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Cheating on Back?

What are everyone’s thoughts on cheating reps with both vertical and horizontal pulls? Any merit to it?

Body english on rows worked for Matt Kroc.

IMO there is place for cheat reps.


I think cheating (deliberate/strategic cheating, not simple crap form) works “better” for vertical back work compared to row variations.

Cheating on pulldowns/chins where you use body english to get through the positive and still control a slow negative is relatively safer than using using some swing to bang out more reps on rows. To “cheat” with rows, I’d go with partial reps instead of loosening form to get more full ROM reps.

The only exceptions, I’d say, would be rows where low back stress is already removed or reduced. For example, most Hammer Strength machines. One of my favorite back exercises are 1-arm Hammer Strength DY rows, using “loose form” on the positive, squeezing for a quick second, and then a pretty slow negative.

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There probably is at a certain point, but that point is near world class pulling levels.

I wouldn’t just jump right in to that.

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This is a great video

I wouldn’t cheat on vertical pulls because of potential damage to the shoulders. However, I will start with my head under the bar and lean back slightly while pulling the bar towards the ground during pulldowns to engage the lats. This is NOT cheating even though there will inevitably be some momentum as a result of this.

For horizontal pulls, it is not my main intention to cheat. My main intention is to pull the weight as explosively as I can with my lats and upper back. The way my entire body moves will be a result of that. As long as the back is getting worked and excess body english happens, then it happens.

The point is, you should not be thinking about whether cheating has any benefits. You should be thinking about whether activating the target muscles requires moving the body in a way that resembles cheating instead of using rigid form that may deprive you of such activation.


I do it. Both Kroc rows and barbell rows. I’m not saying it’s right, but seems like I didn’t invent the idea on my own. I’m still progressing main lifts and those are two of the biggest assistance lifts I use.


I get way more out of strict form back work than I do out of cheating. I think I’m too good at cheating and know how to completely take the back out of it and just make it a full body movement.


If I deliberately do a exercise wrong, it’s not actually wrong is it. Going to add in more cheating.

I think that’s the key. I have exercises that I do with and without body English. Lat pull downs and cable rows I will do with a lot stricter form. I don’t swap to cheating and call it a PR. My barbell rows and Kroc rows are always done the same so I’m comparing apples to apples.

In fairness, I think Dan Green has said he is completely against cheat reps. I think I got the way I do barbell rows from Ed Coan, but I could be wrong. You can find arguments either way.

Tried some moderate cheating today on Meadows Rows and felt great.
3 plates for 5 reps.

Definitely keeping cheating in.

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Cheating on every rep is probably pointless. I go with strict form until I can’t do any more reps that way and then add a bit of assistance via body english. I consider it to be about the same as having a spotter who helps you finish up with assisted reps.

Lee Boyce talks about the right amount of movement here. He calls it “toprock” when referring to body english.

Do 45’s allow you the right amount of stretch?

I may use a bit of body english with higher reps but, most of the time I would instead do a drop set and continue the strict form. I would not do cheat reps doing heavy/low reps with exercises like barbell rows.

Go lighter. You are not controlling the weight. Go down for a full stretch in the lats before you explode the weight up. Imagine you are pulling yourself towards the weight instead of pulling the weight towards you.


I remember a seminar from the late, great Larry Scott. He said “anyway you can, you get it up” – when questioned by an audience member about his cheating while performing 185 pound barbell curl. Solid advice imo.

Since my torso is higher than a normal meadow row I can get a full stretch. Whether you can get a full stretch depends on your anthropometry.

Doesn’t that sort of defeat the point of a cheat rep.

There’s never a point of doing a rep when you have no control of the weight. Matt Kroc still has control when he’s doing Kroc Rows unless he’s loading up the dumbbell with something ridiculous to put on a show for the camera or a seminar.