Q: I did all of my most recent workout with negative-accentuated sets as you suggested, and I’m very, very sore. Is that good for muscle growth?
A: Whoa! We never suggested doing an entire workout, every work set, in negative-accentuated (NA) style—that is, one second up on the positive and six seconds down on the negative. If you do all work sets that way, you will induce a lot of muscular trauma due to EXCESSIVE negative emphasis. The negative stroke induces the most soreness, so it will take many days to repair…
In The X-centric Mass Workout, we list only one set in that NA style for each bodypart in all of the programs. And that set is on a compound exercise AFTER a few standard heavy sets so the muscle is somewhat fatigued. In our experience that’s the ideal scenario to get just enough trauma and maximum benefit from negative-style training…
And the benefits are many. For one, you get a longer tension time on the target muscle. If you do 7 NA reps, that’s almost 50 seconds of time under tension, something your muscles aren’t accustomed to. It’s a great growth getter. That longer tension time can also elicit a BIG growth hormone surge due to muscle burn. (Can J Appl Physio. 22:244-255; 1997) GH is a potent fat burner and muscle enhancer.
Also, the trauma you induce with NA training takes energy, or calories, to repair. And that means your metabolism is stoked for days after the workout as your body shores up the damage and makes the muscle BIGGER and STRONGER. In other words, your body burns off ugly fat as it repairs the muscle microtears.
Unfortunately, too much of a good thing—such as doing an entire workout in NA style—can produce systemic shock and major overtraining. After your over-the-top NA assault, you need to stay away from the gym until the soreness subsides, which could take days or even a week. Or, if you have total willpower, go to the gym and do ONLY light pumping movements to flush the sore muscles with blood. That can enhance recovery—but do NOT train intensely until the soreness is gone.
Once your muscles are pain-free, do as we suggest in The X-centric Mass Workout—only one big-exercise set in NA style for each bodypart. The rest of your sets should be in standard style to crank up the mass dial.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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