Partial reps for building muscle?

I followed a “revolutionary” training method called Power Factor Training (PFT) when I was my biggest, leanest, strongest, and fittest at the age of 40. I wrote a review of it on under A shortcut to getting big and strong? What follows is my recorded progress in a training journal performing PFT deadlifts (without lifting straps), which was performed just above my knee in the squat rack.

I began with 600 pounds for 8 reps, and 6 weeks later I was up to 675 pounds for 16 reps. In my first true PFT workout I lifted a total weight of 19,225 pounds in 50 minutes, which came out to be 988 pounds per minute. By “true” I mean at the end of each workout I recorded the total amount of weight lifted, the amount of weight lifted per minute, and the PF index (the higher the better). On my last PFT workout I lifted a total weight of 99,820 pounds in 59 minutes with a PF index of 169, compared to a PF index of 52 the previous month. Impressive right?


But what did PFT do for me in six weeks and after? Absolutely nothing. I was the same person as when I first started. When I went back training using full range reps I was the same size, I had the same strength, and I had the body. However, one benefit was that it strengthened my mind and taught me that the body follows what the mind wills! After all, it takes a lot of “will power” to lift those enormous amount of poundages on such a small-framed ectomorphic build!

PFT didn’t benefit my body. One, it gave me a huge ego trip. Two, it gave me a false pretense that I was lifting “thousands” of pounds of weight every day I worked out. And three, it placed overly excessive pressure on my joints and spinal column and put my nervous system into over training in a very short time. Sure, I was able to lift more weight but only because I was lifting in my strongest range of motion. In reality, all that partial reps do is weaken your weakest range of motion and strengthen your strongest range of motion. If getting results means sacrificing bones, joints, and ligaments and means upsetting the balance of the body by making the strong stronger and the weak weaker then this type of training is a farce.


So what shall we say then about partial reps? Partial reps, on the one hand, suggest a lesser degree of flexion and, therefore, effect a lesser degree of stimulation. Complete reps, on the other hand, suggest greater flexion, that is, greater range of motion, which effects greater stimulation, and therefore, releases greater testosterone levels. Complete reps not only involve greater range of motion but also the appropriate rep speed of varying degrees. The perfect rep results in optimal muscle stimulation by recruiting the broadest possible range of muscle fibers to complete a muscular assignment. A complete or full rep means starting each rep either from a fully flexed position (e.g., deadlifts starting from the floor) or a fully extended position (e.g., barbell curls). Shortening a rep stroke might allow you to handle more weight in any given exercise, but that is because you don't have to move the weight as far and, therefore, the result is that you can move more weight than you humanly thought possible.

This dupes you into thinking that you are getting stronger when you are not. Shortening a rep stroke is like a diet because it is essentially looking for a shortcut to achieve results faster with less pain. Partial reps are seductive and many bodybuilders get sucked in. The inescapable truth is that full reps beat partial reps any day of the week. Full movements stimulate more muscle fibers than partial movements. It's simple biology - more range of movement, more fiber stimulation, more muscle.