“You need to lift through a full range of motion in order to build maximum muscle.”

Nearly every person who has trained with Static Contraction training has heard this comment in the gym. It’s often from some person who thinks he’s helping you out by passing on some physiology ‘knowledge’ he heard. Sometimes it’s just a know-it-all who critiques everyone’s workouts.

In any event, ask him this simple question, “Has there ever been a clinical study that demonstrates humans need a full range of motion to build muscle; or a study that demonstrates range of motion plays a bigger role in hypertrophy than the amount of weight lifted?”

Then wait for the silence.

Perhaps it will surprise you to know there is not a single study supporting either conclusion. Nor will there ever be. What? Pete, are you saying you can predict the outcome of future studies? No. What I’m saying is that there are billions of cases over thousands of years of humans building muscle without using a full range of motion. So if a future study concludes that can’t happen, the study will be wrong.

The fact is, outside of the gym and exercise infomercial studios, humans just don’t use a full range of motion when performing high intensity exercise. For example:

  1. When you try to push a car you don’t place your hands near your chest to push, you place them almost fully extended away from you
  2. Likewise, when you push a car you also don’t squat down on you haunches, you barely bend your knees
  3. When you climb a ladder you don’t go three rungs at a time even though you could
  4. When we walk we automatically use a step that is in our strongest and most efficient range of motion, we don’t use our full range of motion

There are millions of construction workers, mechanics, landscapers and others who have very muscular physiques without ever using a full range of motion in their daily jobs.

And if full range of motion was the crucial road to muscle growth, yoga instructors and martial artists would be winning all the bodybuilding titles because they consistently exercise with the absolute maximum range of motion to develop flexibility.

Sometimes you’ll hear this variation: “If you don’t use a full range of motion, you’ll develop a short muscle.” Again, there is not a single study to back up this assertion. The length and shape of your muscles is determined by who your parents are.

Furthermore, your muscles are permanently attached to your bones. If you do partial reps, your muscles do not disconnect themselves, creep along the bone and reattach themselves during the night in order to become shorter. Won’t happen.

And when you lift the maximum weight possible it requires the work of the maximum number of muscle fibers. Maximum fiber recruitment leads to maximum muscle hypertrophy; which is just one more reason the “short muscle” remark is ridiculous.

For over fifteen years I’ve been showing people how to limit range of motion in favor of lifting more weight in a safer range. I now estimate that over 200,000 people have used my methods to build new muscle.

So the evidence is clear and unambiguous; in the realm of muscle building, range of motion has almost no significance whatsoever. The overwhelming factor of significance is how much weight a muscle lifts. It is better to lift 200 pounds 3 inches than to lift 100 pounds 6 inches. It is better still to lift 400 pounds 1.5 inches. All three lifts represent the same amount of work as far as physics is concerned, yet when you try them in the gym it is the greater weight that taxes your limits, not the greater distance.

“You need to lift through a full range of motion in order to build maximum muscle.” It never was true and never will be true. My best advice is to use Static Contraction Training to lift the maximum amount of weight you can, in the smallest and safest possible range of motion…and watch your progress take off.

 

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14 Comments.

  • Erick

    This was a somewhat enlightening article, I have never personally heard any of these arguments concerning muscle building. I have on the other hand been told repeatedly by both sports medicine doctors as well as expert exercise physiologists, that exercising through a "Full Range" of motion is the only way to ensure that you strengthen the muscle "Support System" of Ligaments and Tendons, and that a muscle which becomes "Much Stronger" over a shorter period than would normalize their tendon and ligament strength, support, resiliency, and flexibility, most probably and very likely will sooner or later result in painful, if not dangerous, Tears, Fiber Separations, Bleeding, Tissue Scarring, and Stiffening of those Tendon and Ligament Tissues, and has resulted in the need for surgery to repair breakage and separation from the insertion or attachment of the tendon or ligament……this is true according to all the medical training I have personally had and the advice of the experts and doctors who make these kinds of repairs all the time…..I think that you can safely build more muscle quicker to a degree with limited range of motion in exercise, but sooner or later to avoid drastic injury you will be forced to allow the strength of the bone, tendons, and ligaments to catch up with the muscular development that you are creating……thanks for the article though as it is a good informational expose' on fiber stressing for accelerated muscle development….you are correct as far as it goes, you do not have to use the "Full Range" of Motion to build muscle rapidly….just safely….:)

