Why Not to Cheat

13 August 2017 9:58PM
By Bridget Stewart - Staff Physiotherapist
Why Not to Cheat

Why Not to Cheat


Cheating as a word is always seen in a negative light. Cheating on a test or when playing sport are things which most of us tend to avoid. How about when it comes to exercising though? Do you always make sure you are doing that exercise exactly as you know you should be doing it? Or do you figure it’s better to do more and that the rest will follow? I would hope that most of you have answered that you make an effort to do the exercise to the best of your ability because when you cheat in exercise you are only hurting yourself and likely slowing your recovery process. 

We cheat in exercise for a number of reasons. The most common reasons are:

  • To avoid pain (including the pain of making our muscles work, I know, it sucks)
  • Due to stiffness or lack of flexibility
  • A lack of awareness about how to do the exercise properly

A person who may be sore or may have stiffness (for various different reasons) will often try and use other muscles to get movement going in the body. This use of other muscles (or trying to avoid using muscles altogether!) is common, but it is cheating, and something that we don’t really want to be doing. Allowing our bodies to take the easy way out it’s not going to be positively influencing our bodies in the way we probably wish it would. Common trick movements that we tend to perform is hitching our shoulder when performing a bicep curl resulting in our neck and shoulder muscles doing more work than the biceps themselves. This can result in all these other muscles getting sore and maybe stronger, but they are not ones that we actually want to work.

Another reason we may hitch the shoulder when doing a weight is if we are doing something with a weight which is too heavy, resulting in our body needing to recruit other muscles to be able to perform the movement. This is again considered cheating, and is why working with a weight which is suitable to your strength is important. Doing a sit to stand squat is also another easy place to cheat in movement, by using your momentum to push yourself up rather than driving up through your legs. Again, we are relying on parts of our body which currently work well to continue to work, and not working on those not so good areas.

When we exercise properly we place stress on the muscles, which forces them to work, which enables us to build strength, mass and endurance. As physiotherapists we are here to help make sure that you are getting the most out of the exercises you are doing. Be this to strengthen or stretch we want you to do it right for your own benefit. We may start to sound like broken records but this is because we want to see you improve! If your exercises are feeling easy or you aren’t sure about what is happening just ask, we can happily modify your technique or give you harder exercises if you are too good for your current ones. We are here to help, and here to help you get the most out of your exercises, by not cheating.