When training superior athletes, coaches might not always be informed about training their athletes for maximal force production for various aspects of their sport. A coach might look at someone performing a movement with only partial range of motion and think, “Why aren’t they using accommodating resistance or developing maximal tension throughout the complete range of motion?” It is a fallacy that maximal strength and force production is only developed through full range of motion (full ROM) movements. Thus, it is imperative that coaches appropriately research the movements that are required for their specific athletes when developing a training program in order to fully understand the ranges that movements occur. This is critical when working with combat and tactical athletes, as movements on the mat or in the field can vary greatly from what many coaches consider proper form and technique in the gym. For example, if I were to train Andre using complete lat extension when working on back, he runs a great risk of developing inappropriate neural programing, as well as wasted training time developing strength at ranges of motion that are unnecessary for jiu jitsu.
Dynamic partial range of motion (partial ROM) is an advanced training technique frequently utilized by athletes in various sports. Zatsiorsky has described this as the Accentual Principle (1). In accentuation, the main idea is to train strength only in the range of the main sport movement where the demand for high force production is maximal. In natural movements, at least on land, muscles are active over a relatively narrow range of motion. Usually, maximal muscle activity occurs near the extreme points of angular motion. Using Andre’s back training as an example, if the main objective is to increase the dynamic strength of the back muscles to improve strength and velocity of a pulling movement, there is no reason to increase the strength of these muscles in a range beyond the range this activity requires. A prime example would be a double choke in jujitsu where Andre must grip and hold his opponent’s GI in close quarters. Andre’s arms remain in a bent position where maximal force production is necessary, thereby rendering full ROM, with the arms extended, needless. Accentuation is the most popular exercise strategy among many superior athletes because this approach best satisfies the requirement for exercise specificity. There is no need for athletes to train maximal strength over the full range of motion if the maximal force is required in only a small part of the range. Dynamic exercises that satisfy the requirements for exercise specificity constitute the greater portion of training protocols for qualified and superior athletes.
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(1) Zatsiorsky. Science and Practice of Strength Training, Second Edition. 2006.