Bodybuilders seeking maximum muscle building frequently focus upon range of motion when aiming to intensify a workout, with some reducing the distance between reps in order to use more weight, while other bodybuilders focus upon the widest range of motion in order to recruit the greatest number of muscle fibers for each weight lifting workout set. Obviously, the disparity between these two philosophies leaves most bodybuilders wondering which technique is more effective, and many, due to articles espousing the virtues of full range bodybuilding form, gravitate towards a full range of motion, believing that they will produce superior muscle gain.

This concept is perfectly acceptable when using lighter weights and higher reps for muscle stimulation, as the joint and tendon stress is minimal, and therefore bringing a muscle through a longer distance each rep will not result in adverse consequences. Yet, for bodybuilders who are aiming for maximum muscle gain, and decide to cycle low reps and heavy weight with higher rep workout sessions, full range of motion for certain exercises can actually increase the risk for injury and discomfort, especially in relation to joints, which experience greater strain when they are placed under heavy stress in a full range of motion environment.

During low rep, high weight lifting sessions, range of motion is best reduced, but not to the point where many bodybuilders gravitate towards, as for example, a 50% decline in range of motion will bring about far less muscle gain, and actually cause instability in muscles which can result in future serious injuries, including muscle tears. The best method at reducing the risk of joint discomfort when performing heavier, lower rep weight lifting workout sessions is to trim range of motion slightly at the point of complete muscle contraction, which means, for example, avoiding full lock out of the knees during squat, and the elbows during the triceps pushdown, as to reduce the impact on joints when using extremely heavy weights. This leads to a slight decline in standard range of motion of about 10%, while still offering complete muscle stimulation.

Many bodybuilders are under the impression that altering squat range of motion at the bottom of each rep will reduce the impact of knee injuries, but this is a misconception, as full form squat, where you lower the weight as far as possible, is more effective at building lower body muscle mass, and brings about stability in the legs that will not occur when significantly reducing range of motion. The reason many experience knee pain during squatting is not because of excessive range of motion, but rather poor form which places unnecessary stress upon the knee joint, as the squat and deadlift are two weight training exercises where form is especially difficult and crucial to the safety of each rep, and far too many bodybuilders aim to reduce rep range during squats as opposed to solving the true cause of knee discomfort, which is incorrect form.

The same concept applies to elbow pain during bench pressing, as muscles have been designed to work together in systematic fashion, and when a link in the chain begins to function in a way that was not intended, other muscles attempt to compensate in an unnatural way, and before long, joints are inflamed, and muscles begin to experience frequent injury. Therefore, in addition to avoiding complete lockout on weight lifting exercises such as bench press and squat, if you are suffering from joint discomfort, you should make an effort to analyze weight lifting workout form on all exercises to determine whether your body is performing each rep correctly, making any adjustments as necessary.

Those bodybuilders who attempt to rectify joint discomfort by greatly reducing weight lifting exercise range of motion are simply mortgaging their long term well being, as muscles that are not conditioned to perform in their natural strength curve will eventually create instability in the tendon and joint regions, which will increase the risk for serious future muscle injuries and prolonged discomfort. Although reducing exercise range of motion increases the amount of weight used in each lifting movement dramatically, such artificial improvements do not lead to extra muscle gains, but rather reduce the necessary stimulation for long term muscle growth.

Author's Bio: 

Francesco Castano is the owner of IncrediBody, a physical fitness company dedicated to helping others learn exactly how to gain muscle mass and lose weight without supplements or drugs. He authors two programs, one called MuscleNOW, teaching the correct natural body building diet and weight lifting plan for muscle building at, and Fat Vanish, which teaches how to lose weight & burn stomach fat for natural weight loss, at He includes lifetime email personal training with both programs, where he personally assists all of his clients with training and diet questions, and has hundreds of testimonials validating the effectiveness of his techniques. He also offers weight lifting equipment, egg protein powder and acne therapy at Please visit his web sites, and feel free to contact Francesco at any time with your muscle building or weight loss questions!