Don’t Negate Negative Training!

-How Eccentric Training and a Higher Work-to-Rest Ratio Can Optimize Your Training Results

By: Melissa Traynor, CISSN, CSC, CPT-HFS

Date Published: May 2011

Whether you are a competitive athlete or just someone who wants to look and perform as one for recreational purposes, negative training will produce those positive results you are looking for. Let’s first start by breaking down exactly what I mean.

bicepsThere are three main types of contractions that our muscles can do and each of them directly or indirectly has an effect on performance. Concentric contractions occur when a muscle overcomes a load and shortens, like in the upward phase of a biceps curl. An isometric contraction is when a muscle generates a force against resistance but does not overcome it therefore there is no movement at the joint angle nor is there a lengthening or shortening of the muscle ie. a plank. Eccentric contractions are the resisted lengthening of a muscle such as during the descending part of a squat. (See photo) This type of contraction is of utmost importance in prevention of athletic injuries as well as getting you stronger and producing an overall higher hypertrophic effect than the other forms of contractions. This of course also relates to several other factors such as tempo and velocity, rest and recovery but incorporating eccentric training, or doing “negatives” as it is often called, is your sure fire route to faster results.

In order to burn fat, we must build muscle and to build muscle, it has been shown that eccentric training produces both a greater level of hypertrophy as well as greater overall strength gains (1). If you are a competitive athlete you may also be interested to know that incorporating some eccentric focused training will also produce greater peak torque and power (2). In fact, studies also show that when focusing too much on the concentric contractions vs the eccentric portion of a lift can actually compromise current strength levels (3).

The route to fat loss and improved performance does not come from long low intensity cardio, yes we know this, but an even greater way to faster results goes beyond what would be considered the regular interval training. This path even takes it a step further than what most would use to perform even intervals. This training involves incorporating some sort of “resistance” whether it be bodyweight, abstract objects, resistance training tools like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags and on and on. Using any of these forms of resistance in a particular rest to work ratio will put you in the ultimate fat burning state for many hours even AFTER your session is done.  By using resistance when doing your conditioning or cardio work with a higher work-to-rest ratio  or “doing negative cardio/conditioning” you will be forced into working at a higher intensity to elicit the fat consuming EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption) effect, while limiting any decreases in strength. This type of training is a play on intervals so to speak but unlike most people’s conventional interval sessions, this consists of getting off of machines and doing more work than you would have rest. Conventional interval training would be something like 60 seconds work to 90 seconds rest, whereas “negatives” would be like the Tabata protocol of 20 seconds work 10 seconds rest, 40 seconds work to 20 seconds rest repeat for so many rounds than rest etc. By performing cardio-resistance and at these work to rest ratios, you will have a greater chance at achieving the intensity needed for a greater EPOC effect than even regular intervals which equates to greater overall caloric expenditure (4).

While these “negative” training sessions are a great way to get positive results, be sure to start slowly and to practice proper nutrition and rest/recovery protocols.

About the Author:

photoMelissa Traynor is a certified sports nutritionist (CISSN) with a 10 year fitness career that includes figure competition, fitness modelling, writing, and personal trainining/nutrition coaching. With a background in exercise science, holistic nutrition and biochemical individuality she helps to motivate others achieve balance and excellence, a philosophy she strongly believes in.




  1. Farthing, Jonathan P., Chilibeck, Philip D. (17, May 2003). The effects of eccentric and concentric training at different velocities on muscle hypertrophy.   European Journal of Applied Physiology Volume 89, Number 6, 578-586, DOI: 10.1007/s00421-003-0842-2.
  2. COLLIANDER, E. B. and TESCH, P. A. (1990), Effects of eccentric and concentric muscle actions in resistance training. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 140: 31–39. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.1990.tb08973.x
  3. Dudley, GA., Tesch, PA., Miller, BJ., Buchanan, P. (1991). Importance of eccentric actions in performance adaptations to resistance training.  Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 62(6):543-50.
  4. Børsheim E.; Bahr R. (2003). Effect of exercise intensity , duration, and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption. Sports Medicine, Volume 33, Number 14, 2003 , pp. 1037-1060(24).


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