Increase Range Of Motion For Gains
While I love chasing heavy weights as much as the next guy, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to occasionally chasing the weight while sacrificing range of motion. Sure, you'll lift heavier, but in many cases you're potentially limiting size gains.
Why? Though heavier lifting with partials may fire up your CNS, the direct stimulus on a tissue may be less. For a muscle to contract maximally it should begin in an extended position.
The caveat? You need to be able to control the resistance through whatever range of motion you have. The greater the range of motion with control, the greater the potential training stimulus.
Heavy partials can be a great stimulus to fire up your nervous system, but they should be intentional, not a byproduct of going too heavy and ego-lifting. Ensure a full range of motion and more importantly, control through the range of motion to maximize growth while minimizing joint stress.
Example – The front foot elevated split squat
While increasing the range of motion pre-stretches a muscle and provides a greater contraction, it's important to work within a range of motion you can control.
As an example, we've all seen the guy who's trying to set a squat PR who bounces out of the hole, shoots his butt into the air like he's making a twerking video, and ends up getting hurt or doing a good morning. This is a classic case of chasing the weight rather than working through an acceptable range of motion.
On heavy compound lifts, work only through the range of motion you can control pain-free. You may need to stop your bench press above your chest or your squat above parallel. You may need to deadlift from blocks. Either way, as your battle scars build up, you'll need to adapt your range of motion to lift safely and effectively.
On lighter lifts and isolation work, limiting your range of motion, like staying shy of lockout on curls, can dramatically increase metabolic stress with much less weight for joint-friendly hypertrophy.
On heavy lifts, only work through a range of motion you can control. One simple example would be pulling from blocks on a deadlift or clean:
On lighter lifts, consider avoiding the lockout and working through partial ranges of motion to increase muscular stress with less resistance.