Escalate Partial Training!

So will partial training become an institution or will it follow the route of the thrust press, the ab roller and Hot Skinz into bodybuilding extinction? You be the judge. Read below to learn more about partial training.

Partial Training: Fad or Fact?

Training, like so many other bodybuilding "fads" goes in and out of fashion. It's rare that any one of these fads ever captures the attention of exercise scientists. Over the last 10 years partial range of motion training referred to as "partials" has been studied for its ability to produce strength gains.

The irony is that bodybuilders also swear that the same system produces size/hypertrophy gains. The trouble is, proving that it forces size gains above and beyond any other system, has to this point, eluded exercise scientists. (That shouldn't surprise you though, these were the same dorks that took almost 50 years to prove anabolic steroids enhanced athletic performance.)

So will partial training become an institution or will it follow the route of the thrust press, the ab roller and Hot Skinz into bodybuilding extinction? You be the judge.

Partial Range Of Motion Training, Nicknamed "Partials," Has Evolved Into Three Distinct Types:

  1. The strength training type that uses heavier than maximal weights (supra-maximal) exclusively in the strongest range of motion. This type yields the greatest relative intensity or training with the highest percentage of one's maximum.

  2. The strength, plateau busting type that uses sub-maximal, maximal or supra-maximal loads in the trainee's weakest range or "sticking point". For example, setting the pins of a power rack 2" above and 2" below the knee then training the dead lift within that partial range.

  3. The bodybuilding type that performs 6-10 full range reps to failure and then forces 2-4 partials in the strongest range to "burn" the trainee beyond failure. This type yields the greatest training volume.

The Questions Now Remain

    1. Why haven't the studies been unable to measure greater hypertrophy with partials?

    2. Can there be a combination of styles that give an additive or synergist effect?

    The answer to the first question is simple; all the studies to date have focused on the first type, the strength training type and not the bodybuilding type. Style one forces greater overload, torque and acceleration around the joint, but without sufficient tension time or lactate output the end result is nervous system overload without metabolic overload (strength without size).

    The answer to the second question I believe is yes. For the bodybuilder, transitioning the bodybuilding type into the strength type would compliment one another. Plus it would follow the natural overloading curve, accumulation then intensification.

Benefits Of Partial Range Training

  • Elimination of sticking point, thus giving the trainee a biomechanical advantage to use super-maximal loads

  • Increases the physical work performed in a given period of time (work=force*distance), greater work-volume equals hypertrophy

  • Increases blood lactate levels, a precursor to anabolic hormone release

  • Demands maximal force production and greater torque (overload)

Benefits Of Full Range Of Motion Training

  • Stretching under load conditions the myotatic stretch reflex (plyometric effect) that is involved in weight training thus shutting off inhibiting mechanisms.

  • Stretching under load increases muscle hypertrophy by stretching the limiting "sheaths" that encapsulate the muscle belly. In protective response to this unstable change, the stretched muscle sheets trigger an increase in protein splitting, muscle cell division and collagen breakdown and repair. The result is hypertrophy (thickening) for cell survival.

  • Requires less tension thus allowing a trainee to "unload" and repair from the assault of higher intensity techniques like "strength partials".

Full & Partial Repetitions For Massive Gains!
To get your ideal physique, there are many roads you can take. There is no right or wrong, absolute best way to train. Read this article to learn a few more methods that may improve performance.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Supercharged Recovery

    To this day, my biggest critique of partial training is that it works too well. What I mean is that unless recovery is enhanced, too much muscle damage will quickly create an over-training effect. More times than not the trainee gets weaker and discouraged in the short term only to realize a strength improvement a week or two after concluding the program.

    This self-induced, shellacking can be avoided by planning "unloading" into the program as you will see below. Additionally, supplementing the bodies energy systems is a must. The following recovery stacks are the most successful of those being used by today's muscle monsters. They enhance recovery and make very impressive size and strength gains:

      Non-Androgen Beginner Stack

        Cr2 TM creatine etyloleate 4 g/day
        Energex TM ATP supplement 4tabs/day
        Normalose TM glucose sensitivity agent
        Glutamine 25-50 g/day taken immediately post workout and before sleep

      Non-Androgen Intermediate Stack

        Cr2 TM creatine etyloleate 4 g/day
        Ergomax TM 20mg/day
        Glucophage 1000-1500mg/day
        Glutamine 25-50 g/day taken immediately post workout and before sleep

      Advanced Recovery Stack (I'm not endorsing this stack- just reporting the facts)

        Testosterone cypionate 600-2000 mg/week
        Anadrol 50 TM 50-200mg/day
        Nandro OH TM 600-1800 mg/week
        Glucophage TM 1000-1500mg/day
        Humalog fast acting insulin - 4-7 IU 2-3 x's/day
        (Note - the misuse of insulin can cause death, never use insulin without doctor supervision)


Escalate Partial Training Program

A 4 Week Size/Strength Program
With Performance Each Day Once Per Week.

    Progression

      Unless a trainee is a first generation neanderthal, a planned unloading scheme must be used. This means week one and four demands the greatest volume (bodybuilding partials). Week two uses traditional full range training with slightly heavier weights and 20% less sets.