  • StaticContrac

    Thanks, Erick. Think about where injuries occur. Doing a bench press, is it when the bar is near your chest, or in the last few inches at the top of the range? It’s nearly always in the weak range near your chest. Same with squats and other exercises. By definition that is where you “fail” and where the weight becomes too much to handle. Lifting a maximum weight in that range is inviting an injury. And it’s why almost every weightlifter with years of experience is nursing one or more old injuries. If you can build muscle, lower your blood pressure, increase bone density, strengthen tendons, ligament and joints, increase natural HGH and testosterone levels – all without risking weak-range injuries, why wouldn’t you? (And as a bonus, SCT requires about 2% of the training time and general wear and tear on your body of conventional, full range training.)

    Also, you talk about a muscle becoming strong “over a shorter period than would normalize their tendons and ligaments…” That happens to guys on the juice. They take drugs to build muscle and don’t take drugs to build tendons and ligaments. (I don’t think there are drugs for that.) Static Contraction training is always done in a way that delivers growth stimulation to all the support systems and is limited by what the trainee can safely lift in his strongest range inside a power rack or smith machine where he is safest to do so.

  • Erick

    So, you made my point actually which is that the Tendons and Ligaments are not strong enough to handle the weight amounts that you can lift at the maximum lift distance/range from your body.
    And so what I was saying is that in order to be completely safe, all the docs and physiologists I know are simply saying "make sure you train the tendon and ligament strength to the same degree that you train the main body of the muscle or you will create a torn ligament or tendon during the course of your workouts sooner or later" or by accident while performing everyday lifting or moving objects and activities since your muscle strength can handle what you "think" they can, while the "under trained" ligaments and tendons Can Not and so fail, strain, and/or tare, due to the fact that you are doing what you "think" you can do, based on your level of strength, but the tendons and ligaments, which only receive their max training at, as you put it, their "weakest" point where their stresses are greatest are Not Able to do, and so it basically it appears that you are saying the same thing, by stating that "most injuries occur at the weakest point" of the movement or range of movement closest to the body (in bench pressing) or farthest from the body for standing and extending exercises, where most of the pressure is being handled by the tendon and ligament attachments to the bone and to the body of the muscle.
    If their (the physiologists and sports docs) statements were not true, then the resultant injuries, which always occur when you don't train the ligaments and tendons to the degree that they can or are able to handle the stresses of lifting large amounts of weight or even small amounts of weight to which they are not accustomed, would not occur and they (the injuries), from what I have seen in hospitals and physical therapy situations, always do, when the body of the muscle is all that is trained.
    I believe that the nonprofessional but lay term is "Hollow Chest or Hollow Muscle" training, and applies to muscles that Tare at their attachment points due to "under-training" the Tendons and Ligaments in proportion to the weight capable of being lifted by the main body of the muscle (just look at all the surgical scars on deltoids and pectorals that you commonly see in weight training gymnasiums, ample proof that these injuries are far too common due to lack of Range Of Motion during their training period in favor of bulk gains).
    I have seen all too many of the surgical scars resulting from the repairs that have to be done by operating room physicians, when these injuries occur to believe otherwise.
    Thanks for responding to my email, but from what you've said, outside of believing that a hugely stronger pulling power/force developed against a basically untrained or unconditioned tendon or ligament will not result in more injuries and more serious injuries, You appeared to be saying the same thing that I was saying according to what I have seen in my practice as a nurse.
    That being that weak tendons and ligaments resulting from lack of training them through a full range of motion, eventually, whether accidentally or by simply being incorrectly informed, and so attempting feats that they ( the tendons and ligaments) are not yet strong enough to handle, will sooner or later result in injury. Thanks so much again for your response..singed Erick.

