By Nick Nilsson
Author of Time-Volume Training
Eccentric or "Negative Training" is advanced training technique that basically eliminates the "up" phase of a movement and focuses just on the lowering phase (a.k.a. the eccentric phase).
You can use more weight in the negative phase than you can in the positive (over and above your normal 1 rep max), making this a very good technique for building strength.
The main problem with negative training is you often need a spotter or spotters to do the positive phase for you (i.e. lifting the bar off you when doing bench press).
So what I've got, for those of us who train by ourselves, are three exercises that allow you to do negatives completely by yourself...no spotter required.
Negatives should be done for 3 to 6 reps per set - never more than that. If you can get more reps than 6 than you're not using enough weight. And you'll only need 2 or 3 sets per bodypart.
Exercise #1 - Dumbbell Shoulder Press Negatives
This is going to be a standing dumbbell shoulder press negative rep. You'll be doing a one-arm dumbbell snatch to get the dumbbell overhead. This exercise is actually pretty easy to learn (more so than the barbell snatch).
Basically, you squat down, grab the dumbbell then heave it one movement directly overhead using lower body and upper body power combined. I'm using an 85 lb dumbbell in this demo.
Now you've got the dumbbell to the top position. Time for the negative. Fight it all the way down!
Once it's at the bottom position, set it down on the floor then grab it with your other hand and do the same thing on the other side.
Repeat until you get 3 to 6 reps on both sides.
Exercise #2 - Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension Negatives
This exercise starts with that same one arm dumbbell snatch movement to get the dumbbell overhead. Then it's just a matter of turning your arm and doing the negative of the dumbbell extension.
I'm using a 65 lb dumbbell for this demo.
That's the top position. Now rotate your arm so your elbow is pointing forward and start the negative.
Come down but as you do so, let your elbow come forward a bit so at the bottom, the dumbbell actually ends up resting on your shoulder. This is makes it much easier to get off your shoulder and set back down on the ground.
So set the dumbbell down then do the same thing with the other arm.
Make sure and keep your abs tight and really fight for that negative all the way down.
Exercise #3 - Dumbbell Curl Negatives
This one is a bit different in that you're going to be doing both dumbbells at the same time and you're going to be using a Swiss ball to brace your arms on to really force you to be strict on the negative (which can be an issue on bicep curl negatives done free-standing).
Start by grabbing a pair of dumbbells (I'm using 65 lb dumbbells here).
Set them on your lap while sitting on the ball.
Lie back on the ball and rest your upper arms on the face of the ball in the top curl position.
Now start the negative.
Fight it all the way down. You can actually roll yourself back on the ball a little bit to get even a bit more stretch on the lower bicep area as you get near the bottom.
Set the dumbbells on the floor then go again. In the video, you'll see the first rep I do, I pick up the dumbbells and set them on my lap, then sit back. After that, I'm using a technique where I just heave the dumbbells straight up off the ground and into the start position. It's faster, if you can do it with the dumbbells you're using and if you're experienced enough with ball training do it without falling over.
That's how to do negative dumbbell curls. They're straightforward enough to do on your own and definitely VERY effective.