The above video is a demonstration of negative emphasized pulldowns on the ARx Omni – different from negative only pulldowns I have blogged about previously.
Some commentary …
A) Negative focused work is pretty interesting to experience. Partly because of the fact that it is a novelty in itself, in that most equipment is not supportive of negative training. In contrast however, the ARX Omni is completely supportive of eccentric focused exercise — should the user desire to perform it.
Another aspect that makes negative focused exercise interesting though is the nature of how it affects the trainee. The potential for micro-trauma in the skeletal muscle is enormous, and yet as I understand it — and have experienced first hand — the immediate demand on the cardiovascular system is low. Disproportionally low even, in the context of all available methods of exercise.
B) “Failure” has little meaning in negative focused training. One has to determine another stopping point for the set instead.
C) I initially performed negative exercises until my performance began to bottom out. In the realm of ~10 reps for a set. I realized this was way too much work though. As discussed in the earlier post, I felt very close to “zombiefied” after negatives to that depth. Rapid and severe DOMS.
D) In the above video I ended the set at 5 reps (pre-planned). I think this is a good point to end at because I’ve realized that throughout a negative focused set, in comparison to a maximum positive/maximum negative set, the damage being done feels similar, but in the negative focused set, at no point are you hitting the oxygen consumption ceiling.
The result is that you always have enough fuel to contract, or more accurately resist uncontraction, to whatever % of maximum effort you want. Even if it feels like this is happening in the moment during hyper reps (max pos/neg), I don’t think it is after a few heavy positives get you sucking wind. So your negatives are slightly hindered in that situation, where as with something like negative emphasized pulldowns, they aren’t.
E) n=1 for me with negatives has consistently been an overall improvement in sleep quality. I’ve tried prescription zolpidem, and hard negative work for me, is approximately the same effect. In my experience, negatives out perform oral melatonin by an observable degree. This is especially true when I perform negatives later in the day, 7pm-9pm.
My speculative guess is that the body is consistently caught off guard by the depth of the micro trauma, regardless of observable post workout effect. Equipment limitations usually prevent the trainee from generating this much trauma to the muscles. So even an advanced HIT trainee is not accustomed to this much damage in the context of their own body.
What also leads me to believe this is that up to this point, the sleeping effect is consistent with a single large exercise, or many. So the sleep aid effect in discussion is not dependent on total body muscular fatigue, or even metabolic fatigue for that matter.
I suspect it is depth, and “caught off guard” related. I am also unable to imagine evolutionary conditions over time that would prepare the body to deal with “negative training” as adequately as it deals with micro-trauma and fatigue from other gravity based conditions and equipment – where negative focused work is significantly stunted/limited.
The result being “this is weird, go to fucking sleep, now”.
F) I prefer negative emphasized over neg. only at this point for the purpose of maintaining load throughout the set. My positive contractions in this video are pretty minimal, about 10% of my set maximum. Very low, but not nothing.
G) It’s a common theme that skeletal muscle is 40% stronger at resisting un-contraction than it is at contraction. There are others who say this is complete nonsense and that the additional strength in contrast to the positive is an illusion. I’m skeptical of the accuracy of the first, and think the second is complete bull shit.
What I suspect : 7 billion people do not all work exactly the same. We are not even all anatomically the exact same (see patella). I think there is some variance between individuals on this eccentric/concentric strength difference, independent of personal ability to contract skeletal muscle and endure significant physical discomfort. How much, I don’t know. There may also be some wonky individuals at each end of the spectrum dissimilar from the rest of the population.
As for the strength difference not existing at all, this seems ridiculous given my experience. Even if the difference has multiple contributing factors and variables, I think it is definitely there. As the universe goes … it is easier to destroy than to create.
H) If the exercise is bio-mechanically congruent a la Bill DeSimone’s work, I am not convinced there is any additional wear to the joints during negative focused training on ARX equipment or the like. (Remember, the ARX Fit Omni has effectively perfect strength curves, that adapt to effort instantaneously, per set, per rep, per trainee). The additional force encountered is no doubt enormous on the level of skeletal muscle, but since the exercise is not bio-mechanically dubious, no additional wear is encountered.
Not that the joints are feeling anyway.
In my judgement, bones will snap before connective tissue does when joints are in their strongest position or anywhere near it.
(And if one is truly concerned with joint wear from strength training, you may want to consider switching away from dynamic protocols and to static, non-moving exercises entirely).