We Won’t Let You Cheat

19 comments written by Gus Diamantopoulos

We Won’t Let You Cheat

by Gus Diamantopoulos

Throughout the annals of HIT, there is an unspoken rule about what needs to happen to form at the end of a set. The implication is that as you near fatigue, you need to relax form just a tad to allow the body to really ‘get there’ in terms of failure. In some of the most popular HIT books, this is explained outright: Slightly cheat a bit to make sure you’ve really reached the true limit of fatigue.

At RenEx we remain positively emphatic that this must NOT occur… ever. In fact, the idea is to IMPROVE form as the set proceeds. This literally brings to life the essence of the real objective. As you fatigue and as you near that moment where your overwhelming compulsion is to loosen form, to find locomotive and mechanical advantage; we say, “Improve your form,” “Get better” at doing it correctly.

THIS is the exact moment when you must strive to improve your form. Correctly performing, you are positively NOT trying to get the rep, but in fact, TRYING to fail as well as you can. (Needless to say, if form is a primary goal from the very start of the set, then really what you are doing is ensuring that it remains so.)

When you perform the set this way (especially on the right equipment) the strength=strength equation makes significantly more sense. It feels as if positive and negative resistance differences don’t really exist anymore.

Of course, this is where the need for environment, equipment, and protocol all come together. Without this triad of support, the challenge of the correctly performed set is even more difficult (though not impossible).

These concepts—the Definition, Exercise vs. Recreation, the Real Objective of Exercise, and all of the other very finite ideas about exercise—all culminate in what essentially is a separation from HIT. In a future post, we will be further delineating the ongoing differences between what we are now calling High Intensity Exercise (HIE) vs. High Intensity Training.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar marklloyd February 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Similar issues in tai chi. I call it priority reversal: Giving up the real goal to achieve an ego-boost. Ex: Raising one’s heels to enable flexing the knees more while the torso remains upright, (to “sink” farther down, even with poor, novice ankle flexibility). The only way to permanently fix this was to -get- that ego boost from doing it -right-, to define the exercise as the “keeping the heels on the ground ” stance.


avatar Thomas February 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Hi Gus,

Can you referrence any of these HIT books, I may have one? I don’t think I’ve ever read a recent HIT book that advocates cheating at any point in the set. I have read some that recommend pushing harder through the last few reps instead of deliberately trying to keep it slow, but I wouldn’t consider this advocating cheating.

I have, however, noticed some (relative) cheating in some of the old Nautilus videos and definitely in videos of old time HIT trainees; Boyer Coe, Mike and Ray Menzter and Dorian Yates to name a few (I watched Bertil Fox, technically not a HIT guy, use such poor form that my jaw dropped). I say relative because there is a dramatic increase in form emphasis in modern day HIT relative to old school HIT.


avatar Russ Wakefield February 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I couldn’t agree more changing form is really unloading, making it easier so you can do the supposed objective than the real objective. Many times when you are “there” you modify form to perform. Some clients hold back out of some fear of failure thinking they somehow are beaten by the exercise. You are absolutely correct Gus. At least as how I see it.


avatar Joshua Trentine February 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

With our equipment and protocol, changing form is akin to begining a different exercise in the middle of the rep.

Advanced subjects will dial in and get better as the set progresses.


avatar Travis Weigand February 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Renaissance exercise = intense EXERCISE. HIT = intense EXPERIENCE. Until you’ve been on both sides of the fence you have no way of seeing the true difference. I’ll take localized over systemic fatigue any day.


avatar Joshua Trentine February 9, 2012 at 8:32 pm



avatar Andrew Shortt February 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I agree in that I have never found forced reps and such to help at the end of a set except where sticking points prevailed. With wrong force curves it might help one maintain form to force a bit at the end of a set but very little extra can just encourage off loading.

