The influence of variable range of motion training on neuromuscular performance and control of external loads.
ABSTRACT Resistance training programs that emphasize high force production in different regions of the range of motion (ROM) may provide performance benefits. This study examined whether variable ROM (VROM) training, which consists of partial ROM training with countermovements performed in a different phase of the ROM for each set, results in improved functional performance. Twenty-two athletes (age 22.7 ± 2.4 years, height 1.81 ± 0.07 m, and body mass 94.6 ± 14.5 kg) with extensive resistance training backgrounds performed either a VROM or full ROM control (CON) 5-week, concentric work-matched training program. The participants were assigned to a group based on stratified randomization incorporating their strength levels and performance gains in preceding training microcycles. Testing consisted of assessing the force-ROM relationship during isokinetic and isometric bench press and ballistic bench throws, with normalized electromyography amplitude assessed during the isometric tests. Repeated-measure analyses of variance revealed that the VROM intervention significantly (p < 0.05) increased both full ROM bench throw displacement (+15.5%) and half ROM bench throw peak force (+15.7%), in addition to isokinetic peak force in the terminal ROM (13.5% increase). No significant differences were observed in the CON group or between groups for any other outcome measures. Analysis of the force-ROM relationship revealed that that the VROM intervention enhanced performance at shorter muscle lengths. These findings suggest that VROM training improves terminal and midrange performance gains, resulting in the athlete possessing an improved ability to control external loading and produce dynamic force.