This topic started on another forum with a Phil Hernon post and as is often the case my science got lost and the discussion never really was about the original topic:
Partial & Variable Range of Motion (ROM) movements are "superior" to full ROMs
- Jay Cutler & Ronnie Coleman use bad form but hey if it works for them (gentetic freaks)... for everyone else its just cheating;
- You must touch the bar to your chest when you bench press...ass to grass or you're legs will be twigs...etc.;
- Partial ROMs will weaken your full ROM strength;
- Full ROMs are superior to partial ROMs if overall strength is the goal and if hypertrophy is the goal.
The truth is that if you use heavy weight, over a partial range of movement, such that you keep constant tension on THE target muscle for a sufficient duration AND lift with an explosive concentric such that maximium force is generated your muscles will grow*.
* - as long as you eat sufficiently for recovey & growth, don't overly tax the CNS, lift with enough frequency that anabolism outpaces catabolism, etc.
An Examination of Strength and Concentric Work Ratios During Variable Range of Motion Training, Ross A Clark, Adam L Bryant, and Brendan Humphries, J Strength Cond Res, August 14, 2008
Variable range of motion (ROM) training consists of partial ROM resistance training with the countermovement being performed at a different phase of the movement for each set. In this study, we assessed the effect of this method of training on peak force, load lifted, and concentric work performed.
Six male subjects with resistance training backgrounds (age 20.2 +/- 1.3 years, height 179.4 +/- 4.6 cm, weight 89.6 +/- 9.9 kg, 6-repetition maximum [6RM] bench press 92.5 +/- 14.3 kg) participated in this study.
Testing consisted of 6RM bench press strength tests during full (FULL), three quarter ((3/4)), one half ((1/2)), and one quarter ((1/4)) ROM from full elbow extension bench press performed on a Smith machine. The 6RM load, peak force (PF), and concentric work (W) performed during each ROM was examined using a one-way analysis of variance performed at an alpha level of p < 0.05.
The 6RM load increased significantly as the ROM was decreased for all tests (FULL = 92.5 +/- 14.3 kg, (3/4) = 102.1 +/- 14.3 kg, (1/2) = 123.3 +/- 23.6 kg, (1/4) = 160.9 +/- 26.2 kg). PF during each test was significantly higher during the (1/4) (1924.8 +/- 557.9 N) and (1/2) (1859.4 +/- 317.1 N) ROM from full elbow extension bench press when compared with the (3/4) (1242.2 +/- 254.6 N) and FULL (1200.5 +/- 252.5 N) ROM exercise. Although higher force levels were evident, the restriction in barbell displacement resulted in a subsequent reduction in W as the lifting ROM was reduced. These results suggest that variable ROM resistance training results in increased force production as the ROM diminishes.
So Load and Peak Force go up as ROM goes down. But as you reduce the bar displacement the Work goes down...so you would need to do more work (i.e. reps) to equal the full ROM's concentric work level.
Resistance training modes: specificity and effectiveness, MC Morrissey, EA Harman, and MJ Johnson, Med Sci Sports Exerc, May 1, 1995; 27(5): 648-60.
There is considerable demand for information on the effectiveness of various resistance exercises for improving physical performance, and on how exercise programs must match functional activities to produce the greatest performance gains (training specificity). Evidence supports exercise-type specificity; the greatest training effects occur when the same exercise type is used for both testing and training.
Range-of-motion (ROM) specificity is supported; strength improvements are greatest at the exercised joint angles, with enough carryover to strengthen ROMs precluded from direct training due to injury. Velocity specificity is supported; strength gains are consistently greatest at the training velocity, with some carryover.
Some studies have produced a training effect only for velocities at and below the training velocity while others have produced effects around the training velocity. The little, mainly isokinetic, evidence comparing different exercise velocities for improving functional performance suggests that faster exercise best improves fast athletic movements. Yet isometric exercise can improve actions like the vertical jump, which begin slowly.
The rate of force application may be more important in training than actual movement speed. More research is needed into the specificity and efficacy of resistance exercise. Test populations should include both males and females of various ages and rehabilitation patients.
Spectral EMG changes in vastus medialis muscle following short range of motion isokinetic training, Y Barak, M Ayalon, and Z Dvir, J Electromyogr Kinesiol, Oct 2006; 16(5): 403-12
This study was aimed at exploring the carryover effect of short range of motion (RoM) isokinetic conditioning on vastus medialis (VM) motor unit recruitment (MUR) across the full RoM. Fifty-five women were randomly assigned to one of four groups: G1 (n = 14) and G2 (n = 14) trained concentrically at 30 and 90°/s, respectively whereas G3 (n = 13) and G4 (n = 14) trained similarly but using the eccentric mode. All 4 groups trained within 30–60° of knee flexion.
The training protocol consisted of 4 sets of 10 maximal repetitions, 3 times a week for 6 weeks. sEMG was recorded from the VM for analysis of mean frequency of the EMG power spectrum prior to the training period and 2 days after its termination. The EMG assessments took place during dynamic contractions within 3 angular RoM’s: 85–60° (R1), 60–30° (R2) and 30–5° (R3). In addition MUR was evaluated during isometric contractions at 10°, 45° and 80°.
Significant increases were observed in the MUR at R1, R2, and R3 during dynamic contractions as well as in all 3 angles during isometric contractions. These findings applied equally regardless of the mode of contraction and motion speed during training.
The fact that MUR increased significantly within untrained RoM’s may point out to the potential benefits of short RoM conditioning, particularly in those cases where, during specific phases of rehabilitation, a wider RoM may be contraindicative.
So there is a carryover effect of increasing strength in the untrained upper and lower ROMs.
Overcoming the limitations of full ROM resistance training: The effects of variable ROM training on performance, activation, stiffness and muscle architecture, R. Clark, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 9, Supplement 1, December 2006, Page 24
Traditional full ROM resistance training has a number of limitations when used for training athletes. These include terminal deceleration, limited eccentric overload and a non-specific countermovement position. This study examined the effect of a variable ROM training program, consisting of partial ROM training with countermovements performed at a different ROM for each set, on upper body ballistic, isokinetic and isometric strength as well as musculotendinous stiffness, neuromuscular activation and muscle architecture using ultrasound.
Twenty-two semi-professional rugby league players were assigned to either a variable ROM (VROM) or full ROM (CON) 5 week training program, with both protocols equalised for concentric work. Testing consisted of isokinetic bench press throughout both the full ROM and half ROM from full extension, isometric strength and EMG at one quarter intervals throughout the bench press ROM, bench throws performed both with and without elastic energy contribution, upper body musculotendinous stiffness and pennation angles and muscle thickness of the long and medial head of the triceps brachii using ultrasound.
Testing revealed that the VROM group significantly improved a number of performance factors such as bench throw height and isokinetic peak force in comparison with the CON group. The results also suggest that VROM training also produces beneficial adaptations to the force/ROM curve. Therefore, this method of training appears to provide beneficial performance adaptations in athletes with extensive resistance training backgrounds, and may provide superior sports specific performance gains when used intermittently in an athletes training program.
There is value in varying the band of partial range movement...within a training session or between training sessions.
The load & force generated is higher when you do partials of say 1/2 ROM. The tension stays on the muscle targeted unlike full ROMs which take tension off/or shift the target muscle at the extremes of full ROMs. Strength is increased along the full range. There is less strain on connective tissue.
The only caveat is that overall work will decrease which may be restored simply by adding a rep or three.