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Add a twist to your workouts

May 31, 2010

 OK, it’s not actually a twist. More of a “pulse.”

I’m talking about half reps. AKA, partial reps. That’s what you call it when you don’t do a full rep, which takes a full range of motion from the top of a movement all the way to the bottom and back.


Let’s take a DB shoulder press.

In a full range press, of course, you push the DBs up from the shoulders to a point overhead where your elbows are slightly bent. Then you lower the DBs back under control down to your shoulders.

To get your half reps, you push the DBs all the way up to the overhead position (as in the full rep version), then come roughly half-way down before reversing direction to push the DBs back up to the overhead position again. And THEN you bring the DBs back down to your shoulders.

Oh, the burn…

Half reps are a great way to intensify so many exercises.

But, I’ll warn you…half reps make each repetition much more demanding to perform.

You’ll need to use somewhat lighter DBs than you’d normally use!

Today I am doing shoulders (and triceps) and will apply half reps to most (if not all) of my shoulder exercises:

  • DB shoulder press
  • DB side laterals
  • DB upright rows
  • Rear delt machine flyes

You can easily figure out the other 2 DB exercises I’m including. It’s the same principle as the shoulder press I detailed above.

For the rear delt machines flyes, you would typically grab the machine handles in front of you and bring them back and out to the side of your torso, before returning them to the start position.

In a half-rep version of this machine exercise, you bring the handles back and out to your sides, then reverse direction as if returning to the start position. BUT you stop roughly half-way there and again reverse direction to bring the handles back out to your sides. And THEN you return the handles under control to the start position.

To do a DB version of the rear delt flye, you can sit down and lean your torso forward to nearly rest your chest on your thighs. Next, extend the DBs from outside your ankles to the sides of your torso (your arms come straight out, like a T), keeping a slight bend in your elbows.

To get half reps on this movement, don’t return the DBs back down to your ankles. Stop half-way down, then reverse direction and come back up to the top of the movement.  THEN, you can return the DBs under control to your ankles. 

Try a half rep next time you work out. Pick just one exercise and get half reps on it. (You don’t need to do all your exercises in this way!)

Use this technique whenever you’re a bit bored with your workouts.

Flickr photo, az360fitness

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 31, 2010 1:58 pm

    I tried this workout today on my shoulders, and felt great. It’s been a while since I have felt
    my shoulders like I did after trying this routine. Thanks for this great post and idea.


    • kafe55 permalink
      May 31, 2010 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Alan. I’m glad it worked for you. I should add that once you can no longer get the half reps, it is completely OK to get the remaining reps using a full range. The momentum seems to help a lot!

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