Workout Tips

5 Ways to Amp Up Muscle Growth

If your goal in life is to build muscle, check out these 5 fitness tweaks to get you where you want to be.


4) Incorporate Negatives

Eccentric contractions, otherwise known as negatives are the "down phase" of an exercise—think of the down phase in a squat or a biceps curl. Since you're stronger eccentrically than concentrically, you will be able to use more load—this means using loads greater than your 1 rep max. 

More load means more force output and more force output means more stimulation to active motor units. This type of training appears to preferentially recruit high threshold motor units. These muscle fibers are more responsive to muscle growth and strength adaptations. Lastly, eccentric muscle actions are mostly responsible for the micro-trauma caused in your muscles following training, which has been linked to triggering the muscle adaptation process. 

Take Home Message:

Add the 2/1 Method to your training. Essentially, use two limbs to perform the concentric portion of the movement (e.g. up phase in a biceps curl) and use only one limb to perform the eccentric portion (e.g. down phase in a biceps curl). Execute the eccentric phase over a 5-6 second period. Six to 8 repetitions can be performed for 2-4 sets.

5) Add Pauses to Your Reps

When you lift weights, your muscles are under mechanical tension and time-under-tension refers to how long your muscles are contracting, essentially, equating the duration of each set. Adding pauses to your sets increases the time-under-tension and reduces the influence of the myotatic-stretch reflex, therefore, forcing your muscles to do more work. 

Take Home Message:

With a submaximal weight, perform a standard compound exercise such as a front squat, bench press or pull-up, or isolation exercise such as a biceps curl, triceps extension or lateral raise. At different body or limb positions, stop the weight or your body position for 2 seconds, then continue to finish the rep. Keep in mind the weight you’ll use for these exercises will be slightly lighter compared to “normally” executed reps/sets.


Jon-Erik Kawamoto, CSCS, CEP, is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach and Fitness Writer out of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. He contributes regularly to many major health and fitness magazines and websites and is currently in the middle of a master’s in exercise physiology at Memorial University. Check out more of his work at