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'Strength Training is ROM Specific'
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Bill De Simone

New Jersey, USA

(Brian mentioned this in another thread. I already PM'd him, so I'm not bringing this up to be contentious.)

This has always been part of the justification for "full range of motion"; that if you skipped parts of the ROM, you would get weaker there. Or conversely, if you emphasized a specific range, you would get stronger there specifically.

If you've read Congruent Exercise, you know I have what you might call a nuanced view of "full range". Leaving joint concerns I brought up in CE aside for the moment (arm...hah!)...

What would be the muscular mechanism for ROM specific strengthening?

Muscle fibers run origin to insertion. Fibers made up of myofibrils, which in turn run from origin to insertion. Myofibrils made up of sarcomeres, which run in series, not parallel, ie stacked.
If one sarcomere is stimulated to contract, all the ones in the chain from origin to insertion are also. (And in turn, all the fibers in that motor unit.)

The above is pretty much accepted fact in physiology (eg Vogel in Prime Mover and others). Which means the fibers that bring your arm from elbow straight to 90 degrees bent are the same that bring you from 90 degrees to full contraction. You can't contract only the lower sarcomeres. They are all stimulated to contract from origin to insertion, but if you stop at any point of the range, you're at a different point on the length-tension curve and in turn the muscle torque curve.

If you want to recruit more motor units (and in turn more fibers), you use a heavier weight or exert a harder effort.

I can see, in some exercises, where parts of the exercise range of motion use different/ additional secondary muscles, so if you skip that part, those muscles aren't trained as effectively. Which would give the impression of an altered strength curve in that exercise.

For instance, if I switch from standing dumbbell curls to scott bench curls, my "lower biceps" gets sore, which suggests standing curls don't strengthen "the lower biceps". But, actually, it's the brachialis that gets sore, because the scott bench doesn't allow zero moment arm at the bottom.

Theory aside, in looking at my videos, does anyone think I'd get better results with more ROM? Or better results in smaller ROMs? and why, aside from the circular argument?

All of which is ultimately rhetorical, because I'm using ranges that I'm convinced protect the joints best. And I'm not saying that ROM specific strengthening doesn't happen, because I'm not going to disagree with someone's observations. But I am curious about the mechanism that would be behind it.
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PFI96

Bill,

Regarding the mechanism for ROM specific strength gains ... I've been thinking about this for some time.

Here's what I suspect: The mechanism may be the actin/myosin cross bridges and the localized mechanical strain on these structures resultant from the ratcheting effect of these structures attaching and pulling the fibers past one another under the load. There may be some specific microtrauma induced at the site of these connections which in turn results in structural adaptations and increased strength.

What you've stated in CE and elsewhere is true, but perhaps it's an incomplete picture. Yes there is contraction and activation along the full length regardless of joint angle. What's missing however is what takes place from a more localized structural/mechanical standpoint.

Namely, at different muscle lengths and joint angles various different cross bridges are formed that are not active or in contact with each other at other lengths and angles. Hence, regardless of the signal being sent and the muscle contracting or being under tension along its full length, all the potential cross bridges or mechanical connections do not occur. If you never move through or contract under load in various positions, then some cross bridges never occur and never receive stimulation or undergo microtrauma. They simply remain untouched.

Tim Ryan
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overfiftylifter

If the training goal is hypertrophy and you are studying the local metabolic reaction theory, then perhaps reducing the range of motion, which may help reduce some joint issues, but also may provide a better quality consistent intramuscular tension which may enhance the early mentioned training model.

Is it possible when Brian sees that a trainee has to reduce his or her training load to perform partial range contractions could be due to early metabolic buildup presented by a different quality of tension which hastens muscle recruitment and muscular failure?
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

I do know that because of Zone Training (because of the added and consistent loading per 'section' of the ROM) that development can alter... it can optimize in areas aside from the largest girth or area of a muscle, e.g., biceps peak. I'm not going to argue with the peanut gallery about that,since there are enough people doing Zone and Tri-Angular Training to support the effect.

My point is this... I have come across research in the past 4-5 years (I have it referenced in the books I did... now IART property) that is suggesting that a muscle may contract from origin to insertion, but that muscles are doing so in segments... as though parts are sustaining tension along the full length while others are creating the movement. And as movement continues, there are fibers or sections that 'hand over' the tension to the next group, etc.

