When I started to lift weights I did what most people do and lifted the weight fast and dropped it down even quicker. This created momentum in my lifts, allowing me to lift much heavier, although I wasn’t making any gains.
Let’s use a standing alternating bicep curl for example;
Standing upright swinging 25kg dumbbells is fairly easy if I use momentum from swinging my body to lift the weight. I will be bringing my legs, back, shoulder, torso, biceps and all other manors of muscles into the routine.
Now if I take the same exercise and use good strict form I simply won’t be able to lift any where close to 25kg, even 15kg would feel heavy. This is simply down to the fact that you are using one muscle to carry out the exercise and not the whole body.
There are 3 parts to one full repetition, Positive rep, static, negative rep.
Positive rep (Concentric Contraction) – The weakest part of the rep – When the muscle shortens. e.g When the bicep pulls up the forearm.
Static – The second weakest part of the rep – The pause between the positive and negative rep.
Negative rep (Eccentric Contraction) – The strongest part of the rep – When the muscle is resisting a force. e.g When your forearm is being pulled down and you try to resist it.
Each one of the above puts stress on the muscle. Lifting up a weight and allowing it to drop down without any real resistance will mean that you have only carried out half a rep, or you are wasting that negative part of the rep. Concentrating on the three parts to the rep will also eliminate momentum and provide full stress on the muscle you are building.
When you have hit complete failure on the positive rep, you will find that the negative can still be controlled. This means that the muscle still has some strength left as it is still resisting the weight. To hit complete muscular exhaustion, use forced positive reps and then lower the weight in a controlled manor on the negative rep until you have hit complete failure.
Forced positive rep – Getting a spotter for example to help you raise the weight once you have hit positive fatigue. You can then lower the weight (negative rep) until you hit complete muscular fatigue.
Just to recap;
The positive rep is the weakest part of a lift and requires the muscle to contract. Static is the pause in-between the the positive and negative rep and the final part to the rep is the negative. This is the lowering part of the weight that requires the least resistance from the muscle.
Thinking about the above during each lift will help you understand the basic principals of how to carry out a full repetition. Always used a slow and controlled manor during the lift. Try doing 2 seconds on the positive and 3 seconds on the negative rep.
It’s not all positive…