Could Partial Range Exercises Build More Muscle?

In the world of science, we often find ourselves diving into the deep and mysterious waters of research. And in this particular research, they’re diving deep into the world of lifting weights and muscle growth. But don’t worry, we’re going to keep it light, engaging, and even throw in some humor along the way!

So, what’s the deal with this study? Well, it’s all about something called “Range of Motion” (ROM) during Resistance Training (RT). ROM is like the distance your muscles travel while lifting weights. You know, the “how far you go” part of your exercise routine.

The researchers, after a lot of sweat and lifting (of papers, not weights), found some pretty interesting stuff. First, they discovered that how much time you spend lifting a weight up and down doesn’t really make a huge difference. It’s like saying whether you take a minute or two to eat your favorite post workout meal – you’ll still enjoy it, right?

Then, they checked the quality of the studies they looked at. It’s like inspecting your car to make sure it’s in good shape. They used a fancy scale called TESTEX to check how good the studies were. The scores ranged from 3 to 8, with 12 being the max. So, some studies were as good as eating an entire meal, and others were like a single mouthful.

But here’s the exciting twist – they didn’t just look at regular published studies. Nope, they included Master’s and Doctoral theses too! It’s like inviting some cool undercover agents to join the party. More data, more fun!

Now, here’s the big reveal: when it comes to ROM, it might not be as important as we thought. In the grand scheme of things, it has a small impact on your muscle growth. So, if you’ve been stressing about doing your curls with the perfect range, relax a little. You’ve got some wiggle room – literally!

But wait, there’s more! It turns out that different ROMs might be better for different goals. If you’re training for a powerlifting competition, it’s better to stick to a similar ROM. It’s like saying if you want to win a pizza-eating contest, practice by eating pizza, not spaghetti. But if you’re just working out to stay fit and strong, you have more freedom to mix it up.

And speaking of mixing things up, there’s a fun twist: doing exercises with longer muscle lengths might give your muscles a growth spurt. It’s like stretching your arms out to reach that last slice of pizza – it’s the stretch that really counts!

Now, hold on to your dumbbells, because this discovery challenges some previous research. Some older studies suggested that full ROM is better for muscle growth. But these scientists are saying, “Not so fast!” They think that longer muscle lengths are where the magic happens.

A recent review of the research suggests that training muscles in a lengthened position only may more advantageous for muscle growth.

But don’t get too carried away just yet. This study isn’t the final word on the topic. More research is needed to confirm these findings. It’s like saying, “We might have a new steak sauce, but let’s taste it a few more times to be sure.”

So, what should you take away from all of this? Well, it’s kind of like choosing your favorite post-workout meal – you have options. You can go with different ROMs during your workouts, depending on your goals. And remember, even small changes in your routine can lead to better results.

In the world of muscle science, there are still many mysteries to uncover. But for now, you have a little more freedom to find the workout that suits you best. So, there may be a case for you experimenting with some muscle lengthened partial range of motion training, and don’t forget to enjoy that post-workout meal!

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Wolf, M., Androulakis-Korakakis, P., Fisher, J., Schoenfeld, B., & Steele, J. (2023). Partial Vs Full Range of Motion Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Strength and Conditioning, 3(1), Article 182.