I'm not interested in looking up all those references and re-typing them here, but this is current stuff and it certainly supports better the effect in development and growth I've received over the past 8 years... initially with Zone Training and then with a multi-angular approach (Tri-Angular Training).
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

overfiftylifter wrote:
If the training goal is hypertrophy and you are studying the local metabolic reaction theory, then perhaps reducing the range of motion, which may help reduce some joint issues, but also may provide a better quality consistent intramuscular tension which may enhance the early mentioned training model.

Is it possible when Brian sees that a trainee has to reduce his or her training load to perform partial range contractions could be due to early metabolic buildup presented by a different quality of tension which hastens muscle recruitment and muscular failure?


No, it's not 'early metabolic build-up,' since the NEED for lighter loads occurs from the start of the set. Doing full ROM reps is like doing a 'wind-up'... you get that stretch and you push through (with some areas being easier than others). When you target a Zone (and Bill can concur with this), the nature of the tension is more targeted and specific... and in order to control and work that particular area requires less load because you now are using less outside musculature.

By the way... ever notice that some instructors don't want you to grimace as it wastes energy or may add to the ability to lift more weight, yet they have no way to determine the intra-muscular coordination or contribution of the tissues outside the muscles that are to be targeted?
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jitterbug

Brian Johnston wrote:
I do know that because of Zone Training (because of the added and consistent loading per 'section' of the ROM) that development can alter... it can optimize in areas aside from the largest girth or area of a muscle, e.g., biceps peak. I'm not going to argue with the peanut gallery about that,since there are enough people doing Zone and Tri-Angular Training to support the effect.

My point is this... I have come across research in the past 4-5 years (I have it referenced in the books I did... now IART property) that is suggesting that a muscle may contract from origin to insertion, but that muscles are doing so in segments... as though parts are sustaining tension along the full length while others are creating the movement. And as movement continues, there are fibers or sections that 'hand over' the tension to the next group, etc.

I'm not interested in looking up all those references and re-typing them here, but this is current stuff and it certainly supports better the effect in development and growth I've received over the past 8 years... initially with Zone Training and then with a multi-angular approach (Tri-Angular Training).



Mr.Johnson,

You should defend your muscle confusion principle. Where you trick the muscle into working harder.

Ed
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johnbhoy

Armed Forces - Europe

Brian Johnston wrote:
I do know that because of Zone Training (because of the added and consistent loading per 'section' of the ROM) that development can alter... it can optimize in areas aside from the largest girth or area of a muscle, e.g., biceps peak. I'm not going to argue with the peanut gallery about that,since there are enough people doing Zone and Tri-Angular Training to support the effect.

My point is this... I have come across research in the past 4-5 years (I have it referenced in the books I did... now IART property) that is suggesting that a muscle may contract from origin to insertion, but that muscles are doing so in segments... as though parts are sustaining tension along the full length while others are creating the movement. And as movement continues, there are fibers or sections that 'hand over' the tension to the next group, etc.

I'm not interested in looking up all those references and re-typing them here, but this is current stuff and it certainly supports better the effect in development and growth I've received over the past 8 years... initially with Zone Training and then with a multi-angular approach (Tri-Angular Training).


I'm sure Arthur Jones suggested somewhere in the Nautilus Bulletins that contraction starts at the ends of the muscle and works it's way progressively towards the middle.
John.
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Acerimmer1

Bill De Simone wrote:
(Brian mentioned this in another thread. I already PM'd him, so I'm not bringing this up to be contentious.)

This has always been part of the justification for "full range of motion"; that if you skipped parts of the ROM, you would get weaker there. Or conversely, if you emphasized a specific range, you would get stronger there specifically.

If you've read Congruent Exercise, you know I have what you might call a nuanced view of "full range". Leaving joint concerns I brought up in CE aside for the moment (arm...hah!)...

What would be the muscular mechanism for ROM specific strengthening?

Muscle fibers run origin to insertion. Fibers made up of myofibrils, which in turn run from origin to insertion. Myofibrils made up of sarcomeres, which run in series, not parallel, ie stacked.
If one sarcomere is stimulated to contract, all the ones in the chain from origin to insertion are also. (And in turn, all the fibers in that motor unit.)

