Utilizing Partial Reps For Maximal Muscle Stimulation
One of the first things you learn when you start lifting weights is how important it is to use a full range of motion on exercises. If you’re a relative beginner to resistance training, you should follow that rule. But if you’ve been lifting for a few years, it may be time to break it.
A partial repetition is defined as a movement that is executed within a restricted portion of a lift. In other words, a partial rep is when you perform just a portion of a repetition.
Whether it’s squats that only go down a few inches, the top half of a bench press, or the bottom part of a curl, these partial rep movements have been proven to generate impressive results.
This lifting technique helps to increase your maximum strength, and to overload all the fibers in your muscles.
It’s easier to handle heavier weight when you’re doing only the first quarter of a rep, such as coming down just a few inches on the squat. Called a “partial rep”, this isn’t necessarily cheating. When you use very heavy weights for a partial, you stimulate your central nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers. This then “convinces” your body that you’re actually stronger, and you’ll find that you can handle heavier weights when you go back to using a full range of motion.
Partial reps, often half reps or quarter reps, can be performed in one of two ways:
- Partial Reps from Pins – A bar is place at the midway point of the lift using pins (generally in a rack, and for exercises such as squats and bench press). The lifter positions himself and lifts the bar from the pins into a fully extended or contracted position;
- Partial Reps from Contraction – For exercises such as squats and bench press, the lifter unracks the weight normally, and proceeds to perform only a half or quarter rep.
There are several close relative to partial reps in the realm of powerlifting. For the bench press, boards are often held on the chest of a lifter by a training partner, giving the lifter a higher than normal height to lower the bar to. For squats, a box (or bench) of varying heights is placed behind a lifter, and he proceeds to squat down until seated on this box, and then performs a rep.
Training with extremely heavy weights is extremely demanding on the body. You may find you need more time to recover from partial training sessions than regular training sessions. Heavy partial training should not be done long term.
Our suggestion: Perform partial reps at the end of a regular set of an exercise. Let’s say you can manage only 10 reps of a barbell curl. Instead of stopping the set at the 10th rep, you bring the bar to the top and squeeze out a few more. You may be able to curl the weight only six to eight inches, but that’s fine. You’re still hitting muscle fibers you wouldn’t have been hitting had you stopped the set after the last full rep.