Manic Monday ~ The Half Rep
There are so many different methods one can use to "sculpt" or shape the muscle. First of all, strengthening the muscle should be the goal for everyone. But, there are many of us who would like to see our bodies "toned." More lean muscle mass certainly is much healthier than body fat. AND lean muscle mass produces a higher metabolism as the muscles recover at rest and burning more calories during the recovery period. So training to produce lean muscle mass and decreasing body fat will naturally change the physique of one's body. It's amazing to see these transformations in individuals. However, as the transformation begins there are some strategic methods that can be used in training to target certain areas of the muscle for a more enhanced toning effect.
Let me introduce to you the "half rep." In general, full range motion exercise are the most beneficial in training the muscle. The half rep is used to supplement or add on to the base of full range training. So, don't get rid of the full range motion.... The half rep is designed to be an addition to this. To explain the half rep, I will use basic terminology instead of confusing you with the proper muscular names and movements (I'm sure you would appreciate me not using proper names like brachialis). So let's take the bicep curl for an example. We all want nice toned arms (some of you want defined bicep mountains). The best known exercise to help build the bicep is the bicep curl. There are several ways to perform a bicep curl: dumbbell bicep curl, bicep curl machine, barbell bicep curl, hammer curl, alternating bicep curls, single stabilized bicep curl....and the list actually continues. With all of these we should incorporate a full range bicep certainly from a long arm extension with a very slight elbow bend to a full range flexion curl in which the elbow angle has a 10-20* angle. This should be a controlled motion with little momentum. Now, after 1-2 sets of a normal full range strength exercise, the half rep can be used. The half rep is just that. Instead of a full range motion the rep is stopped half way through the full motion and returned back to the start position. In a bicep curl, the half rep starts with the extension and ends when the elbow makes a 90* angle. It's done slow. This half rep takes out any momentum that may occur in the full rep. Perform 5-10 half reps with the same weight as you use for your regular bicep curl. BUT, the half rep ALSO should be performed in reverse to sustain balance. The reverse half rep starts at the height of your original exercise. The reverse half rep bicep curl will BEGIN at the full flexion point ....the point where you have curled the weight to the chest with the elbow flexed at 10-20*. Then bring the motion back down and stop halfway to the 90* angle. Again, this is a method that you can add to your existing regiment. Half-rep methods can be used with almost all muscle groups. You will find they are challenging and certainly make your muscle work a little differently.
As with all exercises, keep control of your motions and make sure you know the safe and proper form to perform each exercise.
Have a GREAT week!