[Episode 66] There Is No Such Thing As A Cheat Movement

by | Jul 23, 2021

[Episode 66] There Is No Such Thing As A Cheat Movement

In this episode we will be busting yet another training myth and that is that there are “cheat” moves when it comes to training.

What I mean by that is movements that trainers tell their clients are “cheating” because it’s not done the “right” or “hardest” way.

I’ve had clients share with me, when I’ve asked them to do a particular movement that…



“Oh but that’s the cheat way of doing it”

This is one of the shittiest things that trainers tell their clients and it’s also completely untrue. There is no such thing as a “cheat” movement. It just doesn’t exist.

Our body certainly doesn’t go, “now hang on a minute. I saw old fluffo over there doing this move differently and they made it look easy. I must be cheating somehow, so I’m only going to half count this as an exercise”.

When it comes to exercises there are numerous regressions and progressions that can be practiced, based on where a person is at in their own capabilities.

Let me explain for folks who may not know what I’m talking about.


Side Note: Trainers have different opinions

But before I get into the details I do want to say that there are many MANY opinions across the fitness community about the “right” way to do pretty much all movements.

This opinion can change between trainers. And I personally think that the best way to do a movement is by listening to the way your body wants to move.

When I coach someone, I’m more focused on whether a movement is safe. Rather than trying to make someone place their feet in a position that their body just may not be able to achieve because it’s “the right way” is just not helpful and could actually lead to an injury.



Why there is no such thing as a cheat movement

Let’s use an example – The Squat – What is it?

I’ll use a squat as an example here. Because it’s one of the most common movements that you’re gonna come across in training.

Not to mention that a squat is actually a pretty technical move that requires a person to have a significant amount of movement through the hips and ankles to be able to achieve.

It’s not quite so simple as just letting your butt drop towards the floor as far as you can. On top of this there are a bunch of regressions and progressions that can be used to help develop the squat.


How I train a person to do a squat

Generally when it comes to a squat, I’ll suggest a person stands with their feet somewhere around hip width apart and generally the toes are gonna be pointing slightly outwards.

Now this starting posture could actually be considered a “compensation” by some coaches.

Because they believe that starting a squat requires you have your toes facing forwards. But realistically, most people simply can’t achieve this position.

Next part to look at with the squat is the lowering phase.

How a person sits back into the squat is gonna be very individual and based on how their body is functioning.


How I train a person with limitations to do a squat

Some folks can’t achieve a very deep squat. This could be due to tightness in numerous areas or it could also be influenced by joint function and development.

Regression #1 – Elevate the heels

If a person is challenged to squat to a level where their thighs are around parallel to the floor, the best thing to do can be to elevate the heels. This often creates more space for movement through the hips.

This is not cheating. It is totally ok to assist the body to move comfortably and safely. And this is how we can also support the body to develop strength to move better over time.

Regression #2 – Squat with a chair

We could even take that one step further and begin to practice the squat with a chair.

Having a person shift their hips back to sit is essentially the same movements as you’ll do when you squat. Having a chair there helps build a person’s confidence that they aren’t going to fall and will be able to get back up also.

That’s not cheating, it’s training intelligently.


The unintelligent trainer will have a client practice a movement that they are either unable to achieve or do not feel confident to achieve.

This is how injuries happen and it also doesn’t leave people feeling very good when they feel like they are failing at their training.

Once a person has developed the strength and stability to practice a squat unassisted then it’s safe to advance to more challenging progressions such as adding load or even moving to single leg movements.

Pretty much every movement out there has a series of regressions and progressions to help folks develop safely.



Does your trainer call certain movements “cheating”?

If you’re in a space or with a trainer who tells you that there are specific ways to move or else you’re ‘cheating’, firstly I’m sorry.

You don’t need that shit in your life.

Secondly, your trainer isn’t right. They are ignorant and they are willing to risk your safety. Now this isn’t to say that they are saying this to you in a mean way.

They may say it lightheartedly or simply mention variations of an exercise as ‘cheating’. Just remember that there really isn’t such a thing as a “cheat” exercise.



Closing Recap

We’ve touched on a lot today.

We’ve broken down what regression and progression is when it comes to exercises. And looked at the difference between a regression and the incorrect referencing of it as “cheating”  and finally we had a good look at how a regression can be applied in an exercise with the squat as an example.

If you’re enjoying the show and know other folks that may find some benefit in having a listen, I’d be so grateful if you shared it with them or anywhere else where you think that it could help someone.

Until next week friend remember you can move any way that you like. And no matter how you do it, it’s not cheating. So move in the ways that your body allows you to and fuck the rules that someone else tries to push on you.

Bowie Stover Thinking Pose

Bowie Stover

Pronouns: they/them

My passion to help others through developing an active and healthy lifestyle, along with my desire to contribute as much as I can back to our queer community, has led me to co-found Non Gendered Fitness. To be a small part of your day that makes a HUGE impact on your life would be one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences that I could hope to have.

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Non Binary Fitness Coach Bowie Stover kneeling with two kettlebells

Bowie Stover
Kettlebell and Movement Coach

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