I just read about an interesting method to actually overcome plateaus fairly quick. It involves purposely cheating on part of the reps you do.

For example, using cheating to your advantage one would jump up to the bar in order to skip the concentric and then do the eccentric just like normal. Same goes, for example for an overhead press. Slighty go down with your legs (maybe like a fourth or less of a squat motion) and then explosively get up using that momentum to get the weight over your head. Eccentric like normal.

As far as I know, the eccentric can be up to 40% more effective than the concentric when it comes to hypertrophy and muscle growth (saw that in a study, unfortunately I can't find it at the moment to link it). So this might actually really help overcoming a plateau, I think.

Looking at the negative aspects of this method, I was always taught that cheating in an exercise will result in injuries. How can I effectively, if possible, implement such a method without injuring myself?

  • 1
    This question seems off. The real question you're asking is about using eccentrics to overcome a plateau, yet you speak of cheating instead. These are different things. – JustSnilloc Sep 11 at 18:42
  • This study suggests you get better with a combo than concentric alone, most of the ones I have seen agree that a combo is better than concentric or eccentric independent. – JohnP Sep 11 at 19:46

Concentric vs. eccentric

I agree with @JustSnilloc here. What you're describing is not cheating. It's method. Switching between focusing on the concentric, eccentric, and isometric parts of a lift is a fantastic way to include variety in lifts.

As an example, let's take the bench press. You can load the bar with weights slightly higher than your 1RM, and have a spotter assist you on the concentric portion, while you reap the benefit of a slow and controlled eccentric portion.

The eccentric part stimulates the muscle in a different way, and is one of the key variations to progressing. Additionally, controlling the higher weight stimulates your central nervous system, which is crucial to achieving heavier lifts in the long run.

"Cheating"

When you hear the term "cheating" on a rep, it usually refers to the act of breaking proper form in order to complete the concentric portion of a lift. Examples include lifting your butt faster than your chest on a squat, or swinging your legs excessively on a pullup.

The pullup example can be fine if you're doing it to achieve a couple more eccentric reps, but the squat example is literally harmful and should be avoided.

In both examples, using a spotter is the better alternative.

  • Yep. This has been common practice for a long time. I remember doing squats in college on the swim team, where the bar was overloaded and you sank slowly, then were spotted back up. – JohnP Sep 11 at 19:52
  • Thanks for the advice, and also clarity about the term cheating. In the article I read they reffered to it with this term. – Suimon Sep 12 at 6:02

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