See Positive Results with Negative Exercises

By Sarah Beth Bolin – January 1, 2017
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

A negative repetition is the repetition of a technique in weightlifting in which the lifter performs the eccentric phase of a lift. Negative reps are used to improve both muscular strength and power in subjects. This is commonly known as hypertrophy training. 

1. Negative Close-Grip Bench Press  

Set-Up: Assume traditional bench-press position by lying flat on bench with barbell above chin. Place hands close together on bar, directly above shoulders with overhand grip. 

Action: Push bar up, lifting it off the rack and position bar above chest. Lower bar down slowly and controlled on a count of 5 seconds until bar is right above chest, almost touching. Press bar up at normal speed. As you lower the bar, keep elbows in close to your side and be careful not to flare elbows out.

Perform 10 reps for 3 sets, with 60 second break in between each set.

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2. Negative Incline Fly with Dumbbell

Set-Up: Grab a pair of lightweight dumbbells. Position bench at a 45-degree angle. Sit with back against the bench holding dumbbells straight up in front of your face with palms facing in. 

Action: Lower dumbbells out to your side slowly and controlled at a count of 5 seconds while slightly bending the elbows. Lower dumbbells straight out to your side and do not allow to drop lower than your body. Pull dumbbells back to starting position at a normal speed and squeeze pectoral muscle at the top.

Perform 10 reps for 3 sets, with 60 second break between sets.

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3. Negative Landmine Row

Set-Up: Arrange a landmine row and load barbell with desired weight. Place Roman handle underneath barbell close to weight. Straddle the bar and use Roman handle to pull barbell up keeping arms straight. Squat down as far as you can while keeping back straight and flat. 

Action: Pull barbell to chest with elbows up in a rowing motion while pinching scapula together. Hold at the top and lower bar slowly on a count of 5 seconds until arms are straight. Remember to keep your back as flat as possible during this exercise; don’t swing or use legs for momentum, and focus on squeezing lats at the top. Control the downward movement and do not allow barbell to drop quickly.  

Repeat for 10–12 reps for 3 sets, with a 60 second break between sets.

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4. Negative Pull-ups 

Set-Up: You will need a pull-up bar and a box. Place box below pull-up bar and stand on box, placing hands on the bar slightly wider than shoulders. The wider you place your hands, the more difficult the exercise will be. 

Action: Jump up from box until chin is above the bar and cross your ankles. Lower your body slowly and controlled to a count of 5-10 seconds until your arms are straight. 
Stand back on box and repeat 10 reps for 3 sets. To make exercise more difficult, do not use the box and begin by performing a pull-up, then slowly lowing all the way down. 

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5. Negative Single-Arm Seated Shoulder Press with Dumbbells 

Set-Up: Get a pair of dumbbells at your desired weight. Sit up straight on the edge of bench with core engaged and back straight. Hold dumbbells at a 90-degree angle with palms facing out and elbows out to the side.

Action: Press one arm above head until arm is straight, while keeping other arm in place. The negative exercise is performed when you return to your starting position. Slowly lower arm back to starting position on a count of 5 seconds. Do not arch back and always keep core engaged throughout entire exercise. 

Perform 10–12 reps on each arm for 3 sets, with a 60 second break between sets.

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6. Inverted Negative Plank

Set-Up: Using a Sissy Squat Machine, place feet inside feet holders with calves against upright pad and stand up straight. Cross hands over chest. 

Action: Lower body slowly for a count of 5-10 seconds while bending the knees and keeping the torso straight. Lower to a flat, horizontal position then return to starting position by pulling up using abdominal muscles. Tighten and engage entire core, lower back, and quads to help stay steady and straight. 

Perform 10 reps for 3 set, with a 60 second break between sets.

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7. Negative Bulgarian Split-Squat with Overhead Hold

Set-Up: Hold bar above head with arms straight, placing arms slightly wider than shoulders. Assume the split stance position with rear foot elevated and flat on bench. Feet should be in line with shoulders, placing front foot forward to create a 90-degree angle.  

Action: Drop back knee to the floor slowly on a count of 5 seconds, while holding bar straight above your head. Keep arms still and keep shoulders down and back, trying not to shrug shoulders. Do not allow front knee to pass over toes. Pressing back through the heel, return to starting position at a normal pace. Hold bar overhead throughout the entire exercise. 

Perform 8 reps on each leg for a total of 3 sets. 

Keep reading for more moves!


8. Negative Front Squat

Set-Up: Assume squat position. Place bar across anterior deltoids and cross hands over the center of the bar and keep elbows high, at about a 90-degree angle. 

Action: Slowly lower into a squat position to a count of 5 seconds while holding bar in place and keeping elbows up. Keep core engaged throughout entire exercise and drop to at least a 90-degree angle. Keep back flat and avoid curving/arching back or rocking forward. Do not allow knees to pass in front of toes. Press up through the heels and return to starting position. 

Perform 10–12 reps for 3 sets with a 60 second break between sets.


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