PARTIAL REPS: The Ultimate Cheat Code for Muscle Growth?

If you have been hearing a lot about partial reps lately, it’s because they have become very popular again as a workout intensity technique for muscle growth. In this video, I’m going to help you to explore the different applications of partial reps for your training that will help you to build new muscle faster than ever before, or will it? It depends on how you are applying your partial reps and to which exercises.

So we start with covering the basics about partial reps, and to do that you want to know where in the range of motion you are performing them. They can either be done in the beginning of the range of motion, the middle of the rep or at the end of the rep. What’s more important about the location of the partial is the effect that the muscle is experiencing in that range.

So is the partial occurring where the muscle is in its fully stretched position, fully contracted position, or somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

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Recent research has shown that the reps that occur in the stretch position, called lengthened partials, are the ones that are most growth inducing and capable of muscle hypertrophy. That said, how many of these do you perform in a single set and across an entire workout.

There are some that believe that performing partial reps on every rep of a set is the best way to apply them. Unless the exercises for leg exercises I am not sure that I agree with that. There are others that see these types of sets and perceive them to be easier than full range of motion sets simply because less distance is covered. That isn’t actually true in this case, since the range that is being performed happens to be in the most challenging part of the exercise range of motion.

Others think that the best application of partials is to perform them in alternating fashion with each full range of motion rep. This is definitely a great way of performing reps to build muscle but they are not particularly new at all. These are known as one and a half reps and are something that we have shown here on this channel for many years.

The last way to do partials is to perform them as a set intensity technique at the end of your regular set taken to failure. These partials allow you to push past the point of muscle failure to heighten the intensity and drive more muscle growth into every set. This is the version of the technique that I prefer over all others because of the high priority on maintaining full range of motion repetitions in your training.

While new research may be excited about the use of lengthened partials for muscle hypertrophy I do think it’s important to not lose sight of the broader goal of becoming stronger, more stable, more athletic and resilient to injury at the same time that we are building muscle. This is accomplished by using full range of motion in addition to properly timed partial reps.

In general, it is always going to be easier to perform this technique on pull exercises. This is because the weight finishes in a position away from the body rather than on top of you. You always have the ability to generate a little more momentum or body english to help initiate what will become yet another high intensity partial rep. On exercises like the bench press you are not afforded that opportunity. The bar finishes in your weakest point and the momentum is not available to you to bail you out.

In these cases you can opt for either a drop set partial that is shown in this video on the dumbbell bench press or you can cut your 8-10 rep set a few reps shy of failure and start performing your three quarter partials all the way until you can no longer squeeze out even a single eight of a rep range of motion.

Regardless of which intensity technique you decide to use to build muscle, even if its the world’s smartest intensity technique, you will need to understand that your muscles need stimulus to grow. Performing the same workouts day in and day out using the same stresses will not provide the spark needed for progressive overload and gains.

It is not muscle confusion that you are after when pursuing techniques like lengthened partials but muscle disruption. Different for the sake of being different is definitely not the same as different plus challenging. Try the lengthened partial reps and you may just decide that they are the ultimate cheat code for you for building new muscle size and strength.

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