A couple weeks ago I put up this popular article all about form, and how it’s really different than most think. And on that note, I wanted to address a similar area.
Should you be super strict with your form?
Or should you “cheat,” use a bit of “body English,” or, as some might put it, just use sloppy form?
There is no clear cut answer.
As with most things, the answer is…it depends. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.
Think of strict curls vs. cheat curls.
Or a military press vs. a natural press (which might be what I call an upper body push press, and/or some degree of side press.
Are you seeking to build your muscles?
If you want bigger biceps, then generally, by being strict you’ll focus the tension on those muscles. With the press, it’ll focus more on the shoulders and triceps. But even this can by iffy. If you’re doing strict row, chances are your bicep is going to be the limiting factor, not your lats. Thus if you’re trying to build your lats, strict rows may not be sufficient.
Are you seeking to put up more weight?
Then obviously cheating is going to help. By adding in a little oomph from the other muscles of your body you can blast past sticking points. There is nothing wrong with this…as long as you’re accurate with yourself and others. If you’re cheat curling and you think or say you’re strict curling you are lying to yourself.
Are you seeking to move better?
Remember that the whole isolation exercise thing is something that was created purely for the gym. When you actually have stuff to move around in real life, you don’t isolate. The goal is efficiency and that means learning how to use your entire body together, and use it well. It is for these reasons that I’ll do natural presses and heave rows more often than I do strict ones. But that doesn’t mean I never work strict either.
Different things for different purposes.
Not familiar with the different types of presses mentioned? You can get a taste of them here at this article.