What About Needing a Full Range of Motion?
"You need to lift through a full range of motion in order to build maximum muscle."
Nearly every person who has trained with Static Contraction training has heard this comment in the gym. It's often from some person who thinks he's helping you out by passing on some physiology 'knowledge' he heard. Sometimes it's just a know-it-all who critiques everyone's workouts.
In any event, ask him this simple question, "Has there ever been a clinical study that demonstrates humans need a full range of motion to build muscle; or a study that demonstrates range of motion plays a bigger role in hypertrophy than the amount of weight lifted?"
Then wait for the silence.
Perhaps it will surprise you to know there is not a single study supporting either conclusion. Nor will there ever be. What? Pete, are you saying you can predict the outcome of future studies? No. What I'm saying is that there are billions of cases over thousands of years of humans building muscle without using a full range of motion. So if a future study concludes that can't happen, the study will be wrong.
The fact is, outside of the gym and exercise infomercial studios, humans just don't use a full range of motion when performing high intensity exercise. For example:
1. When you try to push a car you don't place your hands near your chest to push, you place them almost fully extended away from you
2. Likewise, when you push a car you also don't squat down on you haunches, you barely bend your knees
3. When you climb a ladder you don't go three rungs at a time even though you could
4. When we walk we automatically use a step that is in our strongest and most efficient range of motion, we don't use our full range of motion
There are millions of construction workers, mechanics, landscapers and others who have very muscular physiques without ever using a full range of motion in their daily jobs.
And if full range of motion was the crucial road to muscle growth, yoga instructors and martial artists would be winning all the bodybuilding titles because they consistently exercise with the absolute maximum range of motion to develop flexibility.
Sometimes you'll hear this variation: "If you don't use a full range of motion, you'll develop a short muscle." Again, there is not a single study to back up this assertion. The length and shape of your muscles is determined by who your parents are.
Furthermore, your muscles are permanently attached to your bones. If you do partial reps, your muscles do not disconnect themselves, creep along the bone and reattach themselves during the night in order to become shorter. Won't happen.
And when you lift the maximum weight possible it requires the work of the maximum number of muscle fibers. Maximum fiber recruitment leads to maximum muscle hypertrophy; which is just one more reason the "short muscle" remark is ridiculous.
For over fifteen years I've been showing people how to limit range of motion in favor of lifting more weight in a safer range. I now estimate that over 200,000 people have used my methods to build new muscle.
So the evidence is clear and unambiguous; in the realm of muscle building, range of motion has almost no significance whatsoever. The overwhelming factor of significance is how much weight a muscle lifts. It is better to lift 200 pounds 3 inches than to lift 100 pounds 6 inches. It is better still to lift 400 pounds 1.5 inches. All three lifts represent the same amount of work as far as physics is concerned, yet when you try them in the gym it is the greater weight that taxes your limits, not the greater distance.
"You need to lift through a full range of motion in order to build maximum muscle." It never was true and never will be true. My best advice is to use Static Contraction Training to lift the maximum amount of weight you can, in the smallest and safest possible range of motion...and watch your progress take off.
Train with your brain,
And I agree Ken Anderson