After you’ve been stuck at a plateau for a while, you might be tempted to cheat your way to the next level. While you’ll probably be able to manage greater resistance and/or more reps per set by shortening the range of motion, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Researchsuggests you’d be better off getting in the habit of maintaining form.
Recreationally active college aged males were asked to lift weights for 8 weeks, followed by 4 weeks of detraining. Some performed the full range of motion while others shortened the range of each rep. Not only did the full range of motion produce the biggest gains in muscle size and strength, subjects who did shortened reps experienced a greater loss of strength during the detraining phase.
True Strength Moment: While a shorter range of motion can help you change up a stale routine and possibly load the bar with enough weight to blast past a sticking point, this study suggests the technique should be applied sparingly. Sticking with it for 8 weeks didn’t work out very well for these research volunteers.