What Is a Negative Rep in Weightlifting? The Ultimate Guide

Negative reps are a widespread technique in weightlifting that can help you build better. This technique involves performing a lift’s eccentric (lowering) portion slowly and under control rather than simply letting the weight drop. Doing so can increase the time your muscles spend under tension, leading to more significant gains in size and strength.

When performing negative reps, it’s essential to use a weight that’s heavy enough to be challenging. But it’s not so heavy that you can’t control the movement. You should also aim to perform each rep well, keeping your core engaged and your joints stable. Negative reps can be used in various exercises, including squats, bench presses, and pull-ups.

While negative reps can be an effective way to build strength and muscle, they can also be more taxing on your body than traditional reps. Knowing your limits is essential, especially if you’re new to this technique. With proper form and technique, however, negative reps can be a valuable addition to your weightlifting routine.

What is a Negative Rep?

A negative rep is a weightlifting exercise that focuses on a lift’s eccentric or lowering phase. During a negative rep, you slowly reduce the weight to the starting position, taking three to ten seconds to complete the movement.

This type of exercise can be done with various equipment. Some examples are free weights, machines, and bodyweight exercises.


Negative reps are a great way to increase the intensity of your workout and stimulate muscle growth. By focusing on the eccentric portion of the lift, you can create more muscle damage. This can lead to more significant gains in strength and size.

Negative reps can also help you break through plateaus and improve your lifting performance.

How to Do Negative Reps

To perform a negative rep, select a weight ten to twenty percent heavier than your average working weight. Begin the lift using a spotter or lifting the weight with both arms. Then, slowly lower the weight to the starting position, taking three to ten seconds to complete the movement. Repeat for several reps, taking a break in between sets to allow your muscles to recover.

When performing negative reps, it’s crucial to maintain proper form and control throughout the movement. Use a spotter if necessary, and avoid jerky or uncontrolled movements. Negative reps can be incorporated into your existing workout routine or used as a standalone exercise to target specific muscle groups.

Negative Reps vs. Regular Reps

So how do the two differ? Here we elaborate on the differences regarding muscles targeted, intensity, and safety.

Muscles Targeted

Negative reps, also known as eccentric reps, target the muscles differently than regular reps. While regular reps focus on an exercise’s concentric phase or lifting portion, negative reps focus on the eccentric or lowering phase.

This means that negative reps primarily target the muscle fibers responsible for slowing down the weight, which can lead to more significant muscle damage and growth.



Negative reps are typically performed with heavier weights than regular reps, as the eccentric phase can handle more weight than the concentric phase. This increased intensity can lead to greater muscle activation and growth.

However, it is essential to note that negative reps should only be done with proper form and under the guidance of a trained professional to avoid injury.


While negative reps can be a valuable addition to a weightlifting routine, they also increase the risk of injury. It is essential to use the correct form and technique and a spotter or safety equipment when performing negative reps.

Additionally, individuals with pre-existing injuries or conditions that the increased intensity may aggravate should not perform negative reps.

Incorporating Negative Reps into Your Workout

If you wish to do negative reps in your workout, you can read the following points.


To incorporate negative reps into your workout, starting with one session per week is recommended. As you become more comfortable, you can increase the frequency to two or three weekly sessions.

However, take note of your limits and not overdo them, as negative reps can be very taxing on your muscles.


There are several variations of negative reps that you can incorporate into your workout. One popular method is using a spotter to help you lift the weight and slowly lower it on your own.

Another method is to use resistance bands to add extra resistance during the negative portion of the lift. You can also incorporate negative reps into bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups or pull-ups.


While negative reps can effectively build strength and muscle, you must take precautions to avoid injury. Always use proper form and technique, and start with a weight that you can comfortably lift.

Consider having a spotter or trainer present to assist you if needed. Finally, give your muscles proper time to rest and recover between workouts.

Incorporating negative reps into your workout can be a great way to challenge and level your muscles.

By starting slowly and gradually increasing the frequency and intensity of your workouts, you can safely and effectively incorporate negative reps into your fitness routine.

Final Thoughts

Negative reps are a powerful tool for weightlifters looking to maximize their gains. By focusing on the eccentric portion of the lift, you can activate more muscle fibers and achieve more significant hypertrophy.

To incorporate negative reps into your routine, select a weight 10-20% heavier than your 1RM. Lower the weight slowly and with control, taking 3-5 seconds to complete the eccentric portion of the lift.

It’s important to note that negative reps are inappropriate for every lifter or every exercise. They can tax the muscles and nervous system, so using them sparingly and with caution is essential.

Consider incorporating negative reps into your routine if you want to level up. With proper form and programming, they can help you achieve greater strength and size gains than ever before.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a negative rep in weightlifting?

A negative rep, also known as an eccentric contraction, is the portion of a lift where the muscle lengthens under load. In weightlifting, it refers to the lowering phase of an exercise, such as the descent of a squat or the lowering of a bicep curl.

During this phase, the muscle fibers actively contract to control the weight and prevent it from dropping too quickly.

Why are negative reps important in weightlifting?

Negative reps can be beneficial for building muscle strength and size because they create more muscle damage than an exercise’s concentric (lifting) phase.

This increased muscle damage triggers the body’s repair and growth processes, leading to more significant muscle hypertrophy. Additionally, negative reps can help improve muscle control and stability during exercises.

How can I incorporate negative reps into my workout routine?

One way to incorporate negative reps is to perform a set of an exercise using a heavier weight than you can lift concentrically. Then, with the help of a spotter or resistance band, slowly lower the weight for several seconds.

Another method is to perform a set of an exercise as usual but then add several negative reps at the end of the set. It’s important to note that negative reps can be very taxing on the muscles, so they should be used sparingly and with caution.

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