Range of motion

11.31 While making an exercise harder usually makes it better, there are many exceptions. Increasing the depth of squatting and deadlifting, for example, makes those exercises harder, but for some people that "harder" means harmful, if not ruinous. Generally speaking, you should use as full a range of motion as possible so long as it does not hurt you.

11.32 ^ere are some exercises, however, where the range of motion is intentionally reduced even when a greater range of motion can be performed safely. For example, in the insider's tell-all handbook on weight-training technique the partial deadlift and the overhead lockout are described and recommended.

11.33 Using a four-post power rack, or the smaller half rack or open rack, it is easy to break exercises into their component parts—the start, the finish (i.e., the lockout), and the part in between. ^e start would go from the very beginning of the rep—e.g., at the chest in the bench press—until only about the sticking point, before pausing, and lowering the resistance to the beginning. ^e lockout would be just the last few inches of the rep, usually starting from above the sticking point. But the "part in between" could go from about a third of the way up till about two thirds of the way up—i.e., the middle phase only, just through the sticking point—or it could go from at about the sticking point right to the finish.

11.34 Doing lockouts often enables weights to be used well in excess of what can be handled for the full rep. On the one hand this can be useful for overloading, but simultaneously it provides the most dangerous aspect of partial-rep training—excessive demands upon the skeletal structure of the body. Never mind that some people can use colossal weights in many partial lifts without apparent harm. ^ose people are not role models for you or any other typical person because most of those strength phenomena are genetically blessed with unusually robust joints and connective tissue. But even some of these gifted people suffer damage over the long-term. It is much safer to stick to working a component of a rep other than the lockout part, if you want to try partial-rep training.

^is does not, however, exclude careful and intelligent use of lockouts in the occasional cycle, at least in some movements, but not in movements where you have a structural weak link. Start relatively light, and take a couple of months of progressively building up before you start to use your limit weights for lockouts.

For lockouts, your form must be absolutely impeccable. If you get out of the groove with the very heavy weights that lockouts in some exercises permit, you will expose your body to potentially very dangerous levels of stress. Be careful! Generally speaking, non-exaggerated full-range training is a much safer way to train.

Using a restricted range of motion other than the lockout part can be a safe and very productive way to train even on a regular basis. Training the bench press from two inches above chest height, and the squat from two inches above the point where the thighs are parallel to the ground, are examples of reduced-range-of-motion training that do not necessitate the big (and potentially risky) loads that lockouts do.

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