WE’RE ALWAYS TOLD to play by the rules—use strict form and don’t cut corners. What if cheating on your workouts and reps could build more size in the gym? The fact remains always playing by the traditional set of workout rules can eventually force you into a plateau. Repeating traditional exercises with heavier weights can only progress you so far.
Partial range of motion exercises and cheat reps can help you take your routine to the next level. By allowing you to lift more weight, they increase the intensity through a specific range of motion leading to more muscle stimulus and bigger gains. Read on to find out how to incorporate both safely into your program.
Partial range of motion
Partial range of motion (or partials, for short) refers to only going through a specific depth for a particular exercise. Full range of motion is purposefully ignored. This typically allows the lifter to use more weight on a given exercise and overload that particular portion of the movement. For instance, rack deadlifts, a popular strength builder, involves loading up the bar and only using the top portion of a deadlift (usually from the knee up). By focusing on a specific range of motion, lifters can improve their lockout at the top of the lift and develop increased hip strength.
Partials shouldn’t form the basis of your routine, but they can be added in periodically to change up your workout and present an added stimulus. Here are three ways to add them into your routine to increase the intensity:
1. Start your routine with a partial
Since lifters can push more weight with a partial range of motion, use this to your advantage by performing them first. Rather than starting with a traditional bench, perform a floor press or board press, both of which target the top half of the pressing motion. Instead of full-depth squats, perform a few sets of half squats to a box. These heavy partials will prime your nervous system for the traditional muscle builders later in your workout.
2. Intermix them during a set
Partials can be used to increase the intensity of a set by alternating full range of motion with a half range of motion. For instance, on pullups start fully extended at the bottom of the movement. Pull yourself all the way to the bar, and then lower halfway down. Immediately pull yourself back up to the top. Return to the bottom position. That’s one rep. Intermixing partials tends to work best with pulling exercises like rows and chinups to reinforce the squeeze at the top of the movement, but they can be applied to many exercises when executed properly.
3. Use them as a finisher
Since lifting through a partial range of motion is generally easier on the muscle, toss these reps in at the end of a workout when you’re starting to get tired. For biceps curls, start by using only the bottom half of the motion for a few reps. Then, transition to only using the top portion.
Finally, finish off your arms with full range of motion for the last few reps. This tactic can be applied to many single joint exercises to complete your routine.