Cheating Exercises

Brian Dobson and Ronnie Coleman

By: Josh Bryant 

Brian Dobson, world famous Metroflex Gym Owner and trainer, said this in the book he co-authored, Metroflex Gym Powerbuilding Basics: 

Whenever I train a person who is not into bodybuilding or powerbuilding, they act as if it is wrong to heave up heavy iron on the cheat curl, usually citing how their last trainer at Pansy Inc. Fitness said to stay perfectly straight and not to lean back. These trainees usually have arms that are less than 14″ and the trainers’ arms are usually less than 15″! Trust me on this: Heavy cheat curls build big, strong arms.

This makes sense. After all, if you need financial advice, are you going to look for it at a homeless shelter? Certainly not. If you are hell-bent on getting big and muscular, you are going to look at what such greats as Arnold, Ronnie Coleman, Bill Kazmaier, Johnnie Jackson, Branch Warren, and Ted Arcidi have done.

The bottom line is this: big, muscular, strong people have demonstrated the effectiveness of the cheat curl repeatedly. While I am citing the curl as an example, cheating is an advanced bodybuilding principle that, when used correctly, can open up the gates to an anabolic paradise.

What does cheating mean exactly?

Generally, it means swinging a weight past a sticking point; on a front raise it might be a slight hip bump out of the bottom; on a bent-over row it might be a slight vertical pull on the way up; it may be a “kip” to finish off your last rep on pull-up.

The philosophy is similar to a drop set. On a drop set, you reduce resistance to continue the set; on a cheating movement, you get outside swing help to complete the movement. Cheating does not require the assistance of a partner.

When performing a cheating movement, using the curl again as an example, while you do use some swing to complete the movement, you finish the movement with the target muscle, the biceps, which have effectively been overloaded. Swinging the weight all the way up is counterproductive and serves no real purpose in bodybuilding training. Although some bodybuilders have used this technique, they always started the workout with lighter, stricter reps.

It is also very important to perform the negative portion of the lift under control, because not only do you have the capabilities to handle up to 160 percent of what you can on a positive, but you would rob yourself of the hypertrophy that can be gained on a controlled eccentric; a controlled eccentric takes a couple of seconds to lower the weight. An uncontrolled drop not only will kiss maximal hypertrophy good-bye but will open the door to a life of arthritis and getting to know your local orthopedic surgeon on a very personal level.

Cheating is an advanced, high-intensity technique; it should not be used every workout! Use it infrequently on body parts you are trying to bring up; you know, those stubborn ones that just can’t figure out they are supposed to grow.

Here are some cheat exercises that advanced bodybuilders have used effectively:

Shoulders: Front Raises

Arms: Cheat Curls

Back: Bent-Over Rows

This advanced training principle can help you cheat your way to the top with proper implementation!

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