Working out should be fun; however, we do need to find ways to actually challenge the body. Challenging your muscles will lead to more strength, tone, flexibility, range of motion, and overall health benefits. One way to do so is by adding some eccentric training to your normal exercise routines.
Eccentric training is designed as an active contraction of a muscle, occurring in unison with the lengthening of a muscle. This is known in the fitness world as a “negative”.
Negative repetitions place an increased amount of stress on the specific muscles being worked, and force them to control the weight for an extended period of time.
Negative repetitions apply additional stimulation to the muscle, which can help you achieve muscle failure a lot faster. This is the one time in life when failure is a good thing! Negative repetitions overload muscles with more resistance than they might be accustomed to during a normal weight training session. This is achieved by slowing the exercise down during the eccentric phase. You will naturally want to fight gravity and not allow the weight to drop, but rather control the weight as it lowered.
A good example of this would be a dumbbell biceps curl. Of course, when you curl the weight up, you are forcing the biceps muscle to contract. Once you meet that contraction and after a good squeeze at the top, you usually would allow the weight to just drop in order to begin the next repetition. Instead, slow down the lowering of the weight and fight gravity. This will force the biceps muscle to stay contracted as you control the weight of the dumbbell back to starting position of the exercise.
While some people believe that negatives are too dangerous to incorporate into most free-weight exercises, others believe they can be used with most of your fitness routines. If you have suffered any type of joint injury or have issues in a particular area, you should avoid using negative reps. Negative training is more challenging on the body and should not be performed for extended periods of time. For this reason, I suggest using negatives periodically, which will allow for maximum benefit.
Have fun. Be positive. Stay balanced.