Gyms are this magical place where people go to put themselves through voluntary torture. I’m totally kidding! I love to workout (most days) and I love helping people get an efficient workout. That is why I have to write this. There is one big mistake that I constantly see people making in the gym. I’m not meaning to judge people, I just really want to help. The mistake that I keep seeing is…
You know what I’m talking about. Pulses are short and fast repetitions. You grab the weight and move only about 3 inches with each push. I’ve seen these done at the top, middle, and bottom of the motion. For example (pictured below), I’ll see people sit down on the seated chest press machine, grab the handles, and extend their elbows 45 degrees. They then do these pulses, staying in the 45 degree range. Please stop doing this! You lift weights to get stronger. If you only do pulses at 45 degrees, you are only building strength at 45 degrees. You won’t see any benefit in any other part of the motion, which makes it basically useless. You’re just wasting your time and energy. You won’t see results, or worse, you could get injured doing something else because you think that you’ve built up the strength but really haven’t!
Check out the images below for an example of the starting and finishing positions on pulses. Notice how I’m NOT extending my arms all the way at the top, or bending my arms all the way at the bottom? I’m missing out on a whole bunch of strength opportunity here!
Full Range of Motion
The best way to improve your training is by doing exercises through the full range of motion. That means bending and straightening the joint all the way. Let’s take a chest press for example (pictured below). Full range of motion would be straightening your elbow all the way at the top and then bending it all the way down, so your hands are even with your chest (flexibility permitting). This will train your muscles for maximum strength and efficiency. It’s crucial that your muscles work efficiently because it will help prevent injury. Imagine if you are reaching for a bin off of a shelf. If you’re only pulsing through a certain part of your range, you better hope that that bin is within your pulsing range, otherwise you could get injured.
Check out the images below for an example of the starting and finishing positions with full range of motion. My elbows are all the way straight at the top, and all the way bent to 90 degrees at the bottom of the motion. This trains the pectoral muscles in the most efficient way and helps prevent shoulder injury.
Now I Know What You’re Thinking
You’ve seen body builders do this and they must be doing something right, right? Technically, yes. But pulses aren’t the only thing that they’re doing. If an athlete is doing full range movements but is extra weak in one particular part of a motion, they may finish their set with pulses in that part of the range. This isolated movement will blast that targeted section so it can catch up to the rest of the body. This is commonly done when there’s an imbalance or an injury. Most people in the gym that are doing pulses, are ONLY doing pulses. So, unless you are supplementing a routine of full range of motion movements with pulses, they are not doing you any good.
Working out can be fun when you are doing things in the most efficient and effective way. A routine solely based on pulses is neither efficient nor effective. If you want to get more out of your workout for the same amount of time, you absolutely MUST do your movements through the full range of motion. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are doing it right, or if you have joint pain while doing an exercise in it’s full range of motion, I would be glad to help! Leave your name, email, and “Email me please!” in the comment section below, and I will follow up with you shortly!