Being of an optimistic nature, I've always tried to avoid focussing on the negative aspects in life, however when it came to strength training, I have found there are few better ways than to focus on the negative – negative repetitions that is! Negative repetitions are repetitions which resist the weight in a downward movement, and are a perfect way to gain strength quickly, however they are often neglected.
If we consider the flat bench press, the negative repetition of this exercise involves resisting the weight in downward movement from the top of the press towards the body, usually over a longer period of time than the press repetition. With isolated negative repetition strength training, a spotter is almost always a necessity, as pure negative repetition training focusses solely on the negative repetitions. This is implemented, for example with the bench press again, by loading the bar above your maximum weight, and having the spotter(s) lift the pressing motion, and then it is on you to resist the downward motion of the weight for a rep usually lasting between 3-6 seconds. Although this method of training is one of the best for gaining strength, it is physically demanding and can lead to fatigue without appropriate resting.
Dorian Yates, in his training such as the 'Blood and Guts' workouts, has a large focus on negative repetitions, especially to go beyond failure. When the muscle is exhausted, it is still usually able to complete a few negative repetitions. With the aid of a spotter to help focus on the negative repetitions after failure, the muscles will then be worked to complete exhaustion – and what better feeling is there knowing that you have worked your muscles as hard as you possibly can? For those looking to improve strength, but have neither a spotter, nor the time to dedicate sessions to sole negative repetition training, implementing slower negative repetitions into your normal workout will have vast improvements alone. Ensuring that you don't 'drop' the weight down in place of a controlled negative repetition is a great way to start improving strength.
I'm a firm believer in focussing on the positives, especially when it comes to confidence in the gym, however in this case, there's nothing wrong with thinking about the negatives!