Full Range of Motion vs Partial Range of Motion


In the world of fitness there are those who say full range of motion is a must and those who argue that partial range of motion can have the same benefit. Who is right? Today we will break this down with some common sense and what the scientific evidence has to say on the matter.


We will look at the science below but first the common sense part.

Full ROM (Range of Motion) implies that you move the joints involved in an exercise through their full potential range in that movement. For example, lowering the bar on a bench press all the way to your chest before starting the concentric portion of the movement.

Yoga Stretching GIF by YOGABODY

Gif by yogateacherscollege on Giphy

Full ROM helps to standardise the movement. What I mean by that is, if someone is benching and stopping short of touching their chest, usually, as they add weight week to week, they stop further and further away from their chest. This in turn means that week to week, they may not be improving their strength at all and instead just doing less work. Quite simply there is no baseline or “datum” if you will, to the measure their increase in strength accurately as the distance of bar travel could be reducing each week.

Full ROM training will also increase strength at all angles through a joint’s movement, where as partial will not as it does not train strength in that range. Remember strength is a skill, it’s specific.

The studies below will look at how Full ROM training benefits strength, muscle size and function.


Partial ROM (Range of Motion) implies that you move the joints in an exercise through a selected portion of their full potential, effectively cutting short the movement.

Partial range of motion may have its place in your training in certain scenarios. Some just cut short the rep to avoid the “Sticking Point” or to grow their ego and impress someone because they have more weight on the bar. All this achieves is a higher chance of injury (what happens when you can’t control the weight in your normal “partial range” of motion in a bench and you end up pinned?). No one is impressed at all. Sorry.

On the other hand, accessory movements, such as the Pin Press for the bench press and the overhead press, are utilised to great success for a lot of powerlifters and strength athletes to break through plateaus in their lifts.

Note: This is an intentional partial ROM with a purpose to improve strength in the full ROM lift.

The Pin Press has the lifter set the supports in a rack to a height where they usually find their sticking point in the lift, and lift from a dead stop off the supports. By removing the bottom portion of the bench press it also removes the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle, which is the release of stored elastic energy during the concentric muscle contraction phase of a lift. An example of this to make it simple would be performing a vertical jump, try doing that without bending at the knee first. This forces the lifter to work on their raw strength more. This idea can also be applied to the squat with Pin Squats.

Partial Range of Motion accessory work can often be used as a tool to address a lifters weak point in a lift, in combination with full ROM or when necessary due to injury.


Below we have a combination of studies. Randomized control trials and systematic reviews (a method to find answers by collecting all available studies related to a question and reviewing and analyzing their results)- these are performed by people much smarter than me.

A study by (Kubo et al., 2019) compared the results of full squatting to 140 degrees of knee flexion vs half squatting to 90 degrees of knee flexion when it came to growing the muscle size of the quads, hamstrings, glutes and adductors in 17 untrained subjects. The results showed that the full ROM group experienced significantly greater growth in both the glutes and adductors. Both groups saw quad growth with the full ROM group slightly ahead of the partial squat group (4.9% vs 4.6%). Hamstrings saw insignificant changes in both groups (reaffirming that the squat is not a good movement to work your hamstrings).

A systematic review by (Schoenfeld & Grgic, 2020) looked at 6 studies with regards to muscle growth (hypertrophy) and range of motion, with a total of subject pool of 127 men and 8 woman. The studies included in this review were deemed to be of excellent quality. Their findings show that full ROM produced greater results in lower body hypertrophy than partial ROM. They do state that for upper limbs, the studies are limited and some have conflicting views on outcomes, and that for trunk musculature there were no studies at the time of the review that measured outcomes on ROM based on hypertrophy.

A randomised controlled trial published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning by (Bazyler et al., 2014) looked at combining full depth squats (120 degrees) and partial squats (90 degrees) in a programme vs just full depth squats in 17 recreationally trained men with a current squat for the study around 147kg. The Results showed that combining both in the same training programme may lead to greater maximal strength gains.

A randomized controlled trial published in the European Journal of applied Physiology (Bloomquist et al., 2013) compared the outcomes of squatting to 120 degrees of knee flexion (deep squat) vs 60 degrees of knee flexion (shallow squat) in 17 males over a 12 weeks training programme. The deep squat group saw a 20% increase in both the deep and shallow squat in testing, whereas the shallow squat group saw a 36% increase in the shallow squat but only 9% in a deep squat. The deep squat group also saw +4-7% greater quad growth vs the shallow squat group, a superior increase in knee extension strength (6-8%) and squat jump performance by 15%. The only test the shallow squat group out performed the deep squat group in, was the shallow squat itself, so if you want to be good at doing “not a squat” then this study is your justification not to go any lower. I’m being sarcastic.

A systematic review and meta analysis (Pallarés et al., 2021) looked at 16 different studies and concluded that Full ROM training produced greater adaptations than partial ROM in muscle strength and hypertrophy in the lower limbs.

A randomised controlled trial published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (Martínez-Cava et al., 2022) took 50 recreationally to highly resistance trained men on a 10 week training programme split into 4 different groups; Full ROM, 2/3 ROM, 1/3 ROM and no bench training as a control group. The results showed that the full ROM group outperformed all other groups in all 3 range of motion bench press variations.


Hopefully you read through all the above studies and didn’t just skip to this part 🌚. There are additional studies on the matter but I won’t bore you with it all.

As we can see the trend of the scientific evidence points towards using a full ROM in training whether your goal is strength, muscle growth or power output. Some research actually shows that putting the muscle under a greater stretch, produces even greater gains, even when both are taken to a full ROM. Take the seated vs lying hamstring curl for example.

Adaptations aren’t always black and white, what works for one might not another but the trend is clearly in favour of full ROM. This last systematic review and meta analysis by (Milo et al,. 2022) stated their results show that full or long ROM may enhance results in most outcomes whether it’s strength, speed, power, muscle size or body composition.

That’s not to say that partial ROM doesn’t have its place when done intentionally and the studies included show that they can still produce results, with one trial showing a benefit to combining them. These can be used during periods of injury or to tackle specific weak points in a lift intentionally. However if it’s just to add weight to the bar thinking the common “I’ll work on depth” you’d be best lowering the weight when doing a full ROM as you are not strong in that position yet and greatly increasing your chance of injury.

Unfortunately I cannot find any studies looking at accessory movements like the Pin Press, Board Press, Rack Pulls and Box Squats regarding their effectiveness in increasing strength, power and hypertrophy. Experience and information from reliable experts say they do! Take Westside Barbell (they have produced some of the strongest humans on the planet). They utilise all of these in there programming at times. Mark Haydock, who we recently done an athlete Q&A with, implements Trap Bar Lockouts in his training and he’s broken several world records in strength sports! Again these are intentional partial ROM movements designed to strengthen their full ROM lifts and address certain weaknesses.

bench press lift GIF by Kaged Muscle

Gif by TheRealKagedMuscle on Giphy

That’s what I am aiming to do for you with Strength Framework, bring you the scientific evidence in a short, easy to digest format + bridge the gaps in the science with practical experience from those who are brilliant in their field.

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If you take anything away from this article, don’t do this ⬇️

This isn’t even a quarter squat 🤦‍♂️

The above studies partial ROM subjects squatted much lower than this.

Weightlifting Squats GIF by cho986

Gif by chocollatagourmet on Giphy

Until next week, Happy Lifting!