The Fitness Trail: Utilizing full range of motion
The Fitness Trail
Observation is one of the most important skill sets that we must master as fitness professionals. Closely observing our client’s performance of their exercise program provides us with the information and feedback needed to safely guide, direct, coach and train our clients leading them to achieving their stated goals.
While there are ten observational essentials utilized to assess each exercise and how it is performed, understanding that the vast majority of exercises must be performed throughout a full range of motion, is critical for the fitness professional to convey to each client. Why is it important to perform each exercise completing a full range of motion? This week, five reasons for utilizing a full range of motion will be presented. See if you notice yourself in one or all of these scenarios and then, make a concerted effort to train with full ranges of motion in the future. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Reason No. 1 Your major muscles throughout the body have origination points and insertion points. We strive to train muscles from origin to insertion so that we strengthen the entire muscle and all of the origin and insertion elements associated with the muscle. When applying safe and effective, full range of motion training techniques, over time, the muscle and its component parts become stronger and more mobile. This leads to freedom of movement, improving activities of daily living, the ability to train for power, sport’s performance and agility.
Reason No. 2 When you only train with small ranges of motion, you are unlikely to train the origin and insertion points adequately creating potential destabilization at the joints leading to potential inhibited strength and injury.
Reason No. 3 Training should involve all major muscle groups of the body as a general rule to enable us to perform as our lives require. One of the other detrimental elements of short range of motion training is that the activation of the secondary movers, stabilizers and tertiary muscles may be limited. Basically, access to these important stabilizing muscles may be prohibited preventing your body from becoming fully functional. We are a link system, and are only as strong as our weakest link. Therefore, if you are only performing isolated muscle group training, not including multi-muscled and compound exercise training, and are not training these groups through full ranges of motion regularly, your body will be hard pressed to function optimally.
Reason No. 4 Imagine swinging a baseball bat and dropping it before you complete a full follow through. What would happen to the ball? It certainly would not be knocked out of the park. Therefore, if you are going to be an outstanding hitter, training, on and off the field, with full ranges of motion is imperative.
Reason No. 5 Lastly, often when a client is performing exercises with small ranges of motion, they are doing so because they are attempting to lift too much load and are attempting to move it too fast. Therefore, on both counts, this will lead to poor outcomes. To achieve good outcomes, we would encourage them to slow down, decrease the load to an increment which they are actually able to lift safely and effectively through a full range of motion.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at, her email at and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.
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