Training with a full and partial range of motions may help result in greater strength gains than a full range of motion alone. Eccentric partials may be a viable partial range of movement that increases muscle growth, similar to a full range of motion lifts.
PARTIAL REPS [CERTAIN TYPES] CAN INCREASE MUSCLE GROWTH THE SAME AS A FULL RANGE OF MOTION SUMMARY
- Training with a full range of motion and partial reps may help result in greater strength gains than a full range of motion alone.
- Eccentric partials may be a viable partial range of movement capable of increasing muscle growth, similar to a full range of motion lifts.
FULL RANGE OF MOTION VS PARTIAL REPS
Normally, when you see a person in the gym doing a partial rep, one immediately thinks of “ego lifting” and someone who is trying to use a weight that is too heavy that he can’t lift thru a full range of motion (FROM). Range of motion is the degree to which a muscle is actively stretched during a repetition.
It has been traditionally recommended that you perform a FROM with each repetition, so the muscle is fully contracted, followed by lowering the weight so the muscle is fully stretched. A partial range of motion or half movement means that the movement does not fully stretch the muscle. If you think about the tension placed on a muscle, it sets x reps x weight and distance.
PARTIAL REPS FOR STRENGTH GAINS
Several studies have found that combining a FROM with a partial reps can result in a greater increase in strength than just doing a full range of motion.
Study 1: Researchers assigned subjects to either a FROM squats or a full range of motion plus partial reps. 1 RM squat increased by 5.1% in the full squat and 8.2% in the full and partial squat combined. There was a trend for the full and partial rep squats to result in greater 1 RM gains.(1)
Study 2: Researchers assigned subjects to either to use a FROM deadlift or a full range of motion plus partial reps (100% -120% of a 1RM). The subjects were well-trained, and they had to be able to deadlift at least 315 pounds to be enrolled in the study. Neither group had a statistically significant increase in the 1 RM deadlift. 1 RM deadlift decreased by -2.7% in the full deadlift and increased by 2.3% in the full and partial deadlift combined.
The author hypothesized that if the full and partial groups kept on their projectory strength gains after 12 weeks, the gains would have been a 4.6% increase, making it a statistically significant increase(2) A few limitations of the study were that the subjects were NCAA wrestlers who were cutting down on calories for competition, and the study was only six weeks.
In these two studies, the groups using full and partial reps trained at a higher intensity because they could use more weight with the partial range of motion lifts. Some suggest that partials can help a lifter get stronger in the “sticking point.” The sticking point is the movement region in the upward range of motion when the vertical bar velocity slows down or stops. The ability to complete a lift becomes more difficult at the sticking point.(3)
Both studies found minor increases in strength with partial and full reps, but if you are a competitive strength athlete, it may be worth incorporating some partials into your routine with some full range of motion movements.