  • Erick

    I know that we are saying the same thing, ( I am just not familiar with weight machines only free weights) I am just having a difficult time seeing (understanding) how you can train the body of the muscle only, using partial range of motion and increase the Tendon and Ligament strength in doing so?
    I hope that is the case, cause I have "Full Blown Aids" and while I can not afford your books or programs due to my having to remain on SSI and not Disability, but I would love to understand and be able to use your principles to an effective degree as I was trained as a Nurse and believe that more muscle means a higher metabolism, greater immune response (very very important for me), more HGH production, Higher Testosterone levels without the need for dangerous supplementation, and many many other benefits that could help me tremendously, but sadly I am not able to spend money at all, since I am on a 674 dollar a month income, out of which all expenses including rent and gasoline have to be paid, it's close to impossible to survive on that amount and live in the U.S., but if, as you say, all these benefits to the general health and especially that of the immune system is possible with SCT then, I hope that someday I will be able to put your methods into practice and prove it!….LOL…thanks for the forum response at least, signed Erick.

  • Erick

    I know that we are saying the same thing, ( I am just not familiar with weight machines only free weights) I am just having a difficult time seeing (understanding) how you can train the body of the muscle only, using partial range of motion and increase the Tendon and Ligament strength in doing so? I am not sure that this comment made it to you, so I will send it again, paraphrased since I can't remember it word for word. I am living with "Advanced Full Blown Aids" and only get 674 dollars a month in SSI payments which has to cover everything from Rent to Gasoline, and frankly if my mom didn't help I couldn't survive at all, so I can't buy your books and or training manuals, but if you can create all these immune system and Testosterone rejuvenation, and HGH stimulation benefits to the health of the bones, joints and increase the metabolism without injury and with 2% of the normal wear and tare on the body (bad for HIV recovery very slow) then, I would love to Prove it by putting SCT to the test and putting it into action against my condition…and maybe someday I will be able to afford to do so, but for now, I don't understand a lot about the principles you are propounding as they conflict with what doctors of sports medicine are saying, and that being that "without training through the full range of motion, injury is pretty certain" and from what I am reading I am almost certain that in principle you seem to agree with this at least when it comes to injury which occurs from lifting or attempting full strength efforts when the tendons and ligaments have not been trained to the point of being able to handle the same strain as the muscle body…..thanks for all your time and your responses….signed Erick.

  • Erick

    I know that we are saying the same thing, ( I am just not familiar with weight machines only free weights) I am just having a difficult time seeing (understanding) how you can train the body of the muscle only, using partial range of motion and increase the Tendon and Ligament strength in doing so?

  • StaticContrac

    Hi again. I’m glad you responded. We’ve been trying to get your original post to show up and we can’t seem to manage it. First week of having a blog, I’m afraid. But now people can get the gist of what you originally said.

    Re: “That being that weak tendons and ligaments resulting from lack of training them through a full range of motion,..” No. We don’t agree on that. I’m saying a person has weak tendons, joints and ligaments because they never lift their true maximum weight. I’m saying lift your maximum in a safe position (power rack) and you will stimulate thicker, stronger connective tissue. In the end that means fewer injuries in any position. (But I never advocate maximum weak range lifting. The risk is unnecessary.)

    Re: “Full Blown Aids” I’m really sorry to hear that and also that you have the associated lack of money. If you have access to a good gym I will send you the Static Contraction program at no cost. Zero obligation. If you think any aspect of it would improve your health I’d be honored to help you. ( email: sisco @ precisiontraining . com )

  • Brian T

    I’ve been advised to do prehab exercises by a sports scientist. He says every athlete should 1. check the chop down on your knees with a pulley over the shoulder down to the opposite knee and vice versa on the other side. 2. the chop up pulling a pulley from the knee to the opposite shoulder and vice versa on the other side. 3. Do single leg deadlifts bending over at the waist to pick them up and then straightning up on both sides and 4. Turkish get ups with a dumbell or kettlebell on either side.

    The idea is to check that both sides are equally strong in lower body, upper body and combined in movement as well as the normal type of lifting weights in position. This is apparently critical to injury prevention and also helps optimum sporting performance.

    So my question is do I need to do this now that I am doing sct and that is supposed to be ultra functional and excellent for rehab?

