Should We Cheat In Bodybuilding?
The answer to this question seems simple and many people will tend to tell you: No! And yet, in some cases, cheating can be very helpful. Of course, when we talk about cheating here, it’s all about cheating on the movements themselves. It’s not about tampering with weights or using banned products to outdo your opponents. In short, should you cheat on your movements? For some people and for certain exercises, this can be considered. For others, it’s better not to think about it. Explanations.
In which case do not cheat?
In the majority of cases, it is better to stick to movements made as perfectly as possible. Because otherwise, you could hurt yourself and not solicit the good muscles.
This is especially the case if you start bodybuilding. For a beginner, cheating should not even be considered. On the one hand, because he does not yet know the movements correctly and, on the other hand, because he does not yet have the muscle base necessary for such a technique to be useful to him. A beginner should simply start with light loads, try to control his movement during execution, and follow the exercise technique.
In the weight rooms, we often see beginners cheat to carry heavier. No doubt because they want to be at the same level as the other practitioners in the room, because they feel a kind of shame in carrying too light weight. But, everyone has been there, and cheating is not a solution at this level. All that the beginner may get is injury that will prevent him from progressing. Moreover, in cheating, he will never learn to solicit the right muscles during an exercise.
If you are not a beginner, cheating can be considered, as we will see below. However, not for any exercise, no matter how.
First of all, it must be known that cheating is a technique that is incompatible with certain exercises. For example, the squat and the deadlift. On this kind of exercises, cheating is really dangerous because the load is heavy and a bad movement can easily hurt your back. It is therefore safer, if you want to use a heavier load, to reduce the range of motion rather than cheating on the technique itself.
Moreover, cheating does not have to be systematic. To put it simply, the cheating technique does not have to concern all the exercises of your training, but only one, or two, on which the cheat will be used as intensification technique and will allow you to pass the last rehearsals.
When to use cheating?
As you have seen, cheating is not about beginners and should not be used on risky exercises like squats or deadlifts.
It therefore only concerns advanced practitioners on exercises such as the biceps curl or the standing military press. Another thing, it is not a technique to use systematically on all the training and all your sets. In fact, if you use it, it should only apply to one or two exercises of your training. Plus, you should not cheat on all the repetitions of this exercise.
Indeed, cheating is only used to succeed in doing 1 or 2 more repetitions to an exercise, not to succeed each of your repetitions, which may not bring you much. It is a technique of intensification that can allow you to pass a stage on an exercise and to make you progress during a period of stagnation.
Do not do like Arnold who leans dangerously back, except to want back problems! To cheat properly at the curl, use your legs to raise the barbell…
How to use cheating?
It’s quite simple but, as explained above, you only need to apply cheating on the last repetitions of your exercise. So, you have to start your rehearsal series with good technique then, at the end of the series, you can finish on 1 to 2 cheated repetitions. This can allow you to perform your exercise with a little more weight than usual or to finally validate a load that you could not pass.
However, the purpose of the maneuver is not really to facilitate the work of your muscles, as we can see many practitioners doing it indoors. Indeed, some people tend to cheat on all their repetitions and give big shots to reduce stress on the muscle. This is equivalent to taking a lighter load, the risk of injury and more. Which does not have much interest.
No, the real cheating technique, the useful cheating, the one that is only used at the end of a well applied and already intense exercise, allows on the contrary to further intensify the work. To achieve this, one must not degrade the technique too much. For example, at the curl biceps standing at the barbell, too many people are writhing in all directions and hurt their backs. While it is enough to perform a slight bending / extension of the legs to get a little momentum and produce the last repetition normally impossible and that will finish the work on your muscles already pushed to the end.