Cheating To Win: Why You Should Take The Path Of Least Resistance
By Charles Staley, B.Sc, MSS
Director, Staley Training Systems
Cheating is perhaps the most maligned and least appreciated tactic in the weight room. It's so important, in fact, that I consider cheating to be the calling card of skilled lifters.
When we examine the three primary strength sports (weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman), it's clear that cheating is an absolute prerequisite for success. Of the three disciplines, I'd argue that weightlifters have elevated the art of cheating to a sweet science. In fact, during the performance of the two competitive events (the snatch and clean & jerk), lifters violate almost every dearly-held notion in the personal training industry:
- During the "catch" phase of both the snatch and clean, lifters allow their knees to drift significantly in front of the toes.
- During the support phase of the snatch and the jerk, lifters aggressively lock their elbow joints against heavy loads.
Both the snatch and clean start with what amounts to an accelerative deadlift with a heavy weight.
- In training, weightlifters rarely if ever use spotters- if they get into trouble with a lift, they simply drop the barbell on the floor.
- Both weightlifting events, as well as most of the assistance exercises they use, employ the use of maximum speed against the bar.
Rather than use common set/rep brackets such as 3x10, 5x8, etc., weightlifters typically use many sets of 1-3 reps per set. Additionally, weightlifters avoid "failure" like Brittney avoids panties.
- Your weightlifting coach will never ask "How did that feeeel?" If your lift looked great, there's no need to ask how it felt. If it sucked, there's still no reason to ask.
Weightlifters don't do "cardio." Try a clean & jerking a heavy triple and you'll find out why.
- Weightlifters don't lift in front of a mirror.
- Weightlifters, by definition, compete. Few weightlifting clubs will tolerate a lifter who won't lift in meets. At least, not for long
Weightlifters squat deep. So deep in fact, that there is a competition rule that forbids the lifter from touching his/her butt to the floor at the bottom of a snatch or clean.
(Along the lines of the last point) weightlifters often round their low backs at the bottom of their squats. What's that? You can keep your arch when your butt's an inch from the floor? Send me the video.
- Weightlifters hold their breath during long portions of most lifts. They never "inhale on the lowering phase" or "exhale on the lifting phase."
- Both the snatch and the jerk, as well as several assistance exercises for these two lifts) involve putting a barbell over your head.
- As a global point, weightlifters seek the easiest way to lift a weight, not the hardest way.
It's possible that I missed a few points, but I think my central point has been made. Now here's what's kinda interesting about all of this…
Most people who lift for the sake of improving their appearance typically try to avoid every one of these maneuvers.
Yet, not only do weightlifters violate all of these sacred cows, they actually get better aesthetic results than their "exerciser" counterparts do, despite the fact that they don't really lift for aesthetic purposes!
Recently I noticed a question on an internet forum from a 24-year old man who wanted to look like a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, in less than one year, starting from scratch as it were. He got plenty of advice, most of it relating to exercise choices, meal timing, set/rep brackets, and goal setting. My suggestion: if you want to look like an MMA athlete, why not become a MMA athlete? Which of course, is the take-home point of this article.