European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 9, pp 1969–1983 | Cite as

Influence of full range of motion vs. equalized partial range of motion training on muscle architecture and mechanical properties

  • Maria João ValamatosEmail author
  • Francisco Tavares
  • Rute M. Santos
  • António P. Veloso
  • Pedro Mil-Homens
Original Article



The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a 15-week partial range of motion (ROM) resistance training program on the vastus lateralis (VL) architecture and mechanical properties, when the time under tension (TUT) was equalized.


Nineteen untrained male subjects were randomly assigned to a control (Control; n = 8) or training (TG; n = 11) group. In the TG, the dominant and nondominant legs were randomly selected to be trained with a full ROM (FULL) or a partial ROM (PART) in an isokinetic dynamometer. Training volume was equalized based on the TUT by manipulating sets and repetitions. The VL muscle architecture was assessed by B-mode ultrasonography at rest and during maximal isometric knee extension contractions (MVCs) at ten knee angles. The VL fascicle force and specific tension were calculated from the MVCs with superimposed stimuli, accounting for the moment arm length, muscle architecture, and antagonist coactivation.


The FULL training induced changes in fascicle length (FL) (4.9 ± 2.0%, P < 0.001) and specific tension (25.8 ± 18.7%, P < 0.001). There was a moderate effect of PART training on the physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA) (7.8 ± 4.0%, P < 0.001, dav = 0.6) and torque–angle adaptations (average increase 17.7 ± 3.9%, P < 0.05).


These results provide evidence that crucial architectural and mechanical muscle adaptations are dependent on the ROM used in strength training. It seems that muscle FL and specific tension can be increased by pure concentric training if greater ROM is used. Conversely, restricting the ROM to shorter muscle lengths promotes a greater PCSA and angle-specific strength adaptations.


Muscle architecture Muscle size Regional hypertrophy Range of motion (ROM) Vastus lateralis Resistance training 



One repetition maximum


Anatomical cross-sectional area


Analysis of variance


Biceps femoris


Confidence intervals


Patellar tendon moment arm


Fascicle length


Full range of motion


Intra-class correlation coefficients


Minimal detectable change


Magnetic resonance imaging


Maximal isometric knee extension contraction


Maximal isometric knee extension contractions


Pennation angle


Partial range of motion


Physiological cross-sectional area


Relative joint maximal torque


Range of motion


Standard error of the mean


Surface EMG for non-invasive assessment of muscles


Standard deviation


Time under tension


Vastus lateralis



The first author gratefully acknowledges the “Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal” (“The Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal”). The authors also gratefully acknowledge all students who participated in this study, especially those who always trained as hard as possible.

Author contributions

MJV, APV and PM-H conceived and designed research. MJV, FT and RMS conducted experiments. MJV and PM-H analyzed data. MJV wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.


This study was partially funded by the “Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal” (“The Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal”) (Grant Number SFRH/BD/60882/2009).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Desporto e Saúde, Faculdade de Motricidade Humana, Laboratório de Biomecânica e Morfologia FuncionalUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Motricidade HumanaCentro Interdisciplinar para o Estudo da Performance HumanaCruz QuebradaPortugal
  3. 3.Glasgow WarriorsGlasgowUK
  4. 4.Faculty of Health, Sport and Human PerformanceThe University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand
  5. 5.Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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