Two Up, One Down – How to Do Negatives on Your Own Using One Arm or One Leg Negatives


Two up one down! No we’re not talking about drinks here fellows – we’re talking about an intensity technique that you can apply into your workouts; basically how to do “negatives” without needing a spotter.

We all know that negatives are a great way to take advantage of if your goal is muscle building. Eccentric contraction (lowering the weight slowly AKA: negative part of the lift) overloads your muscle fibers and creates more micro-trauma which the body will repair into thicker muscle fibers. To take advantage of that one must do their reps accentuating the negative portion of his reps.

Now there is also an intensity technique wherein you load the bar with relatively heavier weight than you could normally handle alone and then have a spotter help you with the positive portion of the reps and then he will let you handle the entire negative portion of the reps – therefore you lower the weight as slowly as you can; fighting gravity with the best of your power. Upon failure you will have your spotter off course help you re-rack the weight. And failure here means you cannot even lower the weight slowly or in a controlled manner – TOTAL failure, if you may.

But to do this you will off course need a spotter, what if you are alone? Can you still do negatives? Yes you can! Thus our technique for today “Two Up, One down”!

This is a very simple trick – on any exercise where you can; you will proceed to perform the positive portion of the rep with two limbs lifting the weight and then lower the weight slowly using only one limb. Off course the best way to do this is with machines or with single limb dumbbell moves.

For Chest: Smith Machine bench press, Chest press machine:

one arm smith machine bench press

Great example of chest one arm negatives above. Press with two arms the lower slowly with one arm.

For Back: Machine Pull-overs, Tbar rows

For Biceps: One arm dumbbell concentration curls, Machine Preacher curls

For Triceps:  Overhead one arm Triceps extension, Smith Machine Close Grip Bench presses

For Delts: Machine Shoulder Presses/ Smith Machine shoulder presses

For Quads: Leg presses, Leg Extensions, Smith Machine Squats – this would require high level of balancing and control so don’t do it if you can’t balance your body properly yet,

For Hamstrings: with any type of leg curls

For Calves: Calf Raise Machine

I recently did this with Stronghold’s (one of the gyms I work out in – see previous post) calf raises. They have decent, solid machines but their calf raise machine is selectorized (thus you cannot load more than it provides) and it only goes up to 250 lbs which is not enough for my calves.

So here’s how to do it:

Above I gave you the perfect exercises where you can apply the two up, one down technique lest you think about doing this with free weights.

By the way, if you are planning to do this with barbell bench presses that would make a great Youtube vid!

It’s easy – you do this on the main move for the bodypart; first you do 2 regular straight sets then on your last set you can choose to proceed lowering theload a little bit then proceed with 2 up one down – you lift with two arms then lower with one arm slowly . . . . . for about 4 seconds to take advantage of the eccentric load. You only call it a set only once you cannot lower the weight anymore in a controlled fashion – like when the weight just drops quickly and you cannot anymore lower it slowly or even fight the gravity anymore. That’s it! Doing one more set like that would be counterproductive! Either you proceed with your next bodypart, or isolation move, or you end the session right there!

BTW, if you can top this one, go ahead (Harry Good – Source here):

harry good one leg leg press

Question! Has anyone ever tried this one before? How does it feel afterwards? Eat your eggs, people!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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