T Nation

Perfect Rep, Stretch Reflex, and Slow Negatives


So in reading the perfect rep article, it looks like CT is basically saying to take advantage of the stretch reflex at the bottom of the rep to help you turn it around. maybe i'm reading it wrong, maybe not.

Then you have the slow negative crowd. Doing legpress with some guys in the gym (it was between my squat days on tues/fri), one guy claims that he basically did 2x as much work as I did since he took the negatives slower while I basically took it down as fast as was comfortable and put the effort into the concentric. So I feel like while he maybe got more tired, I had just as much of a profitable workout since we did the same reps/weight.

bottom line, is taking advantage of the stretch reflex on lifts going to short-change you in any way in the long run, as opposed to doing slow negatives and not using it? it seems to me like even if it is your PNS sending the signals, your muscles are still having to do the same work to move the weight back up, and if it helps you get more weight then why would you not use and abuse it?


I think you can train more often by avoiding or at least not emphasizing the negative. CT explained this in detail.


Taking advantage of the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC) is advantageous as the elastic energy stored in the muscle helps in the concentric phase and you can therfore lift more weight.
It is the opposite of the '41X1' rep speed thinking, where the 1 second pause between concentric and eccentric, 4 second negative and then 1 second pause between eccentric and concentric is used as it takes 6 seconds for all the elastic energy stored in the muscle to be dissapated. Therefore the muscle is doing all of the work as there is no assistance from stored elastic energy.

It is not only about the SSC though. The ramping of weight between sets while lifting each rep, no matter of the weight, as explosively as possible wakes/primes the CNS so that more weight can be lifted than if you didn't ramp, is equally important.
By liting explosively, more high-threshold motor units are being recruited, which are the most prone to grow.
CT has also said that the CNS is king. So it's not all about the muscle.

The negative, or eccentric phase, is where the majority of muscle fibre damage is done. By doing fast, yet controlled, negatives, you remove most of the muscle damage so you can train more often.
This is what CT's new thinking in training methods is about. By removing, or de-emphasising, the eccentric part of the rep you can increase volume without ecceeding your capacity to recover, which means more growth.


Genius! If you want to grow more, all you have to do is less of the thing that makes you grow, but do less of it more often!

That way you can - wait...


no that is completely fucking retarded.


pro.nub definitely explained it a little wrong. CT knows that the eccentric is crucial to growth and that eccentric-less work isn't as effective. However, you can add eccentric-less work to a normal training session or as a second session in the day to add more volume and muscular load without increasing the need for extra recovery.


Funny because in one of my video interview I mention that a lot of people would misinterpret what I say and will make fun of me for saying that the eccentric portion of a lift is not important for growth.


I also never said that eccentric-less training is more effective than regular lifting.

What I said was that the total amount of work you are doing is a very important variable when it comes to stimulating growth. But that if you try to pile on the volume while always emphasizing the eccentric, you risk creating too much trauma an neural stress to recover from in time for your next workout.

I DID mention that de-emphasizing the eccentric makes a movement LESS EFFECTIVE for maximum growth... but that it STILL STIMULATES SOME GROWTH.

So you perform your regular lifting THEN add volume by adding eccentric-less work.

However, except for some rare cases, I am against over-emphasizing the eccentric portion by going excessively slow. People claim that a slow eccentric creates more muscle damage. This is not the case, at least not in individuals with of an intermediate level or more.

See, the eccentric phase of a lift is FACILITATED by friction (intramuscular friction). And the more muscle mass you have and the more experience (more intramuscular scar tissue) the more friction you can create. During a slow eccentric, the friction takes over a greater proportion of the work, so in essence the muscle fibers do less work.

The eccentric might still FEEL harder, but it is mostly because of an hypoxic (lack of oxygen) state caused by the muscle's constant tension (blood cannot enter a contracted muscle, which leads to a lack of oxygen and an accumulation of waste products).

If you believe in the "fiber tearing theory" then a purposefully slow eccentric is NOT the best way to do a rep as it will actually cause LESS muscle tear.

To cause maximum muscle tear you must CONTROL the weight during the eccentric without going slow.

That's not to say that slow eccentrics don't have their place... they do, if you goal is to create an hypoxic state in the muscle and an accumulation of waste products. This, in itself, can stimulate growth via hormonal factors. But it is wrong to believe that it is due to more fiber damage.


In a few words guys:

1.- Workout with eccentric= x growth stimulation
2.- Workout with eccentric (causing x growth stimulation) + eccentric less workout (causing < x stimulation)= stimulation greater than in option 1.
3.- Eccentric workout+ another eccentric workout could lead to a risk of not being able to recover from the damage.

Option 2 doesn't do much further damage than 1, and I guess with option 3 you would need more extreme recovery methods or a very strict program autoregulation. The eccentric less portion is a recovery and growth enhancing tool.


So what about the other half of the question? Is a muscle contraction caused by a reflex any less effective for growth than one caused by a deliberate contraction? I.e., the free-fall mentioned would seem to me to activate the stretch reflex. The stretch reflex would pile on top of your conscious contraction and give you more explosive energy to get the weight moving back up. So you can probably push more weight, and get a better, more effective workout.

Is this a right way of thinking or am i just pulling stuff out my ass?