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How to Cheat Your Body
and Annoy the People Around You

Proper form is used to keep your body aligned and supported, so you don't hurt yourself. Anytime you cheat, you risk injury because you're calling on muscles that are "cold" and generally haven't been properly warmed up.

If you have to resort to bad form, you're not getting any stronger. Don't sell yourself short. A better idea is to use lighter weights, concentrate on maintaining perfect form and pay attention to every part of the muscle during the exercise.

If you're trying to break through, use a spotter. (A spotter is someone who stands by ready to help you if you can't complete a rep.) Just make sure you're spotter isn't doing all the work and moving the weight for you.

Don't forget to breathe. I can't tell you how many people hold their breath thinking it will help them move more weight. It doesn't. What holding your breath can do is cause auditory damage from over-pressurization of the middle ear. It can also cause a drop in blood pressure leading to dizziness or even fainting. This is NOT something you want to experience when lifting heavy weights.

With most exercises, you should inhale during the eccentric phase (the part of the exercise when you're lengthening the muscle). Allow your abdomen to expand until your belly distends. The goal is to take in the maximum amount of oxygen while maintaining some abdominal tension.

When you exhale, pull your belly button in, forcing the air out of your lungs. The contraction of those abdominal muscles should support your spine, acting as your weight belt. REMEMBER: Don't exhale so much your abdominal muscles cave in. You want a little pressure in the thoracic cavity, so you maintain proper form.

When you breathe out, try not to spit on the people or things around you. The goal is to exhale air, not your bodily fluids.

Don't choose weights that are so light the exercise is effortless. If you're trying to improve your body, you need to struggle and sweat a little.

Quit modeling. If you're more concerned about who's watching you than the weight you're moving, your priorities are screwed up. You're there to improve your body, not pose for a picture or the other people in the gym. Besides, can you honestly remember how much weight people around you use? Just like you, they're concentrating on getting a good workout. They don't have the time to pay attention or care about what you're doing.

Bouncing weight off your chest, the floor or other objects is bad. Moving the weight in a controlled manner keeps tension on the muscles. When you bounce weight, you're not working out; you're just bruising your body and damaging the gym's equipment.

Keep the screaming to a minimum. Unless you've dropped the weight on your foot, spotted a fire or have another legitimate reason to raise your voice, don't. Not only does grunting or yelling not help you lift more, it distracts the people trying to workout around you.

If you see yourself in any of these descriptions, it's time to make a change. Quit cheating.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 12/21/2012