When trying to build muscle is it better to use full range of motion or partials in your workouts. Today we are going to pit the two methods head to head to try and give you the best information to make that decision for yourself. In this video, I will show you examples of partial range of motion exercises that you may want to include in your workouts as well as the best compound lifts to be using full range of motion on and why.
This all starts with an important distinction between a joints range of motion and the range of motion on a particular exercise. They are often not the same. For example, when we look at a bench press, the range of motion of the exercise may be full however the chest muscle and the associated shoulder joint that it controls is not experiencing a full range of motion.
The bench press exercise is considered full range when you bring the bar down to the chest from a position of arms straightened out over your chest and returned. The pecs however, are capable of more than just this shoulder flexion position. They can adduct the arm horizontally across the midline of the chest. I have shown before how a chest exercise like the cable crossover provides us with an opportunity to do just this and would therefore be a complimentary exercise to the bench press.
In the example of the biceps curl however, the range of motion of the exercise is actually matched to that of the elbow joint. The joint starts in a fully extended position and can be closed down or flexed all the way to the top of the exercise. In this case, the two ranges are one in the same however we know that this is not always the case.
When you are trying to build muscle, it is important that you not overlook the value of using partial range of motion (particularly on the smaller single joint movements for the purpose of metabolic training). With metabolic training, your goal is to create as much metabolite buildup in the muscle as is possible to create a hypoxic environment that becomes a trigger for muscle adaptation and growth.
This is much easier and safer to do when the joint in question is limited to just one and the muscle that controls the action of this joint is capable of being isolated with a high degree of tension.
On the other hand, when performing multi-joint exercises like the bigger compound lifts of the squat, bench press and deadlift for example, it is best to not try and limit or alter your range of motion. After all, the main benefit of compound exercises is their ability to allow for coordinated movement between multiple joints and the muscles that control these actions.
This is why the compound exercises are such good strength training options. Their force output is unmatched when compared to that of the single joint exercises. Abbreviating the range of motion of any one of the contributing joints to the lift will sacrifice not only the strength of the exercise but also the biomechanics of the exercise as a whole.
When pursuing strength, it is therefore in your best interest to almost always keep the full range of motion of the exercise intact. That said, if you get to the point where you are competitively lifting and need to fine tune your strength throughout the entire range of motion on one of these three bigger lifts for example, then this is where the use of partials could come in very beneficial. By employing accessory exercises like the floor press like KC Mitchell, you are able to work on perhaps a weakness in triceps lockout strength so that you can reincorporate that back into the full bench press with a better end result.
The bottom line is, to get the best results from your training and to grow your muscles the biggest possible you are going to need to learn how to use both full range of motion and partial range of motion. When to do so is dictated by the goals of your program and the stage of the plan you are in. If you are looking for step by step plans that will help you to grow muscle fast, be sure to click the link below and visit athleanx.com to get started today.
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