Chest Training Principles, Part Three – The Importance of and How to Achieve Full Range of Motion for the Press

Lack of Understanding what Full range of Motion Consists of

Too many times when I see a new client, they neglect to go all the way down while performing the press. They usually go way too heavy and stop halfway. On top of this, when they press, they rarely achieve full contraction in the shortened position. When I ask them to go all the way down, they fail to keep good form and hardly ever come back up to perform the amount of repetitions that are required.


What usually happens is the trainee will perform the movement with their interpretation of what they believe to be full range of motion. Whether their perception of full range of motion is based on what they made up in their head, what they read in the latest muscle magazine, or what they watched on television or youtube, it is incorrect and depending on the person can take some time to correct.

Why Does it Take Time to Correct?

It isn’t just the body that needs to learn the movement but the brain as well needs to learn the movement patterns. How to contract the muscles in the right plane of motion. This can be a quick learn or take a while depending upon the person performing the movement and their capabilities.

What is Full Range of Motion and Why is Full Range of Motion Important?

Full range of motion is performing a movement as far as possible in the stretched position and shortened position with good form while tension is still maintained.

The more range of motion the muscle works through, the more tension will be imposed on it. The more tension, the better the development.

Summarizing What Needs to be Done

Lower the weight. Focus on full range of motion. Learn to contract the muscle hard and fully throughout all phases of the movement. Retract the shoulder blades to fully lengthen the chest. Avoid shoulder rotation as this is not lengthening the chest but putting stress on the shoulders and can cause injuries in the short and long term.

Dumbbell Press, Robby Robinson
Image: Robby Robinson, “Incline Dumbbell Press”

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