Training: Negative Only Bench Press

I have attempted to explain this apparatus a few times to friends or on various message boards with poor results, so we finally took a video.

Unless you’re brutally strong (like Mark is) you don’t need 2 people. Either of us could have moved the weight; it would have been a sizeable deadlift, but it is possible to overload the negative with only one training partner. This is one of the many things we do at my studio; for you “power law” folk, this is as intense as it gets.

10 thoughts on “Training: Negative Only Bench Press

  1. Skyler,

    Interesting video. How have the negative benches translated to his performance on the regular barbell bench press?


    1. David,

      Gotta practice normal bench or variations for improvement, but the pure overload effect makes a big difference (see my comment to Chris’s question).

      1. Skyler,

        This is similar to what the Deland powerlifting team did back in Florida when they were so dominant, heavy negatives with practice on the actual competition lift. I don’t powerlift myself but I’ve used negatives in the past to good effect when working on my vertical jump as you and I have discussed by email when talking about jump training. I was just wondering if he had some numbers on how much the negatives improved him.

        I’ve got another question for you if you don’t mind. You’re one of the few people into strength training with a basketball background like myself. I’ve got a 12 year old son who demonstrates pretty good jumping ability already. He’s going to be pretty lean and definitely needs to get stronger. I’ve got him doing basic exercises at home right now, Hammer lunge/squat deadlifts, pulldown, military press, static holds on lateral raises, pushups. Right now I’m watching his form very closely and keeping his rep speed about 2/2 or 3/3. I’ve tried slower but it doesn’t seem to work as well. Negatives seem to work well as far as keeping him to using good form. Any suggestions or caveats?


    2. David,
      Consistency is important for strength gains of any type. When used consistently, there was a minimum of a 1% gain per week average. Due to time constraints and schedule conflicts with partners, I haven’t been able to use it on a weekly basis. Hopefully, this is changing, and then I will be able to show more accurate stats and also bigger gains.

  2. Interesting set up, something I haven’t seen before. I’m more partial to the Louis Simmons/West side weight releasers. Have you seen those before?

    Essentially each side of the bar has a set of weights hanging down to a position where they will be on the floor at the bottom of the movement. Once their weight is off a bar it allows a hook to pivot and release the weight. So you can load up a heavy overload for the eccentric, then a “speed training” load for the concentric.

    They work for squats too.

  3. Hey Chris,
    Weight Releasers are great for overloading 1 eccentric lift. Correct me if I am wrong. This lever allows us to do more repetitions and sets using negative-only or hyper-negative(max effort on both actions) work. We can do any combination of intensities. The releasers are probably better for a 1RM. We use the lever for mostly assistive, hypertrophic, fatigue-inducing exercises. Basically, it seems that both methods are effective, but they are used for slightly different reasons.

    FYI-We are partial to most of Louie’s stuff as well. This is just a bonus!

  4. No, you’re completely correct – or at least I think so. I’ve never actually USED the weight releasers but I think they’re only good for one rep at a time.

    I don’t really do much hypertrohpy work now (I want to be stronger, not bigger – strength to weight ratio and whatnot) but these levers look really interesting.

    1. Chris,

      Familiar with the weight releasers, never used them myself. This apparatus does have an interesting effect; you still have to practice the full range bench but having that really heavy weight in hand, plus having to control a stretch that wants to fall really fast, helps tremendously.

    2. Chris,
      Bigger muscles are “usually” stronger. Mass moves mass. However, it is possible to get stronger without hypertrophic training. However, hypertrophic training increases your work capacity as well as muscle size and strength. “Isometric training is the best method for building strength without hypertrophy”-Louie

  5. Mark – I like Louie’s stuff. I do a little hypertrophy work in the off season, as well as some work capacity work then. My focus is climbing though, so my strength to weight ratio is paramount. If you look as the physiques on most high end climbers, they look a lot like gymnasts.

    The issue with isometric training is that the strength gains are VERY specific to the joint angles that are trained.

    This is part of why in climbing some guys are crazy strong crimping (closed hand grip), but not with open hand holds, even though the same major muscle groups are involved in both movements. The finger angles differ enough that isometric strength built in one activity doesn’t carry over that well to the other.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s