Negative Accentuated Reps On Machine - Recommended Form?

Dr Darden, @Ellington_Darden

  1. As mentioned in “The Nautilus Bodybuilding Book”: What is your current recommendation on rep tempo for the negative accentuated reps on (Nautilus) machines? If I were to guess, I would apply a 1-2 sec pos (with both limbs) followed by a about 5-10 sec neg (with one limb). Or - should the neg benefit from a longer duration, in your opinion? This would mean less reps then.

  2. How do you reason choosing the right weight for a negative accentuated machine set? I believe I may have read this somewhere in your books, but can’t recall where.

  3. Is it better to exhaust one limb/side at a time - or shift between sides (meaning more rest)? I would probably exhaust my weak side first, if I were forced to choose.

  4. In the above mentioned book you recommend a set to last up to 70 secs. In later books 90 secs. Is there any added benefits going from 70 to 90 sec TUT in your opinion?

I seldom do the Nautilus style negative-accentuated reps. But if I did, your suggestion of a 1-2 second positive phase followed by a 5-10 second negative would be a good starting point. In my older writings, I took 60% of a normal style, which would equal 120%, or 20%, added to the negative.

I liked shifting between sides, as opposed to hitting one side at a time. And stay with 70 seconds for your TUT goal.

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Thanks for this Dr Darden,

So, where do you draw the line when the set has reached failure? Is it when you can’t keep the negative for more than 2-3 secs?

This is particularly interesting considering science today tells us to stay out of complete failure. Even more interesting because negatives require even more of your ability to recovery. That said, I believe negatives still receive the blessing of having merit?

Your observations and feelings are on-target. Trust them.

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Curiosity Dr. Darden…any reason why you seldom perform nautilus style negative accentuated reps?

My 2 cents here. I performed negative accentuated exercises exclusively for 8 months or so, around 25 years ago. I alternated sides of my upper and lower body in a contra lateral fashion, ie, one week Monday and Friday I trained right side upper, left side lower, Wednesday the opposite, reverse the order the following week.
I got very strong during this period, but I didn’t gain any size, may have even lost size.

I now prefer the 30-10-30 style.

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Me too

My original agenda, by adding negative accentuated reps, is primarily as a variation in the trainees toolbox. Even if 30-10-30 is supposedly better on all accounts - I personally have had my best return of investment combining different Darden strategies. I also find the earlier works of Dr Darden valuable, where the Nautilus bodybuilding book is an excellent read with lots of interesting information.

Btw, somewhat off thread @Ellington_Darden: Did Nautilus ever realize computerized machines in 1983? Was there any prototypes made to your knowledge?

I’m for a certain amount of variation and you seem to know what works for you. Keep doing it.

Nautilus and Jones never perfected the computerized machines.

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Eccentrics are sometimes recommended for Seniors because they are metabolically less taxing than concentric work. But recently, I’ve seen a few papers which caution that they may less suitable for older trainees because older muscles don’t recover as well from the particular kind of damage that is created. And that damage ends up being concentrated in fast twitch fibers.

I wonder if Dr Darden or any other 65+ folks have experienced the need to shift the emphasis away from the eccentric side of things?

When you notice any trouble controlling descent, it’s time to quit — UNLESS you need to do the other side to even the number of reps out. Don’t dig a deeper hole than that.

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I have trained several over 80 years old.
I myself am a senior citizen with over 50 years training experience.

Heavy eccentrics are out of the question for seniors. Too dangerous! Also, Seniors are well attuned to pain due to their life experiences. Pain due to heavy eccentrics will cause holding back of effort due to perceived pain of eccentrics. The rate of progress is thus slow when combining eccentrics and age. No need for failure, fatigue, nor slower repetition speeds. They work no better than vanilla reps. Don’t over analyze senior training. There are no senior Mr. Olympia winners here. Just getting seniors to lift is an achievement in itself, and just let them go-safely. The only real benefit of eccentric training is training the elasticity of the molecule Titin. This protein molecule gets trained during sporting activity, so there is little need to train Titin, otherwise you can get excessive Z-band damage. This too is foolishness for seniors.

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Thanks for your comment.

I’ve used mostly “plain vanilla” reps for most of my training career. I’ve avoided doing slow speed, long duration reps because I find them tedious, and they often don’t feel right for the majority of the free weight exercises that I use in my training. So it is hard for me to tell if my tolerance for eccentric work has deteriorated as I’ve gotten older.

One thing I have noticed: If I do a fair amount of volume, and go to failure (i.e., multiple drop sets), my strength levels the days following the workout are down considerably, and this seems more noticeable than it used to be. So I speculate that my recovery from a lot of reps (which have a lot of eccentric reps) seems to have gotten worse.


Even now, doing non-failure repetitive sets with substantial resistance does not fatigue nor cause any residual pain. It may be irrelevant to others, but I feel better after lifting, an euphoric feeling. Extra activity has slightly improved body composition, and strength has improved slightly.

Extra activity has been shown to improve joint lubrication. So Pete Sisco, John Little, and Dr. Doug McGuff stating that more than a minimalist level of physical resistance training will destroy joint tissue is just that, an unproven claim, AKA, a lie. One of the hallmark regimens of physical therapy is to get the injured joint moving ASAP.

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This is interesting. Personally, I have always responded extremely well to negative accentuated training, especially in terms of hypertrophy (as well as strengthwise).

Occasionally I hear of fellow trainees not responding that well to negatives. In conversation with Brian Johnston I can also recall him being not too fond of negatives (“it never did anything to me”). Considering your username I presume you also follow his ideas.

I can think of relative overtraining when using negative strategies too much/often. Other than that - is there such a thing as non responders to negative accentuated training? Have you ever encountered this @Ellington_Darden?

There are different levels of responders, but I’ve never encountered a non-responder to negatives among my trainees.

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Worked up to 8 sets of 3 reps for 3 exercises plus some auxiliary movements.
Nautilus decline press
Powertec pull downs
Trap bar deadlifts

It’s a lot of sets
I’m thinking one exercise of 8x3 is good enough, along with 3 sets of the other 2 exercises. I believe this might be less fatiguing overall.
Conditioning has improved even at my senior age. The biggest and best change is training every day. Chad was on to something!


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You do reach significant volume through your chosen strategy - but how long are your workouts? How often do you train?

Not intending to sound condescending, but regular cluster sets would seem a more time efficient alternative.

Are they negative accentuated?