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Cheat Curls - Muscles Worked & Benefits

Exercise Type: Single-joint.
Primary Muscles Worked: Biceps
Secondary Muscles Worked: Lats, Middle Back and Shoulders

Cheat curls are a great curling exercise designed to build mass and power in the biceps. The trick with this exercise is to use more weight than you normally would in a set of strict reps. Throw your back and shoulders into this one. Combine Cheat Curls with much stricter Barbell Curls to really blast your biceps. The Cheat Curl allows you to overload the crucial muscle fibre allowing for maximum growth stimulation. This exercise was a favourite of Arnold Schwarzenegger and in the 70s was credited as the reason behind his incredible biceps.

Cheat Curls Exercise - Workout & Technique

  • Place the loaded barbell in front of you. Note that you can go heavier than standard bicep curls with this exercise, as you are allowed to cheat a bit.
  • Position your feet so that they are about shoulder-width apart, and your knees are not locked out.
  • Feel the weight of your body at the heels.
  • Place your hands on the barbell with your palms facing away from you, and your hand placement at shoulder-width apart.
  • To start with, let the weight hang down in front of you, ensuring that your posture is upright and your shoulder blades are drawn together.
  • Align your slightly bent elbows so that they are under the shoulders and elbows close to your sides.
  • Exhale and draw the barbell up feeling the contraction in the biceps, keeping your elbows locked at your sides.
  • When bringing the weight up, you can swing the body, allowing you to ‘cheat’ in order to bring the weight up to the top of the movement.
  • The 'cheating' technique can allows to continue repping, where as with normal strict Barbell Curls you would no longer be able to continue.
  • Contract and hold the biceps at the top of the movement. Pause.
  • Inhale and extend the arms, letting the barbell return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the desired rep range.

Cheat Curls - Tips & Safety

  • Don’t overload the bar with weight to the point that you are entirely dependent on using the swinging motion to bring the bar up, as this would not train the biceps. The difficult part is to 'cheat'  just enough with your back and shoulders to keep the set going.
  • Slowing down the eccentric (down-phase) of the movement will help train the biceps further by causing increased microdamage, necessary for protein synthesis.
  • Keep the elbows stationary at the waist.
  • Use enough weight that it is difficult to do more than just a few reps.

Cheat Curls - Alternatives

  • Cheat Curls are a great way to blast the biceps when you can no longer do anymore strict Barbell Curls. Combine the two by putting on more weight at the end of your regular set of Barbell Curls.
  • Performing this exercise at a cable machine can be a suitable alternate.
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