Full ROM Challenge
To fully stimulate a muscle, you must challenge it across its entire contractile range. And just doing a full range of motion (ROM) in the big lifts won’t achieve this. Moving through a full ROM is very different than being challenged over a full ROM.
You see, muscles need to be worked in the mid-range, lengthened, and shortened position. Most exercises don’t require you to produce a constant force at all points throughout the ROM. Changes in the length of the lever during an exercise mean that force differs across the range of motion.
For example, when doing a lateral raise there’s no tension on the lateral delts at the beginning of the lift when your arms are by your side. This is because the lever arm is practically non-existent. At the top of the movement, however, the lever is much longer and the challenge to the muscle in this position is far greater. This is an example of an exercise which overloads the shortened position as it gets hardest as the muscles are close to fully contracted. (To fix that, read Lateral Raises Kinda Suck.)
To train a muscle at all points along its strength curve usually requires at least two, and often three, exercises. You don’t have to do exercises for all three positions within one workout. If you train a muscle several times a week, you can distribute these exercises across multiple sessions.
This strategy relies upon you having the luxury of enough time to hit the gym most days of the week. If you don’t have this luxury then I have a time-saving solution for you.
Full-Contractile Range Tri-Sets
Combine three exercises for the same muscle group into a tri-set. Pick one exercise for the shortened/peak contraction, one for the mid-range, and one for the lengthened position. Then do them back to back.
I call these Full-Contractile Range (FCR) Tri-Sets. With FCR tri-sets there are no redundant exercises. Each targets a specific portion of the strength curve and they work synergistically.
This is far more efficient than simply pairing up exercises with similar resistance profiles. FCR tri-sets allow you to fully stimulate the muscle, get an awesome pump, and a ton of work done in very little time.
Here’s an example for the lateral/side delts:
- A1. Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- A2. Wrist-Height Cable Lateral Raise
- A3. Low-Cable Lateral Raise