      Week three increases training intensity using heavy strength partials and drops the training volume by another 40%. Week four goes back to bodybuilding partials, but this time greater weight is lifted versus week one.

      When mapped out the progression looks like this:

        Week Intensity (% of maximum) Sets/week
        Wk 1 70-80% 100
        Wk 2 73-85% 60
        Wk 3 85-95% 40
        Wk 4 75-85% 100

    Bodybuilding Partials

      Perform the reps indicated to failure then bear down and perform another 2-4 reps in the strongest range of motion (ex: the top of a bench press)

    Full Range Training

      The research is very clear on this one. In order to reap the benefits, then a trainee must stretch the muscle sheaths in the lengthened position. My advice is too pause one to three seconds in the stretch position before executing the next rep. (ex: the hanging position of a chin-up) Remember to decrease the total training sets by 40% and increase the weight 3-5%.

    Strength Partials

      After a 2-3 set warm-up, use a load that is 10-20% heavier than the load used for the bodybuilding style, week one. Perform the number of reps indicated only in the strongest range. The strongest range or easiest range occurs when the load is at its highest position (ex: when the bar is closest to the chest on the pulldown).

      Use a partner or the other limb to assist you in lifting the weight (ex: lift with two legs and use partials with one leg for the lying leg curl). Remember to decrease the total training sets by another 20%.

partialvid.htm
View The Video:

Choose your version:


Day 1

    Inc. Bench Press
    Sets: *10
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 120 sec.

    Seated Rows
    (Use V bar. Keep the elbows low toward hips. On strength partials set the machine pins so that only 4-6" of the partial range is accessible)
    Sets: *10
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 120 sec.


Seated Rows
Click To Enlarge.

    Pec Deck Machine Flys
    (On strength partials set the machine pins so that only 4-6" of the partial range is accessible. See below.)
    Sets: 5
    Reps: 10
    Rest: 120 sec.


Pec Deck Machine
Click To Enlarge.

    Abdominal Rope Crunches
    (Use reverse position on lat machine. On strength partials set the machine pins so that only 4-6" of the partial range is accessible)
    Sets: 4
    Reps: 12
    Rest: 60 sec.


Abdominal Rope Crunches
Click To Enlarge.


Day 2

    Horizontal or 45 degree leg press**
    Sets: *10
    Reps: 10
    Rest: 60 sec.

    Deadlift from floor (bodybuilding partials)

    or

    Rack lockouts + shrug (strength partials)
    Set the power rack spotting pins to a level 2" above the knees (below). Using a shoulder width grip, grasp the bar with the arms fully extended. Extend the knees, hips and spine to lift the load. Finally, shrug the load at the top of the motion (below>. Lower by reversing these steps.
    Sets: 3
    Reps: 5
    Rest: 120 sec.


Rack lockouts + shrug
Click To Enlarge.

Day 3

    Military press (bodybuilding partials)

    or

    Rack overhead press (strength partials)
    Set a military press bench in the middle of a power rack or squat rack. While seated, set the power rack spotting bars to a level slightly above the head. Press the weight overhead and softly lock the elbows.
    Sets: *8
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 120 sec.


Rack Overhead Press
Click To Enlarge.

    Dumbbell Preacher Curl
    Sets: *8
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 120 sec.

    Lying Triceps Extensions
    (On strength partials set the power or squat rack so that only 4-6" of the top, partial range is accessible Fig 6a & 6b)
    Sets: *8
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 120 sec.


Lying Triceps Extensions
Click To Enlarge.


Day 4

    Lying single leg curls
    Sets: *8
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 90 sec.

    Machine heel raise
    Sets: *8
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 90 sec.

    Glute ham raise (or if not available perform back hyperextensions)
    Sets: 3
    Reps: 10
    Rest: 60 sec.

    T-bar Rows (Free weight version)

    Load one end of an Olympic straight bar, the other end is positioned against an immovable object such as a squat rack base frame. Use the "V" shaped bar and drape it under the loaded end of the Olympic set up.

    This serves as a handle. Next flex the knees and arch the back. Concentrically retract the shoulder blades using the lat muscles and scapular retractors. Finally, protract the shoulders to stretch the lat and rhomboid muscles.
    Sets: 6
    Reps: 6
    Rest: 120 sec.


T-bar Rows
Click To Enlarge.


Dumbbell Pullover
Click To Enlarge.


No Brain - No Gain

It is incorrect to think that a trainee would be best served by training exclusively with any one training system. Many different training programs are valid, that is, until your body figures them out.

Specific program combinations however, get you there faster. Such is the case with full range training and a variety of partial range training. Each has is own unique benefits to offer and as you have just seen, one technique can compliment the other.

About The Author

Don Alessi is the founder of Alessi Personal Fitness Inc. and co-author of the books The Promise & Lose Fat Forever. His clients include various professional athletes, bodybuilders and a number of fortune 500 executives.

His specialties are size / strength development and body transformation. For information on custom program design or to purchase a book or audio CD please visit AlessiFit.com.