Some time ago we posted an article about how to hack your exercise regimen. Well, looks like we missed one very important hack — something the fitness industry calls “negatives.” And when it comes to building muscle, negatives can mean impressive muscle growth in just a matter of months.
What Are Negatives?
“Negatives” are basically exercise repetitions that are done after muscle failure. As you might already know, strength training exercises are next-to-useless unless you do repetitions until you can’t do any more. Only then will any muscle growth take place.
For instance, let’s take dumbbell curls. After you curl a dumbbell for a few reps, you can’t bring it up anymore despite your most valiant efforts. Most people put down the dumbbell and reach for their water bottles — but we suggest you finish the set with a few negative reps.
To end a dumbbell curl set with negative reps, use your free hand to bring your dumbbell arm to the “up” position again. Then let the dumbbell bring the arm down, resisting it with all your might. That’s a negative rep, because instead of resisting the weight to go up, you’re resisting it from going down.
Try to finish each set with three negative reps. It brings muscle fatigue well past the failure point, encouraging even more muscle growth during your rest days ahead!
How Do Negatives Work?
Negative reps work by “tricking” the body into thinking you’re in trouble. After all, negatives simulate catastrophic muscle failure — and in a life-and-death situation, muscle failure means death. And that sends some serious warning signs to the brain!
So to prevent itself from getting into “danger” in the future, the body triggers rapid muscle growth in the affected area. By increasing strength in that area, it “decreases” the likelihood of failure — although you’ll still bring it to failure with heavier resistance or more reps in the future.
Hack Your Workout With Negatives
If you work out with friends, you’re lucky — you can do negatives with almost all types of exercise you have on your regimen. (Even high-yield bodyweight exercises!) So go ahead, wrap up all your sets with a few negative reps, and impress the people at the cube farm next week.
Do you have any personal muscle-building hacks you’d like to share with the Fit Gizmo community? Think negatives aren’t the ultimate muscle-building hack? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments field below!