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Range of Motion and Common Sense

{This post was originally posted in March 2016, but got lost when i switched the website over to the current platform a while ago, thankfully facebook reminded me so i could repost it}

Range of Motion is a polarising topic.

I like polarising topics.

Polar bear sticking out his tongue

Polar bear sticking out his tongue

Usually there is actually a middle ground where common sense lies but the internet doesn’t like common sense.

I do.

That’s why the clients that come to me for training come to me in the first place. It’s also why they stay.

Not everyone stays, but then not everyone thinks common sense applies to them. They usually end up in a cycle of getting no where or getting injured.

Now, range of motion and common sense.

Let me tell an anecdote first.

A while ago I had a group of Fitness Instructors that were sent into me by a local “globogym” for some instruction on how to work and teach the kettlebell lifts.

During the course I’m going through the squat, as the kettlebell goblet squat is a fundamental movement as far as I’m concerned. So, as these are “instructors” I ask them a lot of questions so that they actually come up with the correct answers by themselves, or at least as a group.

Yes, I know, I’m a mean teacher.

One question I asked was “How deep should a person squat?”

A young male, one of those 20 somethings who can’t seem to buy the correct size T-shirts (hint, a size or two up from the one you squeezed yourself into this morning!) supplied an answer with an enthusiastic, “Ass to the grass!”


As he was so certain in his answer, I thought I’d follow up to see if we can weed out a thought process behind the answer.

So I asked, “Everyone? Always?”

He was said, “Yes”

I asked why.

This caused some concern.

I could feel the others wanting to protect their own against this big bully of an instructor.

His answer, “Because it’s the way to do it!”



This is not critical thinking, this is NOT common sense. This is dogmatic bro-thinking, aka Bullshit.

How deep should a person squat?

As deep as is safe for that individual!

How deep should we go on any exercise?

As deep as is safe for that individual.

If that means squatting above parallel, so what?

If going deeper causes them to break form, how are they benefiting?

I’m a huge advocate of using full range of motion on every exercise, but I also understand that my range of motion is different to yours, which is different to the next guys.

I can squat ass to grass in my bare feet. Not many of my clients can.

Many are unable to go full range in a Dip, or even a push up without the anterior shoulder coming under stress. So we don’t allow them go full range until they earn it by building the required strength and mobility.

But then lets look at a particular exercise that is largely considered to be the king of strength development.

The Deadlift.

Now, hands up who can tell me which joints go through their full range of motion during a deadlift?


Ankle? No.

Knee? Nope.

Hip? No.

Spine? Definitely not!

Scapular? Nope.

Shoulder (Glenohumeral) Not even close.

You get the idea.

Yet people get ridiculously strong by training this lift that is only ever a partial range exercise.

What is full range of motion?

It is the range of motion your body has in it right now, today.

Proper training can increase this, but it will never increase if forced.

Don’t fall into the range of motion trap. Fall into the common sense trap.


Dave Hedges

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