The above is pretty much accepted fact in physiology (eg Vogel in Prime Mover and others). Which means the fibers that bring your arm from elbow straight to 90 degrees bent are the same that bring you from 90 degrees to full contraction. You can't contract only the lower sarcomeres. They are all stimulated to contract from origin to insertion, but if you stop at any point of the range, you're at a different point on the length-tension curve and in turn the muscle torque curve.

If you want to recruit more motor units (and in turn more fibers), you use a heavier weight or exert a harder effort.

I can see, in some exercises, where parts of the exercise range of motion use different/ additional secondary muscles, so if you skip that part, those muscles aren't trained as effectively. Which would give the impression of an altered strength curve in that exercise.

For instance, if I switch from standing dumbbell curls to scott bench curls, my "lower biceps" gets sore, which suggests standing curls don't strengthen "the lower biceps". But, actually, it's the brachialis that gets sore, because the scott bench doesn't allow zero moment arm at the bottom.

Theory aside, in looking at my videos, does anyone think I'd get better results with more ROM? Or better results in smaller ROMs? and why, aside from the circular argument?

All of which is ultimately rhetorical, because I'm using ranges that I'm convinced protect the joints best. And I'm not saying that ROM specific strengthening doesn't happen, because I'm not going to disagree with someone's observations. But I am curious about the mechanism that would be behind it.


Hi Bill

I think it mostly applies to fan shaped muscles like the pectorals and lats that have an expansive origin and a compact insetion. As far as elbow flexion it's in my opinion the briachialis and brachioradialis that mainly create variation, just as you've pointed out.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

johnbhoy wrote:
I'm sure Arthur Jones suggested somewhere in the Nautilus Bulletins that contraction starts at the ends of the muscle and works it's way progressively towards the middle.
John.


Yes... I think he was guessing about this, but what has been noted with MRI and other technology over the past few years seems to support it. If it is true (I'm not sure what they are seeing), then it could take anatomy books a bit to update.

Edna is right... variation and confusion of training application is a big step forward, since the nature of contraction is more diverse than simply 'origin to insertion' and any exercise will do. Anyone, and I mean anyone, with balanced development (that 3D effect) applies multi-angle training. There needs to be enough stimulus from all directions... and if muscles do contract in 'sections' at a time, it would suggest that both Zone Training and other rep methods/patterns(e.g., Matrix Training) are tools to optimize fiber recruitment and hypertrophy optimization. There are some on this board who know that... direct experience is required... otherwise, you become a Zombie and await others to tell you what to do and what to think about it. But don't take my word for it... I just spent the past 8 years experimenting and applying widely, while others conclude "you don't need variation" because they don't see a need for it. And how many years has Matrix Training been in the works and studied? But I guess all that rep patterning is mumbo jumbo, lol.
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overfiftylifter

Brian, could you explain why you need a lesser load at the beginning of a set using your techniques?

I may not be understanding your views but you are using shorter range movements with frequent turnarounds. Aren't you promoting greater local stimulation than full range reps and part of this stimulation is due to more constant local pressure?
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johnbhoy

Armed Forces - Europe

This is a very interesting topic and thank you Bill for honestly asking for opinions on the mechanism behind ROM specific strength increase, if they do exist. The fact that, in my experience, static only work produces such mediocre results does suggest that the process is more complex than simply load applied to the muscle.
I would have to sit on the fence personally on the subject. I tend to follow Bill's guidelines these days but I do use zone reps and Matrix from time to time and the stimulus certainly feels different.
John.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

???

The load is not lighter at the beginning of the set... please re-read what I stated. It's the same load, but when working zones the load will need to be lighter than what a person would use full ROM (full ROM is easier... there is more body tension as a result... there is a 'wind-up' of sorts involved... you are not working through easier parts of the ROM (as a means of reprieve), such as the top half of a squat after getting out of the bottom half.

quote]overfiftylifter wrote:
Brian, could you explain why you need a lesser load at the beginning of a set using your techniques?

I may not be understanding your views but you are using shorter range movements with frequent turnarounds. Aren't you promoting greater local stimulation than full range reps and part of this stimulation is due to more constant local pressure? [/quote]

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Bill De Simone

New Jersey, USA

PFI96 wrote:
Bill,

Regarding the mechanism for ROM specific strength gains ... I've been thinking about this for some time.

