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Negative Lifting for Strength

Lots of people lift weights to become stronger. What's more important, lifting or lowering the weight?

Lowering a weight slowly, called negative lifting, is a greater stimulus to make you stronger than raising it. The only stimulus that makes a muscle stronger is to exercise it against increasing resistance. The greater the resistance without injury, the greater the gain in strength. Just exercising will not make you stronger. If it did, marathon runners who do prodigious amounts of work would be among the strongest athletes in the world and they are not.

You can lower much heavier weights than you can lift. As you raise a weight, you have to slow down because gravity works against you so that the weight feels heavier as you continue to raise it. On the other hand, when you lower a weight, you tend to move faster as gravity works with you and the weight feels lighter.

This negative lifting workout should be done only by experienced lifters not more often than once a week. Pick 10 to 15 lifts that you do regularly. Start out by lifting the heaviest weight that you can lift ten times in a row. You will struggle to get through the last 3 or four lifts. Then add 5 to 15 pounds which may be too heavy for you to lift. Two spotters should lift the weight for you and you try to lower it 6 times. You'll really hurt and you may want to quit. Add another 10 pounds and try to lower the weight 3 times. Then pick your arms off the floor, replace them on your shoulders and take at least two days off.

Strength training for cyclists or runners
Weight training for middle-age and beyond

Checked 6/22/14

June 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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