Weider Principle #25: Retro-Gravity

How going negative can have a positive impact on your bodybuilding gains.


Admittedly, some of these

Weider Principles haven’t had the most marketable names. Flushing Principle? That one probably should’ve been, let’s say, flushed. In marked contrast, this one was given arguably the coolest name: retro-gravity. It’s just a fancy way of saying “negative,” but, to state the obvious, negative is not positive. Likewise, negative’s more scientific title, “eccentric,” is a synonym for weird. And so we get retro-gravity, which sounds like something a planet-hopping superhero would employ to defeat the laws of time and matter. Cool! As we’ll explore, retro-gravity is actually a method for immediately using more weight or doing more reps, which can quickly boost your strength and size gains. Again, cool!

Every rep has a positive half (contracting the muscle) and a negative half (lengthening the muscle). Usually, the former occurs when raising the weight, and the latter when lowering the weight. So about half of your time under tension during a set is spent returning to the starting position. The interesting thing about this is that research has shown you’re approximately 20% stronger during the negative halves of reps than during the positive halves. The Weider Retro-Gravity Principle prescribes that you slow down the negative side of reps—that is, effectively resist the pull of gravity—to work your muscles during the period when you’re at your strongest. Take approximately 3–6 seconds to complete each negative half-rep.

There are two ways to do retro-gravity reps. You can use them to push your sets beyond failure, to get more reps, or you can do all-negative sets, to use more weight.

Courtesy Strong Supplements

To push sets beyond failure, do 6–10 regular reps until you can’t get another. Then have a training partner (or two) help you raise the weight. Fight the weight’s descent, never halting but going at a slow, steady pace for 3–6 seconds. Do 2–4 such negative reps.

To do all-negative sets, select a weight that’s approximately 20% greater than what you can maximally use for 6–10 positive reps. Have your partner help you raise the weight, then fight its descent for a set of 6–10 negative-only reps. Note that retro-gravity reps aren’t appropriate for some lifts. These are basically the same exercises we told you to avoid combining with forced reps: ballistic or heavy, free-weight basics like lunges, power cleans, deadlifts, and squats.

To see the Retro-Gravity routine, click NEXT PAGE.