Ever since I started my training I have always been told form is everything and to never deviate from that path! I agree with this, it is essential for fast results and safety but I have been learning about a new style of training this month – cheating! As you might have guessed, it involves errrrrmmm cheating!!
As you observe a lot of people in the gym shifting weight they tend to have terrible rep tempo, there is no focus on concentric or eccentric contractions. This is where they are missing a trick. Often as the muscles fatigue the ability to lift weight becomes nearly impossible, but you are still able to resist it during the negative phase of the rep. This is when ‘’cheating’’ comes in handy (but it must be controlled cheating) because you can get the weight to the point of isometric contraction and then slowly lower the weight increasing tension against the muscle.
Research has shown that it is during the eccentric phase of the repetition that your muscle fibres are broken down the most giving the potential for better muscular hypertrophy. Barbell curls are a prime example where this approach can be used. Once you reach failure, swinging the weight up (safely, in a controlled manner) and then lowering the weight for 2-4 seconds is going to place immense levels of stress on the target muscle fibres. As I said, great care MUST be taken when using this to go beyond failure!
Another fantastic way to do this is to get your training partner to lift the weight up for you, where you just focus on the negative part of the rep. This actually limits the risk of injury considerably and allows you to focus your energy on the negative phase. In my experience over the last 6 weeks I have added 0.5’’ to my arms using this approach and I think it is a fantastic short term system to use if you are experiencing stubborn muscle growth. As I said to begin with, most people cheat but the wrong way – this way you are cheating but in a productive way!