Woman doing a kettle bell swing. Text: Range of motion *it's time to pay attention

Muscle and Exercise Range of Motion

coaching muscle building strength training workout Feb 24, 2023

Let’s talk about range of motion. Range of motion is the measurement of movement around a specific joint or body part. 

It is important to be mindful of your range of motion to ensure that you are working your muscles through their full range and that they are being fully engaged to optimize your training sessions. 

Awareness of range of motion also helps to reduce your risk of injury.

We are going to cover two different kinds here. The first is muscle range of motion, and the other is movement range of motion. 


Muscle Range of Motion


Muscle range of motion is how far the muscle we’re talking about can actually move. Having proper muscle range of motion when performing exercises can reduce the likelihood of injury and ensure optimal performance during your workouts.

For example, one of the functions of the medial (side) part of your shoulder is to lift your arm away from the side of your body and overhead until your arm almost touches your ear. 

You can also move your arm in front of or behind your body, which takes your muscle through its full lateral (side to side) range of motion. 

You can ensure you’re getting adequate muscle range of motion by doing proper warm-ups and mobility work (p.s., if you’re looking for guidance on proper warm-ups, you can find that in our free 4-week training guide!). 

Warming up before your workout can help increase muscle temperature, loosen tight muscles, and improve joint mobility to help you get that proper range of motion. 

And doing mobility work helps increase your muscle range of motion by stretching and strengthening muscles, as well as improving your joint flexibility. 


Exercise Range of Motion


When we talk about exercise range of motion, we’re referring to how far our muscles move in the movement or exercise we’re doing. 

For example, when doing a dumbbell lateral raise, your range of motion is shorter than if you were to use a cable. This is because when you’re using a dumbbell, you lose some tension on the muscle when it’s close to your hip. 

For a cable raise, you have more tension at the bottom because the cable is pulling your arm across your body. In this way, the cable keeps tension on the middle part of your shoulder even when your hand is near your hip. 

You should practice using the full exercise range of motion during your workouts to get the most benefit from your training sessions. 


Why Range of Motion Matters


The main takeaway is that you should pay attention to which direction the muscle fibers run in the muscle you're targeting with each exercise.

Notice differences in where you feel more tension when using machines vs. cables vs. dumbbells.

None of these are "good" or "bad" exercises. It's all context. 

What is the focus? What do you have access to? What movements are in the rest of your workout?

Ultimately, be aware that everyone has different bodies, and we don't all fit into machines the same way. 

If you're struggling to feel a muscle, double-check what the function is of that muscle. 

What can it do? Are you challenging it adequately? Is what you're using doing that for you?

If you don't know, ask your coach! They should have a reason for the way they programmed your workouts and be able to explain that to you. 

Also, take note, you may have imbalances from left to right in the way you perform a given exercise. This is something you should work on improving. 

The best way to improve these imbalances is by doing the same movements over and over and over and over because we can always get better at them.

If you want to improve your range of motion and any imbalances you may have, the team at KJO Coaching would be thrilled to help you out!

We can design a program that targets imbalances and helps you overcome them. 

We can teach you what to look for with your range of motion to ensure you maximize it and get the most out of each workout. 

Our coaches will also help you improve your mindset around health and fitness and optimize your overall health. 

Click here to learn more about working with our team!


If you want to get started on your workouts right away, check out our FREE 4-week sample training guide. 

You’ll get workouts, key information, videos, and terminology to help you get the most out of this training plan. 

Get it here.


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Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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