Making the Most of Cheat Reps

cheat sets“Cheat reps” can be a huge benefit to your workout program.

It’s only been the last ten years or so, that I started hearing people denounce the awesomeness of the cheat rep.

Don’t believe the hype.  Cheat reps work… if you know how to best utilize them.

The oft-advised “Don’t cheat when you perform reps” gained popularity through a lack of knowledge in body building.  The secret is understanding when you should be doing cheat reps and how to best perform them.

What is a cheat rep?
Using improper form as a means to lift weights that could not otherwise be lifted through normal muscular contraction.

So long as you follow the Golden Rule of Cheat Reps, you’ll never again wonder if you should be cheating or not.

Only perform cheat reps to make an exercise harder and never to make it easier.

Alright, I admit it.. there are some other nuggets of knowledge that everyone should follow as well, but this golden rule is one that many of the elite body builders of past used to help in gaining maximum size and strength.  It’s a rule that many well known body builders of today employ on an every day basis in the gym.

If we “make a set harder”, we’re adding the cheat rep on the very end of a set that is otherwise performed with good form.

If we “make a set easier”, we’re cheating the set before the end, using bad form before it’s necessary and that’s cheating the muscle of maximum contraction and ultimately growth.

Compare the benefits of a few years of “good cheat sets” on the muscle.  It adds up to a lot of extra reps and a lot of added muscle contractions.

Arnold Told Me To Do It

I remember starting down my own weight-lifting journey over 20 years ago and wondering if cheat sets were appropriate for me?

That same week, I came across an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and he admitted that he had always incorporated cheat sets into his workouts for maximum stress on the muscle.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

That was pretty much all I needed to hear and I’ve been incorporating them into my workouts ever since.

It’s only fair to mention that there are many body builders, then and now, who never stray from what they consider perfect form and they don’t advocate cheating to perform weight lifting movements of any kind.

Dorian Yates comes to mind.  He’s a modern day body builder who preaches the gospel of strict form.

Make your choice.  It’s your body.  I choose Arny.

“Cheat Rep” Considerations

Cheat reps have always worked well for me because I do them with a minimal amount of cheat movement.

See that guy at the top of this article who’s curling and looks like he’s ready to do a back walk-over?  You’ll need to decide how much  form you’ll willing to sacrifice to knock out an extra rep or two but I would never suggest that anyone take it this far.

Use cheat reps in such a way that a small bounce will allow you to add one more rep.  Don’t cheat so much that you’re risking injury.  Like anything fitness related, compare the risk against the reward and minimize the risk.  A good cheat rep will bring the weight up as if you had a partner spotting you and giving you that slight lift.  Use your legs to cheat the weight up and not your back.

Even thought I started using cheat sets early in my weight-lifting career, I would still advise anyone to wait a few years before using them.  The body will respond in many different ways already without adding cheat reps early on.

Consider using cheat reps to bust through your plateaus later on in your weight-lifting career.

Also consider that you only have one body and one weight-lifting mistake can end up causing years of pain so if you’re new to cheat reps, find some guys in your gym that really know what they’re doing and ask for help.  Old guys love that anyway.

Cheat em’ up and get ripped!

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