New research published in the International Journal of Strength and Conditioning has claimed that performing exercises with a full range of motion provides little benefit compared to a partial range of motion.
Strength training is a cornerstone of fitness regimens aimed at achieving various goals, such as muscle growth, increased strength, and enhanced athletic performance. One aspect that has garnered increasing attention is the range of joint movement (range of motion or ROM) during resistance exercises.
Regardless of who you follow online, or where your fitness coach is from – the overwhelming majority believe that performing exercises with full range of motion is key to hypertrophy and muscle growth stimulus.
However, Milo Wolf et al published an article titled Partial Vs Full Range of Motion Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis at the International Journal of Strength with the question: Does the extent of joint movement significantly impact the outcomes of strength training?
Below is but a glimpse of what they found and the answer might surprise everyone as it delves into the latest research to shed light on the relationship between joint movement and strength training results.
Full Range of Motion Provides Little Benefit Compared to Partial Range of Motion
The primary objective of their analysis was to systematically review existing research and determine whether altering the range of joint movement during strength training exercises leads to distinct outcomes.
The study sought to provide clarity on the potential effects of varying joint movement on muscle growth, strength gains, athletic performance, power development, and body composition. Through an in-depth examination of the available literature, the analysis aimed to identify patterns, trends, and potential influencing factors.
To accomplish this objective, a rigorous methodology was employed. A systematic search was conducted on prominent databases, including PubMed and SportsDISCUS. The inclusion criteria were designed to select studies that directly investigated the effects of joint movement variations on strength training outcomes.
The data extracted from selected studies underwent meticulous analysis, including statistical evaluation using specialized methods. Sub-group analyses and factors that could influence the results were also considered.
The primary analysis indicated a marginal improvement of approximately 0.12 when employing a full range of joint movement compared to a restricted range.
This modest improvement suggests that altering joint movement during strength training does have an impact on outcomes, albeit a relatively small one.
When focusing on specific outcomes, such as muscle growth and strength gains, utilizing a full range of motion demonstrated slight advantages (ranging from 0.05 to 0.2). Furthermore, an intriguing finding emerged from the detailed analysis: training with a restricted range of motion at longer muscle lengths might be more conducive to muscle growth compared to utilizing a full range of motion. Notably, aligning the training ROM with the desired outcome ROM appeared to yield superior strength improvements.
Moreover, the study did not identify substantial disparities between upper-body and lower-body outcomes when manipulating the range of joint movement. This suggests that the impact of varying ROM on strength training outcomes is consistent across different muscle groups.
In conclusion, the findings of this comprehensive analysis underscore the significance of joint movement in strength training outcomes.
While the differences observed between utilizing a full range of motion versus a restricted one are not monumental, they do have implications for individuals seeking specific fitness goals. Employing a full or longer range of joint movement during strength training exercises may lead to more favourable results in terms of muscle growth, strength gains, power development, and body composition. However, it’s important to note that the variations are relatively subtle.
As such, incorporating a variety of joint movements into one’s strength training routine can be beneficial for both variety and personal preferences. Additionally, individuals with specific fitness goals, injuries, or anatomical considerations can make informed decisions about the range of joint movement that aligns best with their objectives.
Looking ahead, future research endeavours should focus on comparing diverse training methods to ascertain the most effective approaches. Transparency in data reporting and replication efforts will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between joint movement and strength training outcomes.
As always, studies published such as this one should not be taken as the ultimate rule. There are always more ways to tackle the subject, providing more data until more and more about fitness is unveiled and we, as a community, can make better decisions based on scientifically proven facts.
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