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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Positive and Negative Motions in Lifting:

There are two primary motions in lifting: positive and negative.  The proper utilization of these motions can result in huge gains in size and strength.

First we typically encounter the positive motion which is when you are tightening or pulling your muscle fibers to a peak.  For example if you were to curl a dumbell with one arm you would notice that your bicep shortens and begins to peak (See picture's right arm).  This tightening of the muscles is a positive motion.  During the positive motion it is easy to cheat or "power–lift" the weight through the motion which results in jerking or twisting.  This is great for building pure explosive power.  Many power-lifters use explosive lifting methods to build strength rather than size and definition,  but what if you want size, isolation, and definition as well?

This brings us to the negative motion,  opposite of positive motion.  This is when you are lowering or stretching the muscle while controlling the weight (See picture's left arm).  For example in a bicep curl after the weight is at the peak of its motion (finished positive motion) you lower the weight which stretches the bicep again.  If you can control the weight and perform this negative motion slowly you will nearly eliminate cheating (for the negative motion) and maximize isolation.  This results in the greatest size gains. The slow motion doesn't allow you much room to jerk or twist without losing control of the weight in motion.  

Now if you have a spotter that will do the positive motion for you then you can up the weight and only perform the negative motion; this would simulate maxing out with every rep, while maintaining top form and isolation.  This obviously results in superior strength and size gains!  

There are many variations of how to optimize the negative and positive motions for greater gains in strength and size. Just do some trial runs and see what is comfortable and works best for you.  So stop racing through lifts and utilize the two primary motions for huge gains in size and strength!

If you find a good lift to incorporate this in let us know, we may feature it in the next fitness article!


Doc Football said...

Interesting site. I'm curious as to the credentials of the author. One thing you forgot to mention - I realize the article was highly general in nature - is that negative work usually results in higher lactic acid production and therefore takes longer to recover from. Not really recommended for begineers.

chris said...

Negatives are not for the beginning trainer, but can be extremely valuable for the intermediate to advanced. They should be performed a maximum of only once in a week for any given muscle group and for no more than 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps (if you can do more than 6 reps, you're not using enough weight). However, I didn't actually see him they should be used by beginners...In fact, this whole article is clearly aimed towards someone that has been lifting for a while and finds themselves in some sort of a rut.

REM4606 said...

I am the original poster of this article. You have some good points, first off yes I should have mentioned that this is notfor beginners. As for the credentials I wrote this with the knowledge that I received from trainers. In the future we will have a professional trainer posting articles like this. We have been working on getting him on here and are close to closing that deal. I will have him touch on this subject again when he finally gets on here. But thank you for informing our readers further.

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