The weight lifting world is surrounded by opinions which outlaw people who don’t use full range of motion, possibly one of the most frowned upon gym crimes you can commit in the eyes of the ‘’gym police’’ but the question is this – are they right? In some instances yes they are, in others we feel that partial reps have their place!
There is a massive difference between cheating with poor form and using partial reps at the right time, where the prescription of such a training tool makes sense. So when should we use partial reps?
There are many times when we feel that partial reps have their place. Partials are an excellent way to finish a set off. If you have hit failure and your muscles and nearing total fatigue hitting a handful of sets with partial reps can take them into territories they are yet to visit. Why is this good? Simple, new levels of stress can often lead to new levels of progress. In this instance partials are a perfect way to take muscles beyond the normal point of failure to shock them. It could be argued that you will be stimulating the muscle fibres even more by doing this.
For those of you who are lean already and looking to improve the condition of your muscles for a shoot or on stage, partials can work wonders. The extra time under tension has a way of making the muscles ‘’pop’’ more – a slightly old school, ‘’bro’’ approach but we have seen it work many times with athletes.
Using a full range of motion all of the time is slightly ‘’gym instructor class’’ territory in the sense that it doesn’t leave much to be explored. Who says that the optimal range of motion for muscle stimulation of each and every muscle group with the human body is the longest range possible? In fact in our experience we have witnessed individual’s progress faster in specific areas of their physique when they shorten the range of motion slightly. Pressing is a great example! Going straight to the top is going to place most of the stress on the triceps at the point in the repetition; if you are pressing to develop your pectorals or deltoids then this isn’t optimal – clearly.
In contrast, full range of motion is often a great place to start. We just didn’t want people thinking that there is ‘’no other way’’ and to understand that a shortened range of motion and even partial reps do indeed have their place!