HIE…now that’s and interesting idea.



avatar Joshua Trentine February 9, 2012 at 11:42 pm


I’ve found no additional benefit from any “technique” that exceeds neurological capacity.



avatar Andrew Shortt February 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm




avatar Gus Diamantopoulos February 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Hello Thomas,

in Dr. Darden’s well-written New HIT book, (chapter 1 page 5, point 9)the author describes the performance of a barbell curl…right down to Arthur Jones’s edict to “loosen” form even more near the end of the set.

Similar descriptions exist in some of the late Mike Mentzer’s articles and books. In fact, in my phone consultation with Mike in 1996, this description of letting things loosen a bit was very clear.

Let me be clear that there is good reason to recommend such in conventional exercises and on conventional machines (even high quality nautilus and medx machines). (Dr. Darden’s track record in his field is beyond reproach and Mike was a dear friend whose instinct for training was nothing short of astounding.)

With our machines and our protocol, however, we can transcend this concept of dealing with the problem of impending fatigue with a deviation and instead focus with laser-like precision on the real objective.

With RenEx we can finesse the premise of a set of repetitions to abject precision. On our equipment, in the ideal environment, and with our protocol, a new series of possibilities and rules applies. In no was are we suggesting that this crosses over into conventional exercise, though we believe that it occasionally may do so.



avatar marklloyd February 10, 2012 at 1:47 am

Why loosen form with any tool? When you can’t do the movement eccentrically, hold statically. When you can’t hold statically, resist the negative. When the negative’s back at starting position, resist until your ability to resist smoothly drains away to zero.


avatar Donnie Hunt February 20, 2016 at 11:03 pm

Largely my thoughts too. In the second sentence, did you mean concentrically instead of eccentrically?


avatar marklloyd August 11, 2016 at 11:33 am



avatar Luke O'Rourke February 10, 2012 at 5:12 am

You have to be the fighter pilot. Grace under pressure. The closer you get to the dogfight(failure) the more precise your flying(exercise technique) has to become. The longer you can maintain and improve your form, the longer you will prevail against the adversary(failure) and the greater the victory will be(adaption).

There is a saying that applies more to motor skills than to exercise that says: Perfect practice makes practice makes perfect. That is to say, if you have practiced a skill in poor form, all you will have is a poor result. I think it applies well enough in this case also.


avatar Rick Chartrand February 10, 2012 at 7:49 am

Just got my cd yesterday and am looking forward to March 3 and I guess this question could wait but am working out this Sunday. For leg press (next generation nautilus) if I understand correctly, I may be better off using a lighter weight than normal and using a block so I have a hard stop when I am 60-75% of rom and then using tsc/squeeze till “failure” I.e. when I can no longer “hold” the weight tight to the “stop”. Not having feedback on machine I’m guessing progress could be measured by a combination of time of squeeze and weight used. Note, I am looking for way to circumvent shortcomings of machine, as well as making the learning simpler for me to achieve inroad most effectively. Note also that I do my leg press after low back so would not be going into this cold, which is why I’m not including a full rom rep before. Thoughts? Future question could be for my low back and my pullover the. Latter of which I’m now using a block with but those can wait for the 3rd. Thanks in advance.


avatar Thomas February 10, 2012 at 8:33 am

Thanks Gus,

I thought it might be from someone(s) in the “old school” HIT camp. There’s certainly been an evolution in HIT, and it’s happening fast lately (last 10 years).

I agree-The equipment tends to dictate the protocol to a degree (often a large degree) and how a rep is done may HAVE to change dramatically due to the limitations of the equipment.


avatar Scott Springston February 10, 2012 at 9:07 am

It does make sense that if the goal is to do strict reps and you are starting a set in strict form you should continue strict until the last rep. I can’t recall though any talk about easing up form on a strict set at the last rep to allow you to do more but then my memory ain’t what it used to be.


avatar Thomas February 10, 2012 at 9:12 am

Having said that (and I don’t expect you to do this), I’d be interested to hear your principled thoughts and recommendations for style changes that should be made according to changes in equipment.


avatar Andrew Shortt February 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

“instead focus with laser-like precision on the real objective.”

As a relative outsider its a guess but I’d have to say an educated one… that this above statement is the fundamental brilliance of the RenX movement.



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