Most of us don’t understand the cheat rep, or it’s primary function. A cheat rep is looked upon as the following: the use of improper form in the way of momentum, torque, non-primary muscle recruitment, or any other method, to perform a rep with weight in excess of what is able to be lifted with strict form. In other words, lifting heavier weights than you’re able to by using improper form.
I see this method employed in the gym every day. It’s most often a function of ignorance and ego. Most people don’t say to themselves, “I want to perform a set of cheat reps.” They simply don’t know better. More often than not a person thinks they are actually performing a set, when in reality their set is a series of cheat reps.
Are there any good types of cheat reps?
Yes. Most people use the cheat rep incorrectly however. For example, think about how people usually do a front shoulder raise. When someone does their raises at a weight their shoulder is not strong enough to raise you see the following things:
- Bent knees at the beginning of the rep. This is used to kickstart the rep. With a standing motion, the momentum is carried through the rep. All that momentum takes tension off the shoulder.
- A quick compressed finishing motion at the end of the rep. The final 10% of the rep happens faster than the beginning 90%. What’s happening here is the weight is essentially staying stationary and the individual’s body is dropping to bring the arm to 0 degrees. In essence the final 10% of the rep is missing.
- Leaning back. This recruits the back muscles and lessens the range of motion of the rep.
Is any of this useful?
Yes. But not how people usually use a cheat rep. A cheat rep’s primary directive is to get heavier weight than you can lift in the concentric portion of the rep (the lifting) into a position for the eccentric portion of the rep. What I mean is, you use momentum to get the weight into place, and then slowly resist the weight when returning it to the start of the rep. This is a valid cheat rep! Most people cheat up, and cheat down. You’re only cheating yourself!
The whole purpose of a cheat rep is to work your way up to the weight you’re using in the cheat rep. The way to accomplish this is to put the muscle group under the load of this weight and resist it in the eccentric part of the lift. This tears the muscle up, deeper than at the weight you’re able to lift in the concentric, and sets the muscle up for recovery and strength beyond what you have now.