Cheat Curls

Curl, curl, curl! To develop impressive biceps, you have to do curls. Every upper body muscle group can be built with only one type of exercise: curls. There are many types of bicep curls — with dumbbells, with a barbell on dumbbell arms, on an incline bench, or a preacher pad — all of them good for developing your fitness in a different way.

If you want to develop awe-inspiring biceps, you have to do curls.

How To Perform Cheat Curls Properly

Proper form is not that simple. One size doesn't fit all, especially for exercises. And yet, there's one exercise everyone seems to do incorrectly. It's the barbell curl.

Proper form is a nuanced art and is not as simple as one might assume. What counts as a good form for one person might not be a good idea for someone else. But cheat curls are different.

Note: It’s not a good idea to use cheat curls early on in your fitness journey before you are an experienced lifter or if you don’t already know how to perform a proper rep of the exercise you’re trying to build. You have to be careful to watch what you’re doing if you want to avoid serious injury.

Let’s start with cheat curls with a barbell.

Let’s pretend you’re going to do cheat curls using an 80-pound barbell, but now, assume you have more weight on your bar than you can lift cleanly for more than 8 repetitions.

You’ll hold it from the center, your normal grip and stance, but this time, you’ll have more load on the bar than you’d be able to handle with a strict curl.

With your grip set, place your feet in a normal shoulder-width stance for curling. Engage your abs and tilt forward slightly while keeping your shoulders low. With your abs clenched, you will pull backward with your upper body and curl the bar as you typically would for a normal set of curls.

To be most effective, a bicep curl should use just the right amount of momentum. You shouldn’t swing it too much, or you won’t get anything out of it. But if you don’t swing it enough, you won’t be able to move it at all. Try to find the perfect balance of momentum and muscle to have them working together.

When the cheat curl is done properly, it will allow you to lift weights that are typically too heavy for you in a way that taxes your biceps. To do a cheat curl, you must lift the weight with all your might. This helps recruit more muscle fibers in order to complete the exercise and leads to greater contraction and muscular hypertrophy.

Barbell Cheat Curls

How To Use Cheat Curling Safely

By its very nature, cheats typically produce cheap or even fake results that don't take your gains to their maximum potential. Proper cheat curls are one exception to this rule, but in addition to doing your curls with impeccable form, consider the following tips to cheat with success and avoid serious injury or wasted reps.

Combat Muscle Failure

Bodyweight Bicep Exercises

When you become stuck with a strict movement, do not give up! Use momentum to move on. Keep the weight steady and do not stop or lower it. You can use momentum to help you continue the set without stopping, lowering the weight, or resting. This will allow you to fully push yourself and achieve maximum intensity.

The lifter who keeps going has a high tolerance for pain and a strong mind-muscle connection. Although it's similar to doing forced reps, you have more control over your movement.

Do Cheat Curls In Your Negatives

Troy taking a selfie showing his biceps

Want to build your arms? Take all your warnings and negatives seriously. Constant research proves the effectiveness of lifting on negatives. You can handle up to 60% more on a negative than a positive. Control the negative portion of your reps in a strict style when using cheats on the positive, and you will build more arm strength.

Control Metabolic Stress

Troy wearing a white baseball cap and blue tank top smiling at the gym

When you use cheats, you increase tension in a muscle. This increased tension can lead to higher levels of metabolic stress, which causes more muscle damage. In this way, cheating can boost crucial components for triggering muscle growth.

You can push yourself past your limits, achieving rapid muscle failure in your biceps. Your biceps can be challenged with heavyweights, high reps, or heavy eccentric movements to enhance definition.

Know When To Stop

Troy incline bench press

When you’re a competitive lifter, don’t cheat on the core exercise in the sport. Powerlifters train the big three lifts with good form to get better at the competition. Powerlifting isn’t just about weightlifting; it’s also about skill.

As a competitive lifter, please don’t use cheats on your core lifts. For example, it’s not smart to increase your bench press numbers by lifting with bad bench press form. In other words, the way to get stronger biceps is to workout with good form — not lifting more weight while cheating.

What Are Cheat Curls?

Cheat curls are exactly what you think. You’re breaking standard form by using more eccentric lifting means, such as hyperextension of the arm or back and stabilizing your shoulders, to hoist the weight you’re curling.

This sounds like a really bad idea to fitness enthusiasts, but when done properly, this strategy will help you get the most out of your biceps. The only downside is that you must be extremely strict to reap the benefits from cheat curls. If you do cheat on your cheat curls by doing a shoulder shrug or leaning forward, cheated movement on a cheat curl won't help you build big biceps.

Troy performing cheat curls at the gym

Cheated reps are about weight movement that breaks from the conventional approach. When you execute a perfect repetition, you’re isolating and focusing on the muscles you’re training. On the other hand, when you cheat through a rep, you rely on other parts of the body to help share the load.

When you recruit help from other muscles, you can add more weight. This exposes your target muscle to heavier weights, which means it's getting all the help it can get.

After all, the muscle you're targeting (say, your biceps) receives help from other muscles (in this case, your shoulders and back), so they're doing most of the movement and work. But it's still a welcome addition to your workout routine.

Why Is Cheating OK?

Cheating is a loaded term in fitness and bodybuilding. It's not just about following the rules. Gym cheats can actually make exercises more difficult. The right reason to cheat is to create more muscular tension and make the exercise harder. Muscles don't know the weight on the barbell, but they do know tension. So, cheats with intent will make muscles tense up more than haphazardly heaving heavy weights might.

Sadly, this is often not the reason why people cheat when they lift weights. Some people use lifting cheats in order to make exercises easier. Others will try to get away with it because they simply don't know any better. But you're here to learn how to maximize your gains like a pro. So we'll assume you're here for the right reason.

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