Can Full Weight Lifting Range Of Motion Enhance The Likelihood For Muscle Injuries?

By: Francesco A. Castano


Bodybuilders seeking maximum muscle gain frequently focus upon range of motion when aiming to intensify a workout, with some abbreviating the distance of each rep in order to increase weight, with other bodybuilders focusing upon the widest range of motion in order to recruit the greatest number of muscle fibers for each weight lifting workout rep. Obviously, opposition between these two philosophies leaves most weight lifters wondering which technique is more effective, and many bodybuilders, due to articles promoting the advantages of full range bodybuilding form, gravitate towards a lengthy range of motion, believing that they will produce superior muscle gain.

This concept is perfectly acceptable when using relatively light weights and high reps for muscle stimulation, as the joint and tendon stress is minimal, and therefore bringing a muscle through a longer distance each rep will not result in adverse consequences. Yet, for bodybuilders who seek maximum muscle building, and decide to implement heavier weight lifting sessions, full range of motion for certain exercises can actually increase the risk for pain and discomfort, especially in relation to joints, which experience significant strain when they are placed under heavy stress in a full range of motion workout.

During low rep, high weight lifting sessions, range of motion is best reduced, but not significantly, as for example, a 50% decline in range of motion will lead to far less muscle growth, and actually cause instability in muscles, potentially resulting in serious injuries, including muscle tears. The best technique used to reduce the risk of joint pain when performing lower rep weight lifting workout sessions is to reduce range of motion slightly at the point of complete muscle contraction, which means, for example, avoiding full lock out of the knees during squat, and the elbows during the triceps pushdown, to reduce the impact on joints when using heavy weights. This leads to a slight reduction in standard range of motion of about 10%, while still offering complete muscle stimulation.

Many bodybuilders are under the impression that modifying squat range of motion at the bottom of every rep will reduce the chance of knee injuries, but this is a misconception, as full form squat, where you lower the body as far as possible, is more potent at increasing lower body muscle mass, and encourages stability in the legs that will not occur when substantially altering range of motion. The reason many experience knee pain when squatting is not because of excessive range of motion, but rather poor form which places unneeded stress upon the knee joint, as the deadlift and squat are two weight lifting exercises where form is especially difficult and crucial to the safety of each rep, and sadly, numerous bodybuilders aim to reduce squat rep range as opposed to addressing the true source of knee discomfort, which is improper form.

The same concept applies to elbow discomfort, as muscles have been designed to function synergistically, and when a link in the chain begins to operate in a way that was not intended, other muscles attempt to assist in an unnatural way, and before long, joints are severely inflamed, and muscles begin to experience numerous injuries. Therefore, in addition to avoiding complete lockout on weight lifting exercises such as squat and triceps pushdown, if you are suffering from joint discomfort, you should make an effort to analyze weight lifting workout form on every exercise to determine whether your body is performing each rep correctly, making any changes as necessary.

Those bodybuilders who attempt to rectify joint discomfort by greatly reducing weight lifting exercise range of motion are clearly mortgaging their future well being, as muscles that are not conditioned to perform in their natural strength curve will eventually create instability in the tendon and joint regions, which will increase the risk for serious muscle injuries and nagging discomfort. Although abbreviating exercise range of motion enhances the amount of weight that can be used in each lifting movement dramatically, such artificial improvements do not lead to extra muscle growth, but rather prevent the necessary stimulation for dramatic increases in muscle mass.

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Francesco Castano owns FatVanish.com, where you will find his natural weight loss program.

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