Yes, partials! The taboo! And the favorite food of all Internet trolls! Cut a rep short and invite everyone with Internet access to cut you down. But the reality is that partials are one of the most effective training tactics out there. When used correctly, they can be the maneuver you need to smash through plateaus and reach new levels of performance. No other strategy will prepare you for advancing to heavier squat poundages than partials.
A few bullet points for the partial rep scheme:
- Heavily used by some of the greatest and most powerful men in history, like Paul Anderson, for example
- Works best for compound movements
- Should not be used exclusively
- Also should not be considered equal to full reps in determining feats of strength
My favorite benefit of the partial movement is mainly psychological. If you have a squat max in the 500-lb range and you spend some time moving around 700 lbs or more, then you are going to be familiar with the feel. Nothing is harder to get over, for me anyway, than that psychological impact of a weight feeling heavier than expected. If 500 lbs is all you have experienced and you try to PR with 525, it’s pretty likely that unracking that weight is going to feel significantly heavier. On the other hand, if you had experienced 700 lbs pushing your spine out of your ass while doing a partial a couple weeks beforehand, you may all of a sudden be attacking 525 with a confidence that will enable success. This tactic applies across every compound movement.
Just a quick rundown on a few of my favorite ways to use partials:
- Walkouts: Pile on a shitload of weight, unrack, and stand for anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds. Dr. Hatfield was a huge proponent of this technique because it contributed to the Soviets’ triumphs.
- Lockouts: Put the weight on the support bars and start from the bottom, or unrack it and stop at the preset pins. Both work just fine—either way, you’re only completing the top 3-5 inches of your squat. You can try setting the pin height for a lockout on Week One and keeping the weight as high as possible; descend the pin height proportionally every other squat workout until you are doing a full bottom start with a huge PR.
- Chins: Use a hip belt and strap an extra 40-80% of your bodyweight to yourself. Then just hang. Do this for 2 sets before dropping the weight and rep away. Personally, I almost feel like I weigh less than 300 pounds when I employ this method. Almost…
The benefits of partial movements and the possible applications go on and on—burnouts, pure overload workouts… The list only ends with a closed mind.
I’m well aware that I’m grossly oversimplifying things, but the principles are more important than the programming. Despite what some trainers want you to believe, programming is simply the application of principles and percentages.
One word of caution: You will be persecuted heavily by gym trolls, and Internet trolls as well, if you post videos. Everyone will tell you, “Half squats, half results” and other redundant shit like that. Just be prepared to hear it.
Leave any response or comment here or hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to continue this discussion.
“Fame and power are the objects of all men. Even their partial fruition is gained by very few; and that, too, at the expense of social pleasure, health, conscience, life.”—Benjamin Disraeli