When to use partial reps? You can bring it into play on movements where forced reps are not practical. What is a forced rep? It’s where a spotter is used to provide enough assistance for the trainer to be able to complete the rep. Since some lifters train alone, forced reps can be impractical. Enter partial reps.
The Partial Reps Principle
Here’s how to employ the Partial Reps Principle with barbell rows. After the required number of warm-up sets, load the bar to a weight you can get 8 reps with. These should be all the reps you can do with your chosen weight. As soon as you reach failure, perform as many partials as you can. Most likely, you won’t be able to pull the bar very far.
Partial Reps For Greater Intensity
These less-than-full reps are called partial reps. As with forced reps, they provide a means to go past the normal point of muscular failure. I suggest 2-3 partial reps at the end of a regular set. These reps will become shorter in their range of motion as your strength diminishes. After three partials, you might be down to maybe a one-quarter movement. That means working past that point would be unproductive.
You can use partial reps on virtually any exercise. If you train alone, and you’re doing heavy squats and bench presses (you are doing these, right?), make sure you have a Power Rack. A rack has safety pins so if you fail, the pins will safely catch the bar. With this one simple unit, you can train your tail off, and do it safely.
The only exercise you may want to avoid partials on might be deadlifts. Yet, there’s a way around that. You can do partial deadlifts using your Power Rack. How? The long safety pins can be set at any height. You can set them down by your feet, or up over your head. Set the long pins to your chosen point along the range of motion. We’ll say you’ve picked just above your knees. Now you can do partial reps using only half of the movement.
How Often Should You Do Partial Reps?
You can do them after every main working set. There’s talk about overtraining if you go past a specific number of partial reps, or forced reps, or whatever. Everything has to be a precise number. Baloney. Work your butt off in the gym. Push as hard as you can. If you can knock out 4-5 good partials, do it. Don’t stop ast 2 or 3 just because someone “prescribed” that many. If you can, do a few partials on all your working sets. If you’re training hard enough, you won’t be training for long. You can’t work hard and do never-ending workouts. Once you’re done, think about recovery. Take a couple of days. Take more if you think you need it.
Partial reps are one of many intensity techniques you can do. Usually, adding a couple of techniques at a time works best. Rotating techniques provide good variety. There’s one thing to remember. If mass is your goal, follow progressive overload. This means adding weight to the bar every two weeks. Sooner if the reps become easy. This is the most important principle of all.