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Use Halfway Reps For Better Athletic Performance

Imagine throwing a baseball or softball but stopping midway through the motion; not only would you look foolish, your objective to get the ball where it needs to go wouldn’t be met. That’s why training with full range of motion when you exercise is a vital component to learning technique and remaining injury-free (otherwise, your body might overcompensate for weakness and leave you more vulnerable to getting hurt).

Yet although it seems counterintuitive, using the “ halfway reps” method in the gym provides a plethora of training benefits. The use of a limited range of motion (ROM) during exercises can provide benefits for athletes by placing more tension on a specific body part and allow you to move past sticking points.

For example, on the bench press, some powerlifters focus on just the top end of the push. They’ll set the bar up in a power rack and knock out sets that only have them lift the last half or even third of the motion. Why? This can help them build the strength to lockout at the top, which comes in handy when it’s time to perform their one-rep max in a competition. On the football field, that style of training can help a linebacker create separation from a blocker to provide a pathway to the ball carrier; and it can allow for more explosiveness when a running back throws a stiff arm. With moves like squats, doing halfway reps can build more explosiveness for a higher jump (to rebound, dunk, or grab an out-of-reach line drive), as well as high jump or hurdle.

Using 21s as a rep scheme is a popular implementation of this style of training. With 21s you split the exercise into threes — halfway up, halfway down, and then a full-range-of-motion rep; that’s one set. The massive increase in volume will help with muscle endurance as well as muscle growth.

Try It:

Exercise Sets Reps
Triceps Pushdown 21s 2-3 21
EZ-bar Overhead Triceps 21 2-3 21
Bench-press lockouts 3 10-12
Barbell Curls 21s 2-3 21
Back-squat lockouts 2-3 10-12
Leg Extension 21s 2-3 21

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