When it comes to strength training, only completing part of a rep is far from a shortcut.
It’s actually a technique called “partial reps.” Instead of completing a full extension of a movement, you only execute part of the exercise, which focuses and increases the workload on one specific area of the body, Oscar Smith, an ISSA-certified personal trainer and the owner of O-D Studio, explains.
If you’re looking for a way to exhaust a targeted muscle more efficiently than doing a full rep, Smith confirms partial reps are great for growing and strengthening pinpointed muscles. Even better, the technique can be applied to a wide variety of strength-training moves.
Fun fact: Smith noted that many bodybuilders resort to partial reps with bands and weights as a final bulking-and-toning method before performing on stage.
Seems like a foolproof route to results, right? Just remember, like any workout, proper execution is an important part of avoiding injuries.
Since you’re not using the entire length of your muscle during partial reps, Smith shares that the method can create shortness in growth and development. You can avoid this by following your partial reps with some full-extension versions of the same moves and some stretching, which will encourage blood flow throughout the muscle.
To help partial-rep first-timers get started, Smith suggests focusing on one body part at the end of your workout. Beginners could kick off with push-ups (go halfway down instead of all the way), pull-ups (go halfway up while trying your best not to swing), and dips (only go halfway down).
To build up strength and muscle endurance, he recommends three sets of each move (as many partial reps as you can do in good form per set, safely) and then repeating each exercise in full motion for 10 reps, pausing at the completed extension of each move.
And I repeat: do not forget to stretch!