When to Cheat to Build More Muscle
The Summer months are here now, and that means it’s time for some Cheating.
Call me crazy, but I think people put too much emphasis on STRICT lifting technique.
I’m not saying that you should deviate from the technique so much that you put yourself at injury.
For instance, I think multi-joint movements like the Squat, Deadlift, and their complex variations should be done with excellent form at all times.
But when it comes to isolation movements, exercises where there’s much fewer joints moving and less risk for injury, I think it’s perfectly fine to cheat a bit on your technique in order to bring about more gains.
Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to cheat sometimes on your form:
1 – When you go super strict, it limits how much weight you can use.
Eventually, you’ve got to move up in weight a bit, if you want to bring on more muscle growth. But if you’re always staying super strict, it makes it hard to bump the weights up.
For an example of when I like to modify the technique in order to lift more weight, here’s a combo set of Plate Front Raises and Dumbbell Side Laterals. I deviate from the strict form on the Front Raises, because I’m using a 100lb Plate, and I bend my arms a bit to improve my leverage. I still try to lower the plate under control to accentuate the negative.
As you can see, I bend my arms here a bit to be able to get the plate up – just a small adjustment away from textbook form in order to get a lot more weight, and put a lot more loading on the front delts. Believe me, my front delts were SERIOUSLY SORE after this workout – way more sore than the previous few weeks when I worked with much lighter weight.
(2) When you keep everything strict, it limits how many reps you can do.
Appreciable volume is a must in order to build muscle. In fact, I like to stay between 8 and 15 reps on my movements where the goal is building muscle and not sheer strength.
There’s a couple ways to dial back the level of strictness in your lifting, in order to get more volume. Here are my favorites:
Go Heavier and Cheat from the Start: This method pulls from the idea above, of using more weight. Grab something that’s a good 5 to 10lbs heavier than you normally do with pristine form, and use some body english right from the start in order to bump up the volume and feel the pump sink in.
Regular Weight and Cheat at the End: With this one, you’ll start out with your regular “textbook” form, and then if you burn out before you hit your goal number of reps, then stop being a form policeman, and get the rest of your reps.
This is really just a handful of ways you can ease back a little bit on the form, in order to kick-start your gains again by increasing the weights you’re using and the volume you’re hitting in your workouts. I’m sure you can think of a few more.
The way some people talk about lifting, it’s as if the Form Police are there shaking a nightstick at you, watching every rep you do, ready to pounce on you if you deviate even the slightest from perfect form.
That’s all in your head. Don’t feel the need to stay strict on every single set and rep you do.
Naturally, there’s a time and place for everything. You don’t want to get in the habit of ALWAYS using cheat form.
Use cheating as a way to break through plateaus, test yourself with higher weights, and challenge your endurance in higher-rep situations.
I think you’re gonna see that it can help you out a great deal and can bring on some last-minute size increases, now that the Summer is here.
All the best in your training.
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