When you perform a repetition of a weight lifting exercise, such as a bicep curl, your movements can be broken down into two phases: the positive (concentric) phase in which you raise the weight and the negative (eccentric) phase where you lower it.

It’s easy to ignore the negative phase and just let the weight down without thinking about it but, if you do that, you’re missing out on a potentially very powerful tool. Eccentric training is used extensively in rehab and is also a great shortcut to stronger muscles!

What this means in practice is that you lift the weight as quickly as possible (whilst keeping full control) but take longer to lower it down. In effect, you’re resisting the weight on its way back down and thereby getting double the benefit out of every rep.

Exactly how slow you should lower it is largely a matter of feel, but a good starting point would be to lower at half your lifting speed. Hence, if you’re lifting to a count of ‘one’, then lower to a count of ‘two’ and so on…

I have seen 4-8 seconds quoted for the negative phase, but times like that are probably best left to experienced lifters, as eccentric training does put your muscles under a lot of stress. If, after trying this technique, your muscles are really sore, lower the weights a little faster next time.

‘Negative repping’ can really boost your progress though, so don’t give up. Experiment until you find the rhythm that works best for you.