Today, we have an awesome guest post by my good friend and colleague Karon Hawkins. Karon is a lifestyle coach and an expert on mobility. Here is what Coach Karon has to say about why range of motion is important for hypertrophy (i.e. muscle gain):
I’d like to answer the question, is using a full range of motion important for maximal muscle growth?
There are multiple studies out that actually prove you can see similar results with partial range of motion instead of full range of motion on exercises. However, I’m going to disagree with these studies because there’s a huge limitation they’re leaving out: execution. If a mover, especially an inexperienced one, trains with partial ROM often, they’re mechanics will most likely be shot, they won’t know how to move effectively and they won’t grow because they’ll trade weight on the bar for quality of movement. In a movement like a squat I see it all the time: the quarter squat kings and queens.
Now don’t get me wrong, quarter squats have their place in a program. If they are done INTENTIONALLY and with proper mechanics, they can be very effective. However, I’m willing to bet most of those people are ego-lifting with too much weight on the bar and can’t break depth because they’re actually moving too much weight. If that person continues down that path, not only will they not build muscle long-term, but they will also hurt themselves.
Moving with full ROM teaches you how to have stability in your end range of motion. It increases the integrity of your joints because you gain more control between A and B of a movement. It also recruits more muscle fibers that won’t even be touched should you partial ROM everything so you’re LITERALLY building more muscles the deeper your ROM is. If you never reach those depths, you won’t achieve control, hypertrophy or strength in those areas.
So I’m here to say that full Range of Motion should be HIGH on your priority list when trying to grow muscle. You’ll better prepare your joints for heavier weights, recruit more muscle fibers, challenge your body to a greater extent and elicit a great stimulus for adaptation and growth.
Especially in mobility training range of motion is ESSENTIAL. Learning how to move through YOUR full range of motion is the key to gaining control over that range. I say YOUR range in all caps because everyone has a different end range where they start to lose control. You have to identify this range, move through it, gain strength and stability there and THEN you can load it with weight.
You’re probably like, what does mobility have to do with muscle growth? Let’s dive into these 3 reasons:
You ARE growing muscle when you do mobility training. Not only are you growing muscle, but you are setting yourself up to grow even MORE muscle down the line because you’re connecting with your body on a whole new level. When you increase that mind-muscle connection through training your full range, you are increasing the likelihood that you’ll fire the muscles you want to during your movements. Once you increase the dominance of a certain exercise to where you want, you can sufficiently perform that exercise and get them gains! Take a 1 Arm Row for instance. It’s very easy to allow the bicep and shoulder to take over this movement and leave the lat (the target of this exercise in this context) almost completely out of it. If you don’t have ample external rotation in your shoulder, you may not be able to hit that lat as well because you can’t setup your shoulder to properly activate your lat. So by increasing the mobility of your shoulder, you are thereby increasing the ability to work your back.
Mobility Training opens up your capability for new movements that challenge your body in a new way. One of the methods of hypertrophy is Mechanical Loading or lifting heavy with compound movements forcing multiple muscle fibers to engage simultaneously. This technique has been proven time and time again for muscle growth. But here’s the thing: without mobility training you CANNOT do these movements and see more muscle growth.
Because without independence you cannot have interdependence as my boy Ian Markow over at MarkowTrainingSystems says. If you have leaks in your system and something ain’t moving nice, there WILL be a collapse, a failure, some type of hole in your movement that will grow in severity and you lift heavier and heavier. These types of issues don’t like to poke their ugly heads out until shit gets bad. So you see by increasing the mobility of ALL your joints, you are strengthening ALL the muscles required to use Mechanical Loading to your advantage while still staying safe.
In my experience as a coach and trainer, pain usually comes from something being weak or tight or both. I am not throwing a blanket over everyone because every case is different and some people may have other issues that do not belong to those two categories however, it’s true for most people I’ve worked with. When you dedicate time to mobility training, you are strengthening those small muscles that have wanted love for YEARS but have been neglected. You are increasing the strength and stability of the bigger muscles as well. And when you try these movements in different contexts (standing, sitting, kneeling, all fours etc) you FURTHER increase the readiness of your joints and decrease the chance for pain. You can’t grow muscle long term if you’re in pain. Just sayin’.
By now you can see the importance of mobility and range of motion for hypertrophy. We have to learn HOW to move and HOW to activate certain muscles in our body to achieve hypertrophy in the areas we want. When other muscles take over an exercise they receive the work, not the muscles we’re targeting. The source of this dominance is usually a lack of stability, control or strength aka Mobility. If you’re ready to own your range of motion and makes gains pain free, click HERE to apply for Online Coaching with me.
Did you love what Karon had to say? Hate it? Drop a comment and let me know why, and then share this with a friend and see if they agree!