Here's what I suspect: The mechanism may be the actin/myosin cross bridges and the localized mechanical strain on these structures resultant from the ratcheting effect of these structures attaching and pulling the fibers past one another under the load. There may be some specific microtrauma induced at the site of these connections which in turn results in structural adaptations and increased strength.

What you've stated in CE and elsewhere is true, but perhaps it's an incomplete picture. Yes there is contraction and activation along the full length regardless of joint angle. What's missing however is what takes place from a more localized structural/mechanical standpoint.

Namely, at different muscle lengths and joint angles various different cross bridges are formed that are not active or in contact with each other at other lengths and angles. Hence, regardless of the signal being sent and the muscle contracting or being under tension along its full length, all the potential cross bridges or mechanical connections do not occur. If you never move through or contract under load in various positions, then some cross bridges never occur and never receive stimulation or undergo microtrauma. They simply remain untouched.

Tim Ryan


This pretty specifically gets at the mechanism I referred to. How does this affect your exercise instruction? For example, what does a biceps exercise look like with this in mind?
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Bill De Simone

New Jersey, USA

jitterbug wrote:

Mr.Johnson,

You should defend your muscle confusion principle. Where you trick the muscle into working harder.

Ed


As snarky as this is intended, it actually makes an unintended point. Brunstrom's Clinical Kinesiology is pretty clear. The first time you do a physical task, the body works much harder than it has to, recruiting muscles unnecessary to the task. Once it masters the task, the recruitment is more refined, leading to a smoother execution. But the refinement isn't just in the gross movement but also in the fiber recruitment. So you may improve at the task, but the improvement is on the "neuro-" side, not necessarily the "muscular" side.

Changing exercise does trick the muscle into working harder, in that it sets the nm system back on the learning curve.

Anecdotally, do Olympic weight lifters and power lifters increase their size as their totals go up? (I don't actually know, that's a question.)
I saw one Superslow guy use the stack in a gripless curl machine for perfect reps, prompting a female onlooker to say, "wow, pretty good, considering how small your arms are".
So if that's your thing, great, but let's stop pretending there's no basis for other approaches.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

Tim, that's exactly where' I'm coming from, and what seems to be garnering greater attention as of late in the research industry. It only makes sense from an 'economical' point of view (that such a model would involve less muscle energy requirements than what models have been accepted in the past).

People may be tired of harping on this, but I think this is where working in Zones is so productive... it hammers away at those same groups of fibers and finishes them off (or nearly so) before shifting onto the next group of fibers. Compare this to traditional full ROM reps whereby a group is stimulated, then released (and allow to recover slightly) as the next group takes over. Steady state wrestling vs. tag team wrestling.

Mix in the idea of various rep combinations (whether Zone, Matrix, Freestyling as I do a lot of the time) and you create a lot of aggitation among the fibers and nervous system (insofar as adaptation engraining the same skills).
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BennyAnthonyOfKC

Missouri, USA

The majority of what I just read above has merit, and it gave me some food for thought. Still, about cross-bridging, in 2008, I exchanged e-mails with one of two experts (Ph.D.) on the subject that was dubious for the reason that no one had been able to photograph cross-bridging, which he was particularly skeptical of all the copy-and-pastes I provided him that was being disseminated in strength-training circles. Has someone photographed it now? I don't know. But, one of my speculations about R.O.M. SPECIFIC focuses on body-fluids. Anyone that has had a pimple knows that a very tiny, almost microscopic area, can be stimulated into holding lots of fluid. Why should a small area of a muscle, or musculature, be any different? Moreover, one of my observations about STATIC EXERCISE was that it was "a dry pump", which was just a phrase that came to my mind immediate upon one of the first sets that I ever performed in a static fashion, which I then thought of SuperSlow as being "a dry pump" too. Next, I returned to faster repetitions with far better results for localized increases than I ever received from SuperSlow; in other words, I was doing SPECIALIZATIONS SETS. Why does all this matter? For everyone that has had to take a plunger to a plugged toilet knows that faster plunging works better than slower plunging, as well as a full back & forth motion with that plunger is better than shallow plunging. As to repetitions for exercise trainees, perhaps, the full range-of-motion during a set saturates all the tissue surrounding a musculature, as well as the smallest of capillaries, with blood and/or body-fluids bringing not only whatever materials & bio-chemicals (nutrients) that the body utilizes for growth, but also localized edema that potentially puts force upon cell walls causing them to expand & strengthen.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

