Range of Motion and Safety
- Full range of motion training appears to be safe, and should be the basis of the majority of your training (especially for beginners and intermediates).
- Partial range can be included strategically in more moderate to advanced programs, or when injury/mobility issues prohibit the use of full range of motion.
- Certain musculature, such as the biceps and triceps, may find superior hypertrophy using partial range of motion work. Quadriceps, on which much of the literature is based, appear to benefit most from full range of motion work.
Deep squats do not cause damage to the knee or spine due to the “wrapping effect”. The wrapping effect encompasses functional adaptations and soft tissue contact between the back of the thigh and calf.
“Statistically significant difference was found between the full range-of-motion group and the partial and mixed groups (p < 0.5). This finding suggests that lifting through a full range of motion was superior to the other training regimens used in this study. However, this investigation also indicated that the partial technique had a positive effect on strength across time within the parameters of this study.”
Full range of motion squat (F-SQ) was the only group that increased 1RM and mean propulsive velocity (MPV) of the three squat variations, and achieved the highest functional performance. Parallel range of motion squat (P-SQ) group obtained the second best results. Half squat (H-SQ) produced no increments in neuromuscular and functional performance and was the only group reporting significant increases in pain, stiffness and physical functional disability. Controls (training cessation) declined on all tests. We recommend using F-SQ or P-SQ exercises to improve strength and functional performance in well-trained athletes. In turn, the use of H-SQ is inadvisable due to the limited performance improvements and the increments in pain and discomfort after continued training.
“Full range of motion (FULL) 1RM strength was significantly greater than the partial range of motion (PART) 1RM after the training period. Average elbow flexor muscle thickness (MT) significantly increased for both training groups (9.65 ± 4.4% for FULL and 7.83 ± 4.9 for PART). These data suggest that muscle strength and MT can be improved with both FULL and PART resistance training, but FULL may lead to greater strength gains.”
Partial range of motion exercises (PRE) may be better for hypertrophy in certain muscles than full range of motion. The acute responses of area under the oxygenated hemoglobin (Oxy-Hb) curve, blood lactate concentration, and root mean square of electromyography were significantly higher both before and after partial range of motion exercise (PRE) than full range of motion exercise (FRE) training. Long-term effects were produced by both PRE and FRE, with significant increases in cross-sectional area (CSA) of triceps brachii and isometric strength. The CSA increased significantly greater after PRE than after FRE. Furthermore, during the PRE program, a positive correlation was detected between the percent increase in CSA and area under the Oxy-Hb curves before and after 8-week exercise training (before 8-week exercise training: r = 0.59, after 8-week exercise training: r = 0.70). These results suggest that intramuscular hypoxia might facilitate muscular hypertrophy with PRE being more effective than FRE.
“The practical implications for this body of work follow that full range of motion should be observed in resistance training where increased muscle strength and size are the objective, because we demonstrate here that ROM should not be compromised for greater external loading.”
“Deep-squat training appears to elicit the best improvement for both shallow-and deep-squatting performance.”
Training deep squats elicited more favourable adaptations on knee extensor muscle size and function compared to training shallow squats.