I was watching the "Guntermania" video last night. It's about Gunter S. run for the Olympia. It's all about his training. One thing I noticed is that he doesn't use what I consider "full range of motion" in a lot of his movements. For example:
Bench Press - only brought the bar down to about 4" off his chest.
Lat pulldown - only brought the bar down to about eye level.
curl - only came about 1/2 way up (forearms parallel to the ground)
squat - a little short of 90 degrees.
I realize he's a professional athlete, on steroids and all that, but I was wondering if my use of total full range of motion is limiting my growth and strength. Should I stop short of absolute full range (i.e., bp till bar touches chest, squat all the way down, pulldowns till touching chest, curls all the way?)
Actually the exercises that you listed are very special in their ideal ROM and probably do not demonstrate anyone's general philosophy of training.
For the "chest" press, the pecs really only work from zero to 90 degrees, and dropping below this with elbows out is tough on the shoulder. I am sure that he also stretches the pecs and does a peak contraction type of exercise.
For the lats, it is similar, but in the other direction, the lats work starts to fall off when the humerus goes past 90 degrees to the body. Other muscles then take over.
With the biceps, at about half way up the bracioradialis takes over, and with preachers, the load drops off.
Doing squats this way I think is bad. It is probably done to put more direct emphasis on the quads, but encourages excessive overload on the back and knees. There are better ways to use squats to target the quads. Also, you need to train the quads in the stretched position as well, but he probably does this with leg presses.
So in summary-My opinion only-you need to train a muscle through a full effetive range including loaded stretching and peak contractin, but at some point and for some individuals you may use different exercises to target the different portions of the ROM for safety and to compensate for mechanical advantage.
The first thing you have to realize is that this guy has already put in his time in the gym for many years. I'm sure in the beginning he did full range of motion movements to build the mass he has. Now to build even more mass he doens't stick to super strick form. He's learned what works for him. It's a lot like watching Ronnie Coleman train. His form is loose but it works for him.
I'm guessing that you are a relative newbie to training. Work on perfecting your form and develop a good base. Later, you can experiment with the different movements.
I would only respond that with the 4 exercises mentioned I can tell exactly why he limits the range of motion the way he does, and its for biomechanical reasons. Its not a short range partial in these cases. I would actually tell a beginner to use these partial ranges for 3 of the exercises:
I would say to pulldown to the eyes most of the time when using an elbows out motion. I would also say that if you are benching with elbows out, don't lower completely to the chest, and for curls, I would recommend stopping half way up and the hitting the brachioradialis with a different movement.