Fundamentals of training #3 – Full range of motion

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

| Published on

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Okay, you got your workouts setup – The parameters are on point, the workout structure is good, you’ve picked the exercises and now…

You have to DO the exercises.

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Here’s to one of the most (if not the most) important rules when it comes to OPTIMAL training – Exercise execution.

If all you do is use heavy weight that causes you to cheat on the exercises, by applying inertial forces, then there is little to no use of that heavier weight.

That is simply because you’re trying to compensate for the lack of strength, by doing inertial movements.

Needless to say, that can lead to injuries and many unpleasant side effects, amongst which, lack of progress.

Those are the last things you want, which is why we need to avoid them.

Tension

It is of prime importance to understand that all you need, in order to improve muscle growth and strength, is a progressively increasing mechanical tension upon the musculature.

If there is constant tension throughout the full range of each exercise, it will simply bring more results, even when compared to heavier weight, but with poor range of motion.

Full range of motion = More time under tension = More gains.

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How important is the weight?

heavy lifting

We now know that we have to work in the optimal intensity range of 70-85% (or above, when goal is strength gains).

However, while intensity is important, we need to acknowledge that  it should only be as high as we can handle with good exercise execution.

If the weight on the bar makes us do the exercise worse, decrease the weight immediately.

Example full range of motion execution steps – Flat barbell bench press:

  • Lay down on the bench with your feet placed stably and your back slightly arched
  • Place your shoulder blades stably on the bench
  • Grab the barbell wider than shoulder width and un-rack it
  • Keep arms slightly bent- Elbows out of lockout
  • Keep your head down on the bench
  • Let the barbell go down slowly to the lower portion of your chest
  • Once it slightly touches your chest, push up explosively, to the initial position with elbows out of a lockout

Note – If you lockout the elbows, the triceps will get contracted more and hence, exhausted quickly.

The triceps are a small muscle group, as opposed to the chest, which is the targeted group.

Well then, if the smaller triceps fails before the chest, that leaves a lot of unrealized tension to the chest.

This is exactly where the correct exercise execution helps us patch this problem.

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