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Effect of ROM on resistance training adaptations

Do adaptations to resistance training differ when using partial or full range of motion?

Training using full range of motion (ROM) leads to significantly greater strength and lower limb hypertrophy adaptations. Functional performance tends to increase as well when using full ROM, but the difference was nonsignificant. Conversely, there are no differences in muscle properties (muscle thickness, pennation angle, and fascicle length) arise from training with either partial or full ROM. This is concluded by Spanish scientists who performed a systematic review with meta-analysis of 16 studies.

Despite limitations such as a moderate to high level of heterogeneity and contradictory results on some training effects, this systematic review does show that using full ROM leads to better muscle strength and lower limb hypertrophy outcomes. However, muscle architecture parameters did not show a difference between partial and full ROM. This review’s findings may help shed light on how to modulate ROM when prescribing resistance training.

> From: Pallarés et al., Scand J Med Sci Sports 31 (2021) 1866-1881 (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.

Expert opinion

This review provides some degree of evidence about the positive effects of using full ROM in resistance training. However, it also shows that these differences are more related to functional rather than to structural adaptations.

These findings can be explained by the fact that exploring a greater ROM during training may lead to better performance in a wider section of the force-length relationship, thus impacting a wider range of everyday or sporting activities that may not necessarily be restricted to a certain ROM.

However, the results can also be seen in a different perspective. In populations that cannot perform training with full ROM, this does not necessarily mean that they will not benefit from training. This may be good news for many patients who cannot achieve a full ROM or those currently restricted due to postsurgical requirements.

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