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Every rep has a positive half (contracting the muscle) and a negative half (lengthening the muscle). Usually, the former occurs when raising the weight, and the latter when lowering the weight. So about half of your time under tension during a set is spent returning to the starting position. The interesting thing about this is that research has shown you’re approximately 20% stronger during the negative halves of reps than during the positive halves. The Weider Retro-Gravity Principle prescribes that you slow down the negative side of reps—that is, effectively resist the pull of gravity—to work your muscles during the period when you’re at your strongest. Take approximately 3–6 seconds to complete each negative half-rep.
There are two ways to do retro-gravity reps. You can use them to push your sets beyond failure, to get more reps, or you can do all-negative sets, to use more weight.
To push sets beyond failure, do 6–10 regular reps until you can’t get another. Then have a training partner (or two) help you raise the weight. Fight the weight’s descent, never halting but going at a slow, steady pace for 3–6 seconds. Do 2–4 such negative reps.
To do all-negative sets, select a weight that’s approximately 20% greater than what you can maximally use for 6–10 positive reps. Have your partner help you raise the weight, then ﬁght its descent for a set of 6–10 negative-only reps. Note that retro-gravity reps aren’t appropriate for some lifts. These are basically the same exercises we told you to avoid combining with forced reps: ballistic or heavy, free-weight basics like lunges, power cleans, deadlifts, and squats.
To see the Retro-Gravity routine, click NEXT PAGE.