Training Tip of the Week

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I preach the importance of mental fortitude when making  sustainable lifestyle change. If your mind isn’t right, no amount of physical get-up-and-go will lead to long-lasting results. Believe it in your mind, and the body will follow. (Click here for a write-up on the mental aspect courtesy Star Factory Fitness). That said, there is one aspect of this endeavour that requires you to focus on the negative… in the gym with the barbell in your hands!

The negative (or eccentric) portion of the lift should be the focus. Slow and controlled on the way down and explode up. Too often I see guys bouncing the bar off their chest and using momentum to push it up. Muscle is built on the negative, and besides, training in a controlled manner with weights you can handle is a whole lot safer. A pec tear can sure derail progress, so don’t let your ego dictate the weight you use. Feel it in the targeted muscle with a weight you can handle for 8-15 clean reps.

Sometimes in real life and sports, we need to resist movement rather than produce movement. When we are trying to control an opponent or resist an opponent’s forces, we need to deal with that force in a different manner.

This approach should be a focus of any strength or conditioning program, whether you’re training primarily for athletic pursuits, muscle building or strength training.

Cliff note: I don’t mean extremely slow negatives of 30 seconds or more, but a slow and controlled drop of about 3-4 seconds with a 1 second concentric is the general rule of thumb. Resisting the negative portion of the movement takes effort, but it’ll pay off in strength and muscle gains.

Here’s a random video that provides a decent example:


Mitch Calvert is a Winnipeg-based fitness coach for men and women like his former self. Heavyset in his 20s, he lost 60 pounds and now helps clients find their spark and lose the weight for life.