Nice post!
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overfiftylifter

We now have a study, unlike any I have seen before, that may question the value of partial range training. I am trying to obtain more details on this study.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: 26 April 2013

Impact of range-of-motion during ecologically valid resistance training protocols, on muscle size, subcutaneous fat and strength

Eugene McMahon, Gerard; Onamb?l?-Pearson, Gladys
Published Ahead-of-Print
Abstract
The impact of using different resistance training (RT) kinematics, which therefore alters RT mechanics, and their subsequent effect on adaptations remain largely unreported. The aim of this study was to identify differences to training at a longer (LR) compared with a shorter (SR) range of motion, as well as the time-course of any changes during detraining. Recreationally active participants in LR (aged 19 +/- 2.6 years; n=8) and SR (aged 19 +/- 3.4 years; n=8) groups undertook 8 weeks of RT and 4 weeks detraining. Muscle size, architecture, subcutaneous fat and strength were measured at weeks 0, 8, 10 and 12 (repeated measures). A control group (aged 23 +/- 2.4 years; n=10) was also monitored during this period. Significant (p>0.05) post-training differences existed in strength (on average 4+/-2% vs. 18+/-2%), distal anatomical cross-sectional area (59+/-15% vs. 16+/-10%), fascicle length (23+/-5% vs. 10+/-2%) and subcutaneous fat (22+/-8% vs. 5+/-2%), with LR exhibiting greater adaptations than SR. Detraining resulted in significant (p>0.05) deteriorations in all muscle parameters measured in both groups, with the SR group experiencing a more rapid relative loss of post-exercise increases in strength than LR (p>0.05). Greater morphological and architectural RT adaptations in LR (owing to higher mechanical stress) result in a more significant increase in strength compared to SR. The practical implications for this body of work follow that LR should be observed in resistance training where increased muscle strength and size are the objective, since we demonstrate here that ROM should not be compromised for greater external loading.
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overfiftylifter

Brian, have you read up on the effects on contraction frequency in regards lactate and post hyperemia?
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Acerimmer1

I do know and can tell you that it is accepted in some circles that the lower section of the orbicularis oculi can contract semi independently to the top section. That is to say you can smile with your eyes without the skin between eyelid and brow being pulled towards the origin (as in the expression of pain).

The fibres of this main section originate from the nasal part of the frontal bone and run a continuous loop around the orbit of the eye (they attach to skin as they are muscles of facial expression).

So whats strange is that lower part (the same fibres) can shorten without shortening those same fibres around the top. Possibly this might be because the skin is anchored to other muscles?

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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

overfiftylifter wrote:
Brian, have you read up on the effects on contraction frequency in regards lactate and post hyperemia?


Have not!

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Acerimmer1

I am wondering. And it seems ike all the right people are here to ask.

Can anybody recommend a good Windows alternative to Osirix for viewing Dicom files?
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Acerimmer1

Also you know how you can drum your fingers in a wave like pattern lifting and dropping them? Well if a muscle had to be activated all at once or not at all then this wouldn't be possible with the middle two since the middle 2 at least to my recollection do not have another muscle involved in their extension besides extensor digitorum like the pinkie which also has "extensor digiti minimi" and the index finger which has "extensor indicis".

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Acerimmer1

Not to mention the fact you can literally see extensor digitorum contract in sections when you wiggle your fingers.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

Acerimmer...

I mentioned in the past my work with Rick McCutcheon... this guy has unusual muscle density (which is why he weighed as much as any pro bodybuilder, but he didn't look as big or as impressive... no 'pop' to his muscles). When I had him do slow zone training, you literally could see sections of the muscle work and shift. I could feel it in myself, and he talked about how he could feel it... but to see it was very, very interesting. I doubt many research scientists have seen this occur... you need one of those dense muscle genetic freaks on enough roids with enough exaggerated development.
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