If we know that drop jumps and plyometrics work, why would lowering a weight slowly make any sense? If slow negatives were the solution, then that would mean that drop jumps and plyometrics are wrong, which clearly isn’t the case.
Guys, when you perform slow negatives, you are only accomplishing two things.
(1) You are giving yourself unnecessary DOMS by stressing the connective tissue which will impede recovery.
(2) You are teaching yourself to lift weights slowly, which not only kills the stretch reflex, but also trains you to be a slow lifter.
As you can see, performing slow negatives doesn’t really have any real benefits. There isn’t any data suggesting that they can produce better muscle gains, and in fact the latest data actually shows that faster negatives deliver far better results than slow negatives. This clearly makes sense to the individual that understands physics. Allow me to explain.
If you can triple velocity, you will produce 9x the amount of kinetic energy. In simple terms, the faster down, the more force you will have coming out of the bottom of the lift. You’re essentially maximizing the stretch reflex, and storing kinetic energy in the muscles which will allow you to lift a lot heavier than you can normally do. This is why you can lift more weight on a touch and go bench press, rather than a paused bench press. It has to do with basic physics.
Knowing this information, are there ways to make your eccentrics even faster? The answer is yes! If you simply attach bands to a barbell or dumbbell, you will get an effect which is known as overspeed eccentrics. This is because the bands are trying to pull the weight back down, which actually allows you to come down faster than gravity. Therefore, the extremely fast speed that you get from band work will give you an incredible stretch reflex, which will lead to increased muscle and strength gains.
Bands also have other benefits, such as balancing out the strength curve. Often times, when performing a given lift there will be a lot of bar deceleration because of joint angles and such. A great example is the bench press, where it is hard at the bottom, but easy at the top. The opposite scenario would be a barbell row, where it’s easy at the bottom, and hard at the top. So by using bands in these exercises, we can balance out this strength imbalance so that it’s an even movement pattern, which is kind of like a machine. Actually, that’s what most machines try to achieve, which is why bodybuilders love to use them for muscle growth and “time under tension”. So if we know this information, why wouldn’t you just balance out the strength curve on your free-weighted exercises by using bands, which will give you all the benefits of free-weights + the strength curve and overspeed eccentrics perks?
Oh, and one more thing. By balancing out the strength curve you will teach yourself to accelerate through sticking points, and will also develop a greater rate of force development. This Is always a huge advantage for both bodybuilders and strength athletes.
Moving on though, overspeed eccentrics work because of physics. If I can give you a very simple example, just take a look at what happens to a sprinter. As he begins sprinting, his legs are not moving fast (low velocity) but as his legs begin to come down faster (fast velocity) he can all of a sudden use a lot more force which propels him forward in a far greater manner than when he started. This is EXACTLY what happens with overspeed eccentric training with done with free-weights.
In sum, boys and and girls, never lower a weight slowly because you will only get DOMS and train yourself to be slow. Lowering a weight fast has too many advantages that simply cannot be ignored, which are fundamentally backed up by physics. Don’t to discredit physics just because some bodybuilder who’s on X amount of gear per year is telling you to do slow negatives.
PS: This article is dedicated to Louie Simmons, the owner of the infamous Westside Barbell Gym. He also wrote the Westside Barbell Book of Methods.