Are short-length partial reps good for anything? Recently, much discussion has been happening on the best range of motion for hypertrophy, with evidence showing that long-length partials and full range of motion are best. However, what about the efficacy of short-length partials on strength compared to other ranges of motion? Let’s talk about the value of short-length partials for strength-oriented goals by diving into the latest research. 

What Are Short-Length Partial Reps?

Short-length partial reps are repetitions performed in which the trained muscles do not reach their full length or stretched position. An example would be a bicep curl, where the repetition starts at ninety degrees of elbow flexion and ends at the top. Typically, short-length partial repetitions don’t exceed ninety degrees of the range of motion on any given exercise. 

Many people inherently perform exercises using a shorter-length partial (SLP) range of motion, whether intentionally, because it is easier, or because it feels right. This isn’t to say that these exercises are exclusively done with SLP, but it is more common to see SLP in these exercises than in others. Some of these exercises are:

  • Nordic hamstring curl

  • Some lunge variations, such as walking lunges

  • Overhead press

  • Leg press machine

  • Calf raises with the feet on a flat surface

  • Pull-ups

What Does the Research Say?

A meta-analysis published in 2023 examined twenty-three studies comparing partial (short versus long) range of motion (ROM) and full ROM (5). The results showed that full ROM demonstrated a slight advantage over partial ROM in strength. 

The study indicated that full ROM training significantly surpassed partial ROM training in enhancing full ROM strength. Conversely, partial ROM training showed a slight edge over full ROM training in enhancing partial ROM strength.

These results mean that if you want to be the strongest in a full range of motion, you should train in a full ROM because more ROM typically leads to a higher 1RM. Conversely, if you want to be the strongest in a short-length range of motion, training with SLP will give you a slightly better effect than a full range of motion. 

If you think about this anecdotally, the findings about using SLPs to strengthen the shortened position specifically make sense. Here are some examples:

  • Improving the final half of the ascent or lockout in the barbell bench press by training a SLP to strengthen the final half of the ascent and lockout

    • A specific example of this could be benching off of the safety bars on the rack in a shortened range of motion
  • Improving the final half of the ascent or lockout in the barbell deadlift by training a SLP to strengthen the final half of the ascent and lockout

    • A specific example of this could be lifting off of elevated blocks that shorten the range of motion needed
  • Improving the final half of the ascent in pull-up variations by training just the top half of the movement

Another study found that higher loads could be lifted using an SLP than full and long-length ROM (4). For example, if performing a bench press, one could typically lift more weight only halfway down (short-length partial) than the entire repetition. This means that using SLP can be a potential strategy for building strength in a specific position, which could carry over into sports performance benefits. 

Another study found that training in long-length partials creates greater hypertrophy in the distal region of the muscle (3). For example, performing long-length partials for a bicep curl resulted in more hypertrophy in the lower half of the bicep (the part closest to the elbow) than in the top half. 

This finding suggests that short-length partials could result in more hypertrophy at the proximal end of the muscle than at the distal end. For example, performing short-length partials for a tricep extension could result in greater hypertrophy in the upper half of the tricep (the part closest to the shoulder).

One possible reason shorter ROMs aren’t as effective as longer ROMs is the active insufficiency of the contractile elements of the muscle fibers (2). This occurs when both ends of the muscle are shortened, reducing muscle tension and making it harder to create force. This is why making a fist with the wrist flexed is harder than with the wrist neutral or extended. 

However, compared to long-length partial range of motion training, long length is the winner for best hypertrophy adaptations (1,2). This doesn’t mean you should never train in a short-length position; it shouldn’t be prioritized over full or long-length if hypertrophy is the goal.


  1. Kassiano W, Costa B, Kunevaliki G, Soares D, Zacarias G, Manske I, Takaki Y, Ruggiero MF, Stavinski N, Francsuel J, Tricoli I, Carneiro MAS, Cyrino ES. Greater Gastrocnemius Muscle Hypertrophy After Partial Range of Motion Training Performed at Long Muscle Lengths. J Strength Cond Res. 2023 Sep 1;37(9):1746-1753. 

  2. Kassiano W, Costa B, Nunes JP, Ribeiro AS, Schoenfeld BJ, Cyrino ES. Which ROMs Lead to Rome? A Systematic Review of the Effects of Range of Motion on Muscle Hypertrophy. J Strength Cond Res. 2023 May 1;37(5):1135-1144.

  3. Pedrosa GF, Simões MG, Figueiredo MOC, Lacerda LT, Schoenfeld BJ, Lima FV, Chagas MH, Diniz RCR. Training in the Initial Range of Motion Promotes Greater Muscle Adaptations Than at Final in the Arm Curl. Sports (Basel). 2023 Feb 6;11(2):39. 

  4. Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J. Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: A systematic review. SAGE Open Med. 2020 Jan 21;8:

  5. Wolf, M., Androulakis-Korakakis, P., Fisher, J., Schoenfeld, B., & Steele, J. (2023). Partial Vs Full Range of Motion Resistance Training: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

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