Though conventional wisdom holds that performing repetitions of an exercise through a full range of motion is most effective, many serious bodybuilders and lifters have taken advantage of a technique called partial reps.
As the name implies, partial reps involve moving through a limited range of motion. When performing a bench press with a full range of motion, the exerciser would start with their arms fully extended. Then, the barbell would be lowered until it touches the chest – and then the extended back out. During a partial repetition, on the other hand, the exerciser might only lower the barbell down 6 or 8 inches.
Partial reps are often used at the end of a typical set wherein the exerciser performs a given number of repetitions with a full range of motion. For example, John might be able to do five repetitions with 150 pounds of weight on the bench press with a full range of motion. At the end of the five repetitions, John couldn’t do another rep with the full range of motion. Instead of stopping, John may be able to squeeze out another four or five partial repetitions.
By employing this technique, John may help break through a stubborn plateau in his training.
Of course, strategies like partial reps, or drop sets or pyramid sets are not necessary to reach your goals; instead, they’re important tools that can certainly help in some situations. And they certainly will help to spice things up by adding some variety to your workout.
Give partial reps a try. Just remember that the vast majority of your workout should take advantage of a full range of motion – and you should never compromise form for the sake of a few partial reps.