Full Range Of Motion Vs Partials: Which Is The Way To Go?


The Battle of Partial Vs Full Range

There’s a constant battle at hand when it comes to lifting. And we’re not talking about you vs. the weights. We are talking about range of motion during lifting – there’s a constant argument between which method is better: partial lifts and lifts utilizing full range of motion. Depending on who you ask, they’ll fall on either one side or the other. Let’s take a look at which method is the most beneficial.

Full Range of Motion

Bodybuilding workoutThe definition of full range of motion is pretty subjective. For the most part, full range of motion for an exercise doesn’t exactly mean full range of the muscle group. For example if you’re benching, the full range of motion is when the barbell leaves the rack and touches down to your chest then up again. That’s full range of motion for the exercise but not for the pectoral muscles. Dumbbell flyes can in fact engage the pec muscles far deeper than your average bench press. Full range of motion, for either the exercise or the muscle ends up working the muscle group to the extreme. One good example is the squat. The partial squat is still a great exercise, but there’s nothing quite like completing the full motion. We’ve said it time and again, if you want to get the most out of your squat, then you better get down as low as possible in order to perform the full motion and engage as many muscle groups as possible. In this way, full range motions are great to target multiple areas as opposed to isolating one muscle group. It offers both strength as well as flexibility in the target area.


Now partials are another story. It all depends heavily on application as well as the goals you wish to achieve out of your lift. If you’re going for strength, then partials can be beneficial, but ultimately they end up working better for sculpting muscle. If you haven’t caught on by now, that means it’s a great tool for a bodybuilder. You see, partials require that a repetition of, let’s say, a┬ádumbbell curl won’t be taken to a full range where the joint locks completely. It requires more control and in turn this means there will be constant tension on the muscles during lifts. This also means your bicep will be on fire by the time you’re done curling. Partials are great for isolating specific muscle groups and can end up paying dividends. But keep in mind that if you want to get the most out of partials then you better make sure you have good form. Crappy form will ultimately defeat the purpose.

Which One Wins Out?

An image of a handsome bearded bodybuilding man doing chest workout

So which is better? Well if you haven’t caught on yet, then you’re probably either really slow or just aren’t paying attention. The obvious answer is, you guessed it – both of them are just as important as the other. It takes a combination of both full range and partials to get the job done and attack a muscle group from multiple angles. So the question shouldn’t be: should I do partial range of motion or full? It shouldn’t be a question at all. You should be doing both.

So what’s your take on the subject? Let us know what you think in the comments below and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jonathan Salmon
Managing editor of Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. He has been writing about bodybuilding, combat sports, and strength sports for over 8 years. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.