The Value Of Partial Lifting

By on July 22, 2014

Many unconventional forms of training have become popular in the last 10 years or so. Crossfit, kettlebells, bodyweight training and more.


But there is still one that is sometimes used, by a relative few, when it should be done far more often and by just about everyone. I’m talking about partial training.


A partial is any lift done in a partial range of motion on purpose, for the reason of overloading the muscles and body. This is typically done with the big lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and military presses although it can be used for more. Here’s an example of half squats.



With partials you typically use more than your max weight for a lift. The reason you’re able to do this is because you’re doing a shorter range of motion and thus you can handle much more. Depending on the partial it may be a lot more or a little more. A close to full range partial, like a three quarters move, will probably only be a little more. A short partial like the last inch or two of the move can handle significantly more. The reason is you have far more leverage here.


(As a side not its important to note that both squats and deadlifts aren’t actually trained as full range of motion lifts. In squats you typically go to parallel. In deadlifts you start from where the bar is, which is off the ground from the size of the plates. A real full range of motion would be your upper and lower legs touching in both.)


There are several benefits to partials.


#1 – Your Body gets use to Heavier Loads


If you’re getting stopped in going up in weight, part of this is because it feels heavy. But what if you did partials with twice the weight? These would feel heavy, and then when you approach the weight that use to stop you in a full range lift, it will feel much lighter. This feeling of lightness can be the difference between success and failure.


#2 – Life and Sports don’t happen only in Full Ranges of Motion


Think about throwing a punch. All the power comes from the hips right? But you don’t descend into a full squat before throwing one. In fact, if you did it would be weak. All the explosive force comes from a few inches of movement. Partials can train that to become much stronger, more specifically, than any full range of motion would do.


#3 – Strengthens More than the Muscles


Partials focus more of the work on the tendons, ligaments and even the bones. This was a big secret of the oldtime strongmen. Strength isn’t just about muscle. If you can make your connective tissues stronger you’ll be far stronger overall. This strength typically stays around for a long time too.


#4 – They’re Safe


Even though you’re handling big weights, partials tend to actually be safer than full range lifts. Because of the additional leverage and the shorter range, there is less of a chance of hurting something. Not saying it can’t be done, but it is lower.


#5 – They’re Fun!


Lifting massive weights is fun. When you get into hundreds even over a thousand pounds it makes you feel powerful. And that’s because you are. Its just that you can handle far more in a short range lift than a big range.


I remember the first time I ever deadlifted over 100 lbs as a kid. I felt I was getting somewhere. Lifting 1000 lbs. is an even greater feeling!


#6 – They Get You Stronger at Specific Lifts


If you’re trying to work on a specific lift, for example the deadlift, how you use partials will determine how they’ll carry over to that move. The short range partials like that shown below is great if you have problems locking out.



A ¾ or ½ deadlift may be best if you lose your deadlifts around the knee zone. And if you have trouble off the bottom, then an extended range of motion deadlift may be your best bet.


These same rules apply to other lifts. If you want a stronger press, working from the three quarter or half way point, which is near the sticking point for most, will get you a lot stronger there.


For best results, work in all different ranges. If you can maximize the strength you have in every point of the move, you’ll be far stronger overall.

Logan Christopher

About Logan

Logan Christopher runs where he talks all manners of strength and movement from barbells to kettlebells, bodyweight training and feats of strength. He’s also the leading expert in real usable mental training for fitness. To further supercharge results he focuses on health and fitness, and as an herbalist, using superior herbs to help boost performance, which you can find more about at

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