Is full range of motion (ROM) REALLY needed? What’s the benefit? When is full ROM not suggested? Does that scenario exist?
First off, a joint’s given ROM will be determined by passive ROM (flexibility) and then active ROM (mobility) within said range provided by flexibility. This is joint by joint but also expresses itself in movement patterns.
Joint by Joint vs movement pattern: How deep can you squat with full foot planted and a stable pelvis? And what is the possible benefit? As you move FURTHER through your range of motion, you either/and create a larger stretch of the muscle fibers (eccentric) or more intense shortening contraction of those fibers (concentric). There is potential here for more muscle fibers to be recruited as well (depending on load).
From a muscle growth and possible strength standpoint: That extra ROM *may* also increase time under tension per rep and = more fiber recruitment (higher demand) leading to the stimulus of hypertrophy (growth in muscle cell SIZE). More mechanical tension has the potential to lead to muscular and strength gains.
From a joint health, resiliency, and longevity standpoint: Having control through your end ranges minimizes risk of error. Does it benefit a power lifter to squat ass to grass? Nope. But the goal is move the most weight, in a controlled manner but also with the least room for error and time under tension. So the second they hit parallel, they’re getting out of the hole ASAP.
My take for most life lifters? Move within your full ROM, and work to gain more if you’re limited. Joint by joint AND within movement patterns.
There are also many benefits to training in a range of ranges of motion. Nothing is black and white here. But for most, I do think exercising through loaded range of motion is a win.
Fair enough? Do you work on increasing your range of motion? We do this sneaky time in our “movement preps” inside Built By Annie (BBA).
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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