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Old 10-29-2013, 03:46 AM   #1
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Default Cheating

Whenever I'm really pushing myself with my strength progression, I will do whatever it takes to get it done. If that means I will have to cheat a little, I will. Of course, it must still always remain under control. The important thing is to get the weight up to reach your goals, no matter what.

I believe that if you are always super strict on form, you're never really pushing 100%. I believe that it's better to train with heavier weight with less-than-perfect form than to do lighter weights with strict form. I don't mean cheating as in actively performing shallow squats, bouncing the bar off the chest on the bench press etc. Rather I mean that if the form degrades a little, it doesn't matter as long as it's coming up.

That's what I have found the most effective with my own training so far. When I'm not close to my ultimate limits I will perform the lifts as perfectly as I can. When I am close to them, then the focus shifts to just getting it done at all costs. Instead of being like "oh, my form wasn't textbook perfect, now I must reduce weight" I'm like "great, I got it done, add weight!". When the body is used to higher loads, then the sub-maximal weights will be much easier to perform with excellent form.

A lot of guys in the gym insist on always striving for the perfect form before they dare to increase the weight, and that's why they make very slow progress. In my opinion form can never be perfect, so as long as it's "okay" one should strive to add weight on the bar. Besides, increased weight means a different center of gravity, and the form will change so it's an ever-evolving process.

On some exercises it's easier to cheat than others (barbell rows, curls, etc.) and I will add momentum. On others it's almost impossible to cheat (deadlifts). On lifts such as the bench press, overhead press, squat etc. I also don't cheat.

What is your opinion on the optimum amount of cheating versus strictness?
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Old 10-29-2013, 06:01 AM   #2
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I personally have found im stronger when using good form, I used to squat just to parallel and do anything to get the bar up which usually was a weird good morning thing since ive worked on form im far stronger and more confident. Also my lower back is far healthier. Then again if im squatting and need an extra rep and i know form is gonna breakdown im going for it anyway.

I see what you're saying though, most people do this breath in and count to 3 on the way down and breath out and count to 3 on the way up BS. But this crap is taught by a lot of personal trainers who have no idea what they are talking about! I once saw an elderly women in the gym for her first time and the PT had her doing calf raises on the leg press

With the rows, i much more prefer pendlay rows then 45 degree rows. They hit my back far better and dont cause lower back pain! Id suggest giving them ago even if its your light workout! Leave you're ego at the door. I was 45 degree rowing around 75 kg but they were hurting my back so i deloaded too 60 kg pendlay rows now im pendlay rowing 83 kg ( yes its not that much ) easy, my back has defiantly grown and it has nice carryover to the deadlift IMO. Though im not always strict on these its harder to cheat compared to traditional rows.

Just my 2 cents as they say

George Leeman and Pete Rubish do cheat rows but they are more cheat pendlay rows and these dudes are STRONG and in there early 20's!!

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Old 10-29-2013, 08:15 AM   #3
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Your form is going to break down at 85%+ so if you're really going to push yourself, you're going to have to break form. No one's form is perfect and using good technique will make the weight easier to lift, but if your upper back is rounding on a max DL or you start to good morning on a max squat, you better push through that shit
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Old 10-29-2013, 08:48 AM   #4
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I was actually working on an article on this exact subject. Unfortunately after 3 drafts I just couldn't get it down on paper the way I wanted.

I believe that people have things backwards. Most people are obsessed with good form on curls and isolation movements, but don't put nearly the same effort into performing compound lifts with great form.

In training, big lifts should be done almost perfectly all the time. But if you find that you can't prgress on things like rows, curls, and OHP's without a little help from some extra movement, you should do what it takes to get it done until you reach the point where the muscles you're trying to train aren't doing most of the work anymore. That's the time to drop back down and start progressing back up again.

I agree overall, however. Sometimes to place maximum tension on a muscle you need to include some cheating in your form.
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:10 AM   #5
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All your answers are appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldier View Post
I was actually working on an article on this exact subject. Unfortunately after 3 drafts I just couldn't get it down on paper the way I wanted.
That's too bad, I would've loved to read it. I was just rambling

Take my rowing form for instance; I cheat on them and a lot of guys at my gym probably think I'm a douche for doing them like that. Think of them what you may, but when I do warmups I can do them strictly and they are still pretty heavy. It's not as if the target muscles just suddenly relax and stop working when a little cheating is added into the mix. On the contrary I think it can serve to better overload them sometimes. If I only did them in a strict manner, I'm pretty sure I couldn't progress nearly as fast. When I push the progression up, also the amount I can do strictly increases similarly.

