If you want to maximize your arm growth, you NEED to be doing cheat curls.
Contrary to what you will usually hear, having perfect form is beneficial up until a certain point. If you want to get the most muscle growth possible, you need to be finding new and creative ways to push past your limits which includes cheat curls.
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How To Do Barbell Cheat Curls?
First things first, just because you are going to cheat curls, does NOT mean you should discard proper straight bar curls. Cheat curls should be strategically implemented into your training for maximum effect.
I personally only do cheat curls at the end of my set after I have already reached failure using proper form. The weight you should use for your cheat curls not be way more than you can lift with proper form.
As an example, I can curl 100 pounds for a solid 12 reps. When I want to do cheat curls, I bump up the weight a little to about 115 pounds.
At this weight, I can still get a few proper barbell curls in. But after 5 reps, I am no longer to get the wait up with proper form. This is when I start cheating.
Tighten your core to protect your lower back
Push your hip back and then throw them forward
Use the momentum from your hips to curl the bar up
Squeeze your biceps at the top of the rep
Lower the weight down SLOWLY, even you should be able to control the bar on the way down
Repeat until you can no longer lower the weight safely
If you want to do other types of curls to target different muscles, you can implement a similar cheating strategy. Here are some cheat curl variations that you should also try after:
Hammer cheat curl
Dumbbell cheat curl: If you think that your biceps may be uneven, switching to a dumbbell cheat curl may be the solution
EZ bar cheat curls
Benefits Of Cheat Curls
There are dozens of ways to work your biceps, so why should you even bother doing cheat curls?
In any basic lift there are two parts to it:
Eccentric: The part of the rep your muscle is stretching you out. For a barbell curl, this would be the part where you lower the bar. Most muscular hypertrophy is triggered here.
Concentric portion: This is the part of the rep where you are shortening your muscle. For a barbell curl, this is the part where you are curling the bar up
It may seem counterintuitive, but more muscle fibers are actually activated during the eccentric portion of the rep. Keeping that in mind, you are also significantly, stronger on the eccentric portion than you are on the concentric portion.
Think about it. If you have ever benched, you know that you can slowly lower very heavy weights to your chest. The problem is getting that weight back UP.
So now let’s apply our new-found knowledge to the bicep curl. If you push yourself to failure in the traditional way, you are really pushing yourself to failure on the eccentric portion. Meanwhile, you have plenty left in the tank on the eccentric side.
By doing cheat curls, you can force the weight up and then slowly lower it back down until your eccentric strength has been drained as well.
Get Used To Heavier Weights
If you just stick to the weights you can do with perfect form, you will progress slowly.
By doing cheat curls with more weight, you get your biceps and arms used to handle heavy weights.
Aren’t Cheat Curls Dangerous?
I think that proper form is rightly valued for MOST exercises. If you try cheating on a squat or a deadlift, you could easily hurt yourself.
The difference with cheat curls is that curls require the use of much less weight to be effective. Your biceps brachii is a rather small muscle. Even the absolute strongest guys in your gym are not curling much over 135 pounds if that for reps.
For most people, the weight they would use for cheat curls is so light that there is very little room to get injured.
That being said, if you want to be extra safe, stick to some basic rules:
Do not go over 15% of your working weight. If you can do 100 pounds for a clean set, don’t go over 115 for your cheat curls.
At the top of your rep, be sure to not lean back. If you lean back too much, you risk transferring the load to your lower back
At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference whether you choose to do cheat curls or not.
But, most of the warnings of danger and injury are largely overblown. If you want to build big biceps, cheat curls are a great tool to have in your arsenal.