T Nation

High Intensity Partial Reps


Over the years, I've gone back and forth about whether to embrace HIT or whether to go for the more traditional "pump" of the bodybuilding crowd that my dad grew up with. (My dad was a bodybuilder back in the 70s.)

And the thing is, I feel kind of intuitively like I should be able to have my cake and eat it too, in this case. A while back, when I was overseas, I found myself trying a HIT routine but also embracing the idea of really solid partial movements, right from the beginning of the workout.

I know a lot of HIT enthusiasts use partials to help push past the point of muscle failure, but I decided to open up with partials and limit the range of motion of my heavy lifts in order to speed up the repetitions and create a more traditional feeling pump.

While I know that tradition wisdom will almost always say that a full range of motion is the key to success, still, I can't help but feel that I got a lot of good, solid work out of those more balistic and yet still quite heavy partials. What do you guys think? Anyone have any experiences similar to this?


I don't see why you are choosing between "pump training" and HIT. Hypertrophy requires sufficient volume. Merely pumping the muscle with blood or doing one set to failure does not mean that you will get hypertrophy.

Partials can be great though.


The reason a full ROM is important is simple. Partials only increase strength in some of the movement and as a portion of the fibres have significantly more tension than others, they lead to disproportionate development.

There was a guy once - can't remember his name - and he thought it would be a great idea to create a whole training program using static contractions. However he learnt that his strength only increased in the 1" around that position and the muscle was unbalanced.

This is why when strength athletes use partials they use it to increase strength in either a specific portion of a lift or they progress through all angles so as to overload the whole ROM over time.
This is also why physique athletes use partials to either fatigue after a set, to pre-exhaust before a set, to improve certain areas of a muscle or in a set including partial ROM covering ALL angles (21's).

Of course this is with the standard small ROM partials in mind.. if you are talking about the type of partial rep that only leaves out a few degrees at the easiest portion of the rep, then that will not lead to any unbalanced development.

So did you (as it seemed to read to me..) do a full session with partials? If so i think it would be an excellent way to 'shock' your muscles as a one off.. but for a valid way to train it will leave you unbalanced in muscle* and strength.



If you like a mix of lifting heavy weights and 'pump training' you should definitely check out the FST-7 program. I started using it, switching a few exercises for ones I prefer, and it has been going nicely. It its very intensive though and it's recommend that natural trainers should cycle the program over a period of weeks. There is a whole website devoted to it search for it.


Hypertrophy doesn't require any known amount of volume. You can induce hypertrophy using low or high volume, which is exactly the rationale behind HIT. Why do more when you can get the same result doing less? Also, HIT does not necessarily mean doing one set to failure, that's just the extreme/absolutist variant advocated by Mike Mentzer.


Thanks everyone for the prompt responses, especially thanks to BONEZ217 for suggesting a specific training program. I'll check it out.

@ trextacy: I think I have to side with belligerent on this one, I'm not sure that it has been established that volume is the real key to growth. I tend to fall on the side of the bodybuilding classic BRAWN and define growth by progressive effort over time, which doesn't necessarily mean more volume. (Although I have to admit that even BRAWN suggests high volume squats for massive growth.)

@ J-J: I do remember some books coming out on static contraction training a few years back. I have to admit, the idea excited me at the time, mostly because I have an issue with getting good results with the bench press in full ROM. When I bench with a full range, I tend to feel an almost painful amount of pressure deep inside my shoulder complex. Limiting the range helps this, but I don't want to fail to train important supporting muscles. I'm kind at a loss on how to get the best results here.


many have this issue woth flat bar bench.. it is a physiologically unnatural movement.

The general advice is to lower to 1-2" above the chest.. this reduces stresses and is enough of a ROM for most - especially if you do other presses that allow a deeper stretch.

Of course - as most will agree - there is no harm in NOT doing the bench at all if it causes pain.. DB's/smith/machines etc will suffice just fine.

In fact, if you get pain in the bench i would drop it and determine the cause of the issue before returning to heavy presses. The last thing you need is a shoulder injury as that will screw your lifting days royally.


what i meant by "volume" wasn't total sets and reps (volume sometimes implying that the more of those the better), but more along the lines of "volume of work" which takes into account load, intensity (load as a % of your 1RM), frequency of stimulus, # of reps, etc.

hypertrophy is a response to that, not how much blood you have in the muscle or whether you take on intense set to failure (HIT).

so, as your say "progressive effort over time" simply means more volume-- more total work done, whether by doing it more often (frequency), more weight/load, or same weight but with more total reps.

i also agree that there isn't 1 end-all for total volume required for hypertrophy, but we know the ranges pretty well.

my point was that you broke things down between getting a pump and HIT, which are the 2 of the least effecient ways to approach things imho.

i'm not sure belligerent agrees w/ what i've said here since i think my lack of clarity in my prior post led to some confusion.


The general essence of this post is fairly right - but the word 'volume' in that context is simply not right at all..

For example, to progress you don't necessarily need to increase total work done. You can cut back which can be vital in progressing, you can change exercises or the rep range (which does not necessarily mean an increase in volume) and you can start doing statics instead of.. i don't know.. pulses for example.

To say that progressive effort over time is an increase in work is generally right (essentially when all is said and done, you lift more weight year after year), but to say that workload equals volume is not accurate. They are related.. just as intensity and load are.. but not always the same.

Lastly you say that HIT and high volume are two of the least efficient training systems around - do you mean efficient or effective? Either way it would be incorrect.

Speaking under the impression that others see these two methods purely as structure protocols for training programs rather than training programs in their own right

HIT is VERY efficient, and both are very effective with (generally speaking) ALL bodybuilding trainees doing a program that belongs between these two poles - one end being low volume and high intensity per body part and the other using higher volume of work per body part.



I didn't say high volume wasn't efficient...I said HIT and pump training aren't very effective. I was advocating doing sufficient volume of work, w/o resorting to "HIT" or chasing a pump.

HIT may be time efficient (how can one set to failure with days and days of rest in between workouts not be) but true HIT in the Mentzer/Jones mode isn't effective/efficient as far as muscle building goes. I know there are some that love it but except for a few (weirdos or people who do it for a brief period of time following a "normal" program) it just isn't efficient or effective to train that way for hypertrophy.

I do agree w/ your last statement that low volume w/ high intensity can be effective but I don't think HIT (although a type of low volume/high intensity) is a good way to do a low volume/high intensity program. LV/HI isn't the same as HIT.

You are right that you can change rep ranges and exercises w/o necessarily changing the amount of volume and get growth. The muscle reacts to the new stimulus by growing...but if you switch from flat bench to DB press or change rep ranges you will only efficiently grow muscle if you progress (increase volume) over time with that new exercise or rep range.

You switch exercises or rep ranges because your ability to progress with what you were doing previously has stalled or slowed...the change simply allows you to progress again- it's the progress that leads to growth, not the mere change itself. I know you know this but I'm just clarifying what I meant.

In the interest of full disclosure I think "HIT" basically sucks for most anyone and the best high intensity programs out there (be it a Yates-inspired split or DC) still has greater frequency and more work than what traditional HIT would espouse.


Yea - i misread, sorry. :wink:

I personally consider low volume/high intensity to be high intensity training - which HIT is. Mike mnetzers HIT is a type of HIT but not all high intensity volume training.. That was how i was thinking - and it where we cross wires i think.

We probably agree on most :wink: