T Nation

Negative-Only Training?

Hi Coach

What’s your view on negative only training ?
I.e sets ONLY doing the negative portion for 6-10 reps

Or negatives before and after normal reps, as seen in Dardens articles.

I’ve used the second method before, but never done just negatives. I know you’ve said that the negative
1- increases mtor the most (good right ?)
But also
2 - it increases stress / muscle damage the most (bad right ?)

Would love to know your thoughts on how to implement them into training.

Thanks as always !

Only doing one part of the exercise (concentric or eccentric) is inferior for growth. Studies looking at pure eccentric vs. pure concentric vs combined training found that for hypertrophy:

*Combined (eccentric + concentric) is superior
*Eccentric-only is 2nd
*Concentric-only is 3rd

That having been said, you CAN use pure eccentric exercises within a program that includes other types of work. And while it is “theoretically” inferior, because it can represent a novel stimulus, for a short period of time (2-3 weeks) it can actually be more effective than regular training.

That later point actually applies to many things and can lead to becoming a blind advocate of a method: you get better gains for a few weeks, not because the method is more effective, but because of the novelty of the stimulus which forces adaptation.

By the way, that’s the reason why I include a lot of methods and approaches in my programs and clients. Even the best method doesn’t stay the best forever. Once the body is habituated to that type of stress, the training loses its effectiveness. And “inferior” methods actually become better.

That is the limitation of short-medium term studies (6-12 weeks) done to evaluate how effective certain methods are: they don’t account for the habituation factor.

Personally I don’t really have clients do pure eccentrics. We will do eccentric overloads with weight releasers, but they still have to lift the weight back up (albeit with much less weight than the eccentric). But because we use around 30% more weight during the eccentric than concentric, the former is emphasized a lot more.

For example, I just designed a program for an athlete and he has to do sets of 6 reps with 90% of his max on the concentric and 60% on the bar. The eccentric is done as slowly as possible and the concentric as fast as possible.

The only times we use a pure eccentric (negative) is as part of a complex.

For example:

A1. Pure eccentric (4-6 reps with 90-95%)
A2. Stato-dynamic (pause at parallel, explode up, 3-5 reps with 50-60%)
A3. Isometric (squat down to parallel, hold 20-30 seconds)
A4. Regular reps x 4-6


I do use eccentric pre and post fatigue in my list of methods. In fact, today’s article talks about a method using this approach.

From a strength perspective: concentric, isometric and eccentric use different recruitment patterns. So you need to train all three to improve maximally.

If you only perform eccentrics in your training (or only isometrics or only concentric) you will undertrain some muscle actions.

Hi Coach,

Hope you’re well.

Continuing on from today’s article about layers, what are your current thoughts about frequency when it comes to applying this system?

Many thanks,


Well it has layers in the name as it layers methods in a set. But it’s not the layer system which used various methods for the same exercise. Which one do you mean?

Interestingly enough coach…maybe more of a thought experiment here but:

The best damn set for muscle growth (layered rep styles within one set)
As a replacement or addition to say HDL / density layers (in layers system)

Versus an intensification method in best damn workout for naturals

Versus back off set in a traditional ramp up / movement split

Versus preceded/followed up with the Chuck sipes extended heavy hang style etc.

Do you see “synergies” lets say from using this best damn set / eccentrics within the context of a layer (concentrated, single movement over and over) versus as a “shock” set [limited volume, best damn natural] etc.

Always interesting to see how these methods play out in an actual workout session, more or less growth cocktail depending on what else is done in the session…

Hi Coach,

I was referring to the layer method in a set. I wondered whether you had any trainees applying this ‘Heavy Duty’ style, e.g. one set per body part every 3-4 days, etc?

Well, considering that the heavy duty style you mention is not something I use at all, then no, I have not used this method in a heavy duty style of training.

Thanks so much for the detailed reply Christian.

I bought your new program and am liking the use of eccentrics in it.

Is another benefit of eccentric work prevention of injuries / tendon strength ?


The main benefits of eccentrics are:

*Strengthening the tendons
*Improving movement quality
*Improving motor learning through a greater activation of the motor cortex
*Good at improving fast twitch fiber recruitment

Thank you !