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The Partial Reps Workout for More Muscle

Next time you hit the gym, act like you’re on a first date and don’t go all the way. Instead, use quarter reps to build strength and size.

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  • 3 Days

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The Partial Reps Workout
The Partial Reps Workout

One of the first things you learn when you start lifting weights is how important it is to use a full range of motion on exercises. That’s how you work the entire muscle and avoid developing imbalances that can reduce your flexibility and cause injuries later on. This advice remains sound, and if you’re a relative beginner to resistance training, you should follow that rule. But if you’ve been lifting for a few years, it may be time to break it.

SEE ALSO: 100 Reps: The Forgotten Plateau Buster

HOW IT WORKS

Part of getting bigger means getting stronger, and after you’ve milked the quick gains every beginner enjoys, it gets harder to add weight to the bar. Performing only part of a rep—usually the top-quarter range of motion—allows you to break this plateau. It’s easier to handle heavier weight when you’re doing only the first quarter of a rep, such as coming down just a few inches on the squat. Called a “partial rep,” this isn’t necessarily cheating. When you use very heavy weights for a partial, you stimulate your central nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers. This then “convinces” your body that you’re actually stronger, and you’ll find that you can handle heavier weights when you go back to using a full range of motion.

The workouts that follow take advantage of this trick, alternating heavy partial-rep sets with heavy full-range ones for big gains in strength and the muscle growth that will inevitably follow.

DIRECTIONS

Perform each workout (Day I, II, and III) once per week, resting at least a day between each session. Exercises marked “A” and “B” are paired and alternated. So, you’ll do one set of A, rest, then one set of B, rest, and repeat until all sets are complete. Then go on to the next pair.

Dan Trink is the co-founder of Fortitude Strength Club in New York City. trinkfitness.com

Photographs By James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

Routine

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Day I

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 12

Barbell Quarter Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
4
Reps
2-4
Rest
2 min.
Exercise 2 of 12

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
4
Reps
4-6
Rest
2 min.
Exercise 3 of 12

Walking Dumbbell Lunge

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
1 min.
Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
1 min.

Day 2

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 5 of 12

One-Quarter Bench Press

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
2-4
Rest
2 min.
Exercise 6 of 12

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
4
Reps
4-6
Rest
2 min.
Exercise 7 of 12

Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
1 min.
Exercise 8 of 12

Face Pull

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
1 min.

Day 3

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 9 of 12

Rack Pull

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
4
Reps
4-6
Rest
2 min.
Exercise 10 of 12

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
4-6
Rest
2 min.
Exercise 11 of 12

Pull-Through

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8-10
Rest
1 min.
Exercise 12 of 12

Alternating Dumbbell Rear Lunge

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
8-10 each
Rest
1 min.
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