This article may be a little “sciency” for some but holds great value.
We have all seen the push up challenge videos where the person performing the pushups are literally just bending their elbows slightly and bobbing their head to get as many reps in as possible before the time clock. To me this is very frustrating and is demonstrating a bad form example where the athlete is short changing themselves and promoting less range of motion is better…which is false.
When we contract our muscles what happens is that our brain sends an electrical signal from the brain through the CNS (central nervous system) to a motor unit which is attached to a group of muscle fibers. If we are doing push-ups for example, the signal will travel to the motor units associated with our triceps, pecs, and anterior (front) shoulders. If we were to do a small elbow bend with a head bob and call it a push up, our motor units for those muscles would only be firing/contracting let’s say 50%. If we were to do a full range of motion push up, to where our chest touches the ground, now those motor units for those muscles would be firing/contracting to almost 100%.
I don’t know about you but I would rather work smarter and harder, than just working harder for longer periods of time trying to get the same results. Range of motion is especially important with the more we age. If we are training/working out to our full end ranges of motion our joints will be healthier, stronger, more stable, and will allow us to do more.