Which Exercise Is Better: Partial Range of Motion Bench Press or Full Range of Motion Bench Press?

Which exercise is better for developing strength and muscle thickness?

  • Partial ROM (Range of Motion) Bench Press, or
  • Full ROM Bench Press

In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers concluded that while both exercises are great for developing strength and muscular thickness, the Full ROM Bench Press is superior for developing strength gains.

The Study

Volunteers were randomly assigned to three groups:

  1. full range-of-motion
  2. partial range-of-motion
  3. control

Subjects trained two days per week for 10 weeks in a periodized program.
Primary outcome measures included:

  • elbow flexion maximal strength measured by 1 repetition max (1-RM),
  • elbow flexors MT (muscle thickness) measured by ultrasound.

Results indicated that elbow flexion strength increased in both training groups…

  • FULL (25.7 +/- 9.6%)
  • PART (16.0 +/- 6.7%)

…but not for the CON group (1.7 +/- 5.5%).

As you can see, FULL 1-RM strength was significantly greater than the PART 1-RM after the 10 week training period.

Average elbow flexors MT significantly increased for both training groups:

  • FULL (9.65 +/- 4.4%)
  • PART (7.83 +/- 4.9%)

Researchers concluded that muscle strength and MT can be improved with both FULL and PART resistance training, but FULL may lead to greater strength gains.


Douglas Robb

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.

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