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Fitness & Health

12th Aug 2020

This weight training trick builds 50% more muscle in just eight weeks

It's not what you lift, it's how you lift it. Japanese scientists found that one particular weight training trick can boost muscle growth by as much as 50%

Alex Roberts

It’s not what you lift, it’s how you lift it

When it comes to weight training for building muscle, that is certainly the case. Sports such as powerlifting and strongman are more a test of your maximum strength, where it is about taking the heaviest possible weight from A to B.

But if you’re looking to build a little more muscle, the actual load you lift becomes less important. It’s more about technique.

Despite this, we may have been getting it wrong on some fronts.

You’ve probably been told to perform an exercise with full range of motion at all times. This was believed to be the best way of putting the entire muscle under maximum tension.

However, scientists in Japan discovered that one particular weight training trick is even better. The weirdest part? It actually involved reducing the range of motion.

Sounds counterproductive, right?

This particular technique placed under the microscope is called ‘partial reps.’

What are partial reps?

As opposed to performing an exercise with a full range of motion, partial reps simply involve performing an exercise with a partial range of motion.

Japanese researchers compared partial reps with full range of motion reps. They chose to focus on the tricep muscle for their study, and one particular exercise – lying barbell tricep extensions.

They split 44 men into two groups. One group performed the tricep extension with partial reps, the other group with full range of motion. The two groups followed each method for eight weeks.

After eight weeks were up, researchers found the cross-sectional area (posh word for ‘size’) had increased by almost 50% in those who had done partial reps.

And compared to those who did full range of motion, their results were 20% better.

All 44 men had experience of resistance training – so this may not be the best method for complete beginners. However, if you’ve hit a plateau in the gym, partial reps could be a new weight training trick to bring to the table.

This research shows partial reps could lead to results – and quickly.

Here is personal trainer David Duncan explaining how partial reps are best used when training the biceps: