Strict Form vs. Cheating Reps: What’s Best for Muscle Growth?

Muscle building is a serious affair that involves a significant amount of weight training. There are two schools of thought with regard to weight training as far as exercise form is concerned. Firstly, there is strict form training that involves observing strict form on all exercises. Here you follow the “fitness expert’s” advice that you should do all lifts with light weight while using slow and controlled movements. On the other hand, there is the approach adopted by power and strength athletes. This involves lifting heavier objects, using looser training form, and doing explosive movements.

So, between strict form and cheating reps, which is the best for growing muscles? Well, the truth is that there is no right or wrong way to building muscles, but it depends on a few variables. Most of the determining factors involve a person and their level of training, training conditions, and training goals.

Using Strict Form

When you are starting on your muscle building journey, it is crucial that you employ perfect form to ensure you make serious muscle gains. You need to learn how to go about the workouts with the correct form and using light weights. You need to go gradually to get acquainted with how it feels to work out and work the muscles with weight training. But as you become stronger and progressively start lifting heavier weights, you will realize that your technique will need to change.

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When To Employ Cheat Reps

After gaining reasonable strength after using strict form, you will find that more muscles need to be involved and you need to be more attentive to your body positioning, setup, and how you engage the muscles to lift, among other things. All of these call for an advanced level of mental focus. Advanced lifters barely use the exaggerated slow and controlled lifting, which is neither natural nor the normal thing in the real world, and it is not how our muscles work. This is when cheat training comes in. Our bodies are meant for fast and explosive movements, and that’s also what the real world demands.

Reason For Cheat Reps And How To Do Them

The goal of cheat reps is to overload the muscles that you are targeting. With flawless reps, you isolate and focus on the muscles that you are training and prevent other muscles from helping with the lifting. Cheat reps involve letting other muscles participate in the lifting. Involving other muscles implies that you will lift more weight, hence subjecting the muscle you are training to more weight. As such, the target muscle, for example the bicep, gets a lot of support from other muscles, like the shoulders and back, so it does not strain so much. However, the assisted muscle performs more work than usual.

The greatest benefit of cheat reps is realized as you lower the weight back to the initial point, which is referred to as the ‘eccentric phase.’ This lowering part is done by the target muscle with limited assistance from the other muscle groups. Assuming you were doing a heavy barbell bicep curl, your whole body will have assisted you. However, if you take your time to bring the heavy bar back down to the initial point of the curl and try to do so in about 3 seconds, your biceps will bear the biggest burden. Should you push their limits, you will have to face an overload on the eccentric and you can only do this by cheating with weight that is slightly higher compared to your rep range max.

Occasions For Cheat Reps

You are not supposed to do cheat reps in every workout and every stage of your muscle building journey. Cheat reps are recommended if you are an experienced weightlifter who has achieved significant gains and you understand your body well. You should also know how to do the perfect rep of the workout you are intending to cheat on. Without first knowing the basics of exercise, you are not cheating.

Conclusion

Muscle growth requires both strict form and cheating reps but at different times. While first starting out, strict form is recommended until some gains are made and you understand your body as well as the exercise. But to push your efforts further and act stronger as you progress, you need to do cheat reps.

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