560 580 605 624 644 661 683 703 722 742
565 585 610 630 650 667 689 709 729 749
570 590 616 636 656 673 695 715 735 755
575 595 621 641 661 679 702 722 742 762
580 600 626 647 667 684 708 728 748 769
585 605 632 652 673 690 714 734 755 775
590 611 637 658 679 696 720 740 761 782
595 616 643 663 684 702 726 747 768 788
600 621 648 669 690 708 732 753 774 795
605 626 653 675 696 714 738 759 780 802
610 631 659 680 702 720 744 766 787 808
615 637 664 686 707 726 750 772 793 815
620 642 670 691 713 732 756 778 800 822
625 647 675 697 719 738 763 784 806 828
630 652 680 702 725 743 769 791 813 835
635 657 686 708 730 749 775 797 819 841
640 662 691 714 736 755 781 803 826 848
645 668 697 719 742 761 787 809 832 855
650 673 702 725 748 767 793 816 839 861
655 678 707 730 753 773 799 822 845 868
660 683 713 736 759 779 805 828 851 875
665 688 718 741 765 785 811 835 858 881
670 693 724 747 771 791 817 841 864 888
675 699 729 753 776 797 824 847 871 894
680 704 734 758 782 802 830 853 877 901
685 709 740 764 788 808 836 860 884 908
690 714 745 769 794 814 842 866 890 914
695 719 751 775 799 820 848 872 897 921
700 725 756 781 805 826 854 879 903 928
705 730 761 786 811 832 860 885 909 934
710 735 767 792 817 838 866 891 916 941
715 740 772 797 822 844 872 897 922 947
720 745 778 803 828 850 878 904 929 954
725 750 783 808 834 856 885 910 935 961
730 756 788 814 840 861 891 916 942 967
735 761 794 820 845 867 897 922 948 974
740 766 799 825 851 873 903 929 955 981
745 771 805 831 857 879 909 935 961 987
750 776 810 836 863 885 915 941 968 994

Three spotters will be needed. The most important spotter is the one that stands behind you because he will keep his hands on the bar throughout the entire lift. The two remaining spotters will stand on opposite ends of the bar. Of course you will need a lift off unless you plan on turning negatives into a positively bad idea. You will now begin to lower the weight as slowly as positive. At first you’ll do fine, but about half way down you’ll feel like you are trying to stop the weight from falling. Once the bar touches your chest all three spotters lift the weight to the lockout position where you start again. When you are lifting poundage this heavy only a few reps will be possible so don’t feel discouraged.

Okay so why in the world would you want to do this? Won’t you look like an idiot in the gym when three people have to pull the weight off your chest? People have even said that the exercise is just an ego booster and doesn’t do much for you. Some clowns might even say that you are cheating! Well don’t believe any of it. Luckily, I’m here to tell you why negatives are so important.

1. Heavy Negatives Overload the Muscles

Most of us will agree that singles help improve strength because you overload your muscles will heavy poundage that your body is not used to. Based on the same principle, if you do negative sets with even more than your max weight you will overload your muscles even further.

2. Conditioning Your Body

Let me give you a few examples of this. A basketball player who is shooting jump shots while he is wearing ankle weights. A swimmer who does laps wearing pants and a t-shirt. A football player preparing for camp by running in the middle of the afternoon during a 90-degree summer day. A sprinter that runs with a parachute tied to his back. How about a powerlifter that does negatives with a weight that is much heavier than his one rep max. Are you beginning to see the correlation? When you run in 90-degree weather, practice in 80-degree heat doesn’t seem so bad. When you shot jump shots with ankle weights, you feel pretty light and explosive when you take them off. When it is time to unload in each situation the body can perform better because it has been strengthened by the overload. You get the point. Let’s say your goal is to bench 400 lbs. If you’ve never tried it, the initial shock might surprise you. If you’ve felt the weight of 450 lbs and done negative sets with it, your mind and your muscles will be preconditioned to handle the 400 you were aiming for. You’ve felt heavier weight, making this weight seem lighter. Your muscles need to feel the shock of heavy weight to prepare for a max. So why not take it to the extreme?

3. The Challenge

If your training lacks intensity I’d like to see you have the courage to take this exercise lightly. Actually I wouldn’t, but don’t worry about it because it’s not possible anyhow. Your heart will begin racing, and you will be pumped with adrenaline. Not to mention the fact that you have three people watching you. You’ll be ready to perform, because there is no other choice. This is more weight than you’ve ever lifted in your life, so you will get psyched up for the big challenge. As mentioned earlier, some people call negatives ego boosters. They are partially correct. It does feel good to load the bar with the heavy poundage. Whipping out a few reps will definitely give you confidence when it’s time to max out for real. The only difference will be you’ve felt heavier.

4. Letting It Down Slow

Still not convinced? Let me pull out the textbook for you. The eccentric phase is the opposite of the contraction. For the bench press it is the lowering of the weight. Many bodybuilders treat this phase as an after thought, which they shouldn’t because it is very important. Research confirms that the eccentric component of a lift may be more important than the concentric phase for promoting muscle growth. One study showed that, when compared to normal weight training, concentric-only training required twice as many repetitions to produce similar results. With normal weight training, during an eccentric contraction (negative) you lower the same weight with fewer muscle fibers, and that means that each fiber involved has to sustain greater force.

5. Get The Last Laugh

We all know variety is important as well. If you haven’t done heavy negatives before than give them a try. It may be just what your muscles are screaming for. If you get funny looks at the gym, don’t worry about it. You’re not there to impress anybody; you’re there to get stronger. The only person you have to look at in the mirror is yourself. The weights will always weigh the same so you can’t compete with them. You may want to practice negatives with lighter weight before you jump right into this. Round up a couple buddies and show them why heavy negatives are positively a good idea.

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About the Author:

Mike Westerdal is the owner of CriticalBench.com, an online weight lifting resource. He earned his BS from Central CT State University where he played four years of D-IAA football.After college Mike acquired his certification as a personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise. Westerdal is a contributing muscle writer for various iron magazines including REPS!, Powerlifting USA and Monster Muscle. In addition his articles are published throughout the Internet.Westerdal is an amatuer bench presser who has competed in the AAPF, APF, and APA federations. Currently he trains at Tampa Barbell. He resides in sunny Clearwater FL, and is married to his beautiful wife Courtney.www.CriticalBench.com

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