    I guess I need to test it and see how I score on either side (it needs to be within 10% results of the other side in each exercise).

    But I’m just asking because I know you guys say sct is great for rehab and that it is great for injury prevention as well. Do you know if sct corrects side imbalances as well?

    If it does I’d rather not start doing full range exercises with weights as well due to efficiency and also that I don’t really like doing them, I like sct and the beta sct workouts.

  • Brian, I like to stay away from medical opinions becasue I’m not an M.D, (A good reason, I think.) Prehab to avoid injury? OK, I guess. Especially if you’re also being told to do the most injury-inducing exercises later in the program. Like most people are. As far as a left/right, front/back muscle imbalance goes, I think it’s pretty common. Most right handed people have a stronger right arm than left. And vice versa. Most imbalances are minor and I don’t know what their role might be in later injuries. I’m trying to think of someone who told me he tore his rotator cuff or knee ligament because of an imbalance and I can’t think of any. Not to say an imbalance is a good thing – I just don’t know how significant it would be going into a strength training program that avoids dangerous ranges of motion.

  • I have read your book and done the workout. I have seen the increase of feeling strong and strength gains from the workout. The one “huge” nagging question though, “why not also train the bottom portion of the rep to gain increases there as well?? I would think you would wind up with a more complete level of overall strength versus ingoring this part. In fact, you could even apply the same principle of a 1-3” lift from the bottom with, of course, lighter weight.

  • In a word: injury. There is no good argument for lifting a maximum weight in the weakest, most injury-prone range. Unless you make your living doing weak-range maximum lifting I can’t think of why to risk it.

  • Brian T

    Yea, I’ll have to do the test and then see how I stand. Then decide what to do from there.

    The thing is this guy recommending it has worked with NFL teams and the ones he’s worked with are highly successful in winning AND have the lowest rates of injury since he came in.

    Now whether these imbalances and injuries are happening in the first place due to using crazy saturation workouts using full range of motion is the next logical question.

    Or perhaps his prehab method also helps prevent on field injuries period. I don’t know.

    He didn’t mention performance benefits, that was just my own speculation and now that I think of it the best footballer of all time was Maradona and he was VERY left footed. So maybe that isn’t nearly as important as I was thinking.

    He also got a few very nasty injuries though. 😉 But he was also a brilliant healer.

    Make of that what you will.

    Anyway I will test it and decide how to proceed from there.

  • Pieter

    Hi Pete,

    I’ve been following the blog and understand the logic behind only training in the strongest range. I do however have 1 nagging question as well…

    Wikipedia provides the following definitions for weight/distance/etc.
    “Weight has same dimension & unit as force.
    Distance has same dimension & unit as displacement.
    So weight * distance = force * displacement.
    Force * displacement = work done by the force.
    Work / time = Power
    So (weight * distance) / time also has same dimension & unit as Power although it is not power

    I have read your statements about lifting a pencil for a very large distance and getting no benefit from that but perhaps there is even a sweet spot for the distance as well. In your Power Factor Workout you do show that individuals will have different sweet spots in terms of weights used and reps achieved over the 2 minute interval. Wouldnt this hold true for distance lifted as well?

    If I can do 200lb x 60 reps in 2mins strong range only (4″) then full range reps (16”)of 105lb x 30 reps will trump the actual power output (24000 vs. 25200) correct?

    I do admit that physics not my strong point but need to make sure I fully understand the principles involved.

    Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Weight_x_distance_divided_by_time#ixzz1SS0vfVbP

  • There is a sort of sweet spot for distance and it where your strongest range is. That varies a bit from person to person so it’s not possible to give a blanket statement saying “bend your elbow to 42%, and your knee to 12% and that will be your strongest range.” I wish it were true but there is always variation in people.

    I hear you on the power calculations but there are two relevant points. A) Your workouts should always use the same range so the distance factors out of the improvement calculations – only weight and reps remain. B) In physics moving 200 lbs 4 inches is the same as moving 800 lbs 1 inch. But it is not the same to your body. The heavier weight is far, far more taxing than the extra distance. Since we are deliberately trying to tax the muscles we opt for heavier weights and less distance. When tested, this proves to build muscle without fail.

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