Admittedly, some of these [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”wysiwyg”,”fid”:”436006″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image media-image-right”,”style”:”width: 300px; height: 283px; margin: 4px; float: right;”,”title”:””,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”}}]]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.

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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.


Our H.U.G.E.® (Hardgainers Ultimate Growth Enhancement System)  retro-gravity hamstring routine incorporates both types of negative reps. In the leg curl exercises, go to failure on regular reps before doing 2–4 additional negatives. The negatives can be done without a spotter if you stop short of failure and then lift the weight with both legs and lower it with one leg, alternating sides on each rep. (In this case, do twice as many total negative reps as prescribed in our routine to compensate for the fact that only one leg is being worked at a time.)

On the Romanian deadlifts, a spotter helps lift the bar, then you slowly lower it back to the starting position. A Smith machine makes it easier to assist on these and other lifts because the spotter can stand out of your way to one side and lift up on just one of the bar’s collars.



Here are the pluses of going negative.

  • ■ STRENGTH GAINS – Because you’re approximately 20% stronger on the eccentric (negative) portion of reps than the concentric portion, lowering heavier weights than you can raise overloads your nerves and muscles and boosts strength and growth.
  • ■ MAXIMIZING EFFICIENCY – Since you spend half of every rep on the negative side, this adds up to a lot of workout minutes—you may as well focus on maximizing your effort during this time.


There are two potential pitfalls to emphasizing retro-gravity. Here’s how to avoid them.

  • ■ HELPING HANDS REQUIRED – On free-weight exercises, you’ll need a spotter to assist in raising the weight. However, on some machine exercises you can go negative without a spotter by lifting the weight with two arms or legs and lowering it with one arm or leg, alternating sides each rep.
  • ■ MUSCLE ADAPTATION – Your muscles will grow accustomed to the additional stress of negative reps. To keep negatives fostering new gains, include them in your routine for only two weeks every two months.

Anabolic steroid use or just plain genetics
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Because you’re stronger in the negative portion of reps than the positive portion, you can add resistance to the former. The way to do this during a set is via forced negatives. These are reverse forced reps in which the spotter makes the reps harder instead of easier. He pushes or pulls down on the weight during the negative portion while you resist.

For example, on retro-gravity pulldown reps, you’ll pull down the bar on your own (or the spotter can help you), then as the weight is lowered and the bar goes up, the spotter pushes down on the bar, increasing resistance. The key is for the spotter to add just enough to make the negative half-rep harder—but not hard that you can’t smoothly and slowly lower the weight for at least three seconds. With experience, a training partner should be able to add just enough resistance to negative reps to make them about 20% harder. FLEX