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Impact of Range of Motion During Ecologically Valid Resistance Training Protocols on Muscle Size, Subcutaneous Fat, and Strength

McMahon, Gerard E.1,2; Morse, Christopher I.1; Burden, Adrian1; Winwood, Keith1; Onambélé, Gladys L.1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 245–255
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318297143a
Original Research

Abstract: McMahon, GE, Morse, CI, Burden, A, Winwood, K, and Onambélé, GL. Impact of range of motion during ecologically valid resistance training protocols on muscle size, subcutaneous fat, and strength. J Strength Cond Res 28(1): 245–255, 2014—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 the differences to training at a longer (LR) compared with a shorter (SR) range of motion (ROM) and 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 of 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) posttraining 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 postexercise increases in strength than that experienced by the LR group (p > 0.05). Greater morphological and architectural RT adaptations in the LR (owing to higher mechanical stress) result in a more significant increase in strength compared with that of the SR. The practical implications for this body of work follow that LR should be observed in RT where increased muscle strength and size are the objective, because we demonstrate here that ROM should not be compromised for greater external loading.

1Institute for Performance Research, Department of Exercise & Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe, United Kingdom; and

2Sports Institute Northern Ireland, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, Belfast, Ireland

Address correspondence to Gladys Onambélé-Pearson,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.