Cheating Barbell Curls
1. General Description
The Cheating Barbell Curl, as the name suggests, involves a slight “cheat” to move heavier weights during a barbell curl. The cheat is typically a slight thrust or hip hinge that helps to initiate the curl. This exercise is an integral part of many strength and muscle-building programs, especially those focused on bicep growth. The primary muscles worked include the biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis. Secondary muscles engaged are the anterior deltoids, traps, and the muscles of the lower back and core.
2. How to Perform the Exercise
To perform the Cheating Barbell Curl, follow these steps:
Stand up straight with a barbell in your hands at arm’s length. Your grip should be shoulder-width apart, palms facing forward.
Bend your knees slightly and tighten your core. This position helps you maintain balance and supports your lower back.
Start the movement by bending at the hips slightly and then extend your hips and spine, using this momentum to help curl the barbell up towards your chest.
Try to control the barbell as much as possible, limiting the momentum to the initial part of the movement. The top of the movement should still primarily involve your biceps.
Lower the weight back to the starting position in a controlled manner, resisting the pull of gravity.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
3. Good Sides
The main advantage of the Cheating Barbell Curl is that it allows you to lift heavier weights than you typically could with strict form. This can lead to increased muscle activation and potentially greater muscle growth in the long term. Moreover, the exercise can help to improve your overall strength, particularly in the biceps and forearms. The added momentum from the hip hinge can also assist in overcoming plateaus in your training by introducing a new stimulus to your muscles.
Despite its benefits, the Cheating Barbell Curl should be performed with caution. The ‘cheat’ element of the movement can easily lead to poor form, and if performed incorrectly, the exercise can put excessive strain on the lower back, potentially leading to injury. Furthermore, over-reliance on momentum can reduce the activation of the target muscles, diminishing the effectiveness of the exercise. This exercise may not be suitable for beginners or individuals with pre-existing lower back issues.
5. Alternative Exercises
If you’re looking for alternatives to the Cheating Barbell Curl, consider the following exercises:
Strict Barbell Curl: This exercise eliminates the hip thrust, ensuring full activation of the biceps throughout the lift.
Hammer Curl: Performed with dumbbells, this targets the brachialis and brachioradialis, along with the biceps brachii.
Incline Dumbbell Curl: This exercise places the biceps under tension throughout a greater range of motion and reduces the ability to use momentum.
Concentration Curl: A great isolation exercise for the biceps which also minimizes the chance of cheating.
The Cheating Barbell Curl is a useful exercise for those looking to increase bicep size and strength, particularly for experienced lifters who have reached a plateau. While it allows for the use of heavier weights, the risk of injury due to incorrect form or excessive strain on the lower back is also higher. Therefore, it’s essential to perform this exercise with care, focusing on maintaining control and proper form as much as possible.