When lifting weights, most people focus on the exertion of the push or pull. But the retraction, the second movement, is just as important.
Let me explain.
Take for example a bicep curl. The common conception is that the upward motion is what tones your arms and builds strength. Then people just let the weight fall back down to its starting position.
When you “work the negative,” you slow down the retraction so that it becomes a beneficial part of the exercise.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: use a five-count system for each movement. Two counts for exertion, 3 for retraction.
In terms of the bicep curl, you would curl up and exhale for two counts, and lower the weight back down and inhale for three.
Try it out, you’ll see your strength increase dramatically.