Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Value of Full Range of Motion

Let's face it - people like to show off at the gym. Whether you sound like you're one step away from death, whether you feed your eardrums a soundtrack through which to work, or whether you pose in the mirror....you want attention & you're going to get it!

If you're looking to find yourself or delve into your subconscious, stay downstairs & sign up for yoga classes.

There is a lesson to be learned here. There is a tendency sweeping the fitness world, it started in the hardcore gyms and spread into the finess world - cheat reps, "partials," and 'assisted sets.'

There's two schools of thought that offer you the road to building a muscular physique. The first school offers you the illusion of strength, it posits the use of Arnold Schwarzenegger High Rep Training. The 'illusion approach' will have you doing high reps, with low-to-moderate weight. This style will have you work major muscle groups at least once a week (e.g. Back, Legs, Chest) and may have you work secondary (or smaller) muscle groups upto twice per week (e.g. calves, traps, forearms). This style works very well for building & maintaining muscle, as well as being compatible with [natural] cutting cycles which may include either low carbs or low fat diets.

The second school of thought is that of the late, great Mike Mentzer. Mentzer advocatd his High Intensity Training, which pushed the simple concept of 1-2 warm-up sets, followed a one very heavy set taken to failure. Mentzer believed workouts should be short and periods of recuperation should be extended. In his book High Intensity Training, Mentzer would have his clients rest a bodypart up to ten days before putting it back to work in the gym. The impetus of HIT was growth, which in turn would develop strength.

In as much as these two theories rival one another, they both require that the athlete be in complete control of the weight so as to be able to perform a full range of motion (hereinafter "FROM") for each rep of the set. "FROM" must be present in all aspects of the exercise, most especially in the negative.

The concept of spotting is both prudent and wise, but the lifter that reps 75% of is max for a set is going to reap far more benefits than the lifter surpassing his max for assisted reps. Assisted reps are extremely ambiguous calculators of your own raw strength and overall control. "Partials" and "cheat reps are also utterly useless to growth and developing strength. In fact, such lifts are normally accompanied by poor form (which increases the likelihood of injury).

Full Range Of Motion