Full Range Of Motion (ROM)
The only beginners’ method for completing the workload and ideas, implied in the principles we talked about above, is the full range of motion.
This way of training, where the tension extends along the full range of motion of the exercise and tenses all the sectors of the worked muscle, is a founding principle.
The flexibility is defined, as the ability of a joint to move along its full range of motion. Increasing and maintaining flexibility is inevitably connected to the full range of motion.
The main factor here, that affects the flexibility is the musculature, which contracts and expands.
When a joint regularly goes through its full range of motion, the muscles doing that motion tend to not only maintain their natural elasticity, but also increase it, and vice versa – When the joint doesn’t go through it’s full ROM during weight training, it’s moving musculature tends to lose elasticity.
As a result, the joint’s flexibility goes down and the muscles shorten. The loss of flexibility leads to less muscle efficiency and a higher risk of injury.
From a bodybuilding point of view, the reduced elasticity leads to lower efficiency of the workload and hinders the aesthetically pleasing muscle development. It also has an effect on the length of the given muscle and mostly reduces its contraction abilities, which leads to a lack of a “peak” in the muscle while it is flexed.
A perfect tool for overcoming those negative effects, is doing our exercises, included in the routine throughout their full range of motion.
Another well-known tool, is including stretching before and after our workout.
Such an approach to training is a well-known practice in most sports, including bodybuilding.
However, as opposed to the typical stretching you have in other sports, that is directly limited by the certain individual’s current elasticity limit, in bodybuilding we have different means of stretching at the end of the negative part of our repetition. (Eg- Relaxing our body and arms all the way down during pull ups, going all the way down during hack squats etc.)
The depth of the stretch during those movement, depends not only on the individual’s current elasticity/flexibility, but on the weight used as well, in other words – it is a forced stretch, and therefore extreme flexibility is reached.
In order to do that though, full range of motion is required.
Another requirement to approach this type of stretching is picking the working weights according to the individual’s capabilities, in order to prevent injury.
This way, at the end of our pyramid, we can apply “force stretching work” using full ROM.
The ligaments that connect the bones, and the tendons, that connect the muscles to the bones, are extremely strong, but due to the fact they have no actual elasticity whatsoever, the muscle units take the stress from the stretch and allow an effective movement of the joints involved.
All of this, points us at stretching exercises as a warm up, prior to weight involved full ROM stretching exercises.
It is well known that in the separate muscle sectors, during the full range of motion of an exercise, the tension we get is quite unequal – Usually, the biggest tension is achieved in the middle of every rep.
That tells us that even though we have a representation of full muscle involvement, during full ROM, it is not able to give us an equivalent stress, upon the separate muscle sectors, therefore an even functional development for all of them is not achieved.
That is why, beginners reach a plateau after 12-18 months of using full range of motion as their main method.
Therefore, we cannot define this as the only method, but more as the fundamental, basic one.
How To Apply Full ROM?
A certain way of applying this principle is hard to define, due to the fact we have a huge variety of ways to apply it.
What we do, is voluntarily putting an emphasis in the beginning and the end of the ROM of each exercise – Positions, that are directly connected to the flexion and extension of the muscle group.
This approach is required, due to the fact that those are the exact parts of the movement, in which the tension is most insignificant.
This way, when we use the exercise “Lat pull-downs”, we should not rush the movement, but rather let the back and arms extend at the top of the exercise, in order to feel the stretch in the outer part of our ‘wings’.
Inertial movements, in this case, are the worst thing you could do.
Just like everything else, working your way through a proper execution of the full ROM requires training, willpower and concentration.
For beginners, this could be controlled either by a personal trainer, or by their more experienced gym buddy.
The more advanced trainees, control that by looking at their reflection in the mirror.
Beginners must know that full ROM is MANDATORY for them, due to the fact there is no substitute for this principle, which means they might have to take a couple of disks off of their barbell, or use a lighter dumbbell in order to apply it.
In conclusion, we can say that the differentiation between an ego lifter and an intelligent trainee is shown, by the strict form on every exercise they do.