Ok, let’s get this locked in – you must do an exercise through its full range of motion, period!
So the obvious questions are:
- Why? Because, if I don’t go through the full range of motion it is easier.
- What is the correct full range of motion for the exercises?
Now for the answers.
Well, the answer to this could be long and esoteric, but I like to break it down into simple take home messages.
First, performing a movement through a full range of motion means you have the appropriate flexibility of the muscles around the joints involved in the motion, and the joint has the appropriate mobility to move through an optimal range. So why would this be important?
If you read my last post, we do all this so that we can enjoy a long and active life. If you can move more easily and without putting undo stress on your system – then it will make the golden years a bit more enjoyable. An example is back pain, the majority of reported back pain is due to lack of proper flexibility and mobility of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC). Which means that the muscles around and attaching to the low back, hip and legs are tight (and weak, but that is another topic). Now let this go unchecked and you like 80% of the population will have some degree of back pain. Ever try, biking, hiking, tennis, etc with low back pain – no you haven’t because you can’t – get my point.
So by doing every repetition to its fullest range of motion, you are establishing optimal joint integrity and health.
Also, work is force times distance over time. So to do more work, and therefore, more fitness, simply move the body and weights through a greater range of motion!!
And no less important, there is no standard on which to improve if you do not go the full range. A half rep does not challenge the system near as much and it rarely ever improves the conditioning level of the individual. We see the greatest improvement in those that challenge the range of motion on every rep.
What is full range of motion?
Well, for the exercises we use at As One – let’s lump them into three categories:
Hip Girdle – squats, lunges, deadlifts and the like. When squatting, the thigh should be able to end up parallel to the floor at the bottom of the motion, with the heels in contact with the floor and the knees tracking over the third toe or a little further out. The spine will remain straight even as it pitches forward into the lap during the descent.
You will here us barking at you to “drop those hips” while squatting, or to “keep the spine straight” when deadlifting as you attempt to take the weight to the floor.
Shoulder Girdle – pushups, pullups, and rows. There is not one upper body exercise that should be done without the shoulders depressed (we say “ away from the ears”), shoulder blades retracted (we say “pinch your spine”) and the chin slightly tucked. So full range in this set up for the pushup is at a minimum upper arm parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement, and at a maximum, putting the chest on the ground. The chest is the only thing that should touch the ground when doing the pushup.
For pullups, you are going to a dead hang with elbows extended to a minimum of chin over the bar.
Rows are to be done with a straight and stable spine and the shoulder blades pulled down and back until the shoulder blade can travel no further to the spine and then the upper arm finishes in the plane of the body.
Core – we will perform all core exercises with a slight posterior pelvic tilt (your front hip bones rotated slightly up). Whether we are doing rower sit-ups ( low back should stay in contact with the floor) and when planking so that we can intensify the contraction of the abdominal muscles.
Obviously, it is difficult to get a true understanding of proper range of motion with out doing them but the point of this is as you hear me scream out some of the keys, heed my prompts, redouble your efforts, don’t care about how fast that guy is going beside you and learn to perform these exercises to the highest level!!
We are relentless on execution here at As One! Take advantage of this to improve these movement patterns, minimize structural problems and be able to measurably improve on all fronts!