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I always hear people say to use an amount of weight so you can meet your goal amount of reps in good form. On the other hand however, all the videos that I've been watching on YouTube show people taking big, massive weights and curling them with a slight swing of the arm or bending at the back a bit to use their feet and lower back to help lift the weight up. Yet they slow down during the negative to the point that they have almost full control over the weight.

Now one more point I feel I should point out before I conclude my question, according to Jeff Cavaliere of AthLEAN-X, the part of an exercise that is mostly responsible for fiber tears is the negative. He gives an example to explain this and says to think about our fibers like rubber bands. Not much happens when contracting a rubber band; however, stretching it out will eventually tear it. In essence what is happening during the negative portion of an exercise which then allows our fibers to grow back stronger than before.

With all that being said, I'm wondering if it is okay to waver from the correct form on the positives so long as there is full control on the negatives?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Good form is for safety. Deviating from good form means that you think that the situation is so high-stakes that it warrants risking your safety. So armed with knowledge, you can choose your own adventure.

You need to be careful with taking cues from YouTube. It's possible that the people you watch have different goals than you, like hypertrophy rather than strength, or bragging rights about the weight they curl instead of actually improving their curl. There's also an inherent bias in what you see: most people upload the lifts that make them look good, not the injuries that stem from poor form.

However!

If training for hypertrophy, and you have a solid base of whole-body strength to draw from, and you know how to protect yourself while doing so, I could see a little bit of benefit from using a weight too heavy for you to curl, where you hang clean-curl it up and used a controlled, slow negative. Please note all the qualifiers in that statement.

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I hesitate to downvote, but... was the sarcasm really necessary? Answers like this imply the asker should have known the answer without asking. I think the question was sound and we shouldn't create an atmosphere where inexperienced people are afraid to ask things others might think are obvious. –  Joshua Carmody Apr 27 '12 at 16:39
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@JoshuaCarmody Good point, so edited. –  Dave Liepmann Apr 27 '12 at 17:20
    
Just to go off of what Dave has said... A cheat on the final few reps can help you accomplish your goals provided they are controlled enough to keep you from getting injured. In general, though, if you are not lifting properly you are not lifting. In most cases in the gym what you see is dangerously poor form, not controlled, planned cheating to accomplish goals. –  Robert Kaucher May 1 '12 at 12:28

I'm not a weightlifter, but I "tried" doing it years ago. From personal experience, you do not want to overbear yourself with large and heavy weights that are beyond your current ability level. One reason is to avoid injury that you might cause to yourself (especially if you work out alone). You don't want to overstrain your muscles or joints nor accidentally "give in" and drop something. If someone is close by, there's also a chance that your poor form and execution could be a hazard to that person too.

You should practice good form with little weight and improve your technique. As you adjust to the weight and form over time, then you can begin increasing your load little by little to your level of comfort or ability. Practicing a bad form will only encourage a bad habit that becomes harder to unlearn once your body and mind have adapted to the specific movements. The effectiveness of a bad form will not be as beneficial of doing something properly. This is also something that I would say is true of whatever activity you are doing.

With regard to the YouTube videos, there are probably good ones on that site and there are probably bad ones too. As a beginner or someone who is lacking experience, evaluating those videos can be difficult or confusing. Once you do properly employ the right technique and improve over time, you can then decide what videos are good and distinguish why it is better than others.

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I wouldn't want to lift any weight I couldn't perform the concentric movement in good form with, but at the same time I've read (and I think this started with Arthur Jones and a Scandinavian research team, according to Ellington Darden's book) that the eccentric portion of the movement is more important for gaining size. Since the muscles are stronger for isometric contraction than concentric contraction, and stronger for eccentric contraction than isometric contraction, it does in some way make sense that you would add a bit of swing to get a weight you couldn't lift concentricly to fully fatigue your muscles eccentricly. I also wouldn't think that a swing is necessarily bad form if it's to get the weights into a position to perform an eccentric movement with heavy weight, but I would also think it would be better to have the weight racked to start eccentric and use the loading of the eccentric movement to help perform the concentric movement after.

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