Of course, things should still be done within reason. One must not hurt themself.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:49 AM   #6
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'Good' form is only really important for injury prevention. You can still make adaptations using what most people would consider bad form. It's just stuff like rows you might get injured. All the super slow bs with these ultra slow negatives seems really silly imo.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TobesLCFC View Post
'Good' form is only really important for injury prevention. You can still make adaptations using what most people would consider bad form. It's just stuff like rows you might get injured. All the super slow bs with these ultra slow negatives seems really silly imo.
Those are good points. I never even thought about the possible injury aspect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar
I do the same type of rows as Pete. I don't believe in babying rows. I also don't believe in the near standing up rows.
To me it looks like he's basically deadlifting the bar to his knees and then pulling the bar to his waist with his lats. What I do is I deadlift the bar all the way up, then lower it down to just above my knees and do the whole set from there without setting the bar back on the floor in between reps. Do you think that's effective or is it one of those near standing up rows? I can't seem to be able to do any other kind because they put too much pressure on my lower back.
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Old 11-04-2013, 04:07 PM   #8
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I agree with most of what has been said so far. However, on squat, bench, and deads the crew I train with will not tolerate intentional form sloppiness. They put alot of effort and time into coaching me and expect me to improve and learn. On Max attempts, my form breakdowns very little because of this coaching. Additionally, the risk of injury, even on some iso lifts like curls, is too high for my liking - even a forearm injury can cause havoc on all your training. As well, one may not be injured on a lift while cheating but the risk of a cumulative effect is always there.
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:57 AM   #9
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When I was talking about form breaking down on the main lifts, I was talking mainly about the guys always squatting 125 lbs, always insisting on going ATG, form looking great but they never increase the weight. It boggles my mind why. Of course good form means better leverages, and I always strive to improve my squat every single session. I think of new cues I could think about to improve my positioning. But if you never break down at all, then you're not really trying in my opinion. Also if you never miss a lift, same thing.

Then there are some people that insist on the bar speed always being fast. I get that you may want explosiveness etc. but you can't progress very far if you only go up to the weight you can still do explosively. Note, I'm still pretty inexperienced so I don't want to offend anyone in case I'm wrong about this.

On isolation movements such as the barbell curl I simply can't progress without cheating. Even if I only add 1.25 kg on the bar each time, it's such a big percentage of the weight that I'm using for curls that the increase is too much for my biceps to handle. When I add some speed to my curls I can use a little heavier weight and progress using the 1.25 kg increases no problem. Think of it like the push press - isn't that basically a cheating version of the normal overhead press?
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mohiz View Post
When I was talking about form breaking down on the main lifts, I was talking mainly about the guys always squatting 125 lbs, always insisting on going ATG, form looking great but they never increase the weight. It boggles my mind why. Of course good form means better leverages, and I always strive to improve my squat every single session. I think of new cues I could think about to improve my positioning. But if you never break down at all, then you're not really trying in my opinion. Also if you never miss a lift, same thing.

Then there are some people that insist on the bar speed always being fast. I get that you may want explosiveness etc. but you can't progress very far if you only go up to the weight you can still do explosively. Note, I'm still pretty inexperienced so I don't want to offend anyone in case I'm wrong about this.

On isolation movements such as the barbell curl I simply can't progress without cheating. Even if I only add 1.25 kg on the bar each time, it's such a big percentage of the weight that I'm using for curls that the increase is too much for my biceps to handle. When I add some speed to my curls I can use a little heavier weight and progress using the 1.25 kg increases no problem. Think of it like the push press - isn't that basically a cheating version of the normal overhead press?
There is a fine line when it comes to progress on the big lifts. You're absolutely right, you have to push yourself to get that 5lb PR or to get that extra rep, but you also have to feel it out, especially as the weights get heavier. If I have a day where I feel good then it's time for a new PR, but that day may only come once a month. I also have days where I just don't feel that great, and these days I keep the weights lower but focus on both form and moving explosively. If you keep form good and move fast you're stimulating the CNS without really tiring it out, but doing that alone won't really train the CNS to fire as many motor units as absolutely possible. To do that you have to go heavy and get your PR's in. It's also extremely important to go heavy so that your form will break down as little as possible. When you've got a weight crushing you it's really hard to fall back on the fundamentals like good breathing. This happened to me a couple weeks ago. I haven't been doing much maximal strength work, and when I tried to go heavy on a squat I should have been able to get my breathing and my technique both completely fell apart and I got absolutely barried.

But avoiding failure is also important. Steve has talked on this a lot. I believe he said he's only failed like 2 lifts in however many years. But avoiding failure isn't about avoiding form breakdown or being scared of heavy weight. It's more about being able to successfully asses how you're feeling and what you're capable of (VERY important for a competing lifter), as well as instilling confidence. If you get used to feeling that you can complete the lift then you're actually training your mind to believe in yourself, if that makes sense.
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