Cheating in the Gym

Resistance training, popularly known as weight training, is a common fitness regimen practiced by many. An intriguing aspect of this training is the concept of "cheating." Now, while the term may sound negative, it's not necessarily so in this context. This blog post aims to demystify the concept of cheating in resistance training and shed light on its potential benefits and drawbacks.

What Does "Cheating" Mean in Resistance Training?

In the world of resistance training, cheating refers to the voluntary or involuntary modifications made in the execution of an exercise. These modifications, often seen as compensations, aim to make the exercise more effective in moving the load, albeit at the expense of the ultimate goal of muscle development or specific strength.

The concept of cheating has its roots in the gaming world, where players use unauthorized tricks to enhance their performance. Similarly, gym-goers use various techniques to optimize their workout, often blurring the line between a natural compensation and a counterproductive attitude.

Why Do People Cheat in Resistance Training?

The primary reason people resort to cheating is to achieve a physical performance that their current athletic level might not allow. Cheating is often seen in the form of disorganized movements, incomplete extensions, or excessive intervention of a spotter (a training partner who assists at the end of forced repetitions).

However, it's essential to note that cheating can sometimes mask incorrect overload calculations. The desire to appear stronger or improve often leads to unrealistic load progressions, resulting in the use of cheats.

Most Common Cheating Techniques

Cheating techniques in resistance training are numerous and varied. Some of the most common ones include:

  1. Incomplete Range of Movement (ROM): This involves limiting joint excursion, thereby moving larger loads than one's potential.

  2. Ballistic Rebound: This risky technique involves reducing resistance control in the eccentric phase and exploiting the myotatic (stretching) reflex and elastic force expression.

  3. Abbreviated Time Under Tension (TUT): This involves shortening the time of muscular tension, thus reducing the execution effort.

  4. Postural Compensation: This involves using the body's core to lighten the work of the peripheries, often resulting in overloading.

  5. Extension of Recovery Times: This involves extending the rest time between sets, thereby increasing regeneration potential.

Can Cheating Be Useful?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes, but only in specific contexts. Some forms of cheating, like incomplete ROM (Range Of Motion) and postural compensation, can be beneficial depending on the training objective.

For instance, in the expression of pure strength, postural compensation can help bypass the inconvenience of failure, or insufficient strength, of secondary muscles. This can favor an increase in loads, thereby enhancing the training stimulus on large muscle groups.

However, it's crucial to note that cheating can also be counterproductive or potentially dangerous, especially when it involves techniques like ballistic rebound. Furthermore, chronic cheating can lead to a decrease in the potential for muscle growth.

The Bottom Line

The legitimacy of cheating in resistance training depends on the type of "trick" used and the underlying reason for its use. Cheating can be contemplated in the search for failure, but it should not become a chronic training mode or a "shortcut."

Remember, while cheating may offer temporary benefits, it's not a substitute for proper exercise execution and the correct application of training principles. Ultimately, a balanced and well-planned training regimen, coupled with dedication and hard work, is the key to achieving your fitness goals.

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The Wellyme Team

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